As a fitness editor, I often write about diets like the low-carb, high-fat keto diet and body-type eating to educate people on the various ways they can reach their health goals. I don't follow a specific diet, but I recently decided to try the Clean Program, a 21-day detox created by Dr. Alejandro Junger, after a client of mine raved about it. I took a lot away from my experience on the program, and one component of the cleanse that I found to be extremely effective is the 12-hour fasting window.
12:12 is a type of intermittent fasting (IF) — a way of eating where the body uses fat as an energy source instead of glucose. Instead of eating whenever you want throughout the day, you're limited to consuming your daily caloric intake within a 12-hour window, and then required to fast for the other 12 hours. This means that if you eat dinner at 8 p.m., you won't have breakfast until 8 a.m. the following morning. 12:12 is considered to be the easiest type of IF, and as a rookie, I have to admit is wasn't hard to follow at all. Continue reading to find out the changes that happened to my body over the span of 21 days.
I Felt Extremely Hungry in the Beginning
As suggested by Dr. Junger in his book Clean, I decided to write down my daily meals and how I felt each day on the program. My first three days of notes talk about how terrible I am at making tasty shakes and how hungry I felt when I woke up. Most days, I wake up between 4:45 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. to train clients, work out, and then get to work. Before starting Clean, I would have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, and not being able to do this during the cleanse was hard initially.
Around day 10, I began to notice that the extreme feelings of hunger I had experienced were beginning to subside. I won't say that I didn't feel an ounce of hunger as I continued the program, but I no longer felt like I was starving. It also helped that I began hacking my shake the night before, adding more fat and protein to hold me over until I broke the fast.
I Discovered I Had Bloating Issues
I never considered myself to be a person who experienced bloating, except for on my period, but after doing the 12-hour fast for 21 days, I realized that I do get bloated, especially when I consume too much dairy and grains. The pressure, gas, and cramping I had previously experienced at times in my lower abdomen had finally gone away. As I began to reintroduce these food groups back into my diet to identity triggers, I confirmed that consuming too much dairy and grains irritated both my stomach and skin.
I Stopped Mindlessly Snacking
I'm the person who will eat whatever is in my home, whenever. Cocoa Puffs in the kitchen? Definitely eating those. A bag of sweet and salty organic popcorn? Gone in two hours. I also have a habit of eating a meal and then snacking afterward. Not because I'm hungry, but because I'm bored or not in the best of moods. The 12-hour fast helped me notice and reduce this habit, and I'm happy to report that on most days, I've eliminated my snacking-just-to-snack habit.
Overall, I found 12:12 to be extremely easy to follow. I completed the Clean Program a month ago, and although I refuse to completely cut out cookie dough ice cream, this is definitely a habit I plan on keeping.