Earlier this week I mentioned that I use intermittent fasting as a part of my daily healthy living. Intermittent fasting is getting a lot of press lately and for good reason. Several studies have shown that various forms of fasting can be beneficial to our bodies, impacting everything from blood pressure to insulin sensitivity and inflammation. Increased mental energy and clarity and even cell repair have also been cited as positive side affects.* And perhaps the reason it has been getting so much buzz is it’s supposed weight loss and maintenance benefits.
So what is intermittent fasting? For starters, it is not a diet. It’s a pattern of eating and there are several different ways to try it. I read somewhere that IF should be approached in the same manner as exercise. You should try to incorporate it into your daily life but it’s not necessary to follow every day in order to receive its health benefits.
You might be wondering why I decided to try IF? Now that I’ve crossed the threshold into the fabulous 40’s, I am finding it even more important to do everything I can to keep myself healthy. I have hypothyroidism and age working against my metabolism and I found myself frustrated at the 5 pounds I couldn’t seem to lose, despite having a pretty good diet and exercise routine.
I try to workout 3-4 days a week. But in the summer, that’s just not possible. Having my 4 young children at home, getting to the gym for the kinds of workouts that really push me (and allow me a little leeway in my diet) just aren’t in the cards. So when I read an article from another mom in her 40’s who practiced IF to maintain her weight I was intrigued.
When I saw that there was research showing so many other health benefits I decided it was definitely worth a try. I really just hoped that I would avoid gaining weight for the 3 months or so that I couldn’t exercise on a regular basis but I actually found that I ended up losing those last pesky 5 pounds! And that is why I’m sharing what worked for me.
There are several versions of IF but I’m talking today about what I’ve tried and how it has worked for me. I should clarify that I am a girl that likes to eat! And fasting is a struggle for me. When my sugars get low I can get seriously HANGRY! So if this girl has found a way to make this pattern of eating work than I am confident you can too.
I adopted the 14-16 hour IF model and have found it to really be such a subtle change in the way I eat. The idea is that you shrink your “feeding” time to 8-10 hours a day, with non-caloric liquids such as coffee being okay during the fasting time. So for me, that means that I usually just drink coffee in the morning and then eat my first meal around 9:00am. On most days, I try to eat my last meal around 5:00pm. I know that sounds kind of funny, but I have 4 small kids who are usually hungry for dinner right off the bus from school so most of the time, we are already eating an early dinner.
I have also found that the pesky 3:00pm cravings have diminished. I know I’ll be eating soon enough so the snacks in the pantry are less enticing than they used to be. The other nice thing about IF is that I’m not following any other strict eating pattern other than timing of food consumption. So I mostly eat what I want and don’t worry about counting macros or calories, which is way too complicated and time consuming for this busy mom!
And like I mentioned earlier, it’s not something that you have to be regimented about – you do it when you can, just like exercise. I don’t worry if I have dinner plans out or just don’t eat as early as 5:00 a few days of the week. It’s a new pattern of eating and I try to look at it in the same way I do exercise and overall diet. Do what I can, when I can. That seems to be working for me.
Now that I have been practicing IF for several months, I find that I’m rarely hungry before 9:00am. My body has retrained itself to eat in a new pattern and it doesn’t feel like a diet to me at all. I am very surprised if I wake up hungry and when that does happen, I don’t make myself crazy waiting until 9:00. I just go ahead and eat. No big deal.
*Do your own research before you jump in.
**I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist. I’m just a mom sharing something that has worked for me. Please consult your physician before trying anything new!