Two months ago I ran into a fascinating interview of Dr. Rhonda Patrick discussing her experience with intermittent fasting (IF).
It was a completely new concept to me but as I heard her talk about the science behind it and the results, I was hooked.
The concept is so easy:
Restrict your time-eating window to lose weight, gain muscle and be healthy.
The science behind it: metabolic enzymes in your body are on a clock, activated from the moment you ingest anything but water. Once you go beyond the 12 hour window, your metabolism is not working as well as metabolic enzymes start shutting down and your body is not insulin responsive. Your metabolic system is basically entering a ‘rest mode’.
In other words, anything you eat past the window will not be metabolized properly… and what does that mean? Well, among other issues, weight gain.
Dr. Patrick recommended limiting eating to a 9 hour window to see results in weight loss and energy levels.
So I figured: why not try? After all, it’s a minor change to implement in my life.
Here are the things I’ve learned since limiting my food intake through intermittent fasting.
1) I was eating way past 12 hours a day
It became immediately evident that I was eating way past the 12-hour limit window on a daily basis.
I woke up early in the morning, had my breakfast and then ate meals and snacks all day long until late at night, when I found a quick snack to eat an hour or so before bed.
Once I calculated my regular eating habits, I realized I was eating at least 15 hours a day.
Could this be what was making me progressively gain weight? It was worth testing.
2) The results were IMMEDIATE
When I say immediate, I mean… within 2-3 days of limiting my eating window to 9 hours, I actually saw my body fat shrink.
I was as astounded by it as you may be incredulous reading this.
It’s like my body was giving me a big “THANK YOU” the moment I let it rest and stop working so hard all day and night to break down my food.
My boyfriend decided to do the 9-hour window with me and he too saw the same results. His stomach deflated.
We were shocked and giddy… it was like discovering the holy grail of weight loss.
All this time and all this effort put into diets and exercise and yet the best result happened from something as easy as eating less hours a day?!
My pregnant friend tried IF as well: not only did she stop gaining weight (unlike prior weigh-ins where she had consistently gained 2 kilos) BUT she no longer felt heartburn.
I’m still amazed by the impact of such a minor change.
3) Bad eating habits are easier to change than expected
The first few days were a bit challenging on us mentally and physically. When I say “bit”, I’m not downplaying it – it was very bearable.
We were used to eating an earlier breakfast and eating something small late at night, so our body and mind were calling for it.
I had some pangs of hunger, but I battled through them.
Within a week, my body was fully accustomed to eating less hours and my stomach stopped demanding the extra food.
4) Results died down after a month
One month in and we were both thrilled with the impact to our bodies. They had definitely shrunk in body fat and our stomachs had deflated.
The scales were not reflecting the change but our clothes sure fit loosely.
And better than any other result, we felt amazing in the morning. Our sleep was more restful and our mornings became more energetic. We’re not morning people so to us, this was a blessing.
Unfortunately at this point, I stopped seeing a noticeable impact. The first 2 weeks were so dramatic that it was a bummer to feel stagnation in the results.
Still, I much prefer maintaining my weight over gaining, and the 9-hour window was ensuring I didn’t gain weight.
5) SO I went more drastic
At that point, I started researching more about intermittent fasting to understand what I was doing wrong or if it’s a natural progression of IF. Everything has a peak in terms of results.
Here, I discovered experiences by people who pushed themselves to limit their food intake from a 9-hour window to a 4-hour window and the impact was huge. They not only lost a ton of weight and built-up muscle but they also felt better.
This was backed up by athletes, nutritionists and doctors.
I figured… why not try? I have a wedding dress to fit into. As long as I do my research and do this in a healthy way, it’s worth a go.
So I started the 20:4 intermittent fasting lifestyle, which means that for four hours a day, I scarf down food like crazy (healthy food, mind you!) and then spend 20 hours fasting.
6) The pounds were melting off
So here are a few things about 20-4: it’s not easy from the get-go. It’s basically like eating one meal a day but a very long meal at that.
Peeps – this is working for me. I’ve lost 6 pounds in 1 month. You may think it’s not much, but my goal was to lose an overall 18, so I’m getting there slow and steady, which I always prefer.
There are a few reasons why I am LOVING 20-4 intermittent fasting:
- I’m not a slave to food anymore. I only have to worry about preparing food for myself once a day.
- My stomach has become very small – it takes less food to fill it.
- I’ve lost the feeling of hunger. I get bearable hunger pangs very occasionally and feel satisfied 95% of the time that I’m fasting.
- I feel more in control of my body.
- I can enjoy food that made me feel guilty before, because it’s all within the 4 hour window. It’s infrequent but I do have a sinful sweet here and there.
- Supermarket shopping has gone down from 1x every week to every 3 weeks. I’m saving money!
7) This is it: I’m sticking to IF for life
Too many of us try all these fad diets that the diet industry pushes on us all the time and then give up and go back to our regular eating habits. (Guilty as charged, more than once)
They’re complicated, they’re difficult to follow and they have such a large learning curve. Thus, we see-saw in weight and we give up yet again.
But intermittent fasting isn’t making the diet industry any money – there are no special foods, recipes, powders or pills to buy. This helps me feel more at ease that it’s not a fad diet trying to become viral for profit.
It’s just an EASY eating lifestyle change: just limit your eating window to no more than 12 hours. That’s it. Easy peasy.
I don’t think I will stick to 20-4 fasting long-term, but from now on, the eating window is an unbreakable law in my life.
I will not eat past a 9-hour window – at the very least, I expect to stop the crazy see-sawing of weight gain and have the added energy of a well-rested body.
Have you tried intermittent fasting? I would love to hear about your experience!
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, specialist or doctor. I’m simply a regular person who was inspired to follow a healthier eating lifestyle. I did a lot of research and talked to my nutritionist before starting any part of the process. It’s working for me and I love it, but if you want to try intermittent fasting, make sure to do your research and talk to a specialist.