Intermittent Fasting Changed The Way I Feel and Eat

For my entire life, I’ve had a horrible stomach. It’s a fact that all of my friends, roommates, and coworkers know. It’s the one excuse for not going out my friends never question — if my stomach’s acting up, it’s impossible for me to leave the house.

Over the course of my life, it feels like I’ve tried everything to get in control of my stomach. I’ve cut out food groups, gone to a million different doctors, and have stopped eating out altogether, all to no avail. It’s undoubtedly caused by a sensitivity to (many) foods, and by anxiety and nerves — but has felt completely unstoppable due to the combination of both.

One of the side effects of this is that more often than not, my stomach feels bloated and uncomfortable. For years, no matter how healthy I ate, how much water I drank, or how much I exercised, I was uncomfortable — until I tried intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is a diet technique that focuses on when you eat, rather than what you eat. There are multiple different methods to fasting:

  • 16:8: You only eat for an eight-hour period every day, and fast for 16.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: Once or twice a week, you complete a full 24-hour fast.
  • 5:2: For two days a week, you limit your calorie intake to 500-600.

By giving your body time to digest everything you’ve eaten and reset itself, intermittent fasting has a ton of claimed health benefits: weight loss, increased energy, reduction in inflammation, and most importantly, help with digestive problems. With nothing to lose,  I decided to give it a go.

 

Source: @sarahsunita

 

 

In August, I chose to try the 16:8 method, which meant I would only be eating for eight hours each day. Due to my work schedule, I decided that it was most important for me to be able to eat dinner at home, so I decided my eating hours would be 11am-7pm.

At first, I didn’t think I was going to survive. I get home from work at about 6:30pm, and I’m a huge nighttime eater. One of my worst habits was snacking all night after dinner, so breaking that was going to be a huge hurdle. Also, breakfast was my favorite meal of the day — I woke up early every morning before work to cook something, usually avocado toast or eggs. This also meant I couldn’t drink my usual creamer-filled coffee on my commute every morning. So, I knew I was up for a challenge.

The first week was tough. I found that my biggest problem wasn’t not being able to snack or not eat breakfast, but was actually fitting all of my calories into an eight-hour window (it’s harder than it sounds when you’re used to eating 15 hours a day). Since I was at work for most of that time, I had to pack a ton of food every day, which was a huge adjustment — and a huge pain.

Everyone and their mother knows I love to meal prep, so I had to add breakfast to my usual lunch prep, and after a while ended up prepping for the entire day. I’m now in the habit of bringing a packet of instant oatmeal and some fruit for breakfast every day — it’s just a part of my daily routine. I also look at the plus side, which is that I get to sleep in since I’m not making a huge breakfast every morning.

 

Indian Coconut Butter Cauliflower by Half Baked Harvest

 

The weight-loss part of fasting wasn’t what I started it for, but I’ve definitely seen a lot of physical progress over the past few months since I’ve started. I’ve kept up with my usual workout regime (I usually work out around four days a week) and eating habits. For a long time, despite eating healthy and working out consistently, I just wasn’t seeing any progress.

Since starting fasting, I’ve seen a huge change in my body. It’s allowed me to get more toned and lose some of the fat that a tequila-filled senior year had resulted in. I don’t know what the results of fasting would be without exercise and semi-healthy eating (read: lots of salads, but also lots of chocolate chip cookies — they cancel each other out, right?), but I do know that in addition to an already semi-healthy routine, it was the boost I needed for my fitness as well.

 

 

When I started fasting, I honestly didn’t expect much. I thought that — if anything — I would lose a couple of pounds, but would be cranky and hungry in the meantime, leading me to quit after a couple of weeks. But since I started, my stomach has done a complete 180. I can count the number of times I’ve gotten sick in the past five months on one hand, and can wholeheartedly say that I cannot believe the change it has made for me. I feel like I’m a different person, and wake up every day feeling like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. 

