Tuesday Thoughts: Experience with Intermittent Fasting (as a female)

This is more dedicated to a health and fitness related subject rather than philosophical, so that it fits a bit more with my blog. However, I still love talking about other things aside from anything diet or exercise, so I won’t stop any of that. If you keep yourself updated with the latest on healthy eating and fitness, then you probably have heard of intermittent fasting. For those of you who don’t really know about it, it’s basically a dieting method that supposedly has a lot of benefits to health and longevity besides weight loss. However, because it doesn’t restrict or recommend certain types of food, it’s not a diet all in itself. Intermittent fasting is much more popular with men because they tend to show more health benefits than women, who supposedly do not thrive as well. There were times when I personally fasted without knowing it because I just wasn’t hungry, or I wanted to wait until a meal that I’d have with the family that was around noon or so and I didn’t have anything beforehand; hence, I’ve had experience with intermittent fasting before and will share how I felt, what I ate and what I think of it.

Those who did try intermittent fasting revealed increased human-growth hormone levels, weight loss, stabilized insulin levels, brain repair and strengthening, anti-aging, fat loss, less risk to cancer and Alzheimer’s, and most shockingly, a longer lifespan. Below are some pretty helpful links that break down everything, because it can get very complicated with all of the different ways that you can do it. I personally followed what would be the closest thing to the 16/8 method, but other ways call for fasting for 24 hours, only eating 500-600 calories a day, or just waiting to eat for hours and hours until pigging out at night.

DAY 1 (FOOD THAT BROKE THE FAST)

The first day I tried intermittent fasting when when my family was late to brunch and we didn’t get there until 12 PM or so. I usually work out on an empty stomach, so my exercise routine didn’t change at all on this lifestyle. However, I experienced some crazy hunger sensations. By hunger, I also mean hangry. My stomach was rumbling, my head was jumbled all over the place, I felt cranky, irritable and just extremely impatient overall, all common side effects of intermittent fasting, especially when you’re just getting started. I was literally so thrilled–almost overly–to finally get my food!

My first meal of the day was a salmon wild rice hash with poached eggs on top along with a side of fresh berries and bananas. It was delicious, until I realized that even though I asked for no potatoes, there were potatoes. 😦 I also had a few bites of my mother’s oatmeal pancakes and my sister’s portobello mushroom benedict (both unpictured). Right after I ate, I found that my body could finally function again. My brain cleared up, my energy was restored, and I felt much, much better overall. I found that even though I didn’t binge, I was still able to feel quite satisfied. It’s possible that intermittent fasting doesn’t really interfere with your ghrelin levels too much, or that it can even suppress them. Snacking and dinner were also pretty normal.

DAY 2 (FOOD THAT BROKE THE FAST)

The second day I fasted was actually intentional, because I wanted to save my feasting for the HA-UGE lunch and dinner I’d have in the middle of the day. I broke my fast with first, my Cafe Gratitude Thanksgiving meal, which was INSANELY delicious. Yes, vegan Thanksgiving food can be just as if not more delicious than the regular. Afterwards I had some vegan chocolate cashew ice cream for dessert, which literally will make you not miss dairy ice cream!

Because I was so busy running around and working, I really didn’t think much about food until I actually drove with my mother to our Korean Thanksgiving feast. It makes sense, because you forget about food when you’re occupied with something.

DAY 3 (FOOD THAT BROKE THE FAST)

This was probably one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had at Le Pain Quotidien! I don’t come here very often because it’s a bit overpriced. However, my vegan frittata and my mother’s autumn grains salad were OUT OF THIS WORLD. It was hard not to shove my face into my mother’s salad because my frittata was quite small, and you guessed it–I was still pretty hungry!

DAY 4 (FOOD THAT BROKE THE FAST)

Yes, I also practiced intermittent fasting for my birthday brunch because I expected to pig out! Unexpectedly, I didn’t, which was totally fine. All I had was my dish sans the toast and some of my sister’s spelt pancakes! I still felt a bit hungry afterwards, so right when I got home I had something else to tide me over before dinner. Overall, I ate the same way as I would any other day.

DAY 5 (FOOD THAT BROKE THE FAST)

My best friend and I drove to The Village right next to Westfield Topanga for brunch to spend the day off we had from school! I introduced her to Veggie Grill, and let me just say that I converted a new fan! She ordered the Papa’s Portobello sandwich but in a spinach wrap with lentil soup, while I chose the Tres Chick’n Tacos with butternut squash soup! I had two tacos and one half of her wrap along with the soup. SO good!

