Back at the end of November, I wrote a post about intermittent fasting. If you missed it, you can see it here.
I mentioned in that post that I was considering trying it out, just as an experiment. It’s the complete opposite of what I learned while completing my health coaching certification, but I’m not afraid to question what I’ve been told from time to time. My training taught me that it’s best to eat every couple of hours. The theory behind this is that since our stomachs are only about as big as the size of a fist, they should only hold that portion size when it comes to meals. If we are eating meals that size, we are likely hungry every couple of hours, so we should listen to our bodies if this is the case and then have a small meal each time we are hungry.
I was perfectly happy with my routine. But I was pretty curious about this whole intermittent fasting thing. So, in the name of research, I ditched my perfectly happy routine to spend December eating all of my calories between the hours of 12 and 7 p.m. How did it turn out, you may ask?
It sucked! Thanks for asking. Have a nice day!
Kidding. But I know you all are busy and are probably big skimmers given all of the Internet reading you have on your lists, so I thought I’d give you the summary version just in case you had to go. Ha! For those of you who would like a bit more detail, please read on.
Now first and foremost, let me just say that I still stand by my original assertion about this way of eating, which is that people need to figure out what works for them as individuals. I’m not bashing this method just because it didn’t work for me. There is no ONE right way to do anything in life, and eating is no exception to this rule in my opinion. I’m simply sharing my experience as another perspective to consider.
The biggest downer was that I gained 5 pounds in December. Now, for those of you who do not know, I am 5 feet tall and have a very small frame. So 5 pounds on me is nothing to sneeze at. Excess weight causes lots of health issues, and even a small amount can affect predisposition to heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses, not to mention back problems (I tend to carry extra weight in my mid-section, and I can really feel it in my back when I run). Could there have been other reasons for this weight gain? Sure, anything is possible. However, I did *not* indulge in a bunch of holiday eating. I did not reduce my movement patterns. The only thing I really changed from November to December was the time of day that I ate. Here are some other observations:
*It was really difficult to be physically active in the morning but then not be able to eat until noon. If I did a strength workout or went for a run first thing in the morning, I was really hungry right afterward, yet had several hours to wait until I could eat. One of the articles I listed in my original post suggested that physical activity be done the hour before noon. I suppose that might have helped, because then if I got really hungry I could have eaten right after the activity. This didn’t always work out to be convenient though, based on my schedule.
*Once I worked through my morning hunger, I often was not hungry at noon when it was finally time to actually eat. This resulted in my eating even fewer calories than I normally would have eaten. Which you would have thought would have caused weight loss rather than weight gain. So my assumption then was that…
*….as you so often hear, perhaps breakfast really IS the most important part of the day — at least for my body. You may have heard that your metabolism can be affected by skipping breakfast. It’s been said that if you don’t eat right when you get up, your body freaks out and goes into “I’d better store the first calories I get ahold of as fat, since I’m being starved” mode. Now if you do your research, you’ll see that this is a bit of a controversial idea, and that there are lots of articles out there that say this has not been scientifically proven to be true. Believe what you like. I personally have to wonder.
So, as for me, I will be going back to my morning green smoothie and my small meals throughout the day. I’ll be happier overall I think. The moral of the story is that you can try various lifestyle changes, but if something isn’t working for you, listen to your body! It knows what it needs.