I Tried Intermittent Fasting for Six Weeks – Here’s What I Learned
As I’m writing this it is officially my six week intermittent fasting completion date! Hooray! I’ll explain why, in case you’re wondering. After reading some of the benefits of intermittent fasting (like this from the Harvard Health Blog) and claims I thought I would give it a try. After downloading a free app (more on that later) I decided to go with the basic 16:8 format – you fast for 16 consecutive hours, every day, and then can eat whatever in the eight hour period. So for six weeks I would only eat between noon and 8pm each day.
I wasn’t that hungry…..mostly
Honestly, skipping breakfast is something I typically would do about half the week anyways so it wasn’t that daunting. The bonus is that on IF you’re allowed water, black coffee (unsweetened) and unsweetened tea during the fasting periods. I had a pretty solid start in the mornings my first two weeks, however there were a few days that I felt like I was starving. I did break a couple times and eat at 11:30am, but I would adjust and try to start my fasting at 7:30pm instead of 8pm to compensate. Overall, I realized that my “hunger” was actually more mental than physical; knowing I couldn’t have something made me want it. A lot.
I never realized just how much late night eating I do
So about that 8pm cutoff time……it was an adjustment. Skip breakfast? Sure! Stop eating (or drinking wine) by 8pm? Do what now? This was a habit I had to get myself into and it was a little tough to start. I love a glass of post dinner wine but knowing I had to finish it before 8pm made me feel a little rushed sometimes (the pressure). For the sake of transparency I would also like to say that two nights I pushed my start time back to 10pm because I just didn’t feel like wrapping everything up so early. I figured that, while I wasn’t sticking to 16:8, I was still doing IF…just the 14:10 model. Ahem.
I asked myself ridiculous questions
Can I drink a LaCroix after 8pm? I did, after much internal deliberation. Did I mess up by eating at 11:30 am? Can I drink this glass of wine in 12 minutes? I wonder what I’ll eat for lunch tomorrow (thinking at 10pm the night before)? Again, I think that most of this nonsense came from knowing I couldn’t have something and my ridiculous brain trying to find workarounds. I did find myself getting a little discouraged when I deviated from my schedule but my stomach never once questioned it!
I found it a little restricting
From a social standpoint the 16:8 could feel a little rigid. I had to change breakfast plans to lunch and couldn’t do a later dinner or drinks with friends. It wasn’t too big a deal but I also started to feel a little bit like a grandma eating my dinner at 5:30 each night. On occasion I did notice that I wasn’t feeling as bright and focused in the mornings as I would like, but it’s hard to say if it was lack of breakfast or just not being a morning person in general. Regardless, it felt restricting to my schedule and the work I had to do and wasn’t my favorite part of IF.
My final thoughts
Overall I felt pretty comfortable doing IF, even if what I was doing would be considered a “beginner” or “easy” plan. The app I downloaded was essentially useless, however I was doing the free version with the beginner 16:8 plan so it basically alerted me as to when I could start eating (like I wasn’t already counting down) and when I had to stop. They offered coaching (for a fee) and more involved plans, such as 5:2 where you eat normally for five days then fast for two. I lost a few pounds, but note that I wasn’t trying this out to lose weight. I didn’t change any part of my eating habits aside from the schedule. My biggest realization was that I certainly have an affinity for late night snacks. It’s a habit I’m hoping to break out of, especially now that I’ve gotten a six week jump on it. Going forward, I’ll probably try to loosely incorporate similar intermittent fasting schedules into my routine as I’m feeling pretty good at the moment. I will, however, be eating a pancake for breakfast at some point this week and nothing will stop me.
Have you tried intermittent fasting? I’d love to hear about your experience! Make sure to comment and let me know.