I Tried Intermittent Fasting and Here’s What Happened
Under the guidance of a Registered Dietitian, I tried intermittent fasting and here’s what happened!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Basically, it’s restricting you meal-time to between a certain period of time. It’s not about eating less but about eating less often.
You do this by picking an amount of time you want to fast for and amount of time you want to eat for.
There are many different studies supporting different fasting periods but two common time frames are:
Fasting for 12 -13 hours a Day
Perhaps the easiest and most supported fasting regimen.
Fasting for 14 -16 hours a Day
A more difficult eating pattern, it’s said to help build a leaner build.
Other fasting methods get even more intense than the ones listed above.
It’s important to note here, some doctors warn against fasting for longer than 12-14 hours as they say it can be more harmful than beneficial.
Why I Started Intermittent Fasting
I tried Intermittent Fasting during my 2017 summer break and fell in love with it. I was able to push my mental capacity beyond what I thought was possible. I was able to focus on my tasks at hand and it was the best feeling in the world (shout out to my ADD struggles).
I would have continued fasting but I ran into a roadblock I didn’t know how to handle.
I started a new semester with a hectic schedule where I was in class during insane hours. Hours that used to be my eating time. I didn’t know how and didn’t have the time to try to adjust so I didn’t.
I went back to a normal eating pattern and my mental capacity dropped with it.
Then I starting helping out a local private practice dietitian (Hi, Kelly!), and she recommended that I try it again. So under her guidance, I started intermittent fasting again and I fell in love. Again.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to eat. I am not about the 20 hours, 1 day, or even week-long fasts. No way.
But refraining from eating for a 13 hour period I support, mainly because I think it helps me from eating too much. I am the type of person to let snacking in front of the TV after a long day become the norm. However, intermittent fasting makes that not an option so I am forced to find other arguably more productive things to do.
My Intermittent Fasting Regimen
As a huge advocate of intuitive eating, intermittent fasting feels like it would go against every part of that nutrition approach.
However, I fast intuitively. Meaning I listen to my body and if it’s during my fasting period, and my body is telling me to eat something, I am going to break my fast. And I am okay with that.
While I do try to stay fasting for 13 hours or more a day (I use the app Zero to keep track), sometimes that is not feasible for my body. I have to respect that.
Some days I don’t make it. Some days I barely make it to 13 hours, other times I make it past the 18-hour mark without even realizing it.
It just depends on what my body needs.
My goal, however, is to fast for 13 hours a day 5 days a week. Usually, I start fasting at around 5 and then break my fast with my morning coffee at 6.
However, let me make this clear, Intermittent fasting is not about eating less, it’s about eating less often.
Why in the world would anyone let themselves stay hungry for hours at a time?
Seriously, why would anyone choose to go into a state of fasting on purpose?
Studies are showing that giving your body a break from eating can have benefits that can impact the entire body.
Not only have studies indicated that intermittent fasting can improve longevity, but they’ve proven that it can regulate insulin sensitivity, stress resistance, and overall decreased morbidity (Anson et. al 1).
In a more recent study, researchers are linking intermittent fasting to improved gut health. “The benefits of fasting can be extended to intestinal immunity, as shown by clinical studies in which fasting strengthened intestinal immunity by maintaining adequate levels of SIgA in patients ” (Lara-Padilla et al 1).
Lastly, it has been found to lower triglyceride levels and cause significant weight-loss in a study conducted on humans.
As for focus, people experience heightened mental capacities while fasting because “metabolic, endocrine and nervous systems evolved in ways that enabled high levels of physical and mental performance when in the fasted state” (Mattson 47).
I Personally Experience:
Ο Improved Sleep
Ο Stable moods
Ο Better Focus
Ο Overall more happiness
The Skeptics and Non-Supporters
Despite the research supporting the health benefits of intermittent fasting, some are still hesitant to stand behind this eating pattern.
I get it. It is counterintuitive as we are raised to eat often and to eat when we are hungry. I learned in my medical nutrition therapy class for instance, that a common treatment for many disease states involves small frequent meals (among other adjustments).
However, there is little data indicating that intermittent fasting is harmful. In fact, when searching EBSCOhost (Academic Search Complete) using the search terms involving intermittent fasting and harmful, nothing directly related comes up. However, I don’t think that this eating pattern would be safe for those fighting eating disorders or have a history of eating disorders.
Quarrels with this eating pattern are understandable. Nutrition is a field that requires a highly individualized approach. Individualizing nutrition care for people involves taking into account what will and won’t be impactful. As always, contact your doctor or registered dietitians about what eating pattern is right for you.
I tried intermittent fasting and fell in love with how it made my body feel. Does that mean I would recommend it for everyone? No.
Like everything, nutrition and eating patterns need to be individualized. That means intermittent fasting will not be the solution for everyone. It is important that when you make dietary changes like this, that you work with a health professional to determine if these changes are right for you.
With that said, having read current research and experiencing benefits first hand, I am very excited to see what new research comes out.
Have an opinion? Opposing or supporting? Drop a comment, let’s chat!
Anson, R. M., Z. Guo, R. De Cabo, T. Iyun, M. Rios, A. Hagepanos, D. K. Ingram, M. A. Lane, and M. P. Mattson. “Intermittent Fasting Dissociates Beneficial Effects of Dietary Restriction on Glucose Metabolism and Neuronal Resistance to Injury from Calorie Intake.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100.10 (2003): 6216-220. Web.
Lara-Padilla, E., et al. “Intermittent fasting modulates IgA levels in the small intestine under intense stress: A mouse model.”Journal of Neuroimmunology, vol. 285, 2015, pp. 22-30. OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center,doi:10.1016/J.JNEUROIM.2015.05.013.
Mattson, Mark P., et al. “Impact of Intermittent Fasting on Health and Disease Processes.” Ageing Research Reviews, vol. 39, Oct. 2017, pp. 46-58. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.arr.2016.10.005.