October 27, 2018

An Intermittent Fasting Experiment

Starting a 30-Day intermittent fasting experiment

(I explain later why I chose such an unflattering photo for the title of this post, haha)

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last year or so, you have probably heard the words "intermittent fasting" thrown around a LOT.

In a nutshell, intermittent fasting is cycling between periods of eating and periods of fasting--usually fasting for a minimum of 12 hours, up to about 20 hours, per day. You have a "window" of time where you eat each day, and then spend the rest of the time fasting. This is done daily. (There are other methods that involve fasting on certain days, but when I refer to it here, I'm talking about the time window on a daily basis.

I've always made it clear that I'm not a fan of hopping on the next bandwagon of fad diets. I did that for 20 years, and it got me nowhere. It wasn't until I made the decision to only make changes that I was willing to live with forever that I finally lost the weight and kept (most) of it off.

Each new fad diet contradicts that last, and it's a never ending cycle. In my opinion, the ideal diet boils down to 1) variety, and 2) moderation. Basically, just eating a diverse variety of foods and keeping portions controlled to what our bodies are comfortable with.

Interestingly, I also think that intermittent fasting is a good idea--and I don't consider it a fad diet. (Right now, it's definitely trending, but fasting has been around since the beginning of time and it's not a new concept.) I feel like intermittent fasting is a logical concept--until the last several decades, food wasn't readily available at all times of the day and night, and eating snacks between meals wasn't really a "thing".

And WAY back in the day, when people had to hunt and gather food, they probably weren't snacking all day long. So, when I think of it that way, it makes a lot of sense to me. I don't think our bodies were meant to constantly digest food.

(All of this is my opinion, of course. I am not suggesting in any way that it is the ideal way of eating. As I've always said, we all need to do whatever works best for us as individuals. So, please don't feel the need to defend snacking. I'm not trying to recruit anyone, haha. That's why I'm calling what I'm about to write an "experiment".)

So, because I believe that intermittent fasting can be a good thing, I'd like to give it a try. Of course I'd like to drop these extra pounds I've picked up, but I also want to see if it makes me feel better in general. I get bad stomachaches sometimes after eating, and I also get very bloated when I overeat. I'd be interested to see if eating less frequently helps that.

(In the photos below, I was in Portland with Jerry, and I was MISERABLE. My abdomen felt so bloated that I thought it would burst open like a popped balloon. I was so sure that I looked six months pregnant by the way my stomach felt, so I had Jerry take these pictures. I was shocked to see that I looked normal--thin, even!--because I felt enormous.)

Feeling bloated, but looking normal

I also like the idea of the simplicity of it; the thought of not having to worry about what to eat for breakfast or lunch is so appealing. I've always done best with keeping my diet simple!

Anyway, the whole point of this is that I'm going to try out intermittent fasting for 30 days and see how I feel/what kind of results I notice (good or bad). I'm going to write in a journal to keep track of symptoms that I hope to improve (bloating, stomachaches, energy level, sleep, mood, and some others).

On my 40 Goals Before 40 Years Old list, I listed a goal of committing to a 30-day challenge. I've been thinking and thinking about what I want that challenge to be (and I've attempted a couple, but didn't make it). I finally decided that I'm going to challenge myself to try intermittent fasting for 30 days to knock this goal off my list as well as see if it works well for me.

Like I said, I am not pushing for or against intermittent fasting, nor am I trying to change anyone's opinion of it. I just think that because the concept makes sense to ME, it would be fun to try it as an experiment!

I know I could start this now, but I like the idea of starting on the first of the month, and since it's almost November, I'll start on Thursday, November 1. I'll mark down my starting weight, measurements, and body fat, then note anything else that may be helpful (hunger levels, sleep, energy, etc.)

As far as the length of my eating "window", a common time frame that people do is 16/8 (16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating). That would be like starting the fast at around 8 PM and then eating at noon the next day. That seems like a large window to me, and I know I could eat a lot of food in eight hours, hahaha.

I'd like to aim for six hours to start, and see if that feels doable. Four hours would be even better. So the fast would be roughly 8:00 PM to 2:00 PM the next day. I'm not going to keep a rigid start/stop time, but I will aim for 2:00-4:00PM until 8:00-10:00 PM as an eating window.

By the way, LOTS of readers have suggested that I read The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss, by Dr. Jason Fung. I think this book played a large part in the huge interest in intermittent fasting recently. I do have the book (I actually bought it a long time ago!) but I have only read the first couple of chapters. Since I'm going to be doing this experiment, I'll do my best to finish it as soon as I can.


I'm really looking forward to trying this, even if it winds up being a big flop. It's always exciting to focus on something new. And this is a good time to try it, because I've been staying super busy working on the kitchen (I finished painting half of the cabinet doors--it's taking forever because it's been so cold that the paint won't dry! I'm painting them in the garage, which doesn't have heat.)

