“Never skip breakfast.”
“Eat within the first hour of being awake.”
“Eat many small meals throughout the day.”
I’ve heard these statements a lot over the years so when my roommate mentioned she was going to try intermittent fasting, I was a little skeptical. The concept itself feels reminiscent of a starvation diet based on name alone. As someone who has spent years in thearpy for an eating disorder, the negative effects of a starvation diet have been drilled into me, and I try to also stay away from anything that could temp me into old bad habits. But then a few days later, I suggested video popped up on my YouTube feed all about intermittent fasting—I preceded to spend the next hour doing research on the concept. Intrigued, I immediately jumped into my own 10 Day Intermittent Fasting Challenge.
Intermittent Fasting isn’t really a diet as much as a guideline to when you do or do not eat. There are a few different ways to approach it with the two post popular methods being the full 24 hour fast once or twice a week and the eating window method. The benefits? Researchers say intermittent fasting has been link to decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, improved blood sugar level, and even improved mood and memory. And of course the benefit most people try it for, weight lost and increased fat burning. Many of the people I know who have recommended intermittent fasting claim it’s helped with those “stubborn last pounds” particularly if you’re goal is a flat stomach. I chose to go with the eating window method, with a 8/16 hour ratio—that 8 hours in which I can eat and 16 hours of fasting. The girl I modeled my plan on used from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. as her eating window. Considering I try to be in bed around 10, attend a 9 p.m. yoga class, and try be up around 5:30 a.m., closing my eating window at 10 p.m. didn’t feel like a good fit for my lifestyle/schedule. So I’m doing an 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. window.
Now that I’m finished with a “10 day challenge” I can give my self more wiggle room for things like events, travel, brunch parties, and just in general life that can get in the way of being super strict with eating. But I’ll still pretty much be sticking to my intermittent fasting. I might actually try bumping my window slightly later in the day or shortening it to a 7/6 hour window for periods of time, just to see if I feel much of a difference. I think for the exception of weekends when I don’t eat lunch, eating a super small/healthy more snack-like breakfast and focusing on eating lunch as more of an official first meal worked well for me. I personally recommend both sticking to a regular workout routine and trying to get your workout in before eating your first bigger meal. I usually had my fruit about an hour before working out and then ate lunch an hour or two after running.
Did I feel any of the benefits or lose weight? Well I definitely didn’t feel like my attention or ability to focus was negatively affected. I also didn’t feel under fueled at all in the mornings. Not sure I was able to really notice if my memory improved. I did feel an increased boost in my mood! After going through a few weeks of high stress and general anxiety, I was feeling much less anxious and just more relaxed and happier. I can’t confirm if I lost weight (I don’t own a scale and haven’t weighed myself in almost a decade—it can be a trigger for me). But I can say that my stomach feels flatter and I just feel really good all around. I plan on continuing to incorporate intermittent fasting into my life, at least for the foreseeable future.
GRETCHEN IS A WRITER-BASED IN PORTLAND, ORE. SHE GOT HER START AS A JOURNALIST WORKING ON THE SUSTAINABLE FASHION AND RESTAURANT BEAT BEFORE MOVING INTO COPYWRITING AND ADVERTISING WORK. SHE CURRENTLY BLOGS AND WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER.