I’ve fasted before trialling the 5:2 diet years ago which helped me lose baby weight back in 2012 when Alexander was a baby and I’d moved to bottle feeding, but it’s been years since I’ve dabbled…Until recently that is. I’ve read a lot about the science behind intermittent fasting over the years: taking special note of the cell regeneration and disease fighting properties it promises, and the age-reversal too of course (read The Beginner’s Guide to IF by James Clear for all the details and links to studies) but it was spending time with one of my best pals Mirka of All Baby Advice and Fitness 4 Mamas which inspired me to give it another whirl. Mirka is a walking ad for the regime, a woman who is literally GLOWING inside out and gave me the boot in the booty to start IF asap.
On reading a lot of Michael Mosely’s work I’ve learnt the basic science behind fasting.
Humans have a growth hormone called IGF -1 which helps us grow as children but ages us in adulthood. High levels of this hormone leads to diabetes, heart disease and cancer in men and women so if you lower these levels, cells switch from growth mode to repair mode and it uses up glucose so burns fat and you lose weight. Simple.
Now you can and SHOULD read more about Intermittent Fasting to see if it’s for you. I’m just a busy mum seeking the best way to eat and live for optimum health so that I can feel my best. I want as much energy as I can muster for my little ones, and if I can glow like Mirka too then I want to make IF a way of life!
I’ve quoted editor, Monique Tello, MD, MPH ‘s thoughts on IF below which I discovered over on the Harvard Blog. Their 4 step advice to help lower insulin sensitivity and have the healthiest markers is,
‘Avoid sugars and refined grains. Instead, eat fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats (a sensible, plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet).
Let your body burn fat between meals. Don’t snack. Be active throughout your day. Build muscle tone.
Avoid snacking or eating at nighttime, all the time’.
I personally eat a plant-based diet and have found over the past 10 days of trialling Intermittent Fasting that it’s HONESTLY NOT HARD *shock horror. It’s actually so easy, I often find I’m not even hungry when the 14 hr fasting window (I’ve read that 14 hrs is best for a woman, 16 hrs for a man) is up and it’s time to eat.
When I do eat, I also feel fuller quicker and despite the first few days of fasting feeling harder (and hungrier) than the rest (I was tired and cranky to start) by the end of the first week, I was bursting with energy and this new way of eating felt easy, so do give it a real go and be patient with it if you try it out.
Meals-wise, I tend to opt for pulses, greens, rice spaghetti, lentil soup for eg and lots of big salads with hummus and course seasonal fruit so slow-releasing, wholesome and filling dishes which carry me through the fast.
I also like to fast from 9pm-11am and like the fact that I’m asleep for most of it! I don’t think I could do it in the daytime.
Anyway, here are the pros I’ve discovered since starting IF
- I sleep better than ever (something Mirka also mentioned about the diet). There’s no bloating or indigestion/ IBS style symptoms as I don’t tend to overeat when it comes to the eating window and my usual cut-off for meals at 9pm means my tummy feels light when it comes to sleeping at around midnight.
- I am lighter. I’m less bloated so look less bloated. I rarely weigh myself and has only been 10 days (plus I’ve lost weight generally over the last few months due to a thyroid op) but my clothes definitely feel looser.
- I don’t feel obsessed with food. I’m not generally obsessed with food tbh, but I don’t think about it as much now bar recipe-creation, as I know when I can and can’t eat based on the eating window, and rather than stifling or frustrating me, it actually feels liberating. Who knew?
- I make more effort when it comes to preparing and enjoying my food because I’m only having 2 meals rather than 3 a day now. Plus I savour those meals and truly appreciate them. I tend to prefer to miss breakfast anyway as I’m rarely hungry when I wake up so not eating until midday works for me.
- I want to add I won’t be doing IF during the time of the month as I’m ravenous, but I’m interested to see the effect on my PMT if any with IF. I have definitely seen an improvement purely from moving to a plant-based way of eating with each month feeling greater improved from the last.
- Lastly, I started with a tonsillitis flare earlier this week which historically ends with acute tonsillitis and antibiotics but this is the first time I’ve kicked it without and within a few days. I don’t know if IF helped but it’s the only change to my lifestyle since earlier this year where I’ve suffered many bout of the infection.
Do you follow IF and have you found it beneficial?