If any of you have tried intermittent fasting and want to share your experience (good or bad), please do! I'd like to know how other people do with it.


26 comments:

  1. I have done IF for the past 2 years. It doesn't help me lose weight, but it DOES help me with bingeing. I eat from around 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., which I identified as my "hungry hours" (I never feel hungry before 11:30 or after supper). It has stopped a binge in its tracks. I play mind games with myself ("Okay, it's 5:30. Stop. You can keep eating whatever you want tomorrow." But by then, the mood has usually passed.). The 5:30 cut-off is sacred!! It's been an inconvenience when going out to eat with friends, but I've either occasionally relaxed it for a night out, or just eaten beforehand and gotten something to drink instead of eating. It doesn't work for everyone, but it's definitely a part of my lifestyle. Maybe you'll like it! :)

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  2. I fast from 7pm to noon every day the past week. Sometimes longer if I get busy.

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  3. I do intermittent fasting for 12-14 hours daily which is completely doable for my lifestyle. I stop eating by 7pm and then don't eat again until 7-9am. Good luck and keep us updated.

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  4. I started doing IF at the beginning of September. Before I started it, it seemed like I was constantly hungry, always thinking about what I was going to eat next and how I was going to fit it in my calories. On days that I just forced myself to eat less, I would binge. Since starting this way of eating, I am less hungry overall and don’t really obsess over food as much as I was. I do “dirty fast”, I allow diet soda and tea with sweet n low during my fasting hours, but since it’s my plan, I do what works for me.

    I have finally been able to lose weight again- I do count calories, but IF has finally allowed me to get my eating under control again. I love it and plan to follow it the rest of my life.

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  5. I have tried it, but was super successful. My first week I gained 3lbs. I didn't read The Obesity Code, but have heard it is a great book. So if I decide to try IF again, I would probably read that book first.

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  6. I’ve been doing it since late August and I love it! I’ve lost 12 lbs. My mornings are less rushed trying to make and pack breakfast. It also helps my not snack at night. I fast from 6pm to 10am most days. But sometimes push it to lunch at 11:30; I teach so my lunch time is set. I use the Zero app to track it.

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  7. Dr. Fung also wrote "The Complete Guide to Fasting" which you might find very helpful. I'm in a Facebook group called "The Obesity Code Network: Fasting Support with Megan Ramos and Jason Fung" which has been amazing. The success stories and advice is very motivating. Good Luck Katie... glad you are giving this a go!

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    1. thanks for the info on the Facebook group. I've read Dr. Fung's books and they are full of facts on fasting and why we should do it.

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  8. I IF as part of the Keto diet (I know you aren’t a fan of “fad” diets but this way of eating makes sense to me and I’ve never felt better in my life.) I find it very helpful and feel more focused, less bloated and I generally eat less on a daily basis when I fast. I do 16:8 because it fits my lifestyle best but pick the hours that work for you. Keep in mind that even though you can eat anytime during that window, you probably won’t. At first I thought I would just be grazing the whole time but I ended up just eating my lunch, dinner and small snack.

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  9. I tired intermittent fasting while doing Keto, and it was working, or at least I thought it was. I found out later that the cream in my coffee was breaking my fast. I can't do black coffee, and I can't give up coffee so I am now doing coffee with a splash of Almond milk. I heard somewhere that less than 25 calories won't break your fast. I started again on Friday after a week in a hotel with restaurant meals and I've dropped the 5 pounds I gained while away, so I'm happy. I like that I don't have to eat breakfast every day and plan for 3 meals and two snacks. I've never been able to manage that very well, once I start eating, it's hard to limit what goes in, so intermittent fasting might be a beneficial change.

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  10. My husband is a doctor and talks a lot to his patients about IF and Keto. I IF, but I have to eat breakfast so I go 7-4pm eating. I think the real key is to eat REAL foods if possible. Things with less than 5 ingredients. I've lost my last stubborn 10lbs! Good luck. My husband does recommend The Obesity Code to his patients.

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  11. I feel with my work sche I've done IF forever. Just recently I took it very serious and consistently IF 12-14 hrs or longer. Super green smoothie. Tons of water. I will loose 16 in Nov. I feel great. Better skin and energy better mood, concentration and sleep! Good luck to you!

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  12. I've been IFing for years! I love it! Normally I do 18:6 but have tried 20:4 before. I also work out in a fasted state most of the time.

    Since your new to IF I'd recommend 16:8 just so your body can get use to it. You can always shorten your eating window. Good luck!

