I Fasted 16 Hours a Day For 1 Week — Here's What It Actually Felt Like
The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the words intermittent fasting (IF) is deprivation. It sounds virtually unappealing to a serial snacker like myself. After doing extensive research on IF, though, I quickly learned there's a broad range of benefits associated with trying this fast such as weight loss (especially stubborn lower-belly fat), lowering blood sugar, improving cognitive health and memory, decreasing inflammation, increasing energy, curbing sugar cravings, and the perk that sold me instantly: better sleep!
There are a few fasting protocols one could follow, such as the 5:2 plan (eat normally for five days while eating only 500 to 600 calories on the other two days); alternate fasting, where you switch between periods of consuming zero-calorie foods and beverages and actually eating whole foods; and the most popular fast, which I opted for, the 16:8 plan (16-hour fast and an eight-hour feasting period). I've tried 24-hour fasting in the past where I've failed miserably, so I was curious to see if IF would be any different.
Sydney Axelrod, an NYC registered dietitian at Mount Sinai, told POPSUGAR, "If we're constantly eating, then our body will always be in the 'fed' state, which tells our brain we don't need to use our stored energy aka burn fat. It's also great to take a break from eating so often so our bodies can focus on other processes, like regulating hormones, decreasing stress, and reducing inflammation". As a person who eats every hour on the hour, this poses a great challenge.
Another great challenge for me is maintaining muscle mass. I have a thin frame naturally, so I've been weight training for years to gain muscle and build strength. However, Korey Rowe, a certified personal trainer at Dogpound Gym, said, "You'll have to fast a very long time (72+ hours) for your body to begin breaking down muscle tissue. The key is to strength train in the morning (during your fasting period) to boost human growth hormone. That particular hormone shifts your body into a fat-burning state while forming new muscle and maintaining mass while experiencing favorable changes in body composition".
Ahead is a personal account of my week-long intermittent fasting experience: