WHY I DO INTERMITTENT FASTING (HINT: IT'S NOT TO LOSE WEIGHT!)
* Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be. This post is purely based on my own experience and speaks to my personal opinion ONLY. Before considering any serious change to your diet or lifestyle, you should consult your doctor.
One of the dietary trends that I heard the most about in 2018 (and the few months of 2019) has to be intermittent fasting. And I have to admit, I’m a huge fan. But in my mind, I don’t see intermittent fasting (IF) as a fashionable trend… Because I’ve been doing it on and off for about 10 years. You see, I’m like that meme that says “I was doing it before it was cool” LOL.
When I was in fashion school, in 2010, I was overloaded with school and work and didn’t really have time to have a “normal” eating schedule. Or at least what most people consider normal - which is breakfast in the morning, lunch around noon and dinner in the evening. On most days, I went to school from 8am to 6pm, with classes spread throughout the day. Between classes I would be either working on school projects or scouring the stores downtown for fashion inspo. Then, at night, I would go back home quickly, have my one meal of the day, and head out to the gay bar I worked at.
Most of the time, after my 6 hour shift, I would grab something to eat and head back home for the night. I never had breakfast, never had lunch. Just dinner and a pick-me-up after an exhausting work night. That means that for 16 hours a day, I wasn’t eating. AKA, I was fasting. When my mom learned that, she went ballistic on my ass. She told me it was bad for me, she told me I was going to starve and loose weight, that I could’t afford to loose weight, and all that good stuff.
My mom might have been overprotective, but she wasn’t the only one to think I was completely bonkers. My classmates, friends and basically anyone around me thought it was a little extreme. I’m sure some people were convinced I had an eating disorder, because I’ve always been skinny, and they never saw me eat. And now, 10 years later, intermittent fasting is super trendy and everyone wants to be doing it to reap the benefits. Funny, no?
If you’re not familiar with IF, here’s what it is: Intermittent fasting basically consists of limiting the time period during which you’re eating each day to a few hours only. Ideally, as few hours as possible.
So instead of waking up, having breakfast right away, then lunch around noon and dinner in the evening (eating regularly during the whole day, except during sleep), someone who does intermittent fasting might skip breakfast and start eating at noon, to stop eating right after dinner. Most people who do intermittent fasting in a non-extreme way usually eat for 8 hours a day. Meaning if you have your first meal at 12pm, you should have your last meal at no later than 8pm.
Technically, there are no rules to what you should eat or how much you should eat during those hours, but most people usually combine IF with a healthy diet, or a ketogenic diet. That’s how I discovered that intermittent fasting was actually a real thing, last year, when Sasha wanted to eat keto. He did some research, and discovered pretty quickly that most people recommending a keto diet were also doing intermittent fasting.
The most widely known (and talked about) benefit of IF is definitely weight loss. There’s a great deal of research and testimonials that show how intermittent fasting helps loosing weight (and maintaining that weight) without cutting out entire food groups or restricting calories like some extreme diets do. Now I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I’m completely and vehemently against extreme diets. I find them to be ridiculous, dangerous and totally ineffective, because they’re not sustainable in the long run. Also, if a diet requires you to eat nothing but celery and boiled radish, it’s going to suck the joy out of your life very quickly.
I also don’t think caloric restriction is the way to go. Obviously I’m not saying that everyone should eat 6000 calories a day, but I feel like when I’m hungry, I should eat. I’m a BIG fan of listening to my body. That’s why even though I try to stick to intermittent fasting, if I’m starving an hour before I normally start eating, I’ll eat. I won’t force myself to wait and just be uncomfortable for an hour.
I usually eat from 12pm to 8pm because that’s what I find to be easier for me. Sasha usually gets back from work late too, so we tend to have dinner late. If we have dinner at 9pm, sometimes I’ll try to wait until 1pm the next day before I start eating, but as I just mentioned, I don’t drive myself crazy about it. I just try to be conscious of my eating habits, and to limit my eating to 8 hours a day. Sometimes, I won’t feel hungry at all until 2pm, in which case I’ll eat for 6 hours only that day - and that’s fine! I try not to be too strict with intermittent fasting, because as I just mentioned above, I’m really not big on restricting myself when it comes to food, AKA one of the biggest pleasures in life.
Now assuming you’ve read the title of this post, you might be asking yourself what the benefits of intermittent fasting are, aside from weight loss - because that’s the most talked about. I won’t be going over weight loss for too long, simply because that’s not something I can talk about, because I haven’t experienced it myself, and I don’t like talking about things I don’t know anything about. The only thing I will say about weight loss related to intermittent fasting is that Sasha lost a lot of weight super quickly when he did it coupled with a looser version of the keto diet. I also recommended to my mom that she try it, and she called me 2 weeks later to say that she had lost 13lbs. So definitely, if weight loss is your goal, I would suggest doing some research on it, because it definitely works.
But yeah, as I mentioned, weight loss isn’t really my jam, and it wouldn’t be healthy for me to lose any weight at this point, since my natural body shape is already very thin. One thing I do want to say though is that IN MY OPINION, doing intermittent fasting is still safe even if you start off with a naturally skinny body shape. I didn’t experience any unwanted weight loss or fatigue from intermittent fasting. If anything, I noticed a few very positive outcomes. Here are the most noticeable ones:
I HAVE MORE ENERGY
You know that feeling of needing to take a nap after eating? A lot of time after eating a giant meal, you feel heavy and slow, and all you want to do is lie down an do nothing… When I do intermittent fasting, I find it to be a little different. First of all, when you do intermittent fasting, your stomach is used to not always being full, so it doesn’t always need food to function.
So if I have to go somewhere in the morning and don’t have time for breakfast, guess what? I don’t care. I know I won’t be hungry until about 1pm, so my need for food doesn’t control me, which I find to be incredibly practical. Nowadays, it feels like I don’t need foo to have energy, and I feel like my level of energy is also a lot more constant, instead of having spikes or highs and lows due to my body metabolizing sugars constantly.
I’m not a scientist, so even though I’ve done my own research on this, I don’t wanna get too technical here, but basically, I would compare the feeling to the energy you get when you drink a lot of coffee throughout the day VS the clean, constant energy you feel when you workout.
When I do eat, I feel like I can eat A LOT without feeling weighed down, because my stomach is empty, so I’m not adding new food on top of already there, half-digested food - which is kind of gross, if you think about it.
I DON’T FEEL BLOATED AFTER EATING
On that same theme, I rarely have a food baby anymore, even after eating a big meal. I mean, if I’m totally honest, I won’t go to an AYCE sushi restaurant right before a bikini shoot (lol) but if I eat reasonably, even if it’s bread (or any other carbs), I’m still able to keep a pretty flat stomach afterwards.
This might seem incredibly vain and shallow, but anyone who experiences severe bloating after eating knows how annoying and uncomfortable it can be. Oh, and also, I don’t care if it’s vain as f*ck, to be honest. I’m sure I’m not the only chick who doesn’t feel like answering pregnancy related questions every time she eats a few too many tacos.
I DON’T FEEL THE NEED TO SNACK AS MUCH & I HAVE LESS SUGAR CRAVINGS
This is a big one for me, because I used to snack ALL. THE. TIME. Morning through night, especially when I worked from home. In my case, boredom eating definitely is a thing, and so are sugar cravings. Ask anyone who knew me between the age of 19 and 25, and they’ll gladly tell you that I was basically living on chocolate, Red Bull and wine. While I still enjoy all 3 (a lot), I’m now a lot better at including them in (sometimes) reasonable quantities, and usually around 4pm or after dinner, which are both time when my sugar cravings usually strike. Long gone are the days when I would eat 3 chocolate bars a day, top it off with a Red Bull or two, and make all that go away with a bottle of red at night.
Nowadays, I feel a lot better when I eat real food, usually something that I prepared myself, including all food groups in reasonable quantities - or whatever feels reasonable to me. Since I eat a big meal around 12-1pm and then a big meal around 8pm, I will sometimes have a snack around 4pm, because that’s when I start feeling hungry. It’s been months since I haven’t had a midnight snack, which I used to have almost every day.
These are the 3 main positive effects of intermittent fasting that I can personally clearly feel, but there are TONS of other possibilities and a slew of other effects that are probably impossible to feel, that relate to diabetes, heart health, brain health, etc. For example, Sasha reported that he feels a lot more clear-minded and focused when he doesn’t eat carbs all day.
As with everything, if you want to know what the effects will be for you, then you need to try it yourself, and everyone reacts differently to different things.
But this is my experience, and I thought I would share, because I get a lot of questions on how I workout or how to treat acne, and I feel like I could give the same answer to both questions: You can do whatever you want, but if you’re not eating well and giving your body clean fuel, you’re never gonna get the best results. It’s that simple.
Have you guys tried intermittent fasting? If you did, did you love it? Sound off in the comments section below, I love reading you guys!
P.S. These photos were taken last Fall, and can we please take a moment to appreciate how TANNED I was? I’m freaking out lol. I feel so white now. Call me Jenny the Friendly Ghost. K, thanks, Bye!