I have been practicing IF for 3 years and have had great results. Here are some thoughts on my experience for anyone who is curious.
What is intermittent fasting?
Basically, it is a plan whereby you spend 16+ hours in a day not eating, or eating very few calories. There are many different variations on this theme, but I followed 5:2, which is basically:
I used the principles in this book and also watched this short, one-hour film called Eat, Fast and Live Longer to guide me. I also belong to a Facebook group and used to read some online forums for extra support.
What was your IF experience?
I love food, so I have always had to watch my weight (since college). With varying degrees of success. I am 5’8″ and my weight has varied from 130-162. The 150+ times have been when I was living in Russia and basically without a great system for eating well and working out due to things being different there. I also went months without a scale, which probably was the biggest factor in extreme weight gain.
When I discovered 5:2, I was a first-year grad student and about to turn 30. I weighed about 142 thanks to a five-week hike across Spain, running and trying to watch my carbs. But I still didn’t love 142. My face was chubby and I had love handles. As a single 30-year-old, I had plenty of motivation to try and get lower. 5:2 was just another diet in many that I’d tried, but it worked. I got down to 134 by summer and have bounced between 132-136 ever since. Ever since day 1, I have fasted two days per week (as above) and not watched my food intake at all the other five days. I also have gone through periods of exercising 6 days/week and not exercising at all. The scale has not really reflected differences in exercise, but of course I feel and look better when I am exercising.
For the first time ever, I have not had to continuously buy new (smaller AND bigger) sizes of clothes to match my fluctuating weight. It has been amazing and mentally I am much freer than before. Physically, though, I have not been great. I have been eating a lot of junk food and lately have been having a lot of stomach aches, headaches, and itchiness. I’ve been telling myself for some time that I need to do something different, but fasting was so comfortable and reliable; I did not want to gain weight back. I finally hit the point where I would rather feel good with a few extra pounds than continue feeling this way, so I will do a month of whole 30 now and reassess at the end of the month.
Are you still fasting during your whole 30??
NO! I subscribe to the philosophy of one diet at a time. If I start making multiple rules for myself about when and what I can eat, I will go crazy and it is just not mentally healthy to make food such a big part of ones life. If you can’t be happy with your weight while maintaining a reasonably healthy lifestyle and exercising (which is what I do), then you should just accept your body where it is at.
Is fasting good for people who have had disordered eating?
We are probably all on a disordered eating spectrum. However, I do think that people with a tendency to starve themselves or binge/purge should not try to fast. I have been guilty of adding a third fast in if I feel like I’ve overdone it, and I can see how people could take this even further (fasting every day? Limiting the eating window on non-fast days?). Stay away from fasting if you have an eating disorder (over- or under). In that case, your mental health is more important than being thin.
More questions? Post them below!