After giving intermittent fasting another try and loving it this time around, I wanted to share my intermittent fasting experience, and more about why I decided to give it another go. Scroll down to read!
In the past, I hated it when I tried intermittent fasting (aka I.F.). Everyone raved about it of course, but it just didn’t seem to work for me when I tried it. It always left me feeling really hungry, low energy and even a bit agitated.
But about two months ago, I read some info on I.F. that caught my attention (more on that below), as well as some tips on how to make it work, so I decided to give it another go. And now I’m really enjoying some of the benefits I’ve noticed from I.F.
Note: Always check with your doctor before making changes to your diet and lifestyle.
Also, as a reminder, I’m not a healthcare professional in any capacity and am not giving you advice. I’m only sharing my own personal experience and what has worked well for me.
It’s also important to note that anyone who is pregnant, nursing, chronically stressed or has a history of disordered eating should NOT try intermittent fasting.
What is Intermittent Fasting (I.F.)?
Intermittent fasting is simply eating your meals every day within a particular time frame, typically within an 8-hour window, so that you’re fasting the other 16 hours in the day.
One of the main ideas of I.F. is to allow insulin levels to go down in between meals, and to help faciliate a cellular process called autophagy, which is basically a cleaning and repair process.
You’ve likely heard about intermittent fasting by now since it’s trending pretty hard in the health and wellness world, and has been for a few years. I’m really not the kind of person to hop on a health trend bandwagon, because I think there’s a lot out there that’s just trying to sell us on the notion that we can short cut our way to wellness, weight loss or whatever it is we’re looking for more of, and fast.
A couple of years ago, I wanted to give I.F. a try since so many people were singing its praises. But my first intermittent fasting experience was that it just did NOT work for me, and this is the reason why: I was trying to follow an I.F. plan that was working well for someone else. But the plan I was following then made me light headed, on the brink of starving and basically miserable.
I had forgotten some of my own health coaching advice: what works well for one person, may not work well for another. That’s basically the golden rule of healthy eating and healthy lifestyle.
So I gave up after my first intermittent fasting experience, thinking that it just wasn’t a good choice for me.
Why I Decided To Give I.F. Another Try
But I still kept reading about all the benefits people attributed to intermittent fasting – metabolic, weight management, better sleep, decreased inflammation, anti-aging and more.
But one potential benefit from it caught my eye and made me re-think giving it another go: digestive health benefits.
So I did some research around how I could make I.F. work for me and found out that just like everything else with living a healthy lifestyle, there’s more than one way to do it, and not just one right way to to it.
With intermittent fasting, it’s all about finding out what works for you and for your schedule, which is not something I took into consideration the first time I tried it.
Benefits From My Intermittent Fasting Experience
Digestive | Since I’ve been practicing a 16:8 intermittent fasting cycle, my digestive symptoms have waned. I believe this has a lot to do with giving my digestive system a longer rest between my last meal of the day and my first meal of the next day. This is the main reason I decided to give it another try, and this is the benefit that’s really keeping me going with I.F.
Less snacking | Most days I break my fast around 12:00 or 12:30, which I usually do with a yummy smoothie. This tends to keep me full until around 3:30 or 4:00, which is when I’ll have a small, nutrient dense snack (usually a homemade energy bite or a rice cake with almond butter), and then I’ll have dinner around 7:00 or so.
Less sugar cravings | Again, one of the main ideas of I.F. is to allow insulin levels to go down in between meals. There are many health benefits of decreased insulin, and for me, I’ve noticed a decrease in my cravings for sugar and sweets. A small bite of dark chocolate every day is usually enough to tide me over.
Exercising in a fasted state | I have always preferred to exercise with little or no food in my stomach. I find it uncomfortable to exercise after I eat, and it also makes me feel lower in energy. With I.F., I like to exercise in the morning while I’m still in a fasted state, and then have my first meal (usually a smoothie) after my workout.
Decreased belly fat | I believe this benefit also ties in with allowing insulin levels to go down while in a fasted state (insulin is also a fat storage hormone and can cause fat storage around the belly area). Even though I’m eating the same amount of food and calories that I was before, I have noticed that my tummy feels and looks flatter since I’ve been practicing I.F.
Here’s How I’m Making Intermittent Fasting Work For Me
As I mentioned earlier, what works well for one person may not work well for another.
The way I’ve made intermittent fasting work in my lifestyle is to sort of “cheat” my fast by incorporating healthy fats, which helps to control my hunger and give me energy for my morning.
Here’s what a day looks like for me when I’m intermittent fasting:
I stop eating and drinking anything other than herbal tea or water by ideally about 7:00 or 7:30 every night. This is when I begin my fast (I use the Zero app to keep track of it).
When I wake up, I make a 20 oz cup of warm water and add the juice of half a lemon, plus a pinch of pink sea salt, and I drink that entirely before moving on to caffeine. Often times we think we’re hungry but we’re really dehydrated from not drinking enough water. Adding the sea salt to water adds minerals and electrolytes, and may help cells with absorption.
I’m not currently drinking coffee because of my perioral dermatitis (I have found that coffee is a trigger that causes it to flare up). So I make a matcha latte with coconut oil. I use about 12 oz of hot water (heated in a tea kettle), 1-2 teaspoons of matcha green tea powder, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and stevia to taste (I like SweetLeaf). I blend all that up in my Vitamix.
I also make sure to drink plenty of water while I’m fasting, and if I’m feeling like I just need something in my stomach to tide me over, I’ll drink a sparkling water or tea sweetened with stevia.
If I’m truly very very hungry, I’ll go ahead and break my fast early, if need be. I’m not a fan of feeling like I’m starving. I shoot for a 16 hour fast, but I don’t stress if I don’t make it all the way to 16 hours.
I exercise while I’m fasting.
I usually break my fast with my favorite post-workout protein smoothie, or sometimes I’ll have leftovers or a big salad if I have it in my fridge.
- I’ll have a healthy snack around 4:00pm, one that includes good fats or protein and some healthy carbs.
- I have dinner around 6:30 or 7:00pm and start the cycle over.
Right now, this is working well for me and feels good for my body, particularly for my digestion and energy. So I’ll keep going with this until it no longer feels good or it stops working well for me.
What about you, have you tried intermittent fasting? I’d love to hear more about your intermittent fasting experience, please share in the comments below!