My Experience with Intermittent Fasting
First off, what is intermittent fasting?
“Intermittent fasting or intermittent energy restriction is an umbrella term for various meals timing schedules that cycle between a period of voluntary fasting and non-fasting over a defined period. Non-caloric drinks are consumable during fasting periods, contrary to religious fasting.”
I first started implementing intermittent fasting into my diet back in mid-2016 when I was in a time in my life where I did a lot of experimenting in my diet.
That’s really all it was in the beginning, just an experiment that I would try out for “six weeks only,” or just about - but let’s be honest, who really keeps track of the weeks as they pass?
After experimenting with intermittent fasting I remember going through brief bulking phase where I ate all the calories I could just to see how much muscle mass I could add on.
My bulking venture came to a screeching halt when I started having chronic inflammation issues from having too much dairy in my diet. I’ll save this story for another time, but I literally started bleeding from my ears from having too much of an inflammatory diet (and yes, my ears have always been a little sensitive).
So after I realized I needed to make some serious dietary changes, I naturally started gravitating back towards intermittent fasting.
I didn’t plan it or strategize, I just fell back into it because it:
1.) was easy
2.) required less prep and thought than other diets,
3.) I wouldn’t have to figure out what I was going to eat for breakfast everyday.
I also had good results while fasting, I didn’t get hangry as much, my blood sugar become more regulated, I got leaner, my energy levels seemed normal.
In retrospect, I really can’t tell you how long I was doing intermittent fasting. I think it’s easy to say that I was on and off fasting intermittently the entire time from May 2016 to March 2019.
In November of 2018, I went in for my annual with my OBGYN. I had gotten some abnormal test results where my TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) were a little high. I didn’t think anything of it at first.
She recommended me to a specialist to see why I was having issues with my thyroid hormones. The specialist I found with the soonest availability could only see in in March 2019! So I waited… Once I met with the specialist she ran some tests, and by this time my TSH levels were still increasing.
The only fear I had at the time was that the cause of my hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) was due to an autoimmune disorder (Hashimoto's Disease), because I have a family history of autoimmune disorders like hypothyroidism, arthritis, and lupus.
When I went to the Endrochronologist, she first told me that I did not have Hashimoto's, so the cause of my hypothyroidism was NOT autoimmune. It was music to my ears.
After all the research I had done online, for weeks and weeks. I was confident that my thyroid hormones had become thrown off due to physical stress.
It’s not common, but a lot of the research that I found did show that fasting intermittently can cause such a strong metabolic response to consume less energy, that in fact it can lead to hypothyroidism.
So what did I do?
I got super strict with myself and made sure to go grocery shopping immediately so that I didn’t have any excuses as to why I couldn’t find time to eat. I started prioritizing eating regularly, and made sure I was consuming enough calories every day.
Moral of the story:
Intermittent fasting is OKAY, if you use it for a short period of time.
If you’ve read this far, and have a rough idea of how I am as a coach, I almost never promote taking the easy way out by trying to find a shortcut. If you want long-lasting results, you have to be willing to make long-lasting habit changes as well.
In my opinion, intermittent fasting can be really stressful on the body for women, since we have more delicate hormone balances and cycles. So if you are going to attempt intermittent fasting, or any diet really, remember that these diets are supposed to be short term, not necessarily a lifestyle.