Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating (It is not a diet). It consists of eating during a particular set time interval daily and fasting outside the set time. This eating pattern causes the body to burn fat during the fasting period due to lower insulin levels (This happens about 12 hours after your last meal). I recommend researching intermittent fasting to get an in-depth explanation, if this is something you wish to try.
I decided to try intermittent fasting to see what results it would have on my weight. Furthermore, I am a compulsive snacker. Honestly, I tend to eat little bits of food all day, regardless of the time. I decided to practice intermittent fasting as a way of curbing this habit.
There are different intermittent fasting models, but I followed the 16/8 fasting model. This meant I could eat within an 8-hour interval and fast for the other 16 hours. The easiest way for me to do this was to eat between 11 am and 7 pm. Then from 7 pm to 11 am, I would fast; this was easier to do because my fasting hours were in the evening and early morning; Hence, I was asleep for some of the 16 hours of the fast.
Intermittent fasting was easy for me to do, but I had a few slip-ups that I could have avoided. Below are some tips for improving your intermittent fasting experience
- Do not try to create a massive calorie deficit when you start intermittent fasting. The attempt to diet while practising intermittent fasting can make fasting very difficult. The caloric deficit and reduced food consumption could lead to binges. I recommend practising intermittent fasting for at least one month before attempting to combine it with a diet.
- Do not eat a caloric surplus to make up for the hours you fasted. Intermittent fasting tends to reduce the calories you consume simply by reducing the hours in which you can eat. By eating more to make up for the time spent fasting, you defeat the purpose especially if your aim is weight loss.
- Eliminate alcohol during the period you practise intermittent fasting or consume a minimal amount. Alcohol can stall weight loss. Furthermore, drinking tends to bring on food cravings.
- You will have a few slip-ups, move on. While practising intermittent fasting, it is likely that you may get hungry while fasting. If you do mess up, all you should do is continue. Do not cancel your fast just because you messed up.
- Do what works for you. The best way to practise intermittent fasting is to do it in a manner that fits your lifestyle. Choose to fast during the hours that are convenient. Some people practise the 18/6 fasting model or 20/4 model both of which I could not do hence I settled for the popular 16/8 model.
- I recommend that you eat your last meal of the day 15-30 minutes before the end of the time allotted for eating. I usually ate my dinner by 6:30 pm. This way, even if I stayed up late, I did not get hungry as fast.
- Try to avoid junk food while fasting intermittently. Aside from the fact that junk food does not encourage weight loss, these foods tend to increase cravings for carbs.
- Drink a lot of water during the fasting period. Sometimes, the hunger pangs you feel, may be thirst.
- Lastly, if you are currently struggling with an eating disorder, intermittent fasting is not recommended. You should see your doctor before attempting significant dietary changes.
My attempt at intermittent fasting was moderately successful and could have been even more successful had I followed all the tips listed above and exercised. Here are the changes I experienced while fasting intermittently:
- After the first week, my cravings for snacks reduced. I could only eat between 11am-7pm, snacking during the hours of 7 pm and 11 am became almost non-existent. Furthermore, even though I snacked during the permitted hours, my cravings were lesser,
- I started to sleep better. This did not happen immediately though, at least two weeks passed before I noticed this change. Some other individuals do not enjoy this. Some people that try intermittent fasting have stated that they wake up one or two times at night.
- I lost 5.2 pounds while I practised intermittent fasting. 5.2 pounds seems small, but because I was not dieting or exercising and had started drinking a ton of water, I find this to be a huge number.
Will I continue with intermittent fasting? Yes, I will and recommend it for those who wish to try it.
In conclusion, you should know that this is not a quick weight loss method, it will not solve all your dietary conditions and will give you results that reflect the effort you put in. As with any lifestyle change, determination and commitment are necessary.
Photo Credit: © Darren Baker | Dreamstime