So first off, what the heck is “Intermittent Fasting”? I’m happy to lay the ground work for you (as much as I can). Bear in mind (yes disclaimer alert coming up) I am not a nutritionist, personal trai… blah blah blah you get the picture. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know my shiz. I’ve done research, mainly for my own incentive because, hey I’m the one changing up my lifestyle habits I may as well know what exactly I’m doing to my body and mind.
What it is:
You eat within an 8 hour window, when those 8 hours are, are up to you, and you “fast” for 16. I personally think fast is a bit of strong word for what you’re actually doing, plain and simply you’re just not munchin’ in those 16 hours. That’s it. I chose to eat between 12pm (that’s lunch time ladies and gents) and 8pm everyday for 10 days so far.
Lol this thing is weird. But also cute. Cute and weird.
Why did I start?:
One of my best friends tried intermittent for 5 weeks and it changed his whole body shape. It accelerates your bodies ability to burn fat whilst increasing your metabolism so if you stay committed from anywhere between 3-24 weeks you’re gonna end up looking leaner… essentially.
However, there are other factors which come into play here. Essentially the reason why a lot of people online who I’ve been reading about, practice intermittent is because they’re keen to…. Weight for it. Slim down! No surprise there, fundamentally you’re shortening the window where you consume cals, so for most people they will eat what they usually do but cut out breakfast and their evening-snacks. For myself however, I have a wild appetite and I promise you (**internet pinky-promise**) I have one of if not THE largest appetites amongst you and your mates. Challenge accepted.
Pour moi… (I’m currently sitting in a French cafe writing this, very #Instagram but also very true) I NEED structure in my life. That’s just how my brain cells work and how I’m able to optimally function. Therefore, without routine I fall apart a little bit, mentally, emotionally and then physically I see the downsides.
Thankfully for the last two weeks I’ve secured an internship which has given me ROUTINE *hallelujah*. I work from 9am to 5pm allowing me to gym in the morning before work, get home and plan my meals for the next day. Once I felt stabilised by the routine I was able to motivate myself to try intermittent but not for the reasons most people try it…
I am a firm believer that some degree of control, dedication and consistency is very good for us as humans. It’s important for some people (hi) to practice dedication on a daily basis, I feel rewarded everyday by facing a challenge, flexing that good ol’ control muscle and reaping the rewards. I easily fly out of control if I don’t have any measures in place. Let me paint an image for you:
I’ll easily reach 2,500-3,000 cals a day from just spooning out peanut butter, dark chocolate sea salt and a few bowls of Dorset Cereals after bed. Whilst yes these are all healthy foods, I usually pile them on top of my usual estimated 1,900-2,000 cals per day. I’m not eating when I’m hungry, I’m eating when I’m bored.
Hi… Me being super bored aka set me the food pls
I get instant pleasure from food so if there’s a dull moment, sugary, rich foods try and fill that gap. Intermittent fasting helps me cut that out entirely.
Putting it into practice
I’ve done intermittent now for 10 days which I am F*76”#*(& proud about you guys. As now you understand, I usually don’t even go 2 hours without having eaten SOMETHING. So having a 16 hour period of not thinking about food has been a big deal for me, and it’s proven to be really tough at times. I wake up every day at about 5:50am and go to sleep at about 11pm so there is a lot of “awake” time when I’m aware that I’ve got to wait for my first meal.
I want to make it as clear as possible that whilst yes there are a few hours where I’m aware I’m hungry (usually 8am – 11am in particular), I am never starving, threatening my health or disturbing my mood and behaviour. The key in life to any new lifestyle routine is making sure it suits you. I enjoy intermittent because I know I am happily able to get to 12pm without breakfast.
My morning workouts are better on an empty stomach, I save time in the morning not preparing breakfast and I’m able to thoroughly enjoy all foods later on. Because I’m more aware of my eating habits I make a conscious effort for my meals to be healthier…
After 8pm I spend about an hour creatively planning what delicious food sources I’m going to retrieve my fats, carbs and proteins from. I’m more experimental with foods which has already improved my cooking skills and helped me find snacks which are now staple favourites (rye with humous, smoked turkey and cucumber yessss).
