With all the conflicting dietary advice out there, it's hard to know what to write off as a cheap gimmick and what might actually be worth a shot.
When I discovered intermittent fasting (IF), the practice of eating only within a specific window every day and only drinking calorie-free liquids the rest of the time, I was intrigued and decided to give it a try.
I worked up to a 20:4 schedule, meaning I spend 20 hours a day in a fasting state and make sure I do all of my eating in the remaining four-hour window.
While it's not for everyone, it's a practice that I loved so much and saw so many results from that I still do it today.
Like many people, I used to do a lot of grazing between meals, snacking on everything from chips and candy to nuts and fruits for a good portion of the day despite the fact that I wasn't actually hungry. With IF, since I was eating within a specific window, I realized that I'd been eating at least a few hundred calories a day out of boredom, if not more.
While it may sound counterintuitive that eating less would give you more energy, that's how IF has worked for me. Previously, I used to eat a big meal and then feel like taking a nap within half an hour. Not having a full stomach all the time gave my digestive system a break and helped me feel way more awake and alert to power through my workouts and my work day.
After losing about 50 pounds before intermittent fasting, I hit a plateau and the scale stopped moving. I'd heard that intermittent fasting can help with weight loss, which was just another reason for me to give it a try. It worked for me! Within about a week of only eating within a four-hour window, the scale started moving again and hasn't stopped since.
Eating three meals a day is mentally exhausting. Unless you have a personal chef or eat out for every meal, neither of which were an appealing or even possible option for me, you have to think ahead to plan what you're going to eat and make sure you have the ingredients on hand to prepare it. Doing IF meant that I was only really thinking about a single meal rather than three separate ones, and the amount of mental space that freed up was definitely welcome.
Because I wasn't feeling full and sluggish anymore, my workouts got way more intense and I had more energy to get through them. Research has shown that fasted cardio sessions can burn more calories than exercise undertaken after eating, which was an added bonus.
In addition to saving vital mental space, I also saved a lot of money. Eating during a smaller window meant I was eating less in general, which translated into big savings-roughly $30 a week-when it came to my grocery bill. The food I do buy goes further, lasting me for several days rather than only one or two (which means less time in the kitchen too). I definitely can't complain about that.
Again, I wouldn't say IF is for everyone, but it's definitely made a big difference in my life. It's allowed me to feel in control of my relationship with food and less anxious about it in general, which is always a good thing. I feel more energetic, I'm continuing to lose weight, and I generally feel amazing. I'll definitely be doing intermittent fasting for the foreseeable future.
Also from Business Insider South Africa: