I've Been Intermittent Fasting For 20 Months — Here Are 8 Reasons I Do
Before you try intermittent fasting, be sure you talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian, especially if you have diabetes, pre-diabetes, or another chronic condition. Many people swear by the benefits of IF, but it's not for everyone.
I originally tried intermittent fasting (IF), specifically the 16:8 method, eating from noon until 8 p.m., to lose the weight I had gained from my insatiable CrossFit-inspired appetite. In just one month, I felt slimmer.
Throughout the last 20 months, I've tried several methods of IF, including the warrior diet and alternate-day fasting, and although some were more effective or easier to follow than others, they all helped lower my insulin levels, which helped me lose the pounds that calorie restriction and exercise couldn't.
This lifestyle allows me to be flexible, eat larger, more satisfying meals, eat the foods I want, and still lose weight. Now that I've reached my goal, IF helps me maintain it — it's something I can continue for the rest of my life.
When I began researching IF for weight loss, disease prevention was another benefit I read so much about. Intermittent fasting promotes autophagy, your body's way of tearing down and recycling cells that are damaged, like cancer cells, so it can create new, healthier cells.
With a family history of several different types of cancer, heart problems, Alzheimer's, and diabetes, I was excited to hear that something as simple as fasting could reduce my risk. I have noticed that since I began IF, I've experienced fewer colds and no seasonal allergies, so that's proof it's working!
No More Belly Bloat
This was a huge benefit, because I've suffered from belly bloat since college. It got really bad two years ago, but intermittent fasting has just about cured it, as long as I don't overdo it on sugar and processed carbs. It gives my digestive system a break and prevents overeating, and my belly is much happier.
It sounds crazy to think I have more energy when I don't eat, but it's true! Digestion takes so much of your body's energy, so when it doesn't have to work hard on that front, you'll feel more peppy.
I eat dinner by 7 p.m. and am so pumped for my early morning CrossFit class or trail run. I have endurance and drive and feel light on my feet and excited to kick ass. That energy continues throughout the day, even though I don't eat until noon.
Control Over Sugar Cravings
You'd think not eating all morning would make me want to reach for chocolate and junk the first chance I got, but I actually crave healthy foods. With a shortened eating window, I want to eat as nutritiously as possible, and after a few months, I noticed my cravings for sugar decreased. Stephanie Ferrari, a registered dietitian with Fresh Communications, says intermittent fasting can help curb sugar cravings if you do it long enough. When you're eating less, you're bound to eat less sugar, and the less sugar you eat, the less you crave it.
Intermittent fasting has also taught me what true hunger feels like, so previously when I thought I "needed" chocolate, I realized I was just thirsty or bored.
Laser Focus and Clearer Thinking
After the initial phase of feeling foggy-headed for the first few days, my mind shifted. I now have laser focus and my thoughts feel clearer. I'm so much more productive at work, more patient with my kids, and able to problem solve better. I also love that I can spend less time thinking about what I'm going to eat and more time on other things.
This was another surprise, but IF has improved my quality of sleep. Part of the reason is that having a cut-off time to stop noshing at night allows my body time to digest before laying down. And since I'm eating less sugar and feeling less bloated, that also helps me sleep better.
This was a benefit that surprised me, but I feel much happier for a few reasons. I feel confident in my body; I love that I have more energy and patience to offer to my family; and I feel less bloated, more in control, and all around healthier.