I am not relentlessly snacking on PB & J brioche or scooping up the left over ice cream, anymore. I’m not sneaking in the odd bowl of pasta and cheese or finishing off the Nutella jar. Not by the way, that those are anything to be categorised as “wrong” but personally, it isn’t compatible for the healthy lifestyle which I like to live. Eating healthily by the way is NOT an essential component of intermittent, it’s another factor. You can live intermittent and still not limit the kinds of food you eat. Once again, it’s just whatever makes you feel happy, proud and in control.
Not to mention all the health benefits which come from it! This was another big factor why I was pulled to it…. CHECK IT OUT:
- Intermittent fasting changes the function of cells, genes and hormones:
- Insulin drops which means you’re allowing fat-burning to happen more rapidly
- Your growth hormone can increase up to 5X also facilitating fat-burning & muscle gain
- Important cellular repair processes are induced
- Your genes can change for the better to prevent disease
- It can help you lose belly fat
- Your metabolic rate increases by 3.6-14% because of your lower insulin levels which helps burn more calories. (This is based on a review of scientific literature which also proved that) intermittent causes less muscle loss than continuous calorie restriction.
- Help lower your risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- How? By lowering your insulin your blood sugar levels should also drop, protecting you against Type 2 Diabetes.
- Reduce Oxidative stress (aka slow down the ageing process) and Inflammation in the body
- May be beneficial for your heart health … (although this is still being tested)
- Various cellular repair processes
- Fasting initiates a waste removing process called “autophagy”. The cells begin to break down dysfunctional proteins (okay, it’s getting a little too scientific for me to fully understand what is going on) but apparently overtime you may be more likely to be protected from several diseases. E.g. cancer or Alzheimers.
My workout / eating habits now:
I’m currently very happy with the amount of muscle I’ve managed to accumulate since September so my current goal is to accelerate fat loss for the next couple weeks until I head into *maintenance land* woho. I’m also running a half marathon in LA in August so I’m focussing on eating clean as I find that to correspond well with cardio, physically and mentally.
Days 1-6: I’ll try my very best to eat as natural and as healthy foods possible aka fruits, nuts, protein (chicken, fish, greek yogurt, turkey and more). I aim to hit a certain amount of macros but don’t guilt-trip myself if I’m unable to).
Day 7: Cheat meal (basically between about 6pm-8pm I eat whatever I feel like… Literally as much of and whatever you want).
I personally wouldn’t recommend living this 80/20 lifestyle for a long period of time, but if you’re trying to burn fat over the space of roughly 1-3 months then it works prettttty swell.
Unsurprisingly you have to base your life more or less around food, at least at first, to make sure you’re not straining yourself too much physically which could leave you super hungry. For example, a few days ago it just worked out that I went to the gym from about 10:45am until 11:45am. I had a fairly light dinner the evening before which was lacking in carbs MISTAKE. Not only was I the hungriest I had been, my workout lacked energy, power and motivation.
My personal tips:
1. Try it out. Intermittent might not work for you at all and if not then don’t commit to it, but try it out for 3 days, see how you feel and if you love that extra bit of routine in your life then full steam to you!
2. Prepare your meals. I love food and am prone to being diagnosed with “hangry”, so if you’re like me make sure you know what and when you’re eating to prevent any unnecessary stress.
3. Eat a large dinner before your fast. I need all the food groups, usually carb heavy with about 30 – 40grams carb, 25grams protein. This leaves me feeling satisfied for a super long time.
4. Don’t workout in the late morning. If you are planning on working out then do it as soon as you’re up. I workout within the first 2 hours of getting up. I’m still full of energy from my meal yesterday, feeling super optimistic about the day and it motivates me to stay even more dedicated throughout.
5. Listen to your body. Just to reiterate one more time… If this doesn’t suit you than STOP. I don’t want to be encouraging any cranky-behaviour out there catapulted by cases of hangry. Weird sentence. Moving on. So if this doesn’t float your boat then try something else which does.
My intermittent fasting journey will be posted on my snapchat: progresspure
Love, Moll xx