I’m going to be honest fam. I’ve just come out of a toxic relationship. One that’s lasted for years too long and was dysfunctional by all means. I went against my gut instinct, got wrapped up in a trend and what once served me, left me starved, hangry and confused. Until now.
If you haven’t guessed, I’m dramatic and I’m talking about my relationship with… breakfast.
OK, but to be fair I came across a recent podcast episode on the topic that really got me frustrated and needing to write this blog and share the insight with you.
For the past few years, intermittent fasting has become more and more popular. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, intermittent fasting is when you limit your eating window allowing your body to ‘fast’ outside of a period of time. For example, many people lean towards the 8/16 method. An 8-hour eating window paired with 16 hours of ‘fasting’. This often is translated to having your first meal at 1:00 pm and the last meal at 8:00 pm or the first meal at 12:00 pm, last mean at 7:00 pm.
Many have documented amazing changes within their body and swear that intermittent fasting works. I tend to agree but not because of the method. This strict window has the majority of people eating less food. They are no longer reaching for snacks mid-morning or post-dinner which we all know adds up. So basically they are eating less and moving the same amount. Fewer calories in then being used by the body. Last I checked this is the oldest and most scientifically proven way to lose weight but sure, let’s rebrand it and create some hype.
So yes, in layman’s terms, it works. BUT (and that’s a big but) what about when it stops working? What about those who do high-intensity workouts in the morning? Is this for everyone? What about women on their periods? Does that affect it?
All the questions I should have but never asked myself. I let the media and the popularity of the trend get into my head. And because of it, my body, my beautiful, hard-working body was unfavorably affected.
Quick personal story:
When intermittent fasting hit the scene I was eager to try. I’ve never been someone who needs to eat as soon as they wake up, I need some time to ease into the morning. So I thought ‘great! This will be easy for me.’ At the same time, I was reading the benefits of working out fasted. ‘Even better!’ I thought to myself. I prefer to workout in the morning! So off I went empty stomach into my spin classes or to the gym performing high-intensity circuits. Then coming home grabbing a nice glass of water and waiting several hours before I was ‘allowed’ to eat.
This is also around the same time that Keto was making a major play in the weight loss world and had created a carb-scared mentality. When I did finally eat, (very low carb meals) I was ravenous! I felt like I could never be full- overeating at every meal. That led to 2 things, 1. Feeling crappy about myself. 2. Thinking I needed to fast longer and workout harder to make up for it. And the vicious cycle continues ladies and gentlemen! What a wonderful way to live life am I right?
Looking at it now it seems obvious, but 6 years ago I was eager to get into my best shape. I took one look at the trend and without doing my due diligence dove right in. Did I lose weight? Yes (I was also quite ‘skinny fat’ meaning I looked slim but was not in any way toned and had more body fat on me then I do now being 10 pounds heavier).
I also lost my period, triggered old habits of disordered eating and battled with a lot of brain fog and lack of focus. Call me crazy but I believe this ‘technique’ played quite the leading role in these symptoms.
Intermittent fasting for women during the periods can also have an opposite effect. It can trigger our body’s to hold onto fat instead of metabolizing it into energy to be burned off.
Drop the mic. Mind b l o w n! That’s all she wrote!
I mean what!?! How is this not talked about in the intermittent fasting world? Oh, because most studies like intermittent fasting are done on….men! Which brings me to the podcast I mentioned above. Most studies are performed on men and the results are shared with the masses. This is why it is so imperative we dig into research before diving into anything. And not just reading an article prefacing a study but questioning who wrote that study? Who were the study participants? Who funded the study? When was the study conducted and where?
If I had had the insight to ask these questions before, jeez, I would be much further ahead within my health, fitness, and weight loss goals.
It’s taken me several years to try to gain my menstrual cycle back with hundreds of dollars spent and endless amounts of hours visiting specialists, getting scans, x rays, and poping supplements trying to figure out why I had lost it in the first place. I mean, so many people do intermittent fasting, so I COULDN’T be because of that! Truth be told, I’m STILL working at it getting it back!
But the toughest part of this process hasn’t been the time or money, it’s been changing my mentality. Relearning how to eat outside the previous time frame and being OK with it. Reteaching myself the benefits that having a pre-workout meal can do for you. And to ensure I am getting enough macronutrients to fuel my body so I can function at my highest ability in all areas of my life!
Now I encourage myself to have a light snack before working out most days, offer forgiveness and guidance when eating doesn’t go as planned and make sure to include healthy carbohydrates, especially on workout days. Do I still fast? I do. But I do it on days where I’m not extremely active and I approach it with the ‘listen to my body first’ method. When I’m hungry, I eat.’ No forcing and no timelined restrictions.
The moral of this post is not to scare you away from intermittent fasting or other trending fads because for a lot of people they do work. What I want you to take away from this blog is the power and knowledge to know that fad diets are not for everyone. It is crucial and so beneficial that you do your research before adopting a trend into your lifestyle. Even more important, that you listen to your body. It’s crazy how much it knows and can be the leading source for directing you to where you want to go if you let it.
Have you tried intermittent fasting? What was your experience? I’d love to hear from you.
Listen click the photos below to listen to the podcast mentioned in this blog