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What is intermittent fasting?

I tried intermittent fasting for one month. Here’s what happened.

 

Let me start by saying that my favorite meal of the day is breakfast. It energizes me in the morning and gets me ready for the day ahead.

Even when I’ve finished breakfast, I’m looking forward to lunch. I love eating. It just makes life better.

However, recently my pot belly was getting a little out of control and I needed to do something about it. I’m not one to diet, so I decided to try what keeps Terry Crews in top shape: Intermittent fasting.

What is intermittent fasting?

You’ve probably heard of intermittent fasting before. Several research studies have found considerable benefits to it.

According to Health Line, these benefits include: lower insulin levels, weight loss, lower risk of diabetes, lower oxidative stress and inflammation, improved heart health, increased growth of new neurons in the brain, and it may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

I’m no scientist but those benefits sound almost too good to be true!

So, how do you practice intermittent fasting?

The most popular way is to not eat for 12 to 18 hours a day each day. This means you could have your last meal at 7 pm and your first meal at 12 pm. From 12 pm to 7 pm, you’re allowed to eat as much as you like.

Other methods include going one or two days without eating 2 times a week.

Here’s what happened when I tried intermittent fasting for a month

1) It was tough to get into rhythm of eating so late, but after a week you should be accustomed to it. 

I’m not going to lie, the first few days were a struggle. I love working early in the morning, but by the time it got close to 10 am, I was feeling so hungry it was distracting me.

My energy was completely zapped.

That being said, it was a euphoric experience when it hit 12 PM and I was finally able to eat.

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But after a few days to a week I became accustomed to it and it was much easier.

In fact, as I didn’t need to think about eating, my mind was clear and I just focused on working.

The morning coffee hit me really hard because I had no food in my system.

So, if you’re going to try intermittent fasting, it might be better to slowly wean yourself onto it. For example, for the first day, you could eat at 9 am, the second day at 10 am, the third day at 11 am etc…

2) My stomach felt less bloated and I lost weight. 

Because the time period I could eat was shorter than usual, I wasn’t eating anywhere near as much as I used to.

This was one of the main advantages to intermittent fasting. Through eating less I started to lose weight and felt less bloated in my stomach.

The fact that I used to feel bloated suggests I had a tendency to overeat. So, this was a welcome change.

How much weight did I lose in a month?

3 Kgs. Yep, I was quite stoked indeed.

3) My gym sessions became more intense. 

I started to really hit the gym hard during this time period because of 2 reasons.

  1. For an hour the only thing I had to do was the gym. I didn’t have to worry about breakfast. My mindset was literally: one hour of gym and there’s no out!
  2. Undertaking intermittent fasting meant that I was concerned with my health. I knew that exercise was good for me so I pushed myself harder than I usually do. The good news is I didn’t notice any ill affect from doing the gym on an empty stomach. In fact, running was slightly easier because I usually felt lighter.

4) My muscle mass decreased.

To be clear: This is was I “felt”. I just felt skinnier because I was eating less and when I looked at myself in the mirror, my muscles looked smaller. Perhaps that was simply because I lost weight.

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5) I was still able to eat dinner with other people. 

You might think that intermittent fasting would affect your social life because you wouldn’t be able to eat later than 7 pm. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

To avoid this, I made sure that I didn’t eat for an 18 hour stretch each day. So If I had a meal at 9 pm, the next day I could eat 2 pm the next day.

That means that you can enjoy eating out with other people at any time.

6) My immune system is fine. 

There’s research that suggests intermittent fasting improves your immune system. I didn’t get sick during this time period so that’s a plus. I can’t tell whether my immune system has improved. I’ll have to update this article in 6 months time when I can really know for sure.

7) I’ve enjoyed having an eating routineIt helped structure my life. 

I’ve never really had an eating routine. I used to just eat when I felt like that. So intermittent fasting was great because it introduced some structure in my life.

I knew that when I woke up I would do gym for an hour, then I would focus on work for a few hours, then I could finally eat. I felt like this structure made me much more productive.

The preconceived myths you need to dismantle before trying intermittent fasting

1) Your metabolic rate will slow down.

Some people think that because you’re not constantly snacking, your metabolic rate will slow down and you’ll eventually gain weight.

The truth is, not eating for a few more hours than usual will NOT change your metabolic rate. In fact, as I said above, I lost weight during this month of intermittent fasting.

2) You’ll automatically lose weight when you do intermittent fasting.

Just because I did doesn’t mean that you will too. What helped me was that because my eating time was limited, I ended up eating less.

However, some people might eat more during that small time period. It really depends on your total calorie intake.

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3) You can eat as much as you want when you stop your fast.

You’ve still got to be careful about what you eat, just like you would when you’re not doing intermittent fasting. If you eat badly in your eating time, then intermittent fasting might not be great for you.

4) Hunger pains are bad for you.

Actually you don’t have to worry hunger pains because they won’t do you any harm according to research.

5) You shouldn’t exercise on an empty stomach. 

Exercising on an empty stomach is fine, according to experts.

In fact, it might even come with significant health benefits. I felt lighter when I was running in the morning without food and my energy levels were fine.

Research has also suggested that running in the morning is good for your brain.

6) You don’t enjoy your meals as much because you want to eat fast. 

Quite the opposite for me. I enjoyed my meals a lot more because I know it would be a long time before I eat again. I ate more mindfully.

7) You’ll become extremely fit from intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting alone won’t cause you to become fit. You’ll need to exercise as well.

My potbelly is still big, but that’s okay

The end result was pretty great. I ended up losing 3 kgs in just one month. Unfortunately, my pot belly is there. Perhaps I need to stop drinking beer!

But I do feel more focused and energized throughout the day, so I think I’ll keep it going. Not having to worry about what to eat in the morning is a huge plus and my life feels more balanced.

If you want to be inspired to try intermittent fasting, check out this video of Terry Crews explaining how he goes about it. It’s what inspired me to give it a try and I hope it can do the same for you.

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