|C finished his fries, without any help from me!|
Yet yesterday, while hungry, I gave them each their own cheese fries without taking even one. Not one! I could have easily done this and at least the younger of the two would have been none-the-wiser. How did I accomplish this amazing feat? It was solely due to the fact that I had started my fasting app and was already counting down the 16 hours until I could eat again. I'm not exaggerating when I say that to me, it feels like a superpower.
Starting my fasting app on my phone is like activating an invisible magic shield around me, seriously! I have tried everything and finally, found something that works! And it's simple! I do not eat anything for 16 hours (sometimes I go 19 or more) and then I eat whatever I want for 6-8. Then, BAM! I activate the protective shield again.
Now, before you think I just don't snack a lot, like eating things that are really bad for me or have an appetite, my friends can attest: I do! On our first date, I ate more than my husband, who is 6'4" tall. Granted, I was training for an ultra-marathon but still, I can really put it away. And running only burns about 100 calories per mile. To put it another way: You have to run the length of a football field to burn off ONE M&M. One. Resisting chocolate that I love may be hard, but so is burning it off. I asked myself why am I doing all this work by running and undoing it all by eating too much?
There are several different types of, or ways to, fast. This one is called the 16:8. I've done it every day since the end of December and am "only" down 4 pounds, but more determined than ever! I say "only" because it feels like it should be much more, but this is actually the rate one is supposed to loose at. Too rapid, and it isn't likely to be gone for good. Plus, I have also stopped the gaining trend that I was on when my eating was out of control.
My energy and confidence are though the roof, too! It feels good to finally be doing something to get to where I want to be, health-wise and also to feel good in my clothes (and skin) again! I feel in control again.
So, why did I start fasting? My primary care doctor recommended it. I met with her in the fall, and was lamenting that although I got close to my pre-baby weight awhile back, I had since gone back up again. I entered summer 10 pounds from where I wanted to be, but started December almost 30 pounds from my goal. Returning to work was tough, and I was eating too much because I was busy or stressed or lacked the time to do meal-planning. Or because it was a way to unwind after I put the kids to bed, while watching my murder mysteries. My doctor told me to start intermittent fasting, and told me that it was what she does.
Getting my eating in check needed to happen. I run more days than I don't; always 3 miles. But exercise is only 20% of it! What you put into your body is actually 80% of the reason we look the way we do. And running is so hard! Did you know that you do not even burn enough calories running a marathon (26.2 miles) to even loose a pound!? Yep, I can get out there and run for 5 hours and still not loose one pound. So, regulating diet just has to happen no matter how active we are.
Fasting, just like any other diet, will not work long-term unless you stay on it. But this is so easy that I seriously cannot imagine myself ever not doing it. Proponents of fasting say that we have been lied to and that not eating for a period of time will increase our metabolism, not lower it. Breakfast is a marketing ploy and evolutionary speaking, something that humankind is not accustomed to doing! We would get up and go try and find food, not sit in bed eating it.
Is intermittent fasting for everyone? No. But there is something out there for you, and if you haven't tried fasting, it may exactly what you need. I've tried a lot of other things before this. Most recently, a family member's husband got down to his goal weight by simply tracking his calories on an app. It tired what he was using for months and every day, felt like a failure. I started out strong every day, but would quit reporting whenever I went over my targeted calories; usually around 4pm. I could not stick to it and tracking everything I ate almost made me think even more about food.
That's what I like about fasting - it is mindless. Yet it is also making me mindful of just how much unplanned eating I was doing! So much more than I realized. I would finish off my daughter's bean and cheese burrito when I wasn't hungry, eat a few handfuls of cheetos when packing her lunch and have slices of cheese just because. I like that I can have whatever I want and that no foods are off limits. None! So now, when I'm packing her lunch at night and I want those chips, I pack them to have the next day. Often times, when the next day rolls around, the craving has passed. At night, when I was usually snacking, I now have mint tea. And I actually look forward to it.
That's the thing: When we can eat whatever we want, whenever we want, we don't really enjoy or appreciate it. Now, when I split an ice cream sundae with my husband, I savor it, instead of just wolfing it down. He’s been doing this too, and is down 10 pounds even though he’s only doing it a few days a week.
Eating small, healthy portions frequently was just so much work! Also, it gave me numerous opportunities to royally mess up throughout the day. Think: The break room of any school, which is steps away from my office. I never passed up something when I wasn't hungry, let alone while hungry and now, it's a non-issue. It's almost easy.
It is also shrinking my portions without effort. When I started this, I thought well, I'll just have "whatever" I want during those hours. But I'm finding that I don't. When I go over 16 hours without food, it doesn't take nearly as much to fill me up. And, as Dad has always said: Hunger is the best spice. A kale salad never tastes as good as when you're starving.
Many people have become rich over new diet schemes and plans. There's the paleo diet, Atkins, low-carb, Keto, HCG, Zone, and countless more. But what I like about intermittent fasting is how easy it is! And, according to this review of 9 popular diets, it is one of the most effective.
Other diets try and make things more complicated than they need to be. It’s simple: calories in and calories out. Have a deficit of 3,600 and you’ll loose a pound. Excess of 3,600 and you’ll gain. It doesn’t matter what time of day you consume them, how many of them are macros or what the ratio of protein to carbs is. Calories in-calories out.
It's really more of an eating pattern than a diet. And it's one I can live with, long-term. Hopefully, it will also help me live longer, as proponents of this lifestyle tout. And if none of what is written below is true? Well, at least I'll be hitting the beach in Coratia this summer and not hiding from the camera.
Many studies have been done on intermittent fasting, in both animals and humans.
These studies have shown that it can have powerful benefits for weight control and the health of your body and brain. It may even help you live longer.
Here are the main health benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Weight loss: As mentioned above, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously restrict calories (1,
- Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%, which should protect against type 2 diabetes (1).
- Inflammation: Some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation, a key driver of many chronic diseases (
17, 18, 19).
- Heart health: Intermittent fasting may reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance — all risk factors for heart disease (1,
- Cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may prevent cancer (
22, 23, 24, 25).
- Brain health: Intermittent fasting increases the brain hormone BDNF and may aid the growth of new nerve cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease (
26, 27, 28, 29).
- Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting can extend lifespan in rats. Studies showed that fasted rats lived 36–83% longer (30, 31).