Diet fads and plans run rampant. Everything from Keto to Intermittent Fasting to Whole 30 has had its day in the news. I’m not a fan of fads, so I wasn’t quick to jump on the intermittent fasting party train.
The same naturopathic doctor who recommended ousting gluten, regularly practices intermittent fasting. She does it because it makes her feel less sluggish and more energetic, not in an effort to lose weight.
Even before she mentioned it, I did some research. I picked up Brad Pilon’s book Eat Stop Eat: Intermittent Fasting for Health and Weight Loss. I read it cover to cover.
Needless to say, it was an eye opener.
Eat Stop Eat
Pilon is a nutritionist. As in, he has a graduate degree in nutrition and he has been living the sixteen-hour fasting window for nearly fifteen years. It’s not specifically for weight loss, but it is a way to regulate blood sugar and reduce the amount of fat stored in the body.
He explains metabolism and talks about how there is a base metabolic rate. It doesn’t slow or change based on if you eat or not. However, what you eat might metabolize at different rates (proteins take longer to break down while simple sugars are absorbed immediately).
What? This contradicts what nearly every diet plan ever talks about. According to Pilon, the facts don’t matter in an economy fueled by diet fads.
Science is science. In order for your cells to function, you need a set amount of fuel to “break even.” That number is the same no matter what. If you exercise, you will burn more fuel. But if you don’t eat enough calories to meet the requirement, that basic rate doesn’t slow down.
Starvation mode means your body is using something besides food intake to meet that baseline. Most of us have plenty of fat to feed the furnace, however, that might not be the first source. I’m not going to get into all of that.
The bottom line: if you don’t fuel your body for 24 hours, it will feed off your stores. If you continue to exercise during this time, those stores will not be muscle but will instead be fat.
His recommendation is to fast for a 24-hour stretch one to two days per week if you want to lose weight. The rest of the time, he recommends ALWAYS going at least eighteen hours between your last meal of one day and your first meal the next day. Hey, since my naturopathic doctor said the same thing, it was worth trying out for myself.
The bottom line in my life: a daily fasting period means no snacking in the evenings. In my experience, if I don’t snack after dinner and I eat responsibly the rest of the time, I can be sure I won’t gain weight. (So there! Menopause Bulge!)
My Stops and Starts
It has been a year since I began Intermittent Fasting. I sat down to write about it a few times, but I wanted to really have my process down before I weighed in.
After all, some people think it’s just a fad.
To me, a fad is something that requires some weird investment of time, money, products that isn’t sustainable. Whether it’s because no one is going to live without ever touching something sugary again or all you eat is meat, fad diets generally focus on eliminating one food group (and sometimes more).
I’m honestly not going to never eat another cookie or brownie. Ice cream and I have an illustrious past filled with memories of bedtime bowls served up by my grandfather. Also, I like cinnamon rolls and other baked good. Yes, you can learn to bake gluten and sugar free, but why? If I’m only “treating” myself with these items on occasion, why can’t I have them?
Well, I can with an IF lifestyle. Just not during my daily food abstinence window.
I started with a sixteen-hour window and after the first month, once I realized it wasn’t going to make my blood sugar dive so I got a hypoglycemic headache, I bumped that up to eighteen hours. Now, I don’t really even think about eating in the morning.
Also, this doesn’t interfere with holidays or special events. Most of these are in the afternoon or evening. Perfect. I’ll be nice and hungry for that holiday dinner since I’ve been fasting since six the night before.
I freely admit, my primary care doctor was leery of this because of my hypoglycemia. Don’t disregard your health issues. I began taking cassia essential oil every day in February 2019, and since that time, I haven’t had any hypoglycemic symptoms, even during the days I’ve gone more than twenty-four hours without eating.
However, I didn’t lose weight doing IF until I changed what I ate during my eating window. Also, when I made it two meals rather than a continual graze (because I hadn’t eaten anything for SO long…my mindset the first couple months I did it), I lost weight.
I still had pizza once per month. And even a Blizzard for Dairy Queen. And lost weight.
Because if you’re only eating two meals per day, that’s a LOT of calories to eat at each meal to exceed your daily allotment.
Also, when I track what I eat, I do better losing weight. There’s something about the accountability of it. My FitBit app easily tracks this.
My New Lifestyle
I miss breakfast. Because my husband likes to cook it on the weekend, I concede to him on Sunday mornings. Sundays, I eat breakfast.
It’s not like I can’t have breakfast food at other times of the day, right? Except the things I love most—biscuits smothered in sausage gravy or French toast drowned in syrup—are gluten traps. So this is generally an egg, some breakfast meat and maybe southern style hash browns.
Most days look like this, I eat my first meal around noon, have a handful of nuts around 3:30 and then eat dinner by six. That means I’m fasting between 6 PM and 12PM six days of the week.
When I’m trying to lose weight, I add one 20 to 24-hour fasting day (sometimes two). This means, I eat dinner Sunday night around 6PM and don’t eat again until Monday’s dinner. That’s 24 hours.
No, I don’t go a day without eating. I go 24 hours without eating. I ate on Sunday. I ate on Monday. This is so much easier to adapt to mentally than the thought that I’m not going to eat anything for a day.
Because I’m in danger of starving to death if I miss food for a day. NOT!
I also work out five or six days per week, as I mentioned in this post. I try to be active all the time. My FitBit vibrates on my wrist every hour if I haven’t walked 250 steps by ten minutes to the next hour. It’s a great reminder to get out of my chair and take a few laps around the house.
What do you know about intermittent fasting? Do you ascribe to a three-meal-day eating mentality?