Before we got married, we moved into A’s parent’s home while we figured things out–where to go, where to live, what to do…all them adulting stuff. My now-mother-in-law is a superb housewife and would always prepare simple yet tasty homecooked meals. It came to a point that I was eating even if I wasn’t hungry. Because you know, I love food that much. Soon enough, we were packing on the pounds in the form of belly flabs, and in my case, exponential plumpness of my cheeks.
It would’ve been impolite to refuse what she cooked for us, so I had A tell his mom not to prepare breakfast in the morning, as we were used to having just a cup of coffee. This was of course met with resistance, with thrice a day meals being the minimum in most Filipino households. And few no-breakfast days after, I stumbled upon Intermittent Fasting.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Simply put, it’s consciously getting your body into its fasting state, wherein it would start burning the fats you have stored in your body. According to articles, it takes at least twelve (12) hours after a meal before you go into this state. However, twelve hours is just the start of this state. Effectively, you need about 16 hours without food if you want to burn fat. This has something to do with your insulin level being high after food intake which makes it difficult to burn fat, but that’s too technical so let’s leave it at that.
It’s NOT Just Another Diet
Diets choose what you can and can’t eat, and is centered on the type of food you intake. On the other hand, Intermittent Fasting is behavioral, if I can say that. I strongly believe that we eat out of habit. The closest thing I could link to this would have to be smoking. If you’ve heard all the reasons why someone can’t quit smoking, it’s almost the same as to why someone can’t do Intermittent Fasting.
For the record, I have quit smoking (cold turkey), and gave all these smoking excuses, too.
Save for some who are medically not advised to do Intermittent Fasting, we are wired to eat when we’re bored, when we’re sad, when we’re celebrating, or even when we’re just thirsty.
How I Got Convinced with This Idea
My husband would always say that most of us are overfed, because in the olden times, hunters would eat for only a day, and then hunt again for the next few days with very minimal nourishment. So our bodies are technically capable of storing what we eat, possibly enough to give us energy for more than a couple of days. In that sense, if we eat all the time, we’re packing on too many reserves and they are left unused.
So back to the modern times, the convenience of food had made it too easy for us to reach for a snack. We are no longer hunters who need to physically work on our food. We get a cup of coffee without harvesting the beans, have milk without even milking a cow. Most of us don’t even knead our own bread.
Hmmm… true. The most physical effort to get food would probably be to walk to a fast food chain. But then again, I know the delivery hotlines by heart…
Different Types of Intermittent Fasting
One of the things I like about Intermittent Fasting is that it is flexible. (The bestest thing is that it doesn’t limit me on what and what not to eat! Yay!) It will depend on your tolerance, your schedule, and your personality.
- Daily – Fast for 16 hours, eat for 8. Some people do 14-10.
- Weekly – Some people, especially those with physically demanding jobs, choose to eat on weekdays, and fast on weekends (anywhere from 24-48 hours of fasting)
- Alternate days – fast for one day, eat normally the next day, repeat
The Adjustment Period
The key to achieving your optimal eating (and fasting) pattern is to ease into it. It took me about 3 days (fasting 16 hours daily) before I got comfortable with it. It will make you hungry, because your body isn’t used to it yet. I had migraines, and that feeling when I wanted to give up on the second day because ‘I’m gonna die.’
How dramatic. I was hangry.
If I could do it differently, I’d probably add an hour of fasting every day instead of diving all in to the 16-hour fasting without preparation. For example, if I used to start eating at 8am and end at 9pm, I would:
- Day 1: Start at 9am, end at 9pm.
- Day 2: Start at 9am, end at 8pm.
- Day 3: Start at 10am, end at 8pm.
- Day 4: Start at 10am, end at 7pm.
- Day 5: Start at 11am, end at 7pm.
Do adjust your eating start and end time depending on what your feel would work for your daily activities. Say, if you don’t want to end your eating time early because you’d want to enjoy dinner with your family, then maybe you can skip the morning meals. Or if everyday is a struggle, maybe consider weekly fasting.
Our Own Intermittent Fasting Schedule
Here’s what we do now, though:
- Coffee in the morning – no sugar
- Lunch at noon time, a cup of tea afterwards
- Light dinner anytime from 6pm, but should be done by 8pm
We chose this schedule for a few reasons:
- My husband is usually not hungry when he wakes up, and it’d be a waste of energy to prepare something in the morning if he doesn’t even feel like eating! Lol
- Then: His mom would prepare hearty lunches, she relaxes at night.
- Now: Lunch would be best to eat a complete [rice] meal because his GERD makes it difficult to sleep with a full stomach at night, so having the heavier meal midday would give his system enough time to digest it.
- It’s hard to sleep hungry so we’d have a salad or a small sandwich at night, and hopefully be asleep by 11-ish.
The Effects of Intermittent Fasting
At the time of writing, we’ve been at it for over five months.
Personally, it feels good to be comfortable with the way I look. Feminism aside, now that I”ve lost close to 20lbs, I love how easy it is to find clothes that fit well. See, I have nothing against loving your body flaws and all, but I’m also for working on a healthier one.
Aside from losing weight, we also are happy that we are mindful of what we eat. We now eat with the intention to nourish our bodies, rather than having food as an afterthought or as entertainment. Every week, I spend a day thinking about our meals and choose to have healthy homecooked meals over fast food, although we of course still go out once a week or so.
Most importantly, it gives us a boost of–I’m not sure if this is the right word–confidence to feel that we are in control of our nourishment. Gone are the days when we are defeated by the hormonal urge to gobble up several slices of pizza in the middle of the night while binge-watching on Netflix. If we want pizza, we plan pizza.