Everything you need to know about intermittent fasting before deciding if it’s right for you! The 411 on the what and why behind this fast growing diet trend as well as firsthand accounts from people who have had experience with this eating style.
Hi friends! Today I wanted to explore something that has recently become relevant in my life. It was sudden, it was unexpected, and it was not a conscious choice. However, I like sharing changes that take place in my life with you all and enjoy doing research on topics that are up and coming in the healthy living world. So, we’re talking intermittent fasting. Controversial? Perhaps! But interesting and highly debated nonetheless.
Let’s get into it…
What is intermittent fasting?
The basic definition of intermittent fasting is that it’s an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It’s not technically about WHICH foods you during your chosen ‘eating window’, but rather WHEN you choose to eat them. So it’s not a conventional or typical “diet”. I would call it more a new “eating pattern” that is gaining popularity in the health and fitness community. Based on people I’ve asked and had discussions about the topic with, common intermittent fasting practices vary from daily 16 hour fasts to 24 hour fasts for one to two days a week. It all depends on the person and their lifestyle overall.
Why do people choose to do it?
From what I’ve read and researched, it seems to be completely individual based on people’s lifestyles! Some people use it to lost weight, for some it just works with their schedule, and for others they like the health promoting effects that come with it.
If done properly, intermittent fasting can help teach your body to use the food it consumes more efficiently and effectively. Your body can learn to burn fat as fuel when you deprive it of new calories to constantly pull from (basically if you eat ‘normally’…as in all day long or every few hours).
Here are some additional benefits that have been recorded…
- reduces insulin resistance and can decrease your risk for Type 2 Diabetes
- reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in the body
- induces cellular repair processes more quickly
- has beneficial effects on metabolism
- increases growth of nerve cells in the brain
- increases fat burning and cell turn over
- improved appetite and blood sugar control
- can improve effectiveness of chemotherapy
- offers protection against neurotoxins
What are people saying about it?
I reached out to my community and asked what other people’s experiences with this dietary lifestyle are. Here’s what they said…
For me, waiting to eat breakfast until 11-12 works best for my schedule. It lets me work out, do chores and even go to my morning college classes without having to worry about food until later. I also enjoy eating fewer, bigger meals instead of snacking throughout the day, and doing fasted workouts in the morning seems to work best with my body. I don’t think intermittent fasting is the way everyone should eat, and I don’t follow the traditional intermittent fasting “rules” to a T. However, it works for me and I think that’s what is most important – finding the diet that works for you and your lifestyle. | Casey the College Celiac
I do it for about 13 hours…not as extreme as others, but it works for me. I usually start after dinner till the morning! So if I’m done eating dinner at 7:15, I will wait until 8:15 the next day to eat breakfast. Sometimes longer, depending on how I feel. It helps me stop snacking after dinner and the biggest benefit I have seen is I don’t get up to pee in the middle of the night anymore! I was suggested it try it from someone so I figured why not. | Kelly from Eat the Gains
I’m actually doing it for the first time these past few weeks. I’m not eating after 8 pm till 12 pm. I only did a little research on it. I’m doing it more as a way to set aside time to pray (my church is doing a 21 Day Fast) . So far it’s going well but I have noticed that doing my late morning afternoon workout I don’t have as much energy | Mikki from The Not So Perfect Housewife
I typically fast 16 hours and eat between 11 am-12 pm to 7-8 pm, but I am typically less strict with it on the weekends. I feel less bloated throughout the day, and still eat a normal day’s worth of calories. It’s satisfying to me to eat a lot of food in a shorter period of time. I have tried a 24 hour fast once, where I stopped eating at 2 pm on Sunday and didn’t eat again until 2 pm on Monday. It wasn’t as hard as it seemed! I’d like to start incorporating this every 1-2 weeks. | Alysia from Slim SanityWhen I did intermittent fasting earlier this year, I started eating at 12 and stopped at 8! So I guess I had a big window of eating? I’m sure others are much more extreme. I did it to burn fat fuels more for running, but then I needed to learn how to train my stomach how to run and exercise with food in it and that’s why I stopped. I now like eating before I workout because it gives me a mental boost that I have energy to use. | PaigeSo I’m weird when it comes to intermittent fasting. Whereas most people skip breakfast and have a late dinner, I have to get up really early. So I eat my first meal around 8 then have my last meal between 4 and 5. 6 at the latest. My normal window is 8-4 or 8-5 and 8-6 for social situations. I didn’t really decide to start, I just naturally was hungry at those times because I always had early morning practice/exercise sessions. Then I’m hungry for my last big meal by 4 or 5 and I go to bed early.After doing this for a while, I read the research and that made me stick with it, and now my husband does it with me. So we are 8-10 hours of eating and 14-16 hours fasting.Basically, exercise/scheduling of hunger made me start and reading research made me stick with it even if I don’t have an early morning exercise session. | Kelly
So now the question on everyone’s mind: Do I myself practice intermittent fasting?
