Intermittent Fasting, or “IF”, is one of the biggest trends in the fitness community right now, and there are so many mixed reviews! So I decided to try it out for two weeks, to make my own opinions and let you guys know what I thought.
Here’s an easy guide on what IF is, the science behind it, and my thoughts after my 2-week experience.
What is Intermittent Fasting or “IF”
The easiest way to define Intermittent Fasting is as an eating schedule where you alternate a shorter eating time with a longer fasting time. So contrary to popular belief, IF is not a diet but a way to organize your eating times.
Moreover, there are different types of IF:
- The 24/24 method: Eat for 24 hours, and fast for the next 24
- The 4/20 method: Eat for 4 hours and fast for 20
- The 6/18 method: Eat for 6 hours and fast for 18. This is also the most popular one.
The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting
“IF” biggest claim is that it can help you lean out without having to cut calories out of your diet. If done properly – following the eating schedule, eating healthy foods, etc., your body will lose fat without necessarily losing weight.
According to research, our body always has a fat reserve which is meant to be used when we don’t provide the food (fuel) it needs to generate energy. So, when our body is in a fasting state (usually 8-12 hours after our last meal) we feel the need to eat because we are running out of energy.
By fasting, we are forcing our body to use the stored fat as energy, burning it, and leaning out without having to cut our usual calorie intake. AWESOME! Right?!
Besides this, doing my own research I found that “IF” could help prevent Diabetes type II, because by reducing the number of times we eat, we also reduce the amount of insulin produced by the body; however, there isn’t enough data proving this, so we can expand on it once more research is done.
My Experience With Intermittent Fasting
Let’s start by disclaiming that I LOVE to eat. So when I decided to schedule my meals in 6-hour spam, it was really difficult.
I ate two big meals every day and a snack in between; I usually go to the gym after work, so I ate a snack that would give me some energy before my gym session! 💪
Here are the highlights of the last two weeks:
I was a little hungry in the morning but nothing out of the ordinary. I was able to have a killer booty workout, and did not have an absence of energy.
Hunger stroke around 10 am and I was really “hangry” until I was able to eat. I pushed through it though, and after I ate my lunch I rewarded myself with a brownie because, you know, balance.
By the 5th day, I could already see some changes – I am very prone to bloating and it wasn’t really happening those days. Digestion was good and, my belly was a little flatter.
I didn’t have as much energy though. I was exhausted every night at 8 pm.
The second week
It was shocking to me to see how my body quickly adapted to this new routine – I mean, I was still hungry but it was easier to follow the eating schedule, and my energy levels were higher again.
It was the hardest time to stay on track because we don’t have a normal routine on weekends – I stuck to my eating times, but IF became a sacrifice that I really wouldn’t be willing to make every weekend.
I also realized that fasted workouts aren’t for me. On the weekends we workout at around 10 am, and I nearly passed out at the gym because I had eaten nothing but my pre-workout. I decided I will not do a fasted workout ever again.
The Pros of Intermittent Fasting
- It definitely made my life easier because I didn’t need to plan for 3 big meals and 2 snacks which is what I usually eat.
- It helped me realize how often I eat just because I’m bored. Sometimes I would feel SO hungry, but then when my mind was busy with something, I was able to fast without feeling like this was torture.
- It helped me lean out a little – not enough for a before and after picture because it was just 2 weeks, but I could see my abs showing up a little more.
- It forced me to drink more water – I am not very good at drinking water, but during the fasting period I drank more water and I didn’t feel the need to eat.
- I lost two pounds – it was not my intention to lose weight, so I am not sure if this is a pro or a con. But so far I don’t feel like I lost muscle weight, so it was probably some extra fat I said bye-bye to, so, YAY!
Bonus: as I said before, I am very prone to bloating and it’s something that I’ve lived with for a long time. While doing IF I didn’t have any bloating, my belly looked flatter, and I felt that my digestive system was working better all around.
The Cons of Intermittent Fasting
- I don’t like to be restricted when it comes to eating – that’s why diets are a no-no for me – Ain’t nobody gonna tell me what I can or can’t eat, ok?
- If I didn’t eat enough during the feeding period, my energy levels dropped very quickly during the fasting period – Protein, and good carbs are a MUST during the feeding period, and water intake is a MUST throughout the day.
- If not done properly, “IF” can be counterproductive – you can lose muscle mass, energy, and very likely pass out somewhere because your insulin levels are too low during the fasting period.
- For other people, it might work, but for me, a BIG CON is that I must workout during my feeding period – as I said above – I tried a fasted workout and it did not work for me at all.
- I unintentionally ate less food by trying to stick to the schedule, which made me doubt whether this eating schedule can work for me in the long run.
I thought that once this two-week experiment was over I would be glad to go back to my previous eating routine, but my body adapted to IF so quickly that I could’ve kept going for a longer time.
If I feel the need to eat more I will not restrict myself, but after reading about the benefits of IF and experiencing it myself, I am not against the idea of practicing it from time to time.
Bottom line: What you eat matters, but When you eat could be just as important. I find it relieving to know that to be healthy doesn’t mean eating only salads and green juices. I can still eat what I like if I balance myself out and just have a little self-control.
Let me know if you’re thinking about trying Intermittent Fasting! Would love to hear your thoughts.