Instant Gratification — we all want it. One of the areas that this is most sought after for a lot of people is weight loss. We all want to be slim and I think many of us know how to make it happen, for the most part. We all know we should eat right, exercise, and chug water. I think I may have found a way around that. Let me be clear on two points here. First off, I am not endorsing any pill, wrap, potion or product of any sort. Secondly, I am certainly not saying you can eat whatever/however much you want and you will get thin. What I am saying is that by changing one thing in how you eat will allow you to lose weight without exercise and without having to give up the foods you love.
If this sounds too good to be true, then you’re in the same skeptical mindset as I was when I first heard about Intermittent Fasting. I’m going not going to focus on all the scientific research in this post, I’m simply going to speak from my experience and explain it on a surface level, in laments terms, as I understand it. I have zero nutritional or dietary education. I am simply a girl who wants to lose some weight but loves pizza and hates to work out. I’m going to tell you about the easy way I finally started to lose weight fast, without compromising my favorite foods or spending hours on the tread mill.
As briefly mentioned above, today I am going to be telling you about my experience with Intermittent Fasting. Well, what the heck is Intermittent Fasting? There are a few different ways people go about it but as I said, this is about my experience, not an educational post for all you could possibly know about Intermittent Fasting. What I do is eat for 8 hours then fast for 16 hours and repeat. “You don’t eat for 16 hours?! Don’t you starve?!” No. I spend about 3-4 of those hours digesting after dinner when I wouldn’t be hungry and another 7-8 hours sleeping. If the word “fasting” freaks you out, just think of it as skipping breakfast.
We’ve all heard that something that really helps when losing weight is to avoid eating late at night. The reason for that is that your body does all sorts of recovery things (again, I never claimed to be an expert) as you sleep and it’s best that that doesn’t happen on an overly stuffed stomach. Most of us eat or largest meal of the day at dinner. For the most part, we shouldn’t need a snack after dinner. Even if I don’t commit to fasting on a certain day, I will still try to not eat past 8:00pm. It’s usually not necessary so I try to avoid it most nights. When I’m having a girl’s night or my guy and I are watching movies and having wine I do indulge in post-dinner calories because life is short. The whole point of this post is that you can have it all, but with a strategy.
So you’ve given your body 3 hours before bed to digest so that way when you’re sleeping, your body has a good “canvas” to do it’s thing. Good job! Now your body has 8 hours to restore itself while you sleep. Excellent! If you wake up and have a big ol’ breakfast, then your body is working to turn that food into energy. But what if you skip breakfast? Then what will your body use for energy? FAT! Yes! Body, please use all that extra fat for energy. I don’t need it! Take it! It’s all yours! So if you follow a 16 hour fast with an 8 hour eating window (recommended by me and people much, much more educated on this topic than I) then that means your body is slaying fat for 5 hours. Of course this explanation depicts very surface level information but that’s about the basics of it as I understand. I encourage you to research this topic and get more information from people actually educated in this!
For me, I usually eat from 11:00am/12:00pm-7:00pm-8:00pm. Rather than making sure I eat for 8 hours, I focus on me fasting for 16 hours. For example, if I eat at 9:00pm on Monday, then I will fast until 1:00pm on Tuesday. Rather then still eating at 12:00pm as I normally do. Despite the fact that I have these “rules,” I’m reasonable about it. If I have a fun night out and I eat (or drink) at 1:00am, then I’m not going to fast for 16 hours and eat at 9:00pm the next day (night). That’s more than I could ever handle. The nice thing about Intermittent Fasting is that if you “mess up,” (give yourself a break!) then you just try again tomorrow. It’s not like with a low-carb diet where your body takes awhile to get into weight loss mode and then you have to keep it there to avoid regressing.
It’s a good idea to ease yourself into it. If you are a person that’s normally hungry in the morning, then maybe try waiting an extra hour to give yourself a 12 hour fast, then after a few days push breakfast by another hour for a 13 hour fast, then eventually skip breakfast and have your first meal at lunchtime. The evening shouldn’t be too hard because most of us should be good until bedtime after dinner. If you have dessert, (it’s okay-I do and still lose weight) just be sure to watch your portion and have it shortly after dinner so you don’t have to wait as long to eat the next day.
Do I get hungry? I’m not hungry after dinner and not for most of the morning before I break my fast. I do get hungry around 10:00am/11:00am but that’s normal. Think about it. Haven’t you ever been hungry, even really-really hungry, around 4:00pm but think to yourself “I’m just going to wait for the dinner that I’ll be having in an hour.”? It’s not like letting yourself be hungry for an hour or two is crazy torture. However, if you’re someone who wakes up starving in the morning and can’t fathom not eating breakfast, then maybe this isn’t for you. I’m not suggesting that anyone should suffer through this. I’m merely suggesting it as something you may not have heard about and might be a good idea to try if it suits you. I know that we’ve all heard that the worst thing we can do for weight loss is to skip breakfast. I don’t really know what to say about that. All I can say is that I’ve personally found the opposite to be true from my own experience.
