Since becoming a mum, weight slowly crept on. I tried lots of different things to shift it but nothing was working – probably because it involved giving up the things I loved and weren’t the type of changes that I could stick to in the longterm. But a year ago, I started researching intermittent fasting and thought I’d give it a go. The science behind it made sense and it seemed like it would fit in easily with my lifestyle.
Since then, I’ve lost 10 kgs and my entire body composition has changed. The stubborn weight I had been carrying on my midsection has gone and my body fat is the lowest it has ever been. But the best bit? My energy is consistent and it’s been an easy change to make. Intermittent fasting isn’t a phase. This is something I’ll be doing for life.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating where you restrict calories for set periods of time.
In recent years, this concept gained significant attention off the back of British scientist, Dr Michael Mosely’s 5:2 Diet. His approach involves limiting your calorie intake to 500 calories for two days of the week, but eating normally on the other five. This is not the only way to practice intermittent fasting though – you can also fast every day, which is what I do.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
- It helps you eat fewer calories while shifting your body from burning carbs/sugar to burning fat as its primary fuel.
- Can reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the body.
- Is great for your brain and cognitive function.
- Drops insulin levels and increases human growth hormone.
How do I practice daily intermittent fasting?
Each day, I limit my eating to an 8 hour window and fast for the other 16 hours. I also ensure I stop eating and drinking (anything but water) three hours before I go to sleep. This means I only eat between the hours of 11 am and 7 pm. When I go out for dinner, I simply shift my ‘eating window’ and will have my first meal later in the day, say midday or 1 pm – that way intermittent fasting fits in with my life, rather than limiting the things I love to do.
The theory behind daily intermittent fasting is that it takes about six to eight hours for your body to metabolise your glycogen stores; after that you start to shift to burning fat. However, if you are replenishing your glycogen by eating every eight hours (or sooner), you make it far more difficult for your body to use your fat stores as fuel.
What do I eat?
Other than limiting when I eat, I don’t limit what I eat. Of course, this isn’t a licence to exist on cream buns alone, but you’ll certainly find me eating carbs and having a sweet treat if I fancy it. I don’t have to count calories (what a pain in the ass that is!) and certainly never feel like I’m missing out on eating the things I love.
So, what does a day on my plate look like?
At 11 am, my first meal of the day will either be breakfast or lunch! Sometimes it’s poached eggs, toast, spinach, avo and mushrooms. Other days it might be a big hearty soup and bread or some Japanese. I just make sure that it’s a nutrient dense option that includes enough protein and good fats to keep me full. A few years ago, a nutritionist told me that If you’re not getting at least four hours out of a meal then the balance isn’t right – and this is an approach I like to stick to.
By mid-afternoon, I’m ready for a snack. I’ll have some fruit, a handful of nuts and maybe some rice crackers with dip. Dinner is at 6pm with the family and will usually be some sort of protein with veggies. I might finish with a square or two of dark chocolate and then I won’t eat anything until 11 am the next day.
While I’m fasting, I drink water but no coffee.
My tips for fasting successfully
- Fasting requires a perspective shift. As a culture, we seem to have a ‘fear’ around feeling hungry that we are are compelled to satiate. Sure, in the first few weeks I would often feel hungry in the morning, but once my body switched to fat burning mode this stopped. In fact, I no longer feel hungry at all when I’m fasting and even have enough energy go for a morning run or to do a heavy session at the gym.
- Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. This is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. When I began intermittent fasting, weight dropped slowly. But it was only after six months of sticking firmly to it, that a really noticeable difference occurred. So much so, my GP made me do a full set of blood tests to ensure nothing else was at play. Since losing 10kg over 12 months, my weight loss has stopped and the scales have been steady – regardless of what I eat, whether I’m traveling and out of my routine or how often I exercise. It now feels like my weight, health and energy are at there optimal best.
- Intermittent fasting isn’t a licence to binge. Make healthy food choices whenever you do eat. Also, proper nutrition becomes even more important when fasting, so you really want to address your food choices before you try fasting.
One last thing…I’m not a nutritionist or dietician. I just wanted to share with you something I have researched and that has worked for me. Please speak with your health care professional before deciding whether intermittent fasting is right for you.