My experience with this alternative to typical diets
By Lauren Kelly, Graphics Manager
I spent a long time wanting to lose weight. After high school ended, I gained over 40 pounds and stayed there. I tried cutting calories a few times—down from eating whatever to eating 1,200 calories—but when I didn’t see results, I lost motivation quickly. It was the same with going to the gym. I went twice a week for a while with a friend but I didn’t really notice a difference in my body, and when my friend stopped going, so did I.
Of course, being mindful of what you eat and exercising are very important even when you’re not trying to lose weight, but I saw them as tools instead of a healthy lifestyle change.
So, I stayed the same weight. I always told myself I would lose it eventually, but I didn’t make any more attempts. This finally changed last May, when I came across a post on Reddit of a weight loss before and after. The poster had started doing intermittent fasting (IF) and had lost something like 50 pounds in six months. I fell down a research rabbit hole that night and woke up the next day actually feeling empowered and ready to do something about my weight.
For those of you have never heard of it, just like I hadn’t, intermittent fasting is the practice of creating a schedule with periods of fasting. Fasting means eating nothing and drinking only water or calorie-free drinks like black tea and coffee. There are various options for how you schedule your fasting, but the most popular is called 16:8, meaning you fast for 16 hours and then eat during an 8-hour window. It’s up to you when your eating window is. I chose to start eating at noon and stop at 8 because I often have later dinners, so an earlier time would mean I would be eating outside my window too often.
Fasting like this helps with weight loss for a few reasons. The simplest is that when you’re eating over a shorter time, you’re going to be eating less. Skipping breakfast or dinner cuts out a meal’s worth of calories, and unless you play catch-up once your eating window starts and fit all three meals in, this naturally lowers your caloric intake. Additionally, after a certain period of time without eating, your body switches from using recently eaten food for energy and instead uses fat stores. Insulin levels also drop when you’re fasting, which makes your fat stores easier to access when your body is looking for energy.
All of this makes IF a great tool for weight loss for many people. However, if you have had eating disorders, it’s strongly recommended that you avoid fasting as a diet.
With my decision to try IF, I also made some other changes. I cut my caloric intake down to 1,200 to 1,500 per day, I lowered my snacking, and I cut out caloric beverages like soda and iced capps—a personal favourite. I started tracking my steps and bought an exercise bike that I used a few times a week. I also increased my water intake to two litres a day. I tracked all this through apps; I would have struggled to keep myself honest without them. It was a big lifestyle change, and I worked hard to follow my new rules.
It didn’t take long to see progress. I lost 10 pounds within the first month. This pushed me to keep following my regimen, even when it was difficult, and the results continued. From April to September, I lost just over 40 pounds. I’m finally at a weight I’m happy with—one where I feel confident and comfortable in my body. I’ve let myself start eating a little less healthily sometimes, while keeping some rules strict—particularly the no sugary drinks one—and I haven’t regained any weight. After all, everyone deserves a cheat day to stay sane. The key is moderation.
There are other health benefits beyond just weight loss, so even if that’s not a concern for you it’s still worth doing some research on. For those who are looking to lose weight in a healthy way, it is a fantastic option. I couldn’t be happier with my experience with IF and I would fully recommend it. Just make sure to do your research to guarantee you’re being safe and finding a schedule and method that work best for your life.