I have always hated weight loss fads. And Intermittent Fasting always seemed to me like a fad – another shortcut for people who want to sidestep the discipline it requires to lose weight.
Secondly, I just generally don’t like fasting, even for spiritual purposes. That doesn’t mean I do not fast. No babes, I certainly fast. Now having to fast for non-spiritual reasons hold absolutely no appeal for me at all. And for me, if you skip meals for non-spiritual purposes, I consider it ‘starvation’ and I know for sure that starving doesn’t help your weight loss journey.
So in both ways, Intermittent Fasting was off the table for me. However, considering how endemic obesity is, any kind of intervention is worth having a look into. I decided to do some research and my findings were quite interesting. Here is a quick rundown of what I learnt:
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Think of it this way: you fast for 16 hours a day, and you eat only within am 8-hour window. For instance, you could have your first meal at about noon and your last meal no later than 8 pm, after which you go back to fasting again until 16hours later, noon also the next day when you get to eat again. No food is allowed during the fasting periods but water and other zero calorie drinks like flavoured teas and green tea. Coffee too so this should really work for the coffee lovers.
Why It’s Interesting
Intermittent Fasting does not say anything about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them. It also does not change what you eat, it only changes when you eat. However, as with any healthy eating plan, this also presupposes that you are making the best choice of meals in your eating hours and not just filling your body with junk foods high in fat, sugars and calories. This has gone beyond weight loss to healthy living.
The Logic Behind It
First, calorie restriction would always lead to weight gain. Now without looking at the sustainability angle of it (meaning can I sustain this for a couple of months or a year?), if I had an 8-hour window to eat and a whole 16 hours where I could not eat, chances are very high that I would lose weight. Now the caveat here is that I do not spend the entire 8hours eating foods high in fat, added sugars and calories. That would certainly jeopardize the process as a healthy lifestyle, no matter the route taken to achieve it, would still require you to be disciplined.
But if for instance, I had a complex carb meal at about noon, snacked at 3 pm, and ate another high protein meal at 8 pm, then was disciplined enough to fast for the next 16hours, chances are high that I would lose weight. So Intermittent Fasting works when you have two healthy meals and a snack in that 8-hour eating window. Simples.
If one has not figured out disciplined on a regular weight loss diet when you have to eat three meals and two snacks spread across about 15hours, I wonder how they would cope with fasting for 16hours. This is primarily why anyone who found their way to Intermittent Fasting without first counting the cost may soon be disappointed at how hunger and a lack of discipline interrupt your plans.
It Won’t Be Easy
We must not ignore the fact that it would be hard in the first couple of days or weeks, as with any new introduction or modification to an already established lifestyle. However, if you pull past those hard days, you unlock a new level of strength and you soon find that the lifestyle works for you. If however, you find yourself struggling hopelessly long into it, then maybe intermittent fasting is not for you.
Another Logic Behind It
The second logic as to why intermittent fasting helps with weight loss is that is the fact that your body tends to burn more fat in the ‘fasted state’ as opposed to the ‘fed state’. Since we have a longer frame of time in the ‘fasted state’ than in the fed state, this works to promote even more fat loss.
My body’s fed state begins when I start to eat and lasts 3 to 5 hours from then, and in this period, my body digests and absorbs the food it has ingested. Here, fat burning is relatively slowed down as insulin levels are typically high.
In simple terms, fasting those 16 hours allows the body stay in the fasted state for longer and so can burn even more fat, and then before you were faint of hunger, you enter the eating window again allowing you replenish energy.
However, I am more intrigued by the theory of this because I have to put that into practice and confirm or denounce this more accurately.
Finding a Way Around It
However, Intermittent Fasting is worth giving a try. A little hack to help though would be to time your periods of fasting around your sleep cycle. And ensure that a good amount of those 16hours are asleep and expending less active energy. So, if you, like me on most days are asleep between 9 and 2 am, rather than having my last meal at 8 am as stipulated in the earlier paragraph, I would find it more likely to comply to if I had my last meal at 5 or 6 pm.
If it is an option, increasing the hours you sleep would also help improve compliance. Ditto making your fasted hours one where you are busy enough to divert your mind and attention off the overwhelming thoughts of food that would usually accompany an idle state.
Like I already mentioned, most of us have an underlying problem of discipline. We are quick to jump into anything that promises radical results for half the work. But not so fast baby, intermittent fasting will still require you to be disciplined otherwise you will fall yakata off the wagon. Most of us are excited to start but do not do our due diligence and count the cost, to determine if your discipline, self-control and even current life season will allow us to succeed at it.
Have you ever tried Intermittent Fasting? How did it go? I am happy to try it out and would update you if and when I do.