Intermittent fasting is a nutrition tool that I’ve used for several years. I wanted to share my exact results because I’ve done it “right” and “wrong” or I should say that done it in not beneficial and very beneficial ways. You may expect this post to be “the results were amazing.” BUT, the first time, I really screwed up. I’ll share my results (or lack of haha) so I wanted to write this post and share what I did right and what I did wrong so that you can see the best results.
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING
Intermittent Fasting (IF) consists of alternating periods of eating and fasting. IF is an effective fat loss technique because it allows the body to switch from burning sugar/carbs to burning fat for its primary energy source. When we spend too much time in the eating interval, the body has enough glycogen to serve as energy so it doesn’t look elsewhere, such as to our fat stores. Fasting allows for this shift in which the body turns to our existing fat stores (especially the subcutaneous fat which is the fat directly under the skin) to burn up as fuel. IF is another tool we can add to our toolbox. It is not a diet. It is not a quick fix. It can be a powerful eating approach for fat loss and a variety of other benefits.
If you’re interested in this, I created an Intermittent Fasting Mini Guide you can check out for a detailed breakdown on it, step by step implementation guide, transition schedule and so many tips and tricks.
MY INTERMITTENT FASTING EXPERIENCE (1ST TIME)
So, intermittent fasting has been around for centuries. I think the earliest reference I found was like 200 AD, the philosopher Plotinus fasted one day on and one day off. It’s certainly not “new” but it seems like that because it’s recently become more popular. After college and before having children, I first tried Intermittent Fasting. One night, I made the decision to try it and the next day, I was on the 16|8 schedule.
The first week was tough for me. Going from a chronic snacker and eating around the clock to the 16|8 schedule left me feeling hungry and moody. Mistake #1 (I’ll discuss my solution to this in my 2nd attempt). As soon as my eating window began, I remember eating A LOT. I didn’t watch portions. I didn’t think of food combinations with meals. In fact, I don’t recall even eating meals. It was more so just like eating for 8 hours straight lol.
By now you’re probably thinking “this just sounds like a recipe for disaster, Lauren.” You’re right… I’m heading there. I had this mindset that “intermittent fasting is amazing for fat loss so I can eat a little bit of this (pizza) and a little bit of that (chips).” Mistake #2. I’m not big about the scale and I don’t weigh myself often but I remember jumping on about a month into IF and I had GAINED weight. I instantly thought: “This isn’t because of intermittent fasting. This is because I’m eating junk and thinking intermittent fasting will let me get away with it.” IF fizzled out for me. At that time, I was just better off eating my 5 healthy meals per day and not worrying about timing so much.
LESSONS FROM MY INTERMITTENT FASTING MISTAKES
The first time around with IF, I made 3 major mistakes which I want to highlight so that I can hopefully prevent you from making the same ones!
Mistake 1: jumping from eating whenever to the 16|8 schedule
If you’re going to jump from eating around the clock to the 16|8 schedule of IF, expect to feel not so great that first week or two. You may experience hunger, moodiness, headaches, and a general off feeling. That’s what I felt the first time around and I think this is when most people quit.
In my Intermittent Fasting Mini Guide and what I did the 2nd time around… I created a transition schedule. I took a few short weeks to slowly adjust to how I was currently eating to where I wanted to be. This felt effortless. I didn’t experience any of the above negative effects and before I knew it, I was following IF with a lot less effort.
Mistake 2: using the eating window as a binge
If you’re thinking you can use intermittent fasting as a way to eat whatever and lose weight, think again. Learn from my weight gain. That’s just not how it works. It’s very important to still focus on food source and portions while intermittent fasting.
Mistake 3: thinking I had to use IF to see fat loss results
I say this a lot… intermittent fasting is not for everyone. You’re not “better” because you do intermittent fasting. Just because you don’t do intermittent fasting doesn’t mean you can’t see results. That’s an important point… I got into my best shape/hit my goals when I wasn’t intermittent fasting. Now, I got back into that best shape intermittent fasting. It works both ways! It may help you. It may not be your thing. Either way, that’s okay!
INTERMITTENT FASTING ROUND 2 + RESULTS
After having kids, I gave intermittent fasting another try. I did this alongside some of my friends an family members who I jokingly call “test subjects” because I was really interested to see how different individuals responded to and enjoyed/didn’t enjoy IF. First things first, we all eased into IF with the transition schedule I suggest in my mini plan, which is HUGE! Now, I’m just going to speak for myself in what I noticed.
FOCUSED, PRODUCTIVE AMs: after I adjusted, I actually noticed that my mornings (without a “breakfast”) are more focused and productive. I don’t feel hungry. I actually feel a lot more energetic and enthusiastic to take on my day.
FAT LOSS: I was on a mission to lose some stubborn fat. I did it! Now, I want to make this clear… I had low body fat when beginning IF. Some of my friends and family members didn’t. It’s helped all of us lose fat and weight.
OVERALL HEALTH: a lot of the non-fat loss benefits of IF (like cell renewal and hormone-related benefits) aren’t visual but one thing I noticed is that I just feel really good. I feel healthy, vivacious and happy. It’s definitely an inside out type of feeling.
LESS FOOD STRESS: when you know you’re eating in a certain period of time, you think less about food… in a healthy way. I’m not thinking “oh I want to nibble on this” all of the time. I eat. I enjoy. Then, I don’t eat and I live my life. There is an empowered, self-control feeling that I believe is connected to IF.
I want to make this very clear… intermittent fasting is not a diet. I love to talk about our nutrition toolbox… it contains all types of tools that we can pull out to use and assist us when we feel it’s necessary. Think of IF as another nutrition tool you can add to your box. Maybe it will work great for you and become a regular use. Maybe it’s not for you and it’s a tool you understand but choose to leave in your box. Intermittent fasting has just been a part of my life for the past 4-5 years. I believe the difference in IF working well for me (as compared to my first attempt) is having a bit more information on IF as well as a plan, which is why I created my IF Mini Guide to assist you if this is something you’re interested in. That is a resource for you, or simply take the time to do your own research and educate yourself!