Back at the start of the month, I talked about how I was going to give intermittent fasting, or the 5:2 diet as it’s known, a try. With the month done, how did I get on with my first fasting experience?
Let me start by saying bloody hell that was hard. I mean unquestionably hard, to begin with. I wish I had done more research and meal planning before hand that’s for sure. Breakfast was a miss instead of hit. Lunch was 99.9% of the time soup. Any and all evening meals ended up costing me more because I had to grab and go a pre-made calorie counted meal.
On the plus side, I’ve learned a lot. Weight loss was minimal. I didn’t weigh myself at the start of the month but it feels like I’ve lost a handful of pounds. This is OK as I’m not in it to lose weight anyway, but some people will want to know. Sticking to 500 calories was more difficult than I imagined and most days it was closer to 700 calories. That said, this was still 1/3 of my usual daily intake. Getting anything decent for less than 200 calories was very difficult, especially if I wanted to feel like I’d had something significant.
Breakfast was the hardest meal of the day. Once I discovered these Quaker Oats pots that come in at 202 calories it got a little easier. They taste great and helped keep me feeling full. If I had anything less than that I found I was one cranky ass bitch in the morning. I’d have breakfast around 8 am, then by 10 am I would be crawling the walls, sniffing out snacks. This was the most difficult time of day as it would have been so easy to grab something and stuff it in my mouth. If I chugged a large caffeine free tea and a pint of water this seemed to placate me. I started doing that with every meal and also in-between every meal.
Once I’d got through lunch, it was pretty much plain sailing. I found the trick is to keep busy. As long as I’m focused on something else, I’m not thinking about food. So fasting on a work day worked best for me. I tried fasting on a day off and it was a disaster. I couldn’t keep myself distracted enough and once I started teetering off the wagon, I threw myself to the wolves and binged. In for a penny, in for a mountain of onion rings and all that.
Two things have changed in such a short space of time. Sleep and my relationship with food.
Sleep. I have never slept as well as I have this past month. The odd night aside, I have pretty much got a solid 8 hours every night. I’ve found I’m falling asleep easier, especially on fast days, and I’m coming around before my alarm.
Hunger. I’m not going to lie, I am one of those people who will eat for something to do. I’m a terrible grazer, my eyes are bigger than my belly, and I can’t leave a plate with food on it even if I’m full. I’ve always been that way. Lately, I’ve noticed I’m snacking less between meals. I can also go much longer between meals too. What I was mistaking for hunger was my bodies way of telling me it needed something. That something wasn’t always a Snickers. Usually, a brew and a piece of fruit would sort it out. More often than not finding something to do actually made that feeling go away. Picking up a book, modelling with clay, reorganising the fridge. Physically doing something.
It is fascinating to me how your brain can reset itself and how your body adjusts so fast to a new way of eating. I never went to bed feeling hungry on fast days, my stomach never grumbled. On non-fast days I was making better choices. I thought I would wake up ravenous but I didn’t. I woke up feeling completely normal. I didn’t crave an extra large fry up with an extra side of toast, I had my usual porridge and a brew and went about my day.
Am I going to continue? Yes. I feel like I’m only dipping my toes into this intermittent fasting. There is still much to learn, especially when it comes to preparing my own meals. I’m going to stick to 2 days a week for the next month and see how it goes! I’m still aiming for between 500-700 on fasting days, and will get some variety in there too!
Are you tempted to try intermittent fasting?
Until next time,