I tried intermittent fasting. This is what happenedDave Smith
As a dietitian, I have tried many things in the name of science: carbohydrate restriction, elimination diets, sugar “detoxification,” calorie counting. I imagine that if I am going to offer advice on something, why not have first-hand experience?
Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular trends at the moment, and I was genuinely curious.
In addition, there is actually evidence supporting it. Research has shown that fasting can actually help reduce the risk of disease, possibly because fasting puts cells under mild stress, which can strengthen them against disease. It is also argued that, while a super-low-calorie diet reduces your metabolism, alternating between fasting and eating does the opposite. A recent research review concluded that intermittent fasting was a “promising” approach to losing weight and improving health, for those who can handle it.
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I thought I could. Since I am not a big breakfast diner and still wanted to stop eating snacks, I decided that the “16: 8” approach to intermittent fasting was my best option. That means eating for a period of 8 hours you choose and fasting the rest of the time. (There is another approach, the “5: 2” method, which tells you to take only 500 calories two days a week and normally eat the remaining five.)
But I fought. The last three hours of my 8 p.m. – 12 p.m. fast every day they were brutal. I was dizzy and empty, my brain felt blurry and daydreaming about my morning milkshake as the minutes progressed.
Still, I stayed firmly in the plan for a full week and learned some important lessons:
The last meal matters. What I ate at night made a big difference in how I went the next morning. A small bowl of soup for dinner, and my stomach rumbled at 7 a.m. A more abundant plate with lots of protein kept me full for longer.
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Planning is everything. It’s harder than it seems to fit all your food in an 8-hour window, and those calories really need to count if you’re going to get the nutrients you need.
Coffee or tea can help. Some people who swear by intermittent fasting drink green tea or even bulletproof coffee throughout the morning. I am not a fan of either, but they would definitely be useful to curb hunger (and offer a much needed distraction).
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Life will get in the way. Late dinners, parties, vacations and illnesses: all of these things will ruin your agenda and make fulfilling this plan 100 percent almost impossible. If you are not willing to give yourself some grace from time to time, it will be too challenging.
Diets can lead to food fixation. I tend to worry about food when I can’t eat it, and I think that’s true for many people. While fasting, I longed for food in a way that didn’t seem healthy, mentally or physically.
Intermittent fasting may click with some people, but I am not one of them. It is better that you make small healthy changes that are not too painful. The bottom line is that any approach to food you take should be sustainable and, ultimately, enjoyable, if it will create a lasting change in your weight and your health.
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