I tried Intermittent Fasting…
so you don’t have to.
Health trends: love them or hate them, but they keep on coming and we keep on buying into them. I’ve found that the best way to get through most trends in general is to have someone else try them out and let me know if they die… ok, maybe not that deep, but it’s always better when someone tries things first so that they can let me know whether I should stay away or not.
But this time, I’ve put myself forward as your guinea pig and for the past week I’ve tried out Intermittent Fasting.
If you haven’t heard of Intermittent Fasting aka IF, then here’s your chance to catch up to the rest of us.
Intermittent fasting is used as an umbrella term for a series of ‘dieting’ protocols, based on the scheduling of meals, rather than cutting calories in order to achieve fat loss.
That sounds like a lot but, simply put, IF involves deliberately staying away from food for a few hours in a day. It is, thus, not a diet, but rather a way of eating where you intentionally skip meals.
This means that instead of having 3-6 meals a day, you may only have 2-4 meals (2 large meals and 2 snacks). The “fasting” period is the hours where you refrain from consuming any calories at all and the “feasting” period is the hours in which you are allowed to eat. Don’t let the term fool you; “feasting” still comprises of following a healthy meal plan. (Don’t have one yet?)
It is strongly recommended that the food you consume during your hours of “feasting” must still meet your daily macronutrient goals.
The point of this way of eating is that during the “fasting” period, your body is forced to break down your fat to sustain itself rather than the regular food supply you normally provide. When coupled with a healthy meal plan, this leads to better fat loss while retaining your muscle mass.
So after reading this article and this one, I became aware of the fact that this method has actually been around for a while. Most proponents of IF have been at it for years so that was a little encouraging – I wasn’t taking on some random activity that had only been performed or spoken of on IG stories.. (whew!) However, I did also read this article that highlights the different cases when you shouldn’t take on IF; just to make sure I was on the safe side.
There are 6 popular methods to Intermittent Fasting and I preferred the 16:8 protocol – fasting for 16 hours and feasting for 8 hours. This seems like the easiest as most of the fasting is done while you sleep. The protocol calls for missing breakfast and then having your first meal at midday and continuing the feasting period until 8 at night. This seemed simple enough except that I work out at 6 in the morning and my post-workout meal has always been my biggest meal for the day (i.e. breakfast).
For a solution to this, I turned to LeanGains, the unofficial first proponent of Intermittent Fasting. The article that helped explained how to work out at different times while on IF.
After all of that, here’s what I’ve found.
Let’s start with the drawbacks:
- The hunger pangs can get brutal.
While they do disappear after a while if you hold out, those morning hunger pangs can be horrible.
- The transition may not be for everyone.
Some people love waking up to a huge plate of food in the morning. Some, like me, are avid midnight-snackers. Having to give up both things can be a little difficult.
The one night where I gave in and had a snack just before midnight meant that my feasting period the next day could only start at 4pm. That wait was the hardest one of the week!!! Following through with the plan and the full 16 hour fast in the instances where you may have had an extra meal or ate later than expected can be testing.
- Monthly visitor aka the deadly Aunt Flow
While missing breakfast was okay on most of the days, it clearly wasn’t when my period came around. It’s hard to not eat when not eating means you can’t take any pain medication and no pain medication means that your uterus can kill you slowly and mercilessly! I broke my fast QUICK on that day.
Now for the positives:
- Tighter abs
I must admit, this has been my favorite advantage. Over the course of the week my abs have been getting tighter and maintaining their cut throughout the day. I haven’t been having regular food babies or getting bloated as much as I used to.
- Less hassle
Not worrying about having breakfast as I run out of the house during that early morning rush has been a heaven-sent. It’s saved me so much time in the mornings and I’m all for less cooking anyway.
- Waist reduction
During the week that I’ve been on this, I actually lost 5cm in my waist alone. That in itself is quite the achievement as my waist area is my biggest problem area.
There are 5 stated benefits to IF and here’s my review of each:
Increased fat loss
I can definitely start seeing some small changes in my clothes. My favorite jean which has fit me for the past 2 years was looking quite saggy yesterday around the thighs and waist.
I wouldn’t say that I have less cravings than I used to but I am able to handle them better because I can handle my hunger better. I’ve also noticed that I’m listening to my body more and not just eating because I want something.
Improved insulin response
I can’t say that I’ve noticed any significant change in the way my body reacts to the insulin spike that comes with breaking my fast.
Improved cognitive function
I had expected that my workouts, especially on leg day, while fasted would be difficult. However, I’ve actually still managed to maintain the same amount of intensity throughout. It also feels much better than that horrible full feeling you get when you have your meal too close to working out. That was very common for me since in the mornings I woke up 45 minutes before going to the gym and would often find myself eating in the car ride to the gym.
Improved overall health
I haven’t noticed significant change in my health. I am feeling a lot better because I’m looking better than I was at the beginning of the week and that has made me much happier. And we all know: Happy = Healthy!
So all in all, I’m glad I did this. So glad that I’ve committed to IF for the long-term!
However, these results are my own and I can’t guarantee that the experience would be the same for everyone. My suggestion would be to find what works best for you and stick to it!
Let us know if you’ve tried IF and how your experience was!