I'm always up for a new dieting adventure and intermittent fasting has been gaining popularity in the fitness world. But, really, everything makes sense in theory so I had to try it out for myself to see how it worked in the real world. The thing that appealed to me about fasting in general was that no food was off limits and no calories or macros were being tracked. It was just simple feast or famine and the simplicity of it gave me hope that this might be the magic bullet that I've been searching for.
The 24 Hour FastA couple months ago I read the e-book Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon. He explained that what we've been told in the past about eating small frequent meals through out the day to keep our metabolisms going keeps us in a constant state of "fed" and we aren't giving our bodies enough time to be in a fat burning "fasted" state hence why we aren't losing weight as a society. Instead, he proposed to do periodic 24 hour fasts each week lasting from 1 to 3 non consecutive days in order to reach a weight loss goal. In our fasted state our bodies would use the body's stored sugar and glucose first, and once depleted, would go straight for the fat stores. Just by not eating for 12 plus hours we were essentially turning out bodies into walking talking fat burning furnaces.
How it Went
I was excited to commence with the fat burning so with high hopes and black coffee, I started my first 24 hour fast with delusions of six pack abs running through my head. I had started my fast at 7 PM the night before so by 7 AM I was already half way there and I had slept for most of it. I could do this. I was ready. I really didn't feel the first twinges of hunger until 10 AM. Unfortunately, my office is filled with foodies that love to order takeout and eat it in front of their computer screens filling our communal work area with the aromas of first, breakfast sandwiches, then for lunch Chinese takeout. It was torture. By 5:00 PM I was starting to experience a tension in my head that could only be described as a headache, which I never get, and I told myself to just muscle through it for another 2 hours. When 7:00 PM hit I was inhaling food indiscriminately and thanking God that fasting was over....until the next fasting day. Wait...what? I have to do this again?
I thought that maybe this whole fasting window needed some tweaking and after reading David Zinczenko's book The 8 Hour Diet I realized that maybe doing a daily feeding window of 8 hours was more my style of fasting. You basically choose an hour window to eat your daily meals and after your self imposed cutoff time, you fast until then next day's window opens up. This was easier to do, yet after a week of perfect 8 hour eating windows my body did some funny things to me. I won't get graphic here, but when you mess with a woman's hormones through dieting, you just may not get the most pleasant results. They include 3 weeks worth of Playtex.
I do see the logic and the science behind intermittent fasting and I did end up losing about a pound that first week, but I also found that fasting gave me the mindset of allowing myself to eat crap during my feeding window as my "reward" for fasting which kinda negates the entire point of getting healthy. I also think that, as a woman, you have to be really careful when you mess with hormones. I figured that in the long run, cutting sugar would be more beneficial vs. cutting meals.