Is Intermittent Fasting the answer to weight loss for women? Activated Nutrients staff writer, Jennifer Hopper, gave it a red hot go - and the results are in!
Who am I?
Okay, a bit about me. I am a non-dieter who believes eating healthfully is a way of life. However, I have been trying to shift 6 kilos since the birth of my son three years ago and recently I have been getting the suspicious feeling I’m the victim of kilo creep. And while I’m not overweight I don’t feel like myself. I have a whole wardrobe of foxy fashion I can’t fit into anymore and it bums me out!
My attempts at shifting my excess weight have been a bit scattershot up to this point. I’ve tried exercising more, cutting out sugar, easing up on the carbs and cutting out alcohol. None of it worked - in fact I often gained weight and felt pretty hopeless about the whole thing. So, when my brother-in-law said he was dropping kilos with Intermittent Fasting, I thought I’d give it a go.
I decided to try what I regard as Intermittent Fasting ‘Lite’. Where some programs are terrifying - (like the 5:2 diet that restricts calorie intake to 500-600 calories 2 days a week), IF ‘Lite’ - otherwise known at 16/8, seemed pretty easy to do. Essentially this version of IF means you limit your eating window to 8 consecutive hours out of every 24, everyday or every second day. There are no real dieting requirements like special foods or essential exercises so I'm good to go.
The main details of the diet I got here:
Ok, so this is the exciting bit. IF ‘Lite’ worked a treat! Here’s how it unfolded for me (after a bit of a dud start).
I stuff up immediately by going hardcore right away. I decide to fast 16 out of 24 hours EVERY DAY and do not lose a gram. I do this for THE WHOLE WEEK until I chat to our Activated Nutrients Nutrition Scientist, Lucy Taylor, and she tells me maybe I should have asked her about it all first. She also reminds me that most people try to fast every SECOND day. Weight loss results are unimpressive (at best, maybe 200 grams!) and all I have to show for my week of mega fasting is one CRAZY bad headache.
Now I’ve sorted the diet I get into a bit of a groove with it and I manage to shed .75 kilos by the end of the week. It’s true that I am a breakfast person, so getting up and knowing there won’t be a big bowl of muesli to meet me in the morning does cause some sadness every second day. But I cope on fast days with a few cups of tea and I’m surprised how easy it is to sail on through to lunch. The losses start to add up and I’m feeling it!
I’m astonished to see the scales show a 2 kilo (sometimes even a 2.5 kilo) loss - just like that! This is frankly incredible. My diet hasn’t changed - I am eating pretty much as I did before, I’m just fitting it all into my 8 hour window on fast days. Sometimes I forget I’m on a fasting day and I pick at my kids’ lunch without thinking or head for the fridge before remembering it’s not time to eat yet.
My biggest problem is remembering whether I fasted the day before or not and trying to figure out when I’m supposed to eat - I’m not awesome at telling the time.
Week 4 & 5
Things have stagnated a bit and I’m still at the 2 to 2.5 kilo-loss mark. While I felt frustrated by this for the last few weeks as my original goal was 6 kilos, I am happy that I have maintained my loss so far. And I feel pretty good about the fit of my clothes. Sure, I’m still little off squeezing comfortably into my favourite summer dress, but so what - my style’s changed now anyway!
My overall result
Look, I’m pretty happy with my results. No, I didn’t hit my 6 kilo goal, but actually I think it was kind of unrealistic. Given I’m not seriously overweight and on the petite side anyway, this goal was perhaps unwise. I feel good about where I’m at now and intend to maintain the results.
Is this diet for you?
Well now, that will take a little soul searching first. I feel like this diet is for people who don’t go into feast or famine mode when faced with a food ban! If you’re prone to pig out when denied your usual breakfast or dinner, you may end up overeating and the diet’s benefits will be lost on you.
If you have a healthy relationship to food and are able to accept, slow, steady, healthy results that will whittle you down to what you should weigh, then this diet could be your jam.