Fad Diet Takedown: Intermittent Fasting
These past two weeks, I girded myself to take on the “Intermittent Fasting” diet. Fasting has quickly risen to popularity–probably because of it’s really, really easy. Many people do it for religious reasons, but now it’s apparently become an effective way to drop weight or eat your calories. More specifically, it promises to burn body fat.
There are multiple forms of intermittent fasting. Depriving yourself from food during certain times doesn’t mean you’re starving yourself, it’s just a different way to get your body to metabolize the nutrients you put in your body. Some popular ones are: The 24 hour fast where you skip a day of eating, the “5:2” fast where you eat like normal for five days and then fast the other two days of the week, and then there’s the one I went on – the “16:8.”
The rules for “16:8” fasting are simple: Not eating for 16 hours a day and giving yourself an 8 hour window during a chosen time to get your calories in. This format was easiest for me because it permitted me to eat everyday (and I can’t imagine not eating for a full day), assign specific hours, and maintain a social life where I could eat among friends (if timed correctly). It was the easiest choice in my opinion. Here is what I experienced:
My 8-hour body-feeding window was from 11AM to 7PM. I choose this timeframe because it allowed me to have lunch and an early dinner with ample amount of time before bedtime. So did I skip breakfast? Yes. I know that’s a huge taboo as breakfast is notorious for being the most important part of the day, and eating breakfast apparently boosts your metabolism, but I’m OK with waking up early and working out without it (and, no, the irony is not lost on me that I was choosing to fast during the “break fast” period – literally, the origin of the word). In fact, because my body was being pushed in a fasted state, the energy used came coming from stored fats rather than carbohydrates (since it’s pretty much on empty once you wake). Did it kill my energy levels during my workout sessions? Not at all!
I found the 16:8 system to be surprisingly easy. It’s relatively easy to time meals and even outings during that window. I shouldn’t be eating late anyway since I go to bed at 10PM like a grandma. The first day was easy enough, but like most dieting methods, I was super slothy and lethargic the 2nd and 3rd day. I found myself grumpy until I hit the 11AM go time. But that feeling of weariness and adjustment disappeared quick. A benefit was that during my eating periods I was constantly hungry, and kept choosing to snack and eat mini meals willingly rather than feeling like I was forced to eat my calories and eat every 2 hours like fitness gurus are famous for doing. I never felt completely full. I did feel hungry and sometimes super hungry at times.
In two weeks, I did in fact get what I wanted: A slimmer and more toned body. Effectively it was because my body was burning through the fats in my system rather than the carbs that I was used to eating. People often worry that intermittent fasting takes away from your workouts especially if you’re trying to build muscle. I don’t believe that to be the case at all. Yes, I have been on this journey for only two weeks so far, but as it currently stands that is far from my results. I still lifted as heavy or even heavier in some isolated areas so it did not get in the way of my muscle growth.
Needless to say, I continued to eat well during my window (for the most part). Nutrition and eating is key and I imagine if I was pounding burgers and pizza instead of grilled chicken and greens it wouldn’t have been as effective. I’m going to continue this journey of intermittent fasting, as it’s been easy to maintain and I’m curious about the results in a longer time span. I’m looking forward to sharing the outcome with you later down the line. If you have any questions, feel free to comment!
Want more? See Kaori’s take on The Master Cleanse