 

I’m not a doctor, and can’t say that intermittent fasting is a cure-all for everyone with any stomach issue — or recommend that everyone tries it. But I do know that for me, deciding to try it has completely changed how I feel every day, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to not fasting — and it definitely is not as hard as it sounds. 

 

Would you ever try intermittent fasting? Let us know in the comments below!

  • I do 16:8 fasting – I limit my intake from noon to 8 pm and it’s been wonderful for me. I’m not usually a breakfast eater anyways, so this ended up working out really well and it’s also kept me away from midnight snacking!

  • Katerinabeth

    Okay, for real, can you please stop with the dangerous dieting posts?

    First there was the Whole30 post last week that was like “everyone should do this and never eat gluten or dairy” (despite every RD saying it’s not a good plan) and now this…which is ironic, considering you had a post about loving your body no matter the size just a few days before. I’m going to disregard the lack of scientific support in this article for a second and instead just focus on the wellbeing of your readers: this might be extremely triggering for a lot of your audience. The title made it seem like it may be more about how the writer feels, yet it still ultimately focuses on weight loss at the end. And there’s not a single disclaimer about how this can be extremely dangerous and shouldn’t be done without consulting with a physician first (e.g., anyone with diabetes, in recovery from eating disorders, pregnant, breastfeeding, and a whole other list of existing conditions). Frankly, it’s irresponsible to your readership.

    Now to the science: there are studies that show that intermittent fasting can be effective, in some cases, which is great! You should use that to your advantage and cite them here to help legitimize the experience. However, not a single study is posted here.

    Your original post on IF (which is linked in this post) did reference one of those studies, which is great, but the studies should be reiterated here with a link to Pubmed so people can read it. If you’re going to write about wellness topics, you should really include some legitimate sources and not just one person’s experience. While it’s fine for an individual blogger to do that, you have a huge audience, and with that comes responsibility. At a bare minimum, you should include the info about who shouldn’t use IF on this article, in case your readers don’t go back and read your other post from last year.

    I know the New Year is all about healthy diets and fitness and whatnot, but for a lot of people who have had unhealthy relationships with food in the past, it’s a brutal time of year. Maybe lay off the diet articles for a bit, or at least minimize them so there isn’t a new one every single day. It’s overwhelming even for your readers who don’t have issues with food, let alone those who may be seriously struggling.

    • Girl on the interwebs

      Please calm down. The Everygirl is not a scientific medical journal, nor has it claimed to be. It’s a blog site that posts articles about seasonal and/or popular topics. This blog post was one women’s personal experience trying IF and how it worked for her. Personally, I found it pretty helpful because I have similar issues and I think I’m also going to give this a try. If someone is that triggered, I would hope they would avoid looking at any blog posts about diets, losing weight, etc. I have enough faith in his or her intelligence to be able to do that for him/herself. Everything triggers everyone nowadays and to quote T. Swift, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

    • Vishakha Gupta

      Thanks for your comment, I agree any article like this should reference scientific evidence in addition to personal experience or at least include a disclaimer. Lots of young girls out there who may be susceptible.

    • longtimereader1sttimecaller

      Thanks for this. I agree. And while TEG isn’t a medical journal, there still should be some sort of reference of support. In the age of GOOP, things rooted in evidence are dwindling. There’s so much quackery online now that it’s hard to know what is or isn’t scientifically valid without some sort of legit reference, and most people aren’t going to go out and find it for themselves. They put trust (perhaps misplaced) in the blogs they read. Apparently it sounds like there is science to support intermittent fasting, so they did themselves a disservice by not including the research behind it.

      I also agree that the lack of a disclaimer or warning is a HUGE problem.

