Have you heard of intermittent fasting and thought of trying it? Some people swear by this method and how it helps them lose weight. Others use it for overall health. So does intermittent fasting live up to the hype? As someone who practices intermittent fasting for health reasons, I’d love to explain how it works and my experience with it.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
The idea behind intermittent fasting is that when you give your body a break from eating, it can focus its energy on healing. Experts say you should fast for a minimum of 12 hours (from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am for example). The longer the fast, the more effective it is. Some people even work in a 24 hour fast once a week.
In one study, a researcher found that,
“When people are only given 25% of their caloric needs on a fasting day, they do not eat 175% the following day. They actually only eat slightly more -115% or so. That means, by the end of the week, they’ve eaten a lot less than they typically would, and they only felt deprived for 3.5 days.”
The other finding to this study is that people are less inclined to binge when they actually eat. Researchers aren’t sure why, but the theories range from hormone changes to the stomach shrinking. In my experience, I find this to be true! If anything, this method helps me to listen to my body and truly understand when it is actually hungry and in need of nourishment…not just because I think I’m hungry.
Periodic fasting like this is also linked to warding off and even improving Alzheimer’s disease. Fasting, according to research done at John Hopkins School of Medicine, challenges the brain to help cope with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Fascinating, right?
My Experience with Intermittent Fasting
I have been trying it now for over a year and really like the results. I did lose some weight initially, but most importantly I felt my energy levels even out throughout the day. Intermittent fasting does take some adjustment and different meal planning. It is important to still feed the body a decent amount of calories so it has enough energy to last until your next meal. I often feel like I’m gorging myself during my “eating window” as I call it. For best results, I recommend eating all your food within a 6-8 hour window in the day; from noon until 6:00 pm, for instance. Also keep in mind that this lifestyle goes against the widespread belief that we should all eat a big, healthy breakfast everyday.
Once my body (and my mind) adjusted to this new eating schedule, I discovered that I don’t miss breakfast at all, nor do I feel starved before I can eat again. In fact, I recently ate breakfast and I was starving within a couple of hours. It’s truly amazing how your body can adapt to new circumstances, and intermittent fasting is a perfect example of that.
My Tips for Thriving with Intermittent Fasting
I don’t just “survive” intermittent fasting. I’ve learned how to actually thrive on it with a few helpful tips:
- Drink a lot of water.
- If you ever feel weak or shaky, eat. Your body is telling you it needs nourishment.
- Eat healthy food for good nourishment. If you eat a lot of sugar and fried foods, you will have less energy throughout the day.
The first week or so will be rough. This is the time when your body is adjusting. It’s probably used to being fed at various times of the day, so when you stop doing that, it’s going to feel intense and you may be tempted to give it up. But I will be the first to assure you that once those first few days are over, your body gets used to its new schedule and you start to recognize when you are truly hungry.
Should You Try It?
Intermittent fasting has worked well for me and has helped me to lose weight and take control of my health. You should consult your doctor before trying intermittent fasting, and I recommend doing research to find out more about other peoples’ experiences with it. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve tried it and what your experience has been!