Intermittent fasting // My weight loss, health benefits, regaining control + more
Ever since I mentioned over on Instagram that I have been experimenting with intermittent fasting I have been getting so many requests for a blogpost about it – you asked for a post where I not only share my personal experience, but also whether I would recommend it to others and now it is finally here!
It has taken me a while to put this post together, but I did not want to write this before I had done intermittent fasting for a longer period of time + I wanted to really be able t0 reflect on how it has impacted me.
I am not going to go into depth regarding the health benefits as I am not a doctor or otherwise qualified to talk about these things and this is mainly meant to be about my personal experience, but there is so much information and research available online, so make sure read up on that if you want to give intermittent fasting a try. I really like this article for a quick overview + it provides a lot of links to relevant studies and sources on the subject.
Finally, before we get into it I just want to say that intermittent fasting is not for everyone, so if you decide to give it a try and find that it does not work for you, then please do not feel like you have failed – one size does not fit all.
What is intermittent fasting?
There are many misconceptions about intermittent fasting, one of the biggest ones being that it is a diet. While intermittent fasting is indeed an effective way to achieve weight loss, then it is not a diet as it does not in any way dictate what you should eat, it is rather a form of eating pattern that dictates when you should eat.
There are different ways to approach this, but the most popular form of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 method, where you have an 8-hour eating window followed by 16 hours of fasting where you can only consume water or black coffee/tea. This is the method I follow and I usually have my first meal at 10am and then my last meal at 6pm.
A lot of people on the 16/8 method only have two meals a day and no snacks, but I stick to my regular three meals + a snack (all within my eating window of course) as this works much better for me personally and I believe the most important thing is simply to stick with the 16 hour fasting – not how often you eat within your eating window. Make sure to do your own research on this if you want to try intermittent fasting and find what works for you specifically – I do not believe that one method fits all, as a matter of fact intermittent fasting might not work well for you at all and that is completely fine as well.
Another approach is to do one or two 24 hour fasts throughout the week – some even do it in addition to the 16/8 method – as research shows that there are many benefits from doing longer fasts. However, this way of fasting is definitely not for everyone and it is not something that I practice as I know that it would not work well for me personally. I can really recommend looking up Simon Jeffries aka. The Natural Edge on Instagram if you want to learn more about this kind of fasting, he has a whole bunch of highlighted stories about this subject and he regularly practices fasting for 24-36 hours as well as doing the 16/8 method.
A third way to do intermittent fasting is by doing the 5:2 diet, where you only eat around 500 calories two days a week and then eat regularly the remaining five days a week. I have not personally tried this method.
Why I decided to start fasting
When I first heard about intermittent fasting I found it to be a bit too “extreme” for me, but after repeatedly stumbling upon stories and testimonies about it, it peaked my interested and I was simply too intrigued to not look into it and start doing my own research. All of a sudden it did not seem extreme at all, we all already fast once a day while we sleep and it actually makes a lot of sense that our bodies would benefit from a longer period of fasting in order to allow our body to focus on cell repair and increasing growth hormone levels amongst other things.
I will admit that it was not just the health benefits that convinced me though, it was something much more vain. As some of you know I gained a bit of weight during a particular stressfull time last year and I have been slowly losing it again by getting back on track with eating healthy and exercising. The problem is that while I did not gain that much weight, then I have really been struggling with losing the final bit of it and it felt like I had hit a plateau with no progress whatsoever.
When I first started hearing about intermittent fasting I quickly learned that one of the many reasons that it is so popular is that for many people it has proven to be a highly effective way to lose weight (even those very stubborn final 10 pounds that so many of us are struggling with) and so I just had to give it a try myself.
I don’t care for fad diets or easy solutions, when it comes to losing weight I want to do it the right way – the healthy way – and that is ultimately why I decided to give intermittent fasting a try. It is not some quick fix, it is a lifestyle change that can not only help with my desired weight loss, but also help improve my overall health and quality of life – what’s not to like?!
My experience with intermittent fasting
1.) Weight loss
Okay now let’s get to the good stuff shall we? I have only been doing intermittent fasting for a little over two months, so am by no means an expert and I probably should have waited a bit longer before writing this post, but I have been getting so many requests for it and what I can share is my personal experience so far.
I must say that going from being someone who usually eats 24/7 to only having an 8 hour eating window has actually been surprisingly easy and there have been very few days so far where I have struggled with it. However, I made the choice before I started that I would not let it affect my social life, so while I try to make intermittent fasting work every day, then I am not too strict about it if I have plans with friends or family and I have still seen great results.
