There is so much information about the benefits of interval fasting, but has anyone tried the information on themselves? One of my friends decided to try this method on herself. What happened next? You’ll find out right now.
The main idea behind intermittent fasting is restricting the daily eating window to 8 hours. The good news is that you can eat almost anything you like. That’s what trendy nutritionists say. For the remaining 16 hours of fasting, you can drink only water or black coffee (not very recommended though).
I have read dozens of articles which made my mind jump from “This is a bad idea because if I have breakfast at 7:30 am, I will have to starve from 3:30 pm till the next day” to “this is a great idea because I can eat whatever I like for 8 hours and it will be less painful to go back to oatmeal with chicken”. Not immediately but finally I have decided to go for it. This is how my project “Make Katrin in two weeks great again” started
Types of Intermittent Fasting
There are several ways to do intermittent fasting such as 20/4, 16/8, 14/10. Fasting experts can do 23/1, 24/24 (for example, if you have had dinner at 3:00 pm, next time you can eat at 3:00 pm of the following day), 36/12.
Fasting can be not only time-restricted but also calorie-restricted. For example, 5/2 type involves eating normally 5 days of the week while restricting calories to 500 for two days out of the week. It is also important to eat healthily and control calorie intake to avoid overeating.
I decided to choose the most comfortable type for me: 16/8. Besides, it was the choice of a majority of supporters of intermittent fasting, based on the reviews.
From the very first day, I completely failed. So let’s call it day 0. Just like that, in the evening, when you should stay away from food, I had a nice pasta with parmesan. And the salad. It’s not exactly fasting, I know. So I decided to start over the next morning.
Well, now, I started to follow all the rules: the best thing is that I can eat anything I want! ‘So cool!’, it hit me. So I wolfed down 350 grams of fried fish. Of course, later I was feeling guilty. Of course, at 3:30 pm I had my last meal for that entire day. I fell asleep sad with a so-far undigested fish in my stomach.
In the morning, I decided to check my weight, as all actively dieting people do. I was sincerely hoping that the fish will show up on the scale. I approached the scale like a schoolgirl who failed the test. Stood on. There were 900 grams less than the day before. I couldn’t believe it and stepped off on the floor. Hopped back on the scale – the number was the same. I was dancing with happiness. And again, I couldn’t believe in my success and hopped back on the scales only to see that I have lost almost two pounds. Nothing motivates more than success, even the tiniest one. I went to the kitchen, packed a box with chicken breast and bulgur. Then I moved to another day of my experiment with a feeling that I could roll mountains.
The entire previous day was great, but in the evening I felt terribly hungry. Psychologists say that attitude is the key. But when you know in your head that you are running out of time for eating and that you are starving yourself, everything starts to look kind of grey. Meanwhile, the scale was down by another 400 grams.
On the fourth day, I started developing a habit, or maybe the stars finally aligned so that I managed to arrange three meals in a day – a breakfast, a post-workout meal, and a snack too. There is a downside to intermittent fasting. If you are used to working out in the evening and get up early in the morning, it will be a challenge to arrange your meals so that you get to eat before and after the workout. That’s why people living in 16/8 mode had a better workout in the morning. That day I got up a little later than usual. That’s why the fasting period stretched out from 4 pm to 6 pm. Saturday was coming and it meant I would wake up a little later than usual and, hence, will not be tempted to break the fasting rules.
On Saturday, the scale showed minus 200 grams. The results were less and less impressive every day. Good that there was some result after all. It was weekend and, as you can guess, terrible time for dieting. I had breakfast at 12:00 am to move my fasting time to 8 pm. In the evening, I had dinner plans. The dinner took place and on Sunday the scale showed a few grams more.
The entire next week was like a marathon and each day I was losing a part of my motivation. It was getting easier to manage hunger in the evening. But I couldn’t understand why I was doing it in the end. Some days the number on the scale was jumping up and down, other days it was not changing at all. Evening dates with the man of my dreams became gloomy because I wanted to cry when I was looking at him enjoying a delicious dinner.
I was left wondering why the rest of the world loves this diet so much? What is its benefit if any, except for weight loss?
What else is good about intermittent fasting?
I started to google. There were 101 materials copied back and forth from one source to the other. All of them confirmed that people who do intermittent fasting lose weight without losing muscle mass, their metabolism is boosted, the risk for heart disease and diabetes is lowered, and they develop resistance to stress and inflammation.
Here I came across TED
A talk by Mark Mattson, head of the Neuroscience lab in the National Institute of Aging, was about the positive impact of fasting on brain function. He was giving examples of experiments with animals. One way of extending their life was by decreasing their energy level. Either for rats or mice, it helped to extend their lifespan by 30-40%.
Further studies explored the impact of energy restriction on the brain in the context of age-related neurodegenerative disorders characterized by lesions of the nervous system. Scientists came to the conclusion that energy reduction has a very positive effect on humans too.
There are several methods to reduce energy level such as eating less food or less often. In other words, intermittent fasting is one of the best methods. In the video, the expert was referring to research on people with various health issues, who started to practice intermittent fasting to improve their health condition at some point in their lives. In most cases, these people started to feel much better after some time.
Fasting triggers processes in the body that normally do not take place. It alters energy metabolism so that the body begins to burn fat. Every time we eat, energy is produced and stored in the liver as, so-called, glycogen. It is a complex carbohydrate, which consists of glucose molecules connected in a chain. It takes about 10-12 hours to deplete glycogen stored in the liver. The moment when there is no more glycogen left in the liver, the body starts to burn stored fat. It means that if a person eats three times a day, glycogen is never depleted. But if it gets depleted, we not only begin losing fat but also producing ketone bodies that are good for the brain.
Fasting is a real challenge to our brain. The brain is responding to a lack of nutrition by activating stress reaction channels. Later this helps the body to cope with stressful situations and resist diseases.
Intermittent fasting really works. This will not only help you lose weight but also contributes to longevity and improves the quality of life in General. However, this does not suit everyone. Try to eat in this mode for a week and you will see the results, then you will decide how suitable this method is for you.