Intermittent Fasting is all the rage right now. And today I’m going to go over what it is. And a little bit about my experience and what happened when I tried intermittent fasting for a week. I have to say that what happened surprised me.
But before we go over the nitty gritty of my experience, let’s go over some of the basics. Because unless you’ve tried intermittent fasting, you might not know much about it. And the word ‘fasting’ might seem different than it is.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is when you alternate between fasting and eating. However, there are multiple ways you can achieve this. Meaning you can fast for entire days. Or you can just fast for an extended period overnight every night.
Here are a couple of ways this works. One method is a 5/2 split. This is where you eat like normal for 5 days out of the week. On the other days, you eat extremely lightly – meaning only 500 to 600 calories.
Another method involves fasting overnight for a longer than traditional time frame. So the average person may only fast for 10 hours overnight. With intermittent fasting, you can fast for 14, 16, or more hours every night!
Why intermittent fasting?
The point of intermittent fasting is to give your digestive system a break. Think back to our hunter and gatherer ancestors. Food was scarce. And fasting happened naturally due to lack of food. Many believe that we are naturally wired to have periods of fasting for this reason.
Intermittent fasting is also used for weight loss. It’s helps balance blood sugar levels. And this is good for your health, as well as your waistline. And this can potentially help for heart health and diabetes prevention too.
My intermittent fasting technique of choice.
There’s no way I could fast entire days on a regular basis. OK, I know you don’t totally fast. But eating 500 to 600 calories a day seems like fasting. So that meal schedule was out.
But fasting at night seemed doable to me. I mean, we all fast when we sleep anyway. This just meant fasting for a longer period of time. Not impossible, right?
I first aimed to fast for 16 hours a night. But I eventually settled for fasting just 14 hours. I just couldn’t eat dinner early enough without needing to eat breakfast super late to achieve a 16 hour fast. And as someone who wakes at 5 am many days, I couldn’t wait until 10 for breakfast.
My reaction to intermittent fasting
OK, I’ll admit this was a transition. I used to work late evenings in my previous life. And I got used to eating a late dinner. It was a shock to need to think about dinner at 4:30 pm. And many evenings I wasn’t even home until about 6, making an early dinner impossible
But after a day or two, I got into the swing of it. And it was actually nice to not have to think about food all night. I would tell myself I was done eating. And then I would just try to forget about food. It was liberating.
Yes, I did experience a bit of hunger. I wasn’t always super hungry come dinner time. So if I ate a light dinner, I was likely to regret it by 8 pm. And on the days that I was hungry by 8, I was famished by breakfast.But somehow, I still liked intermittent fasting.
But here’s something important – I made healthy choices during the time I was fasting. I was able to release some of the pressure of ‘eating perfectly’ by knowing that I wasn’t going to eat in the evening. But I didn’t use fasting as an excuse to eat like crap, because there wouldn’t have been health benefits.
But then I found a downside
I really wanted to learn everything there was to know about intermittent fasting. So I did lots of reading. And I learned that there was a downside for women that doesn’t exist for men. Ah, just when we thought we’d gained equality.
Women are more likely to have hormonal side effects. This could range from skipping a period, to going through early menopause! That’s irreversible! So as a woman, you really have to pay attention to how your body reacts even if you don’t want kids. Because a hormonal imbalance is serious.
There are women who have really serious side effects. While this happens less often with men. Which is interesting because many of those I heard recommending intermittent fasting were male. But then there are women who react well. You don’t know until you try it yourself.
The second downside of intermittent fasting for me
But there is another downside for people like me who have busted adrenals. The long periods without food can tax already stressed adrenals, making adrenal fatigue worse. And wouldn’t you know it, my sleep did get noticeably more restless
For me, messed up sleep is a strong sign for me that my adrenals are stressed. So I could feel this was hard on my body. I never truly fell into a sound sleep, as I had before I started intermittent fasting. I felt like I was just napping.
Why I finally decided against intermittent fasting.
It really came down to the adrenals side effects I experienced during a short time frame. When I stop sleeping, it affects everything else in my life. So that kind of scared me.
They say that for adrenal fatigue, it’s good to eat a small meal every few hours to keep blood sugar levels stable. So that’s what I’ve been doing since I stopped intermittent fasting. And that feels best for me.
I really liked the structure of intermittent fasting. And I would have liked to keep going with it if I had reacted differently. But my gut told me strongly that this wasn’t the right choice for me. And you always have to go with your gut.
What about you?
Is intermittent fasting right for you? Well, there’s only one way to know. Even though it wasn’t right for me, I’d recommend others (cautiously) try it. But listen to what you hear back from your body. Because even though some swear by this diet, it can be totally dangerous for others – especially for women.
And if you’re a woman, know that there are more risks than for men. So take extra caution. And if you notice side effects, even if mild, talk with your doctor before going further.
Which goes to show that just because something is a popular diet doesn’t mean it’s healthy for everyone. So appreciate that you’re an individual. And take the time to access if you’re reacting in a good way.