      • Katerinabeth

        Well said. And yes, I was a little over the top with my reply, but it’s only because this is like the 6th health-related article I’ve commented on in the past few months on here that has potentially dangerous information in it. This isn’t the worst offender, but there are others that are hugely problematic (e.g., the flat tummy tea that was promoting a laxative, the constant use of non-credentialed “health coaches” as experts). There’s so much bad information out there and everyone takes everything on GOOP or from other bloggers as gospel. I really like reading The Everygirl, so it’s disappointing to see such an influx of articles that not only disregard or misuse science, but also are pushing weight loss in every other article, despite the majority of commenters saying that this isn’t what they want to see. The Everygirl has such a dedicated readership that they could really be pioneers and present topics like this in a healthy, objective, user-friendly science way and contribute to the way people receive information and help their readers be more discerning. But instead they’re going for more click-bait type posts and the quality has been decreasing drastically…they still haven’t fixed the blatant inaccuracy in their immune boosting post where they said it’s fine totally fine to binge drink on occasion because of what a published study said, yet the study said it’s definitely not okay to do that (the writer misinterpreted the study results, seemingly not understanding what “acute” means in that context). That’s a problem. There are other posts with similar issues. It’s like they’re more interested in cranking out popular topics than making sure everything is accurate.

  • longtimereader1sttimecaller

    As someone who has struggled with dieting and healthy eating, I agree with comments on this post and others that it seems counterproductive to have all these dieting articles sandwiched between articles on how women should embrace themselves and not worry about losing weight. It seems like you can’t make up your mind. There’s enough pressure on women to always be worried about their waistlines on the internet, so a feature article that seems like it’s going to be about how she feels better and then makes it mostly about weight loss is a little misleading, particularly for people like me who specifically avoid weight-loss related articles.

  • jhiggzs

    I am also an intermittent faster and have been so for the past few years, although I personally use a smaller feeding window (5 hours). Different things work for different people and it’s certainly helpful to be exposed to different ideas, even if the reader isn’t interested in implementing, it’s good to be informed. I really don’t understand why so many of these commenters have their panties in a twist. Part of loving yourself sometimes means making improvements… It’s sad how everything now requires a disclaimer or soliloquy regarding intent in order to POSSIBLY avoid sensitive people from feeling personally attacked. Smh.

    • janinerich

      ick, “feeding window.” 🙂

  • I should really give it a go!!
    Miki x

    http://littletasteofbeauty.blogspot.com/

  • Anna Bryan

    I agree with other commenters in that it is important to note that this style of eating needs to come with a disclaimer and could be a trigger for individuals with a history of eating problems. However! I have been doing IF for almost a year and I LOVE it. I am an overall healthy person, have always liked healthy food (but also love sweets) and enjoy exercise. I also love breakfast and thought no way could I give that up. But IF has helped me focus more on my macros and making sure I’m getting the nutrients my body actually needs, versus just filling it with empty calories for a quick fix. For those thinking about doing this, you need to read up on how to properly fuel your body. My husband also really likes it and found that it helped his daily headaches.

  • Danielle Beneski

    My twin has recently started IF and loves it! Not for weight loss but for how she feels altogether. She notices she has more energy & is more focused, also she too hasn’t had as much stomach issues as before! I am currently researching more to see if this is something I might be Interested in but I don’t understand why everyone has to get upset over everything now a days! You can’t talk about anything without people nitpicking & getting offended. The way I took this article was someone’s explanation on what the 16:8 is and how it works & worked for them. No where in this article did they say “you NEED to try this” or “this is how you lose weight fast”!

  • Ann Fournier

    I, too, have suffered with gastrointestinal issues for YEARS. I became a vegan and that alleviated many of my problems but I still was irregular and bloated. At the beginning of December, I decided to try intermittent fasting from 6 pm to 10 am. The first few days seemed difficult and my stomach seemed in turmoil. Then, something amazing happened; my stomach issues began to get better. It is now January 12th and I have less of all my symptoms and have regular (every day!) bowel movements. I am not saying it’s for everyone and I am not sure exactly why it works so well for me, but I am so very happy that it does!