Well…sort of. I say sort of because I DON’T DO LABELS. As I’ve said in the past, my diet has no label and that’s because it’s always changing and evolving as I change and evolve as a person. I also don’t believe in restrictions. I eat moderately from ALL food groups. Sure, I focus on mostly whole foods, but no food is off-limits to me.
Another reason I say sort of? I didn’t consciously choose to start intermittent fasting. It kind of just happened along with some big life changes over the past few weeks. With a new job, new exercise habits, and lots of changes in my physical hunger, I started “breaking my fast” later and later in the day. This allowed me to wake up, workout, get tons of work/productive things done, and even have meeting/go to appointments/see friends, all before having to even think about food! My energy levels were still high and I felt physically fine. So I decided to just kind of keep going with it as well as doing more research to make sure this was okay for my health. Everything I’ve read has pointed to YES.
Like a few of the ladies mentioned above with their own intermittent fasting practices, mine are a-typical too. A few characteristics of my day of intermittent fasting…
- just because I don’t eat first thing doesn’t mean I don’t DRINK…I stay WELL hydrated all day with lots of different beverages no matter when I start consuming food
- I am not on a rigid schedule…I don’t break my fast at the same time everyday and never end at the same time either (it’s different day by day depending on how I am feeling mentally and physically)
- I still consume a proper days worth of calories in my “eating window”…despite eating for less amount of time, I am still consuming the same amount of calories as I usually do, so there’s no lack of nutrition or restriction
I am not doing this for weight loss (CLEARLY!), to be trendy, or because I think it’s a cure-all for all my ailments. Like I said, I sort of just fell into it unexpectedly and have continued with it because it’s currently working for my life. That doesn’t mean I’ll do it forever or that my eating pattern won’t continue to change. I am flexible and open to new ideas as they come about.
On a final note about my experience so far, I will say I have noticed some extreme benefits with eating this way. Without going into too much detail, I’ve struggled with a severe form of overeating (hesitant to say binge eating because it’s not diagnosed) and night eating for a very long time. Ever since starting this way of eating, I have been able to reduce that by a ton, which has also helped my anxiety. Also, since I am usual more hungry in the last half of the day, eating a ton of meals closer together just works best for my body! I find that my energy levels never hit that afternoon slump and that I stay productive consistently all day.
As you can tell, so far this way of eating is really working for me. With that said, this post is NO WAY intended as medical advice or to influence you to start intermittent fasting in your own life. I only wrote this out to share my own experience and shed some light on a new trend in the healthy living world that you may or may not have heard of already. That’s it.
So please take this post as just a personal statement on my thoughts of intermittent fasting and consult with a medical professional before making any changes to your own lifestyle.
As my best friend said, “you do you”. This way of eating is certainly NOT feasible or healthy for everyone. But if it works for you, great! Either way, thanks for letting me share my experience with it so far.
As always, Healthy Helper is a place of open discussion and differing opinions! So I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on and experiences with intermittent fasting….good or bad. Let’s just keep things respectful and tolerant of each other!
Have you heard of intermittent fasting?
Would you ever consider trying it? Why or why not?
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