I don’t know why I’m like this, maybe it’s my science background, but I’m a skeptic through and through. I don’t buy into fads, schemes, or sales techniques, no matter how fruitful they might look. “You’d be so great as part of my team—you’re such a ‘people’ person!” “Did you see my client’s before and after post the other day?” “You’ll recoup the small startup cost in the first month!” Thanks, but no thanks.
Maybe she caught me during a moment of weakness, but I surprised myself when I agreed to take on a friend of mine as my personal trainer. Nothing crazy, of course—I’m not into things like Crossfit. In addition, I like to work out alone. So I began the process and completed a long lifestyle and goals questionnaire. She replied a few days later with workout routines and diet guidelines. She recommended something I’d never heard of before: intermittent fasting. By that point, I’d already convinced myself there was no going back, so I decided to give it a shot.
I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for almost nine months, and it is now part of my life (along with my gym/race training routines, but that’s for another blog post…).
You know how you’re supposed to have five small meals throughout the day? Well instead, I squeeze all of mine into a 3:00pm-9:00pm window. I can have a cup of black coffee in the morning, but otherwise, outside those hours, I can only have water.
We all know that reducing your daily caloric intake is an effective way to lose weight. The hard part is sustaining diet regimes for long periods of time. Intermittent fasting was appealing to me because I could potentially lose weight but still have guilt-free days of eating what I want. I consume anywhere from 1,500-2,000 calories each day from Sunday to Friday, but Saturday is my cheat day (lots of Starbucks and pizza and ice cream).
The best part about intermittent fasting (IF)? It’s flexible. My eating window is later in the day because I absolutely cannot go to bed hungry. Other people have their window in the morning because they have to eat breakfast. One of my coworkers has an IF routine where she eats normally five days per week but completely fasts the other two.
Although IF is relatively new to the scene, people have been fasting since the dark ages (typically for religious purposes). Numerous studies* have shown that it can produce a variety of positive changes in your body:
- Insulin levels in the blood drop significantly, which facilitates increased fat burning.
- Growth hormone levels in the blood may increase. This hormone elevates fat burning and muscle gain, along with numerous other benefits.
- The body performs important cellular repair processes (removing waste material).
- Beneficial changes in several genes related to longevity and protection against disease.
Now, trust me, it’s definitely a bummer when I have to turn down that Friday morning donut in the break room or decline an invite to lunch, but IF has become second-nature. I’ve lost a ton of weight (due also to regular exercise), and my sleep patterns have normalized–among other surprising benefits.
Don’t just take my word for it. Type “Intermittent Fasting” into your favorite search engine, and a variety of other perspectives will be available for your review.
Good luck wherever your own #SAFit journey takes you!
*Information retrieved from the National Center for Biotechnology Information