I will be honest - I was sceptical at the beginning. I decided to do the 16:8 fasting program which essentially means 16 hours a day you cannot eat, and for the 8-hour window, you can feast.
The way I approached it was to skip breakfast and start eating at midday...with my last bite of food by 8pm at night. This isn't too difficult for me as I'm not a huge breakfast eater through the week, and as I have hungry kids, we generally eat early-ish at night.
So, what is intermittent fasting? It refers to a type of eating pattern that alternates between periods of eating and fasting. There are no specific restrictions regarding which foods to eat and which ones to avoid, however, it's advisable not to spend the 8 hours eating junk food. It is not starvation...it's designed to really focus on your eating patterns and the time you spend eating rather than constantly eating, 24 hours a day. IF gives your body a much-needed break to metabolise and digest everything in your stomach, and replenish the gastro juices and digestive system to optimal functionality.
I decided to give fasting a try for one month and WOW did I see results.
The rules I created for myself (and stuck too) were:
Continue to exercise as normal
I am a gym-lover and go five days a week - three sessions of hard weights, and two advanced reformer pilates.
I also walk my dogs for one hour every morning and about 30 minutes at night.
This means I had an eating window of 8 hours, and couldn't consume anything except water, black coffee and herbal tea for 16 hours per day.
I ate as normal, just in the 8-hour window. So I ate exactly the same food (and wine), as I would normally so fitting it all in was interesting!
I also had one meal a week that was my "feeder meal", and for me that was often big bowl of pasta with bread, or a pub meal.
So how did I survive the entire month?
- Skipping breakfast wasn't hard for me (but it might be for some)
- I struggled the first few days just knowing I couldn't eat. It's funny how I usually couldn't eat but when I KNOW I can't eat, I was starving.
- Day three I felt like RUBBISH! I slept for two hours in the middle of the day as I was so exhausted. Seriously, I felt like a crying zombie. I knew this was a potential side effect of IF so I stuck with it..which was amazing because...
- By day five, it became much easier and my mind felt clear and focused. In fact, I felt amazing.
- I was still able to socialise with other people which was GREAT as on many eating plans, one of the first things to go is drinks and food with friends! Instead of a night time catch up, we'd have a long lunch...and I could eat whatever I felt like.
- I’ve enjoyed the routine that IF gives you. My brain works in a process manner and I actually enjoy a routine, so having set eating times was great and made life a bit easier. I found I was meal planning much more, and had snacks on hand so I didn't go crazy when 12pm struck and I was starving.
- I saved money on groceries which was fab!! As I was meal planning more, and I was skipping a meal, I saved money each week on food.
- I'm sleeping better. I've always been a light sleeper since I had kids, but I found my sleep was so much deeper and sounder. I think this is because my digestive system isn't working overtime when I get into bed at night - it's had several hours to do its job and settle for the 16 hour fasting period.
- I stopped bloating. I looked trimmer and any bloating and fluid retention became a thing of the past...winning!
- And YES! I lost weight! Quite a lot of weight - 6.4kg over 4 weeks. Remember I didn't stop eating as normal and I drank alcohol.
A surprising effect from IF is how much more focused and energised I feel throughout the day. I've decided to do IF again as it works AND I feel so great on it.
So what's my next experiment? KETO! I'm looking forward to seeing what Keto does as I love my carbs! Watch this space for updates 🙌