I Tried Intermittent Fasting, Here’s What Happened
In August of last year, I was using my beloved YouTube to learn facts about the human body and the brain. I have a particular interest in the brain and learning, because for sometime I’ve struggled with my short-term memory.
Growing up, everyone I knew would praised me for my nearly photographic memory. I’ve never seriously studied for anything in my life, yet graduated number three in my high school class and did fairly well in college. However, in the last few years I can read an entire book and be unable to remember much about it.
My long-term memory is still in tack, I can tell you what random song was playing on the radio in 1994 and what I was wearing, but I can’t really tell you what I ate for breakfast.
Memory experts on Youtube, like my favorite Jim Kwik, have repeatedly expressed the role physical health plays on the brain and the importance of eating well and exercise. Watching all those brain videos got me to thinking (pun intended). I hadn’t experienced any of the physical traumas associated with impaired memory function. The only thing that has declined with me over the last few years (or should I say increased) is my waistline.
Depression has had A LOT to do with decreased movement and weight gain for me, in recent history. I also rationalized that decreased movement and weight gain had something to do with my sucky short-term memory.
One of my greatest passions in my life is learning and sharing every morsel I can with people who need it most. This is why I blog. I decided that if I really wanted to help people, I had to first do something about my level of movement and weight. I wanted my brain at prime functioning for retaining helpful information. Let’s face it, I also wanted to look ‘snatched’ in my Instagram pics!
To resolve my woes, I decided not only to take in more exercise, but also begin intermittent fasting. I’d done intermittent fasting for more vain reasons in the past with quick and great results. I knew that it wouldn’t fail me, so for several months I practiced intermittent fasting and experienced lots of things…keep reading to see if this practice might be right for you.
What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
Intermittent Fasting is the process of keeping your body fasted or without food for sixteen hours or more a day. In that time frame, you can only consume zero calorie beverages, such a water, herbal tea, or even diet soft drinks. The goal of intermittent fasting is to get you body into a process called ketosis.
Ketosis is good for weight loss because while there, your body goes from a sugar burning machine to a fat burning one. The blood sugar levels drop as well during the process, which is very healthy for people who suffer from diabetes or people who like to satisfy their sweet-tooth a bit too often. Since the body is burning fat faster during ketosis than in an unfasted state, weight loss naturally happens a bit faster.
What I Experienced While Intermittent Fasting
I dove head-first into IF on a Monday during my work week and I learned something very important- start IF on the weekend or during your days off! I’m a teacher by day that works with young children. I need every bit of energy I have to chase after them and before I could open the door to my classroom that first morning, I was dizzy.
Not kind of dizzy, I was extremely dizzy. After about the third day of IF I felt better, but 8am-11am was a killer. There were several periods that I had to sit with my head between my legs and pray my students wouldn’t notice (they did).
My ‘feeding period’ (time not fasted) was between the hours of 1PM -7PM and I fasted until 1PM the next day. The first few days the hunger was real! By 1PM I was absolutely famished, but again by the magical third day, the sensation of hunger disappeared.
It was the oddest thing to not feel anything at all during my regular lunch hour. Understand that by 1PM I hadn’t eaten for sometimes more than sixteen hours and I felt no hunger. The only thing I could assume is that my body had acclimated to my fasting and my blood sugar didn’t plummet as low as it may have with the initial shook of IF.
I’m a Creative and a night owl, my bedtime is around 2 AM- seriously. My best ideas are late at night. I have the most energy late at night. And I’m not going to lie- I snack at night too.
While IF I could not eat after 7PM and this is when things got tricky. The morning fast wasn’t hard. I’ve never been crazy about breakfast and I’d be so busy working, I never really thought about food until lunch time anyway. However, after 7 PM when I was at home and my mind was wondering and sometimes wondering to the kitchen, it was hard to stay in control. Understand that with intermittent fasting you can not consume ANYTHING during the fast, or you will knock yourself out of ketosis– the whole point of fasting.
Even something low in calories like fruit, can totally destroy the process, so my late night snack of frozen grapes and crackers (I know it’s weird), was a “no go”. I didn’t experience hunger per se as much as I felt bored when I couldn’t reach for a single grape. I learned that a lot of the eating humans do is a product of boredom rather than the need to feed.
Another reason I’m up for a large portion of the night is because my sleep is trash. I toss, turn, and wake up for long periods of time, but with IF my sleep was heavenly. I slept soundly and well! Nothing like it!
If you struggle with sleep, I highly urge you to give IF a try.
After a week into fasting, my energy levels were wild! I could stand all day, work all day, work into the night and wake up ready to do it all over again- insane. Most mornings I’d rather die than wake up normally, but with IF I leaped from my bed!
Since weight loss was part of my personal goal when I undertook IF, I know you are dying to know did I lose weight. The answer is ‘yes’. How much? None of your business (LOL). Did I lose weight at a faster rate than I would have if I had eaten three healthy meals a day or six small meals a day? Absolutely and without a doubt.
Did My Memory Improve?
Somewhat, but not amazingly so. I was truly hoping for a better result in this department, but the outcome wasn’t stellar. I find that perhaps the small benefit in memory I did receive had something to do with getting better quality sleep. Sleep and memory are all tied up together.
I adore experimenting with myself for the sake of you, so currently I’m experimenting with sleep and I’ll have more to say when I cover the topic of sleep at another date.
Would I recommend IF?
Absolutely! Even if you really do not have weight loss goals to meet, I think intermittent fasting can benefit almost everyone. Better sleep quality, energy, and weight loss- who wouldn’t want to give IF a twirl? The only thing is, you should consult with your doctor before starting IF.
I’m sure IF wouldn’t be a fantastic idea for someone with a heart condition. Rapid weight loss can effect heart posture and cause heart attack. Sometimes my own heartbeat quivered for lack of better words during IF. Also with diabetes, the level in which a person’s blood sugar can drop might be dangerous initially, but I’ve heard of many people being able to stop insulin and diabetic medications from IF. It you a pregnant or nursing this is definitely not something for you.
After you have been cleared by a medical professional, I would think that IF would be something excellent to try if nothing but to master self-discipline. IF was most rewarding to me, because it taught me to control my urges and it challenged my mind immensely. If you are up for the challenge consider giving IF a try.
I Want to Hear From You
Have you tried IF or thinking about it? Comment your stories or questions below. I’m interesting in hearing your personal accounts and offer whatever help you may need if you are thinking of getting started soon.