About two years ago, I started to practice Intermittent Fasting (IF) as I have gained so much weight from a period of stressful time with family matters. While we may not likely set foot on an airplane anytime soon for most people, I would like to discuss my experiences with intermittent fasting and air travel. Or in short, should I break my fast in air or not? With rapidly time zone changes, how can we continue to practice IF while jet-setting?
What is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting is a way of fasting to control what time to eat food and then to keep a prolonged period of time (starting from 16 hours) that you do not intake any thing that contains calories. According to a few medical practitioners, by limiting your feeding window, it brings you multiple health benefits, such as weight loss, lower cholesterol, improve glucose control, reduce liver fat and improve blood pressure. Personally, I feel I felt better mental clarity and more productive at work and study. Lastly, it is cheaper to eat less and saves time to not worry about cooking and eating.
If you want to know more about the scientific theories, studies and published work on IF, try use google for that as there are rich body of literature available online now. I would recommend a book by Doctor Fung, a doctor and researcher from Toronto, who has wrote a book named, “The Obesity Code”. He has used IF to treat diabete patient and this method has received great outcomes.
When IF meets Air Travel
When we can still fly around the world on miles last year, one thing that troubles me a lot is, should I cut my fasting hours short, because I do not want to miss out the caviar, the Dom and the Krug on board. For other times, I am in the feeding window now, but shall I intake the crap from the subpar catering carriers? Or the mushy substances that are offered in Economy Class?
For the Caviar and the Champagnes
If your flight menu consists those items, then I would suggest you to plan ahead. Say if you have a flight in three days and you are doing 18 or 20 hour fasting, try have nutrition dense meals before you start your fast. Then extend your fasting hours to match your flight time. So in another word, you break your fast on board. Though, I would strongly suggest you this: try to have some soup or fruits before board your flight. If you are going to indulge yourself with bottles of expensive champagnes and multi course meals on board, make sure your stomach is ready for it.
Remember, this suggestion only applies to the outstanding catering flights, and most likely with First Class or Premium Business Class services.
For $50-$60 per bottle Champagne service
This situation will also happen, assuming you scored a Business award ticket from Canada to Asia, and you paid scam-charges with Air Canada’s soon-to-die Aeroplan program. You are getting some Signature Class services, but not all.
Day time flight
In this situation, depending on the time of the flight, if it is in day-time, I would suggest you to do the as suggested as above, because extending your fasting window once awhile can also helps your body to have more time to detox and your guts will get more rest. So when you arrived in your destination after 10 to 15 hours, with 30-50% of your second fast in place. You could easily transition into the local time zone and maintain your fasting schedules.
If it is a red eye flight, I would highly suggest you just get a good sleep on board, and break your fast when you landed at your destination with some hearty breakfast or brunch. In my own experience, it is hard to fight with the rule of nature. I had tried to break fast on red eyes but then I felt really exhausted when I arrived at the destination, because my body has used to rest at “night”, even I had more fasting hours prior my flight, my body was still having difficult time to comprehend what was going on with all the sudden food intake at this strange hours.
Furthermore, the stress comes from air travel. Especially, if you are flying with oddly designed business class seats, such as Air Canada’s wide body business class seats, The seatbelt airbag is going to make it harder to sleep onboard and your body will have difficult time to adjust to a new time zone. Therefore, skipping the red eye subpar first/business class food and beverage offering is probably a wise choice. Though, you can ask the cabin crew to give you a bottle of sparkling water, a cup of coffee or tea without mile or sugar to help you increase the resistance from other passengers’ sumptuous feasting.
How about Economy Class?
Nowadays, a lot of airlines do not offer free food on board for their short haul and regional flights. It actually helped me to become use to not to eat anything in economy class for short haul flights, even if the airline is nice enough to provide something to eat.
For long haul flight, it is a little bit tricky. Personally, If I am still in the fasting window or close to break my fast, I would just keep on fasting and skip it all together and make sure I am hydrated and probably ask for some sparkling water nicely. Then once I reached at the destination, I would have a nice nutritious meal on the ground.
If it is daytime long haul flight and the required fasting hours have concluded, then I would probably have some protein and vegetables, if they are looked too processed or heavily flavored with artificial substances.
In general, I would just skip any food on economy class, full stop.
Tool to help you fasting
Maybe you are already using it, but I would like to recommend Zero app by Dr. Peter Attia. I have been using this app since 2018, and it has evolved quite a lot now. As a UX partitioner myself, I found the app is very user friendly, though sometimes it may have a glitch or two. Overall, this app has freed me from the mental struggle of counting and tracking hours, which really made my fasting experience much better, and also easy to maintain, especially if you often find yourself are hopping through five different time zones in weeks.
Please note that this entire discussion is to discuss my personal experience and not about sciences, so try to find the best suitable way to do the IF while you are jet setting around the world.