After she drove home I stopped by Go Greek Yogurt and got myself a little treat of Greek yogurt apple pie and vanilla-chocolate swirl “frozen yogurt” topped with strawberries, blueberries, chia seeds, carob chips and ground flax! Also SO good! I was very full and didn’t even eat until dinner by then 🙂

DAY 6 (FOOD THAT BROKE THE FAST)

What better way to start off the day than a healthy PIZZA? My friend took me to Pieology for lunch where I ordered a whole wheat pizza crust with marinara sauce, grape tomatoes, lots of spinach, basil, red onions, spicy chicken and plain chicken, artichoke hearts, and chili flakes! It was so, so tasty–I ate five slices plus one from my friend’s pie! 🙂

DAY 7 (FOOD THAT BROKE THE FAST)

I actually had two meals, one of them being a good but measly egg white omelet with seasonal vegetables, and the latter being two pounds worth of Whole Foods’ hot bar meals: basically roasted eggplant, bell peppers, stewed tofu, chicken tikka masala and sweet potatoes! Everything was so filling–I was extremely stuffed afterwards.

DAY 8 (FOOD THAT BROKE THE FAST)

My sister and I had Indian food around 12 P.M. for our first meal, and we literally shoveled everything in our faces! I think I had an even bigger food baby from this lunch buffet than from any other feast, including Thanksgiving and this Christmas! In fact, I had over three rounds worth of chicken, curries and bengan bharta! However, it was totally worth it. And this wasn’t the last time I got a food baby LOL!

PROS

For me, personally, it definitely benefits in the sense that I can eat a larger portion, naughtier meal or a more caloric dense meal in one sitting. As you can see, I didn’t have the healthiest foods on the market–heck, I had potatoes, ice cream, spinach tortillas and frozen yogurt! It’s good if you have a somewhat unhealthy relationship with food, meaning that you can eat your cheat meal much later throughout the day and not feel as guilty about it because it’s probably more dense in fats, sugars, carbs or calories than two meals.

Exercise wasn’t really affected because I generally don’t eat before exercising or drink pre-workout BCAAs. I still had as much energy to workout as I normally would. Exercise probably would be different if you do eat a pre-workout meal.

CONS

Unlike most people who practice intermittent fasting regularly, I never really adapted my hunger cues to come until much later when I could eat. At first I was so used to eating early that I’d feel so hungry and thirsty that when it was time and if I served myself, I would eat a sh*t ton of food! I wouldn’t necessarily overstuff myself, but I would eat a bit too beyond fullness if I thought that I needed to smash in as much as possible to compensate for skipping. Sometimes I would cheat and have green tea or something very, very small beforehand, but in other words, I could never adapt my appetite to start peaking around noon. Of course with hunger comes with hanger–I’d feel a bit cranky, scatterbrained and just obsessive over when to eat and what to eat.

OVERALL

Do I recommend intermittent fasting to anyone? The answer is sure, but only if you want to. I think that it definitely works better if you have the schedule for it, such as working late, always on the run, no time whatsoever to prepare food, or even living off a major budget, and if you’re not a breakfast person.

I have read several studies that intermittent fasting does not work nearly as well for women as it does with men for some strange hormonal reason, so if you are female, I would be a lot more conscious about it. Had I known beforehand about the gender difference, I probably would have been more scrupulous about my meals.

As for weight loss, it only works if you eat in a deficit. There were times when I’d eat well over 1000 calories in a break-the-fast meal and just ate normally for the rest of the day, hence I personally did not lose any weight, which means that fasting doesn’t burn off muscle or burn off fat. Several studies have shown the opposite, but that’s definitely because I used intermittent fasting with no means of weight loss.

Personally, I would definitely use intermittent fasting again, only if I happen to have a party or a huge feast coming up and I know that I want to cheat or eat a bit more than usual, or if it just so happens to be late and I have lunch coming up within one or two hours before, hence there wouldn’t really be a valid point in eating a full meal. I’ll also probably use it in college if I ever have a weird class schedule that wouldn’t allow me to eat until 11 A.M. or so. However, it’s not a lifestyle that I would use 24/7 or for my weight loss advantage. There is no huge benefit unless if you expend more energy than you consume, which you can do without the hangry fast.


2 thoughts on “Tuesday Thoughts: Experience with Intermittent Fasting (as a female)

  1. Cassie, I really enjoyed this post and you actually motivated me to intermittent fast today as I knew I would have a LOT to eat for NY eve dinner. I liked how thorough you were in talking about your experience and I’m glad you added that if you do want to use IF as a method for weight loss, you need to make sure you are in a deficit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Alice–I’m so glad that my article helped you! 😀 I also think intermittent fasting is awesome for parties because you can eat a lot of delicious food!
      But there’s no magical cure with IF though–it’s only the time window that helps restrict calories!

      Like

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