How many times have you started a diet plan that was supposed to be THE best way to lose the weight only to find yourself fed up and frustrated after just a few weeks? If you are anything like me that answer is about a million times.
I think I have been through just about every fad diet there is, all with little to no luck. Of course, they all claim that “it’s a lifestyle change and not a diet”. In the end, that lifestyle change is a change in food. (and no matter how hard you try or how much willpower you have that is a HARD change to make).
When you think about it that makes sense though. I mean, we didn’t start eating poorly or gain weight overnight. It took a while and a habit of eating a certain way to gain weight. For some of us, things like sickness, medication, childbirth, or other factors played a part. For most of us, however, it was a long trend of making less than great food choices.
Thankfully, I’ve started using a new way to keep the weight off that involves little to no counting, no pre-planning or having to hold on to wrappers in order to track every single thing you eat. When I first read about intermittent fasting for women a few months ago I have to admit that I wasn’t really buying it. There’s no way something so simple could actually work, right?
Now that I’ve been using intermittent fasting to lose weight for a while I have found it to be one of the easiest “diets” I’ve ever tried. It is definitely a lifestyle change that is manageable for anyone! I just had to write this intermittent fasting guide for beginners to share the love, and loss with you guys!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Before learning about intermittent fasting to lose weight the only reference I really had to go on was religious fasting that involved several days of denying oneself food. My inner fat kid was having none of that. I mean come on like many who are trying to lose weight I love food! (maybe a little too much!)
The beauty of intermittent fasting, unlike my original reference point, is that most of the fasting is during a time that you would be asleep anyway. You simply add a few hours to that. Yes, you read that correctly, it’s really that easy! You can lose weight in your sleep!
Once you get up and pass a certain time of day you can eat all you want. (within reason, of course) Does that mean 5 sonic sweet teas and a bag of holiday Reese’s? Of course not but if you’re having a crappy day then you do you boo. No judgment here. We all know those holiday Reese’s are the best anyway. On most days, however, a few sensible meals and snacks are all you are going to need.
After a while, I found that going over that just made me feel sick because my body had adjusted to lower food intake. ( versus shoveling it in from the time I woke to jussst before I fell asleep) I was a bad night time eater. I had to have my nightly snack. It was just a part of my going to bed ritual. You know the one. Grab a snack and your phone to scroll through as you sit in bed for a few hours telling yourself that you’re going to actually fall asleep before 12:30 am.
I was a grazer too. While I have never been a fan of big meals I would mindlessly eat throughout the day without much thought to how quickly it all adds up to a lot of calories.
There are three main ways that most people go about intermittent fasting. (with a few variations on each of them out there)
Eat Stop Eat – In this method, you refrain from eating for a full 24 hours once or twice weekly ( on non-consecutive days)
The 5:2 Method – Quite similar to eat-stop-eat, this method involves eating a 500 calorie diet on two non-consecutive days vs. not eating at all.
The 16/8 Method – This method is my preferred method and the one to which I will be discussing today. In this method, you fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8 hour period.
The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting
The beauty of this lifestyle change is its simplicity. When you think about it, many of our ancient ancestors were doing intermittent fasting not by choice but simply out of necessity. Many of our old hunter-gatherer ancestors were forced to fast because they did not have a constant food source available.
They couldn’t just hop over to Walmart and pick up the night’s meal but rather had to work for it. Nowadays, humans are leading more sedentary lives that are filled with food even though we evolved from individuals whose bodies were made efficient for quite different lives.
Through the use of intermittent fasting, the body is made to use food stores that we have built up during our period of eating. By doing this these food stores are kept from becoming fat in our bodies.
Not only this but on a cellular level, there seem to be positive changes with intermittent fasting. Some of these included lowered glucose, healthier lipid levels, decreased inflammatory responses, and other positive outcomes.
The Dangers of Intermittent Fasting
Overall, intermittent fasting can be a fantastic way to approach weight loss because of its simplicity. However, there are a few things to keep in mind while beginning this or any other weight loss regimen.
Staying Hydrated – It is important to stay hydrated regardless of your food intake. Not only while doing intermittent fasting but any time that you are trying to improve your health. Low fluid volume (dehydration) can lead to a variety of side effects such as dizziness, headaches, and even muscle cramps.
In addition, it can cause serious health complications further down the road such as kidney stones and cardiovascular problems. All methods of intermittent fasting allow and in fact encourage drinking water throughout the fasting period. Humans can go much longer without food than they can without water, and denying yourself water is not going to do any good.
Getting Your Nutrients – While you don’t need to count any calories (unless you are doing the 5:2 method) it is important to eat nutritionally while doing Intermittent Fasting. As much as we may enjoy eating nothing but soda and chips for those 8 hours we are not going to get the nutrients we need from that.
Even though this is a dangerous habit even when you aren’t fasting it is even more detrimental when you pack your 8 hours of eating with foods that have no nutritional value. Take a few minutes each week to plan ahead and make sure that you are getting the nutrients you need to be healthy. (vitamins are a great idea here too!)
Don’t Overdo It – It may seem like a good idea to keep going with your fast if you have gone your 16 or 24 hours and still feel as though you aren’t hungry. However, it is important again to get the nutrients that your body needs to function properly. By overdoing it too much you are looking at a potential eating disorder and one that can become dangerous very quickly.
Share Your Experiences with Intermittent Fasting
Have you tried intermittent fasting? How is it working for you? So far I have found it to be such a simple weight loss/health plan to stick to, and one that I think is very doable in the long run. I would love to hear your experience with it if you have given it a try! Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts!