Intermittent fasting: Is it for me?

I have been intermittent fasting (IF) for about five months now.

My day goes as follows: I skip a typical breakfast and eat two meals, the first around 11 am and the second between 6-7 pm (with a snack or two in between). Then, I fast for 16 hours until I start eating again the next day at 11 am. This is the 16:8 method.

There is no dramatic weight loss picture or body fat/muscle mass measurement that I can show you, as the last time I weighed myself was at my yearly work physical and the time before that was at my previous yearly physical. But to my surprise, here are some of the changes I have noticed:

  • I went from a 28 to 27 in pants size (even a 26 at Urban Outfitters!)
  • My mind in the mornings have been a lot clearer – I focus on my tasks easier and I have more energy in the mornings (even without my bacon egg and cheese bagel from Spread!)
  • I drink more water (I will get to that down below).
  • I don’t struggle with late-night indigestion as I did before.

Now at this point, you’re probably thinking that this is just a coincidence that all of this happened or there’s some kind of fitness plan I additionally followed. And I think you will be surprised to hear that IF is the only thing that I have consistently followed in the past couple of months.

But Carol, this is a diet plan.
You can’t be on it forever as it’s not healthy!
Why are you starving yourself?
How can you skip the most important meal of the day?

These are the most common questions I get at work when I tell my coworkers about IF. In this post, I’m going to break down what really is intermittent fasting, how I incorporated it into my lifestyle, and how you can look into it today!

What is intermittent fasting (IF)?

Intermittent fasting for weight loss has been dated back to 1946 (although the subjects were mice). In the past decade, it started to gain popularity with stories of its effectiveness, one including Dr. Jason Fun’s bestseller The Obesity Code.

There are many versions to IF: 5:2, 14:10, 24 hour method, 16:8. I did my fair research into what could be sustainable and most doable for my lifestyle, and at the beginning of this year, I chose the 16:8 method – or 16 hours of fasting followed by an 8-hour eating window.

Long story short – when you eat, it takes about 3-5 hours to digest and absorb the food you just ate (this is called the “fed state”). Because your insulin levels are high, it is hard to burn body fat in this state. The “post-absorptive state” is the 8-12 hours after your last meal. Insulin levels will now be low, making it easier to burn body fat while in this state.

Essentially, fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.

Hackensack Meridian Health

This is one of the reasons why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat, or how often they exercise. It’s all about the timing!

How do you IF?

I work in an environment where my lunch can be at exactly at 11 am or patients start backing up and I get five minutes to eat at 2 pm. Every day is different!

At first, I questioned how I could even go about seeing patients throughout the day without getting hangry. But here is what works for me:

My “breakfast” is a tall (maybe grande) Pike from Starbucks with a splash of almond milk and half of a Splenda packet. I always ask for a Venti ice water and I set a goal to finish this before I “break” my fast. If I know it’ll be a crazy clinic day, I end up packing more snacks (because usually my lunches need to be heated) and leave it out at my desk so that I can easily grab one at 11 am (or whenever I get the chance to eat it).

There is absolutely nothing special about my lunches or dinners. My lunches can range from chicken vegetable soup from Gia Kitchen to some leftovers from the dinner the day before. And you already know my dinners are mostly Korean dishes, as I can’t last a day without eating something Korean!

Something I noted is that I actually found myself drinking more water throughout the day (especially in the morning before my fast). Prior to IF, I would be so focused on eating my meals that I forgot to drink water before, during, or after a meal. (Crazy, I know but this homegirl was so focused on food food food.) But now I make sure to have at least 8 oz before eating my meals because believe it or not, this not only helps digestion but also regulating your appetite (read about it here).

Do you IF every day?

Absolutely not! I went on vacation recently to see my boyfriend in Charleston and trust me, there were lots of ramen at midnight and warm bagels at 8 am.

And at this point in my life, I am not in a frenzy about losing weight. I will go into what my current fitness goals are in a separate post next week but as for now I am doing this because it has made me more aware and mindful of what I am eating and when. I was a huge late-night snacker which led to major indigestion issues before I went to bed but now it just makes life simpler. I don’t have to prepare breakfast and I am not counting calories.

To note, I want to make it clear that this is NOT restrictive eating. If you find that your hunger is of concern, don’t be afraid to break the fast. Listen to your body! Do not let yourself stress about eating at 10:59 am or at 730 instead of 7.

The decision to put your health front and center is the ULTIMATE act of self-love. We have to launch our journey from a place of love, and see the process to becoming healthier as a true journey with no end destination. It is simply to bring you to a higher connection with life.

And I really want to emphasize this.

Intermittent fasting is not about ‘how long can I go until I feel dizzy?’ Just like you would do with any diet/weight loss/get healthy plan, do your research. There is a long line of people who have shared their successes but no plan is a one size fits all. Some of the books that can put the first step in your journey: for women, for the skeptics, for the beginners.

Ask me anything about my progress so far! And if you want to learn more about intermittent fasting, stay tuned for the upcoming posts on the health benefits and tips on how you can get on the IF train!

*Disclaimer: although I am a healthcare professional, I am not a certified nutritionist or a fitness/weight loss expert. tallkoreangirl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. *Disclaimer: although I am a healthcare professional, I am not a certified nutritionist or a fitness/weight loss expert.