Intermittent Fasting has become the new Keto. In the past year, the diet has gained an immense amount of popularity and thousands swear by it. If you look at YouTube, many lifestyle vloggers have already uploaded the video along the lines of, “I tried intermittent fasting, and here's what happened.” So what exactly is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is an eating pattern that involves cycles of fasting and eating. There is no restriction on what you can and cannot eat during the eating period as long as you do all your consumption within the set phase of eating. There are various different Intermittent Fasting plans, the most common ones being the 16/8 fasting, the 5:2 fasting, and Eat-Stop-Eat fasting. The 16/8 Intermittent fasting involves eating for an 8-hour time period and fasting for the next 16 hours. The 5:2 fasting plan is when you eat normally for five days of the week but restrict your calorie count to 500-600 per day for the remaining two days, hence the name 5:2 fasting. Lastly, the Eat-Stop-Eat fasting includes a 24-hour fast once or twice a week so for example, if I stop eating after dinner, I should not eat anything until dinner the next day.
The trendy phenomena which has taken over the world is all due to its promising health benefits. Majority of people do intermittent fasting in order to lose weight since it is actually a very simple plan where you are easily cutting off calories and burning fat AND you are not restricted from having your favorite cheat day meals like pizza and cake. Another bonus of doing the fasting; studies have shown that it can extend your lifespan, protect you from diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart diseases, Alzheimer’s and many others. And to top of the cake, this diet is simply convenient! You’re planning and cooking lesser meals, cleaning lesser dishes, saving more time all while burning off calories! What’s not to like about this diet right?
Personally, I had been feeling quite insecure about my body and my overall health for the past year. I heard about this trend at school when one of my friends told me she’s not having anything till 12 pm because she’s fasting. I thought of how ridiculous that was, I mean how could you not feel lethargic at school having only eaten dinner the previous night? I brushed it off and went about my day. However, when the whole pandemic began, my country went into lockdown, and I was stuck at home with nothing to do, I became obsessed with eating. It was during the pandemic that everyone suddenly became chefs and bakers at home with each house having an aroma of sweet banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, homemade pizza, focaccia, sourdough, all kinds of breads. Every day was about trying a new recipe that I found on the internet and eventually it became a routine. Until one day, I was tired of the way I looked. I realized I was eating unhealthy with a large intake of unhealthy carbs and cheese. I could never completely cut out carbs or junk so keto was ruled out for me. Then, my mind went back to the conversation I had with a friend and did a little research of my own and narrowed down to intermittent fasting.
Apart from all the health benefits listed above, I read that Intermittent fasting was found to be extremely beneficial for some people suffering PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Many women who suffer from PCOS are unable to lose weight, have extreme hormonal imbalances, irregular menstrual cycles and, high insulin resistance. In accordance, Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce high androgen levels and overall improve ovarian function. This was perfect for me since my unhealthy eating had led to an irregular menstrual cycle and weight gain.
I began the fasting in March and chose to go with the 16/8 rule as it was the most fitting and convenient plan for my lifestyle. It is known to support weight loss, boost brain function, improve blood glucose levels and increase longevity. I decided to be a little lenient with the hours since I do live with my family and I can’t expect them to be eating meals at the same time as me. So instead of 8 hours, I did a 9-hour period where I began my eating window at 12 pm and finished all my consumption by 9 pm. I did not cut out anything that I was previously eating, I would still eat a pizza when I craved for it. I will admit though, the first few days were tough, I was feeling the nasty side effects of the diet; I felt light-headed by around 11:30, my stomach was usually grumbling by then and the desire to have a midnight snack was greatly taunting. However, I forced myself to stick by the rules and within a month all the side effects had decreased. I became used to the lifestyle and no longer craved breakfast or the midnight snack. Within a month, I had lost two kg's, my lower belly fat had reduced, I felt lighter and the period gods finally knocked on my door which boosted my self-confidence to a whole other level! Since then, I have continued with the lifestyle and am currently still following the diet.
What I have noticed though is that after losing those two kg's, my weight has reached a plateau. Since April, I have stayed the exact same weight with a little fluctuation here and there depending on the quantity of food ingested that day. I also think that in the PCOS point of view, my period came not only because of intermittent fasting but also due to other lifestyle changes; I had started dancing again twice a week which counted as moderate exercise.
However, all in all, I definitely recommend intermittent fasting if you’re looking for a way to lose weight without actually restricting what you eat. Having said that, make sure to consult a doctor if you are taking medication, have a disease, are pregnant or anything along the lines of that.