I wanted to write a quick post as I pause from my never-ending ironing pile (hashtag the glam life) because I’m pumped with energy and feeling happier than ever despite of an emotional few weeks (you can read about that HERE) and it’s primarily down to IF: Intermittent Fasting.
I first discovered IF when Alexander was around 4 months old and Michael Mosley’s 5:2 plan (eating as usual for 5 days, fasting for 2) was making headlines, so I gave it a go. The diet helped me to lose a fair bit of baby weight at the time but it wasn’t something I felt I could stick to long-term due to hangriness I experienced consuming just 500 cals on those 2 days a week.
It was my close blogging pal Mirka of Fitness 4 Mamas who informed me that there was another approach to fasting she followed: daily fasting (not eating for 16 hours in a 24 hour period, including the time you’re asleep) which many were finding easier than the 5:2.
A walking ad for the diet, Mirka looks half her age and more energy than anyone I know, so I was sold the minute she mentioned it. I admittedly stuck to it for a while, losing and keeping off weight (I’m someone who endlessly yoyos) but I fell off the wagon after a nightmare period (time of the month) and quickly forgot about the diet.
I recently stumbled across Michael Mosley’s tweets on the benefits of 800 calories a day after decades of research and while I’m not brave enough to give that a try, it did encourage me to return to daily fasting instead. My Mum has lost weight following the diet as have several friends and as side note, it’s brilliant to see my folks approaching healthy eating lately.
My Dad, a lifelong meat eater has joined me in this plant-based way of life after he watched the films What the Health and The Game Changers and has hit the month mark as a vegan. He’s lost a stone in weight (6 kg) in the past 4 weeks and says he’s never felt happier or stronger. What a ledge.
So back to fasting… What does my fasting programme look and feel like, and how much have I lost?
In 2 weeks, alternating between either 14 or 16 hour fasts every 24 hr period, I’ve lost 7 pounds (3 kilos) even fitting into an M&S UK size 8 the other day but most importantly, finding that I sleep better, my skin is clearer and I feel full of beans (I am actually full of beans as I’m plant based again too and following that way of eating has also undoubtedly contributed to how I’m feeling as well) and I’m determined to stick to daily fasts now.
Yes I do feel hungry some days, usually around hour 13 but I plough on through and some days I don’t even notice I’m at 16 hours. I do personally find 14 hours is the best fasting period for me so listen to your body and ask a doctor before starting any sort of diet as fasting is not suitable for all.
What has struck me with IF is that unlike other diets, it’s feels easy and natural. As most of the fasting period happens while you sleep, it fits into your life without too much change or restriction. I tend to stop eating at 8pm and eat again at either 10am or midday the next day.
This way of eating has also reset my hunger levels, so I rarely eat just for sake of it or as an emotional response, I simply eat when I’m hungry. I have suffered from disordered eating in my 20s but personally don’t find this plan triggering (it might for you though so seek professional advice before embarking on it).
I personally feel the fasts support me as I eat when I’m hungry and then I don’t think about food when I’m not.
When it comes to the science behind the plan, the benefits are vast from weight loss to the prevention and treatment of disease and the reversal of ageing.
You can read about the evidence-based facts here but to paraphrase, the article states that both an insulin drop and increase in the human growth hormone which occurs in fasting encourages weight loss and muscle gain. You will also experience cellular repair and beneficial gene and molecule changes related to longevity and the protection against illness when you fast, too.
Mentally, I also feel a greater sense of calm and have so much more clarity and focus when I follow IF.
Have you tried it or will you give it a whirl, let me know!