I am sure many of you can relate to, I did not enter January feeling the best I have ever felt about my body. Honestly, forget the lockdown weight gain — I hadn’t successfully lost weight for the last two years and the whole thing was starting to feel hopeless. In the last two years, I had already tried the keto diet, detox diet, macro counting, blah blah blah diet, but the results were gone within a month. I felt personally victimized by diets.
So finally I turned to intermittent fasting. I did some research and decided to try it out for myself.
Intermittent fasting is not a diet it is an eating pattern with alternating periods of eating and fasting and science says it can help you lose weight.
Before starting the diet, I did a lot of research on intermittent fasting and I found out that people structure their fasts differently. There are three main approaches to intermittent fasting:
- Alternate Day Fasting
This fasting approach consists of alternating feed days and fast days. On the feeding days, you can devour anything. But on fast days, you can consume only about 20% of your body’s total energy requirement.
- 5:2 Diet
5:2 fasting involves consuming food without any limitations for five days in the week and being on a rigorously calorie-restricted diet for two non-consecutive days.
- Time-Restricted Fasting
In this approach, you limit your eating to a set time every day and fast for the other 12-18 hours.
What I Expected from Intermittent Fasting
If you are interested in learning more about the science behind intermittent fasting, or the different ways to do intermittent fasting, you can read these two articles.
I understood the benefits of intermittent fasting in two ways before starting:
- Periods of fasting decrease insulin production and boost growth hormones and as a result helps increase metabolism, burn fat, and gain muscle.
- When you limit your eating window time, you limit your overall calories as well.
My intentions for intermittent fasting were that I just wanted to lose weight. Not a drastic amount, especially in 10 days, as I said earlier I get victimized by diets and I know that well that weight just comes right back. But losing maybe 1-2 kilos? If not even that, just to prove that my body is still capable of losing weight after all the weird diets I have put it through.
So, I made a plan and set-off on my 10-day journey.
The Plan: Fast for 10 days; 18 hours of fasting and 6-hour eating window
I decided to follow time-restricted eating, so I can start slow and work my way up. I was fasting 18 hours out of the day and eating the other six (no food between 7 PM and 1 PM).
In my eating window, I focused on eating home-cooked food full of nutrient-dense fruit, vegetables, protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. I also had some zero-calorie beverages during my fasting windows like black coffee and green tea.
Day 1: The Morning Hunger Was Real
I am not a big breakfast person but I start desk-snacking around 10:30 AM almost every day. I noticed I felt tired and unfocused. I could not focus on writing my blogs as my mind was drifting off to what I was going to eat later and my stomach was growling.
One thing was very clear in my mind that hunger will lead to binge-eating, so I was very careful no to break my fast with a handful of chips or cookies in my mouth.
Planning is very important when it comes to following a diet regime. I planned my meals and I made sure that I have no packets of chips, cookies, or chocolates lying in my kitchen cabinets.
So when the clock struck 1 PM, I was ready with my first meal that comprised of a bowl of fruits, a handful of nuts, two whole-wheat toasts, and spinach omelet (4 egg whites + 1 whole egg). In-between my meals I had green tea.
I took my second meal around 6:30 PM that comprised of a big bowl of stir-fried veggies (bell peppers, broccoli, mushroom, baby corn, spinach, zucchini, green beans) with either paneer or boiled egg whites and a bowl of soup with some brown rice or whole-wheat toast.
Honestly, I started to feel full about halfway through but, traumatized by the fact that how hungry I had been in the morning I made myself finish the whole meal to keep away the hunger pains.
Day 2: Less Hunger Pains, But More Headaches
I had fewer hunger pains but I had major headaches. My first meal was the same I had on Day 1 and for dinner, I made hummus with pita and greek salad.
I also had a glass of red wine as it was new year’s eve but I made sure that I do not overdo it as could make me feel dehydrated and trigger the feeling of hunger and lose the willpower of late-night binge-eating. I made sure I finished my glass of wine in my eating window that is by 7 PM.
Day 3 & 4: Ordering Out, Weekend Mood Food and Drinking a Lot of Water
Heading into the weekend, I increased my fasting to 20 hours on Saturday and 23 hours on Sunday, and both these days I just had one big meal.
On Saturday, I had a good bowl of Paneer Biryani and on Sunday I had south Indian food that comprised of 2 plain dosas, sambar, and chutney.
Although the daily headaches were still persistent, I felt like I was getting a hold of things, and drinking a lot of water and zero-calorie beverages helped me meet my daily hydration needs.
Day 5-10: Back to My 18-hour Fasting Mark
Over the remaining days, I came back again to my 18-hour fasting mark where I could eat only between 1 PM and 7 PM. Honestly, I did not feel like a big adjustment since I had been working my way up to it.
On most days the first meal was the same as day 1, 2 whole wheat toasts, a bowl of fruits, or a glass of orange juice and omelet (4 egg white + 1 whole egg).
For dinner, I mostly had a bowl of soup that would make me full but just to sustain the next day’s fasting hours, I would eat a bowl of salad with some protein (boiled egg, seekh kebab, or paneer).
I made it a point that most of my choices were protein and veggie-heavy and low on carbs and unhealthy fats.
- Body Weight: Lost 4 Kilos
- Body Fat: Lost 1% Body Fat
How Intermittent Fasting Actually Felt
At the end of my 10 days journey of intermittent fasting, I actually felt lighter.
When I weighed myself, I would love to say I had lost 4 kilos in 10 days and definitely there will be some water weight lost too, without working out.
I felt more energetic even though I wasn’t eating all day.
I also checked my measurements, there were not many changes in my physical appearance but I lost an inch around my waist.
I started planning my meals and I was more mindful of what I ate. I made healthier food choices because I didn’t want to waste precious eating hours consuming empty calories. The mindfulness made me feel like I had more control over my brief eating window.
I am definitely eating less food and feeling fewer hunger pains, which over time will eventually result in fat loss.
I noticed that I could not sleep very well during the 10-days plan, I am not sure if it was one of the results of intermittent fasting because I normally don’t have a problem sleeping.
I plan to continue the fasting for now because I genuinely didn’t find it difficult as compared to other intensive diets. Though I will add a workout plan to my routine to get maximum results. My focus, energy, motivation all are touching the sky and I have learned how to tell my weird hunger pangs that I am the Boss.