I Tried Intermittent Fasting for a Week and Here’s What Happened

There is always some sort of fad diet going around that everyone and their grandma is trying: Earlier this summer, I was seeing posts about intermittent fasting all over social media: 

“I lost over 50 pounds and I haven’t even changed my diet!” 

“This isn’t a diet — it’s a lifestyle change.”

“The Rock uses this diet!”

What is intermittent fasting you may ask? Simply put, it is when you go between periods of fasting and eating during a certain amount of time. 

The app that I saw the most hype over is “Zero.” It’s really simple, to be honest, and helps you to do things that could simply be done with a timer or a watchful eye, but something about using an app makes it feel a little more official. The app gives you three options: 

1. The 16-hour intermittent fast “popularized by Hugh Jackman and Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson.” This fast is popular for shedding pounds and is typically started after dinner and continued until about lunch the next day. This is the option I went for. 

2. The 13-hour circadian rhythm fast, which is based on the research of Dr. Satchin Panda, where “participants aim to start fasting as close to sunset as possible for at least 13 hours daily.” If you’re a long sleeper, this one shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish.

3. The third option they give is the custom option, which is anywhere from 1-24 hours. This is good for if you want to work your way up to either long or super intense fasts.

So here are my experiences with the 16-hour intermittent fasting: 

Monday

I started the fasting on a Monday, because new beginnings and all that. I downloaded the app and set my 16-hour timer feeling a little cocky that this would be a breeze. As soon as I hit start I realized this would be difficult, because I’m one of those nighttime snacking people — and this is going to mess with that. 

Tuesday

I was having many feelings Tuesday morning. I wasn’t exactly starving when I woke up, but I’m one of those people who eats breakfast right away, so it messed with my morning ritual. I had started the fast late the night before, so I wasn’t able to eat until 2 pm. I distracted myself mostly, but around 1 pm I started to get hungry for real. When the notification popped up saying my fast was over — I’m not going to lie — I ran for my cereal. From there it got a little binge-y, because I knew that I only had a small window to eat something, making me feel like I needed to fill up. I realized that I needed to either time the fasting better or meal-plan properly.

Wednesday:

Once again, when I woke up I wasn’t really that hungry. Instead of my usual ritual of snoring into my cereal first thing, I distracted myself with a quick workout and a shower. I had always heard that working out on an empty stomach wasn’t good for you, but after a quick google search I found out that it’s actually more effective at burning fat (but don’t quote me on that). Once again, I was quite aware that I only had an eight hour eating window, but I tried harder this day to be a little better in my choice of meals. I certainly faced temptation in the evening when I was invited for ice-cream at the same time that I had planned to start my daily fast! I had to decide between being social and eating something yummy or extending my fast the next day. If you know me, you know I have a sweet tooth, so I went. But that night was worse: As I said before, the evening is my go to snacking time and I definitely dealt with temptations. Setting the timer on my fasting app definitely helped me push through.

Thursday

Today, I was starving when I woke up and honestly in a kind of bad mood because I had to wait a couple of hours to be able to eat. In the end, I stuck with it and distracted myself with work and tea. I later found out that you’re not supposed to have anything when fasting. There is some conflicting research stating that you can have black coffee or water, but others say absolutely nothing for the entire fasting period. I had a lunch date this day, which is what I broke my fast with and found that I felt full quite easily. Along with reducing my portion sizes, it also reduced my evening snacking. So far, so good!

Friday

So, one thing I noticed I have been doing during this week of fasting is that I have been staying in bed a lot later. The not-eating-breakfast-right-away messed with my schedule and instead of filing this time with other useful activities, I lounged in bed longer. I was mostly bummed because breakfast is my favourite meal and my day is just not the same without cereal. 

Saturday/ Sunday

So, the truth is, I didn’t really stick with the diary entries after this, as it just felt very repetitive. Overall, I felt this diet was really good in terms of keeping your snacking in line — the science behind it is cool — but it didn’t really fit my schedule at the time. I continued the same sort of way for a bit, but then I went on vacation right after, so it was difficult to stick with while running to catch trains and staying in hostels. Would I try it again? Absolutely, just with some better planning. 

I really enjoyed the app because I found the timer really kept me accountable. It really makes it a goal when there’s a countdown and a finish line in sight, so, personally, that was very helpful in terms of this diet for me.  

Another thing I would suggest if trying this is to meal plan:once those 16 hours are up, you’ll be pretty hungry and also pretty ready for some indulging. Having some healthy meals ready could be a great help in staying on track. 

 Plan accordingly: if you live with others, it may be weird that you’re just eating “breakfast” when they’re getting home from work. Pick an eating window that makes logical sense for your schedule. 

Remember to be safe! If you are ever feeling faint from the lack of food or it causes you to have harmful body image thoughts, don’t continue this diet. Overall it was fun to test out and can work well for some people as a lifestyle change, but, above all, being healthy and happy is the most important thing. 

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I’m just one of those people that sees fads and tries them. Smart, I know. Always speak with a healthcare professional and do your own research before trying new fad diets. If you have a history of body image issues or an eating disorder, this may not be the diet for you, as it can resemble restriction.