Disclaimer: I’m not shaming or denying there are benefits to Intermittent Fasting. I am just raising awareness that we’re all unique and not every wellness trend works for everyone at a given point in time. There are a LOT of factors to consider and not overlook when considering making changes to your daily life! I also tried this at a time in my life when I had just stopped birth control, had no idea if I even had a regular period yet, and was exercising a lot in the form of HIIT.
Intermittent Fasting has been a trending and “it” topic of wellness for over the last year. While there are many proven scientific health benefits, it is not, for everyone, and it most certainly was not for me at the point in time when I tried to implement it.
I haven’t touched on IF much as it is a very sensitive topic and I don’t want to receive any backlash based on my personal experience. However, these days we only hear about the benefits to fasting and there is something to be said about who or why we maybe should not be doing this, or proceed with caution.
My experience: When I first learned about IF, I was working out 4-6 times a week, mostly doing HIIT in the form of Orangetheory or HYLO, and thought hmmm lets give this a go! I was still an avid AM workout fanatic. I’d wake up around 6 am, head straight to a HIIT class, shower, rush to work, drink black coffee (can’t break the fast!) and FORCE myself to not eat until 11am or 12 despite being hungry in order to hit 16 hours. THIS. WAS. NOT. RIGHT. And while I had my doubts deep down I tried to push through as all I heard about were the amazing benefits. (Also did you know…caffeine over 200 mg would kick you out of fasted state bc your body is responding to a STRESSOR — which wakes HPA axis and cortisol awaking response happens which breaks your fast)
Well guess what. I highly highly believe IF is partly what attributed to my thyroid and hormones being out of whack. Initially (and I’m talking maybe 3-4 weeks), I lost some weight, but my body quickly adapted and freaked out which led to a gradual weight gain, irritability, and weaker workout performance. It didn’t help that during this time I was trying to additionally cut back on protein (especially in the form of meat) My actions later ended up causing some inflammation, weight gain, and irritability due to spiked cortisol levels between HIIT, a lot of caffeine, and not eating when I was hungry.
Let’s not get confused, while IF has benefits, anyone who already has known hormonal irregularities, thyroid issues, or blood sugar issues should be weary or highly cautious if they want to start IF. Naturally most people can go 12-14 hours between dinner and breakfast and that’s fine (I do this all the time!), but for anyone WITH said issues or a history of disordered eating, trying to hold off until the “16th or more” hour despite being hungry, is not going to be benefitting from IF. IF as a woman can impact our hormone levels and throw them off. Women (myself included) with known thyroid issues can do better eating every few hours, and smaller amounts throughout the day. What I should have done, was gone off of the pill, kept up my normal routine / eating habits, waited for my period (maybe It wouldn’t have taken 2 years lol), and gone from there. When you don’t know how your body is functioning on its own is probably not the best time to adjust your eating habits or make drastic lifestyle changes.
Bottom line: THERE IS NO RIGHT ANSWER FOR EVERYONE. Also if you’re a woman, You should not compare your results to your boyfriend / guy friend / husband who is doing IF bc men and women are wired completely differently with food. (life as a female is always harder!😉) A lot of studies proving the benefits of IF are done on men, and it does work very very well for them most of the time!
Again, if you’ve been working with a medical professional who has suggested to start practicing intermittent fasting, you should go for it! I am not here to stop you. This is just a cautionary story to for anyone who, like me, had a previous eating disorder, is currently without period, or has known hormonal / thyroid issues. This is another reason I am a huge proponent of regular blood work and hormone testing. We need to learn more about our bodies and proceed to treat them with care! 🙂 Easier said than done.
What I do now: My husband and I go to bed pretty early (anywhere between 9-10 pm during the week), so we try and have dinner at least 2 hours before bed. This usually happens anywhere from 6-730. I’ve found I typically have breakfast anywhere from 8-10am, and honestly just go for it as soon as my stomach tells me it’s hungry! Sure you could call that window of time “fasting”, but I see it as intuitively eating.