I Tried for Over a Year and Here’s What Happened ✿
I have always loved my body and saw what others might call flaws as my greatest assets.
However, after a recent avalanche of work got me into the sinful habit of binge eating, I started to feel awful about all the extra pounds I gained. I couldn’t any more fit into my old clothes. I moved around sluggishly, and the slightest physical activity would cause me to sweat profusely. I’d always find myself catching my breath, and I knew that could not keep on happening.
While I was looking for a way to shed the extra pounds, I stumbled upon intermittent fasting. Intrigued, I went on to try it for over a year. I will be chronicling my journey in this post.
But first things first: what is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) refers to an eating pattern that alternates between periods of fasting and eating. The method does not dictate the type of food to eat but rather when to eat. So, technically, it is not a diet but an eating pattern.
Ways to Do Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting isn’t entirely new. It has been practiced widely for many years but has recently been creating buzz because of its positive results. There are many ways to do intermittent fasting, and all of them involve designating “eating periods” and “fasting periods” within the day or week. During the fasting periods, you either eat very little or you eat nothing at all.
Here are three of the most popular methods:
The 16/8 Method: Also called the Leangains protocol after Martin Berkhan of Leangains.com brought it to fame, this method involves skipping breakfast and limiting your eating period to eight hours daily. For example, you may eat anything from 1 pm to 9 pm, but you “fast” for the entire 16 hours in between.
The 5:2 Diet: On two non-consecutive days within the week, this diet requires you to limit your calorie intake to 500-600 calories. You may eat normally during the other five days.
Eat-Stop-Eat: This method involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week. Some people do it by skipping dinner one day until dinner the next day.
All these methods are supposed to help you shed extra pounds by making you consume fewer calories, as long as you don’t compensate by eating more during the eating periods. Personally, I found the 16/8 technique to be the simplest and easiest to stick to, so it’s what I followed.
Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
The most common reason people try intermittent fasting is weight loss. This is because intermittent fasting changes your hormone levels, which facilitates weight loss. On top of lower insulin and higher growth hormone levels, IF allow the release of norepinephrine (noradrenaline), the fat-burning hormone. Due to these hormone changes, short-term fasting tends to increase your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%.
Intermittent fasting also follows the premise that by eating fewer meals, you automatically reduce your calorie intake. It helps you eat less and burn more. As it changes both sides of the calorie equation, IF may lead to weight loss.
As I have mentioned earlier, I have seen testimonies that vouch for the effectiveness of intermittent fasting, and it piqued my interest. I researched and discovered studies that show how this eating pattern can be a powerful weight loss tool.
One review study conducted in 2014, for instance, shows that IF may lead to a 3-8% weight loss over a period of 3-24 weeks. The study reveals that people who took to IF also reduced their waist circumference by 4-7%. It suggests that they lost significant amounts of potentially harmful belly fat and mitigated the possibility of fat buildup around the organs, which may lead to diseases.
My Intermittent Fasting Journey
I followed the Leangains model of intermittent fasting. I went through 16-hour periods of fasting and 8-hour eating periods. I didn’t religiously follow a fast-and-eat period, though. Sometimes, I’d start eating at 8 am and stop at 4 pm, and sometimes I’d start at 1 pm and stop at 9 pm. I did whatever worked for the day’s schedule. The important thing was that I stuck to the 16-and-8-hour windows.
As I usually eat breakfast alone, I go most days without it. I skip breakfast and then eat two meals within the day. I eat the first one at around 11, and the other at around 7. Then, I count 16 hours without eating anything until 11 am the next day.
Since I’ve started intermittent fasting, I noticed that I have decreased body fat and increased muscle mass. I was able to go back to my original weight, and desirably, lost a few more pounds in the process.
I found that intermittent fasting is simple, but sticking to it can get incredibly hard, especially for people like me who turn to binge eating when under stress and pressure.
On a brighter note, IF also helped me correct that unhealthy habit. As my body adjusted to my eating habits, I was able to curb my excessive craving for sweets or salty snacks. Whenever I’d start to crave unhealthy snacks during my fast period, I’d simply drink water, which is a lot healthier than giving in to my junk food obsession.
Intermittent fasting may have worked for me. However, it is certainly not for everyone. If you are underweight or if you have a history of eating disorders, it’s imperative to consult a health professional first, as intermittent fasting may produce harmful effects in such cases.
It’s also important to note that intermittent fasting may not achieve the same results for everyone. While it certainly helped me reach my target weight, I also know friends who were rushed to the hospital because of intermittent fasting. But that’s a different story.
If you intend to try intermittent fasting, make sure to do exhaustive research. Better yet, consult with your doctor.