Already during my first week of fasting I started to loose some of that otherwise really stubborn weight that I have struggled to get rid of and I have continued to loose weight every week since I started. I have lost the weight despite not being super strict with the fasting and despite indulging in things like pizza, cake and ice cream at least 2-3 times a week (oops, but #balance right?). The weight loss is of course mainly a result of having a smaller eating window, which means eating less and consuming fewer calories. It have especially helped me stay clear of all those late night snacks and treats, which would often ruin an otherwise really healthy day of eating and push me over the appropriate amount of calories for my intended weight loss.
In addition to eating fewer calories because of the more limited eating window, then studies show that intermittent fasting also increases the release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine and that the changes in hormones may help increase our metabolic rate by up to 3.6–14%, so it is easy to see why I am finally starting to loose that stubborn weight right? It honestly feels amazing to finally have found something that works for me.
There is a lot more to intermittent fasting and weight loss than I have mentioned here, but it gets really technical and I simply do not feel qualified to go into depth with it, so make sure to do your own research – I will update this post with links to some articles that was just sent to me as soon as I have read them myself.
2.) Regaining control
Other than losing weight there is one other major factor that have made me such a big fan of intermittent fasting. I have had quite a turbulent relationsship with food ever since I was a teenager, I am very much an emotional eater and I never felt like I had much control over myself when it came to food – it is something that I have always struggled with and I have always felt a bit embarrassed that I weren’t really able to control myself when it came to food.
I know this is a sore subject for many and I have had some negative emails calling me out when I write about these things and about my weight gain, it is true that I have never been overweight, but that does not mean that I haven’t struggled with food. It is very much a mental struggle and I have previously even been quite underweight due to this, which can be just as harmful as being overweight. And then last year I gained quite a bit of weight and while I was still not overweight in any way, then I knew I had to do something to stop the negative pattern and get back to my healthy self. It was not about the weight really, it was about regaining the control when it came to food that I had so obviously lost completely. I was in a bad place mentally and I was eating my emotions, it was not healthy at all
Intermittent fasting is the only thing that have ever helped me regain some of that control and I felt it work almost instantly. I am not really able to fully explain why it works, but I have read that so many others have experienced the same thing. Maybe it is the simplicity of it all?
There aren’t a bunch of difficult rules, there is only one really: you have an 8 hour eating window and when it closes it is closed, period, no more eating that day. I have found it so easy to follow and it have saved me from so many internal struggles and guilt at night, when I would usually give in to cravings or eat my emotions. I don’t have to worry about any of that now because if it is past 6pm, then I do not eat anything whatsoever, not even a healthy snack like a carrot or a slice of watermelon – it is as simple as that, no need to even think about food!
It feels amazing to have some peace of mind and not have to worry about these things, it is worth so much more than the weight loss to me. Also, I have found that the intermittent fasting have helped me regain control of my eating habits in general as well. I am not as bound by my emotions or cravings during the time of my eating window either, I find that I usually make the healthy choice for the majority of my meals and I do not overeat. I do occasionally eat unhealthy, overindulge and treat myself though, but when I do these things, then I mostly make a conscious decision to do so beforehand and it is not an action controlled by my emotions like it previously would be.
I have never strived for perfection and I love to eat things like pizza or ice cream, so I do not wish to cut these kinds of foods completely out of my diet, but I want it to be something that I truly enjoy and not something that causes me to feel guilty or shameful afterwards and intermittent fasting have truly helped me with that.
3.) Health benefits
I haven’t really been doing this long enough to be able to talk about health benefits + I do not have any of the illnesses (e.g. diabetes) that intermittent fasting is known to help aid, but I have noticed a couple of changes in my body and health that I believe is due to the fasting.
One of those changes are that I have found my digestive system to be working much better than usual, I feel less bloated, I have more regular bowl moments (yeah sorry about the tmi!) and I generally just feel so much lighter and like my digestive system is a lot more fine-tuned now.
I have also noticed that my otherwise quite problematic knee (which have been acting up for years) seems to be doing much better lately. I am of course not sure that it is due to the fasting, but the timing is peculiar and intermittent fasting is know to help reduce inflammation, so it might not just be a coincidence?
Would I recommend intermittent fasting?
The short answer to this is YES I would definitely recommend that you give intermittent fasting a try – unless you have health reasons not to of course – but you should do your own research on the subject first and decide whether you think intermittent fasting is for you.
There is a good reason that it is becoming so popular these days and for me (and many, many others) it has been such a great way to lose weight, gain more control when it comes to food and even enjoy some added health benefits as well.
And again, intermittent fasting is definitely not for everyone, so if you decide to give it a try and find that it does not work for you, then please do not feel like you have failed – one size does not fit all.