Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss 101
It’s no secret that I’ve been on a diet for my entire life. Well…not for my entire life, but at least for the last 30 years or so. The problem is that I just really really really love food! Also, I grew up in a house where you didn’t waste food. If you made the food, you ate the food. So guess what I do? I make the food, and then I eat the food! And then I cry when I have to buy bigger jeans. It seems that I’ve tried every diet under the sun to lose the weight, but nothing really works with my lifestyle, until now. I’ve recently adopted an intermittent fasting way of eating.
What is Intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is one of the simplest diet plans around because there are very few rules. There are also a few methods of fasting. What works for you may not work for someone else. The first is to eat for only a set number of hours during a day. Some people do 8 hours. Some people do 5 hours (there is a version of this called the Fast 5 diet) and some people try to keep it within 4. I started intermittent fasting at 8 hours a day and have now moved to 4.
The second method of intermittent fasting involves eating 500 calories or less at least 2 days a week. Some people fast 2 days a week and some fast every other day. On a fasting day, they’ll allow themselves a small meal or a few snacks – as long as it keeps the caloric intake under 500. I haven’t personally tried this method. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl, so the calorie restriction just doesn’t work for me.
Either way, remember that you’re sleeping for approximately 8 of the hours you need to be fasting. What’s 8 (or 16) more?
What hours do you eat?
The period of time in which you eat doesn’t really matter. If it works better for your schedule to eat in the morning, then eat in the morning. For me, it works better to eat between the hours of 4pm and 8pm. That way I don’t miss dinner with my family. It also gives me something to look forward to. If I ate in the morning, I’d spend the rest of the day thinking about how I can’t eat until the next day. The hours are also flexible, so you can eat Sunday brunch, Monday dinner, and Tuesday lunch if you want to. The only rule is that you stay within your allotted amount of time each day.
What can you eat?
From what I’ve read, you can really eat anything you want to. If you’re not losing weight, you may need to go with lower carb or lower calorie options. You can also exercise more to produce a calorie deficit. I eat everything I can get my hands on. Some days, like yesterday, that would be a bag of chips followed by two slices of buffalo chicken pizza. Today, it was a bowl of homemade lentil soup and a salad. I don’t always make the best choices, but this way of eating is very flexible and forgiving.
How much will you lose?
This depends on your activity level, what you eat, your current weight, and genetics. The general consensus is that you lose about 2-3 lbs a week. I’m rounding up week 2 and down 13 lbs total. But everyone knows the first week is the biggest loss. Only time will tell how much the scale goes down as this journey continues.
Don’t you get hungry?
Not as much as I did the first few days of intermittent fasting. Honestly, those days were ROUGH. The first day I didn’t think I’d make it. As a matter of fact, I only lasted to 1:00 before consuming 7 times my weight in food. Day 2 was a little better, but not much. On Day 3, I discovered that drinking water with lemon all day long is really helpful when it comes to squelching hunger. So I make a big pitcher of it the night before. Fresh lemons would be great, but I live in NY and this is February. So I cheat and use lemon juice.
Can I still have my morning coffee?
Technically, if the hours you eat are in the afternoon or evening, you’re not supposed to have morning coffee unless you drink it black. (Gross.) I break the rules and drink coffee with sugar- free coffee creamer in it. And I’m not giving that up anytime soon.
What about exercise?
They say weight loss is 80% what you eat and 20% exercise. Should you exercise? Absolutely, yes. It’s good for your heart, your mental state, and will help you lose weight faster. Is it necessary to exercise if you want to lose weight by intermittent fasting? No. But do it anyway. It’s good for you!
Each diet plan has its pros and cons, and finding one that works with your lifestyle is really important. The reason diets fail is because you’re torturing yourself! Whether you choose to eat paleo, keto, low calorie, according to your blood type, or something else, you have to like what you’re eating or you won’t stick with it long term. Intermittent fasting works for me because I like to eat chips, dip, and cheeseburger soup. If a 2 ounce portion of dry chicken on a bed of lettuce with dressing on the side is your thing, then have at it! The end goal is the same. Get healthy!
Are you currently dieting? Tell me about it in the comments!