What is intermittent fasting you may ask? There are many methods which can be used to fast intermittently; basically it is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. I tried the 16/8. Meaning you fast for 16 hours and then eat within 8 hour window. I figured this one was best for me as I wanted to break a couple of unhealthy habits and take back some control. Unhealthy habits included eating for the sake of eating (especially just as I woke up) and also over eating (with no real off button). I was interested to see if my physique would change. I also wanted to know if fasting would help regulate my hormones, and bring me back my periods on a regular basis (sorry guys reading!).
I set myself a 21 day goal to monitor the changes and set a time window between 12-8pm, fasting between 8pm-12pm. I worried about feeling hungry and getting hangry (extreme angriness because of being hungry, sure you’ve been there). But I love a good challenge and using my own body to assess whether something works for it or not. I did have doubts and concerns about missing my first meal of theday as I actually really enjoy eating breakfast.
Coming from a background of bikini competing (competing for 4 years), my eating patterns included some form of calorie restriction for months leading up to a show, followed by a period of eating whatever I wanted after a show. It for sure cannot be good for your body to fluctuate like this. After my competition show, when I did eat unhealthy foods, my body suffered. I would have skin break outs with hormonal changes, feel bloated and suffer with feeling lethargic. During lead up to a competition, I suffered with secondary amenorrhea (loss of periods for more than 3 months) which as pretty much gone on for the 4 years of competing.
So the first couple of days were admittedly, tough. I actually felt like there was a hole in my life (and my stomach on that thought), my beliefs about not leaving the house until i’m fed up were challenging to deal with. I found when I was working during the morning this made the time go alot quicker rather than when I was left to jus think about food. The astonishing thing is, as a week passed, my body no longer felt hungry in the morning. I looked forward to my lemon and water and black coffee and just packed my meals to take with me for the day for when I broke my fast. I found my concentration was better, I was more focused on my daily tasks rather than thinking about when I would eat again. Surprisingly there was no extreme mid morning hunger (which I would usually get if I ate breakfast). I also felt that when it was my eating window, I would get full quickly, and this was an amazing feeling. I always thought I could never feel fully satisfied. I thought my stomach must have shrunk during the fasting period. Apparently after researching this, your stomach doesn’t actually shrink, but hormones associated with hunger and fullness come more alive which can make you feel more full.
Other benefits I found were that I felt less bloated, my digestive system was running much more efficiently and I slept better. There are numerous studies to show that it can have powerful effects on your brain and body. Studies found that when you don’t eat for a while, your body initiates important cellular repair processes and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. Also the bloody levels of growth hormone may increase; higher levels can facilitate fat burning, muscle gain and other benefits. It can facilitate fat loss by boosting metabolic rate and show a reduction of stomach fat. Amazingly fasting may enhance the body’s resistance to oxidative stress (which involves unstable molecules called free radicals, which react with other molecules like DNA and protein) and harm them.
So overall my experience of fasting for such a short period was a positive one, therefore I will carry this on to reap more benefits. It’s worth mentioning that I do drink alot of water during my fast, and non calorific drinks are allowed such as coffee (black) and herbal tea. These can really help with waiting to eat, if this is something you might try for yourself. I would love to hear if you’ve tried it, or what your thoughts are on my experience. Please comment in the box below J