I had been wanting to try intermittent fasting for years now, but it was always an immediate no for me.
I didn’t want to go through the adjustment period of feeling weak and hungry while I had to deal with high-pressure work situations.
Since I started staying at home due to this coronavirus pandemic, I had no excuse to not try it, and I’m so glad I did. I started practicing intermittent fasting or IF, with the guidance of my coach, Gib Osbert Ang (@ozcustomizedtraining). A few weeks into this, not only am I experiencing all the benefits I’m about to mention below, but it is also helping me stay disciplined—maintaining a routine and keeping me from constantly snacking. With this lockdown, we all know how easy it is to fall into that when you are at home watching your favorite Netflix show or just plain bored.
If you’ve been curious about giving IF a try as well, this might be the best time to do so, and here’s why:
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating, and there are various ways to do IF. The most popular one is the 16/8 method wherein you fast for 16 hours, then you eat within a window of 8 hours. Coach had me work my way up to 20 hours fasting and 4 hours of eating. With a smaller eating window, logic would suggest that you would consume fewer calories than you typically would. Granted, you don’t binge and still eat fairly healthy within the eating window.
IF also increases the release of fat-burning hormones. Because of this, fasting can increase your metabolic rate by 3.6–14%, ultimately lowering fat mass. By helping you eat fewer calories and burn more of it IF causes weight loss by changing both sides of the calorie equation.
When I started IF mid-March, my weight was around 117 pounds. I now weigh about 112 and I’ve been staying there for the past week. This weight loss is huge for me because that’s a considerable amount of weight for my petite frame and I still am maintaining my muscle tone despite losing the pounds. And, I am able to miraculously do this even while being cooped up at home being only a few steps away from a fully-stocked kitchen, and having no access to a gym.
When you’re constantly eating throughout the day, a lot of your body’s energy is dedicated to digesting the food you’re eating. When you’re fasting for extended periods of time, your body has the opportunity to focus on healing itself and reducing any inflammation, rather than digestion. Intermittent fasting can exponentially reduce oxidative damage in the body, fighting against aging and the development of numerous diseases.
Initially, you may feel a little weak and maybe even experience headaches as you adjust to IF. That was the case for me. However, once you get used to it, people have experienced a clear, more-focused mind, better bowel movements and gut function, and faster healing of wounds or scars.
I certainly feel sharper while I’m fasting, and I’m also quite surprised that I don’t feel the need to drink as much coffee as I used to. I also noticed that I have some scars that have lightened. That could be unrelated, but I think it definitely is!
We talked about how when you’re fasting for long periods of time, your cells are given the chance to heal. The same goes with the regeneration of immunity cells.
In2014, a study from the University of California found that fasting lowered white blood cell counts, which in turn, triggered the immune system to start producing new ones. White blood cells are a key component of your body’s immune system. This ultimately means that IF can boost your immunity.
Unlike the previous benefits, this is not as clear cut though. Fasting itself can be slightly detrimental to one’s immunity, because of the deprivation of nutrients. It is actually the process of refeeding within the eating window that triggers the regeneration of the white blood cells. What does this mean? It’s important to be careful while you’re fasting and to not be exposed to anything that would get you sick, and also make sure to eat well when you do refeed. If you are a frontliner or find yourself being exposed to illness or COVID-19, it would be best to not try IF at this time. But, if you are currently healthy and staying within the safety of your home during this pandemic, perhaps it’s a good time to give it a whirl.
This has been my initial experience with intermittent fasting so far, and I plan to continue this as long as this lockdown lasts. If you’ve been playing around with the idea of IF and circumstances allow you to give it a try, this might be the best time to do so.
The following are some additional information to take in consideration when doing IF. Also, like any change to your health routine, please make sure your doctor signs off on it, and that you do it under the guidance of a pro. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to DM me over IG (@lahainamae).
Popular types of IF
The 16/8 method: This involves restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.
Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week. For example, not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
The 5:2 diet: With this method, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other five days.
Tips when doing IF
When you’re fasting, drink lots of water, ideally alkaline water. You’re also allowed to drink black coffee during this window.
If you have hunger pangs, you can drink a BCAA supplement, which will help curb your hunger, and help with the fat loss, while maintaining muscle.
Adjust the eating window that best suits your schedule.
You can work out but I would work out right before you can start eating. Also, I would keep it to light to medium cardio. I would save the weight training until after you’ve had some food.