I briefly mentioned this somewhere above but I really want to drive home the fact that I am not claiming that this is a miracle easy way out. It’s a method that I have found to greatly increase my weight loss quickly and something I find easy to do (more on this in a bit). But I am NOT saying that you can simply skip breakfast and eat 2,500 calories of McDonalds and donuts in an 8 hour window and still lose weight quickly. But with that said, I found that if I want to throw in a cheeseburger or donut, (around 300-350 calories worth) it’s still going to allow me to lose weight (probably a bit less that day to compared to a day where I ate mostly clean) or at the very least, maintain.
Let’s talk about calories. It could be argued that all this is, is simple calorie restriction. I’m not educated enough to determine whether that is true or not based on scientific facts but what I am at liberty to discuss is my opinion based on my personal experience. I have tried calorie restriction before on two main occasions. The first time it was successful and coupled with 5 x 1+ hour exercise sessions a week. The second time I was unsuccessful in losing weight. Again, I’m not educated enough to spew facts at you but what I can assess from my own experience is that I think there’s more going on here and that my results aren’t solely correlated to calorie restriction. However, I am aware of my portions and eat fairly healthy.
Yes, my calories are naturally reduced simply by the fact that I’m skipping breakfast but my breakfasts would normally be around 200 calories and I’m losing a ton more lbs than that fact would support. Another thing I want to talk about is that I snack less when I’m Intermittent Fasting and it’s almost subconsciously. I don’t tell myself “you’re not allowed to snack” but I just think about food less when I’m doing Intermittent Fasting. I can’t explain it very well, but I think it’s because my mind is in the state of “I eat to not be hungry, not for entertainment.” But also, because of the fact that I’m not so focused on eating clean, I make food I really enjoy for lunch and dinner. After eating a delicious lunch and looking forward to making a delicious dinner, I don’t feel the need to snack. I also think I’ve noticed a (healthy!) decrease in appetite. If I’m being very honest, I think I probably used to overeat and my stomach was stretched and required more food to be full. I think it has now shrunk to give me a more appropriate and healthy appetite.
Touching back on my last point of my mindset, I find Intermittent Fasting so easy, mentally. My mind is so much more at ease when thinking “I can have that later” (like when I break my fast) than “I can’t ever have that because I’m on a diet.” The whole reason I tried Intermittent Fasting is because I got to a point where I felt like I had no willpower. I love “bad” food and hate exercising so much that I just couldn’t “diet”. I want to add that I do eat fairly healthy, I’m just certainly not following any sort of diet a diet coach would give me a pat on the back for. For me, it’s not hard to stop eating after dinner or whenever I “close” my fasting window. I just think “I’m done eating now” and it’s easy for my mind to be just fine with that. Another random point I want to make is that this “diet style” makes me WANT to eat more healthy food! I think that’s because I’m not forcing myself to only eat clean so I’m happy to eat my veggies (roasted only, not raw–I hate raw veg).
My last point is an important one that I can’t believe I’ve waited till the end to mention: DRINK LOT’S OF WATER. Even if you don’t care about all the health benefits I know you’ve heard about drinking your water, you NEED to drink a ton if you’re fasting because it will make it easier. I drink about 2.5L of water before I break my fast. It curbs my hunger like you wouldn’t believe and, it keeps me distracted. I’m busy making sure I chug all this water that I don’t even notice I’m skipping breakfast. I will have a maté tea in the morning without sugar or milk. Maté tea is very caffeinated so if you can’t do black coffee like me, give maté tea a try. I should clarify that when you are fasting, you are to consume zero calories. So black coffee/tea/water is great. But having a juice or a creamy coffee means you’re not fasting. I doubt 20 calories worth of milk in your coffee would totally ruin your fast but if you can avoid it, then great. The idea is that your body has nothing but your own fat to work with (read: off!).
Is Intermittent Fasting more effective than eating a clean diet of 1,200 calories a day and exercising 5 times a week? I don’t know for sure but I doubt it. But the thing is, I’m not going to count my calories, eat completely clean or work out 5 days a week. So when I think about that, I’m not really comparing two options because the alternative isn’t an option I’m making available to myself. I don’t want to do that. I can easily do Intermittent Fasting and it gives me results so I’m happy with it.
I have lost weight to the tune of 7.5lbs in two weeks of Intermittent Fasting. I look forward to seeing where the next month takes me. If there’s an interest, I would love to make periodic posts to update you on my progress.