I grew up being told over and over again that three meals a day is always the way to go. Skipping breakfast meant getting dizzy the whole morning and skipping dinner demanded a crazy heavy meal the next morning.
So when I came across Terry Crews’ video on Intermittent fasting (IF) a few months back, I totally thought it was downright ridiculous. 16 hours of nothing in your stomach? Yeah, I think I’m good with eating my meals right on time. But after a long plateau in my fitness journey and the strong preference of not going into a diet, I started considering this IF thing.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is having a long period of time every day devoted to not eating. Sometimes it’s 12 hours, and for some, it can be as long as 16 or 18. During those hours, no calories are consumed.
Intermittent fasting is supposed to help your body not rely on the glucose from food as an energy source. The fasting period is when your body starts attacking the fat as its energy source and therefore helping with the weight and fat loss process.
Common Misconceptions of Intermittent Fasting
Despite what other sources say, you’re not really skipping meals. You’re distributing your calorie needs for the day within a certain period of time. Food is still fuel.
And this is no reason for you to eat too much. Track your caloric intake and macros (proteins, carbs, fats) for the day and make sure you hit the ideal amount for your body every day. Always opt for healthy meals made for your own personal health concerns and needs. Remember, we’re doing this for health!
Finally, it doesn’t have to be just 8 hours of eating. It can be 12 or 10 hours depending on your lifestyle. The key is to start small and start slow.
Why I Tried Intermittent Fasting
After hitting an excruciatingly long plateau in my fitness journey, I decided to try intermittent fasting just to see if it’s the lifestyle for me. My favorite fitness YouTuber, Whitney Simmons, loved it. She stays away from diets as much as I do and if she loved this IF habit since she started doing it last year, I thought it was one of the safer eating habits out there to do.
I also researched a lot before this because at this stage, I’m not here to lose weight anymore. I’m here to become a healthier individual. But losing weight is a plus too.
Your Lifestyle is Your IF Schedule
But first, a little bit about my daily activity levels.
I would say I’m an active individual, working out maybe 4-5x a week. I struggle with food a lot because I never know when and what to eat. I get strong cravings for random things all the time too! Last time it was lechon manok and fish crackers.
It took me a while to admit it but I am a cardio bunny. I run on the treadmill for 30 minutes and do jumping jacks until I can see trails of sweat dripping from my forehead. I do some weight training after that too.
So naturally, the first thing I had to do was to schedule my intermittent fasting and eating periods around my workout and my lifestyle.
I work out hard for most the week so I need to be able to do those workouts without dying and getting dizzy. I also had to take into consideration my 2 to 3-hour commute to and from work because that’s tiring too!
I found that an 8 to 9-hour eating period worked best for me. I break my fast right after a workout and eat from 9 or 10 AM to 6 PM and fast for 15 to 16 hours. Eating after a workout is a must. You have to repair the muscles you worked with lots of protein and carbs to replenish your energy. During the times I fast, I just drink water or hot green tea.
What Happened When I Tried Intermittent Fasting
Did I notice any major weight or fat loss changes? Nope. Were there any major eating habit changes? Heck yes. Intermittent fasting worked for me because I was able to schedule it with my very simple lifestyle and because I wanted an eating habit that didn’t restrict me from eating anything.
Hunger Pangs and Increased Water Intake: After a few days, I didn’t struggle with hunger pangs anymore. I wasn’t hungry during my fasting period and if I was, I would just drink water and tea and it would be fine. This meant I drank more water than usual, which is great because I used to struggle drinking 8 glasses of water a day.
TMI but the first week I was on IF, I was also on my PMS week. I was surprised to see I wasn’t craving for anything so strongly!
Eating Times: I found that my eating times changed. I would eat a post-workout snack at 10:30 AM and be full enough to have lunch at 2 PM then a snack before 6 PM right before I head home.
How Intermittent Fasting Affects My Workout: I also thought that working out with an empty stomach would be the death of me. Surprisingly, my body adjusted quickly and I was still able to do 30 minutes of HIIT on the treadmill and even with a shorter rest period this time around! I also had more energy than ever to do more exercises right after my cardio.
My working energy levels remained the same (compared to when I wasn’t on intermittent fasting) all throughout the day and even during my fasting period.
Current Intermittent Fasting Schedule: I only fast 5 to 6 days a week because I still believe weekends are for food and hanging out with friends!
Last Tips for Anyone Trying Out Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting is great for anyone struggling with food intake on the daily. It’s best if you want to regulate or suppress cravings in the long run.
Always listen to your body. Your lifestyle is your intermittent fasting schedule so make sure you do the hours that’s best for you. There’s no competition here. Just because Terry Crews or your favorite fitness blogger eats for only 6 hours doesn’t mean they’re better at IF. It’s just that these are the times that works for them.
Eat the right amount of food. You’re already only eating a few hours a day so make sure you hit your body’s necessary caloric and macros intake. Here’s a nifty macro calculator to help you take note of how many calories and how much protein, fats, and carbs you should be eating in a day – Katy Hearn Fit Macro Calculator.
Start slow. Try intermittent fasting for 3 days a week then 5 days. You can even try alternating your fasting and non-fasting days. Keep doing it until you get the hang of it! Your body’s going to thank you in the long run that you didn’t shock it with a 6-hour no eating period right away.
This is not a diet, so you have to find the intermittent fasting schedule you can stick with for a long time. Terry Crews is been on it for 5 years already!