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  13. I am a binger and have discovered that my "me time" revolves around eating and TV. It has helped me beyond belief to only eat between 8 pm and midnight. From an ED standpoint, my therapist says that is a recipe for disaster because depriving myself will make me binge. But I have found that I don't even think about food at all during the day since I know I can basically have whatever I want at night. I'm less likely to go over a normal calorie amount since I didnt waste any during the day (when I only really eat to eat; I don't enjoy it like I do at night). I have gotten away from that, but want to get back to it. It made me feel SO good, I wasn't fighting sugar crashes and I was so peaceful. I look forward to seeing how it goes for you :)

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  14. Hi Katie! So excited about your experiment & can’t wait to see how it goes. For me, I had to get off sugar & once I’ve done that my whole eating life has changed. I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 4 years ago & I literally just ate corn chips & ice cream & Snickers with a tiny amount of veggies thrown in for 4 years. I was miserable. Bloated and foggy all the time. After reading Jason Fungs book and a couple others on Keto I’m off sugar completely, peeing on a keto strip twice a day to be sure I’m in Ketosis & at 52 I feel better than I have in a long time. I fast 18 hours a day minimum & I’m never hungry. I eat very little because I’m just not hungry. The cravings for sweets is gone. But I do eat vegetables in butter & I use heavy whipping cream in my coffee. I eat a lot of bacon. Again putting the sweets behind me has been the best thing I’ve ever done. Sorry such a long comment. Just excited about this.

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  15. I'm intrigued by the concept, but I don't understand how people work out in conjunction with IF. I run/workout in the mornings, and I feel like I wouldn't have any energy if I didn't eat breakfast beforehand. I suppose I could adjust the fasting hours, but then I'd be making dinner for my family and not get to eat? I definitely need to read up more about it!

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  16. Katie, I love the way you experiment with things like this and share your experiences and data. It's very inspiring to me. I can't wait to see how it goes.

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  17. I have done IF in the past and about to start doing it again. When I did it last year I lost 15 pounds. My eating window was 11am to 7pm with two meals and a snack. I did not jump into that eating window and instead took a week to slowly work into the 8 hour window. 7pm was always the ending time but the first day I started at 9am. The next day 9:30am until I was at 11am. Some days I would go to noon so the eating window was 7 hours. I could never do a shorter one than that though.
    On a side note this is how my husband has ALWAYS eaten and I have never understood how he could do it....until I tried it. I felt really good doing this and so going back to it.
    Good luck in your 30 day IF challenge!

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  18. I've been doing the 5:2 method of IF since January and have lost 50 pounds. It has literally changed my life! I do recommend that book..it has great info. There's also a good app to track your fasting time (I'm a visual person) called LIFEOMIC. It tracks your time and also has great articles and videos . Good luck on your experiment!

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  19. I have tended to do something like this without thinking about it and without having heard of IF (surprisingly!)... but often, around 11 AM, even though I haven't wanted to eat anything yet, this thought comes to mind: 'come on - you have to put something in your belly to keep your metabolism going'. I haven't heard much about IF yet, but it's like that's what my stomach instinctually wants to do. So it's interesting to me that this is a 'thing'! At the same time, in the evenings, once I'm done with dinner I'm good for the night. If I start to get hungry before bed, going to bed makes that go away. I have thought that having my stomach being used to being comfortable in an empty state is a good thing. That's pretty much what you said too, about not digesting food all the time. I will join you in this IF experiment. :-)
    -- Melissa in Toledo

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  20. My husband does IF no problem. For me I am starting IF next week. My husband suggested since I am a woman that I do IF every other day. So on the days I'm not lifting I should do IF. Good Luck!

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  21. Just started experimenting with IF along with a keto diet. Have had some ups and downs -- particularly in meshing keto with a non-keto family. Looking forward to reading your updates! I also find that keeping busy with a project (that I enjoy working on) helps me stay on track. Maybe time to paint a bedroom...or two....

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  22. Here's me still looking for an unflattering photo.

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  23. I was hoping you would do an experiment on this! Last time I read your blog I saw you had lots of comments recommending The Obesity Code so i bought it and just finished it. I’m planning to try IF (and Keto) this month too! Though I’m a little under the weather so may postpone a day or two. And I’m nervous about traveling for the holidays in two weeks. But I was almost fasting from illness and mostly felt good so I’m excited to try it. Can’t wait to hear how it goes for you!

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  24. I've been intermittent fasting for the last month and have dropped 10lbs. As a binge eater I find that having a 2-4 hour eating window is great. I occasionally feel hungry during the day but knowing i get to have a delicious large amount of food that night gets me through it. I decided to try intermittent fasting as it stresses me out thinking about what to eat for breakfast, lunch and snacks. Life is so much simpler having the one meal. I thought as a binge eater going without food for so long would make me binge at night but that isn't the case so far.

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  25. "Unflattering" ha! If that picture was on Tinder, I think everyone I know would swipe right! You look great and are helping a lot of people. :)

    I'm starting IF as well as running again. I gained 20% of my body weight when I stopped running, became depressed (chronic as well as adverse life events), and stopped cooking...I just ate garbage all the time. I just picked a 50k to train for 6 months from now and put a plan together. Conscious calorie restriction is very tough for me, I think in part because I am so used to being able to eat like a jerk and maintain weight from being active. I'm looking forward to feeling good again!

    Thanks for being you!

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