I tried intermittent fasting for 10 days -- and I understand why people in Silicon Valley love it

simonlsays/Attribution Licence/FlickrMy GERD and migraines improved and I shed a few unexpected pounds.
  • Intermittent fasting is a practice that involves giving up food for a specific period of time each day or week.
  • I decided to try the 16/8 intermittent fasting method, so I ate normally for eight hours and then fasted for 16.
  • After 10 days, my GERD improved, and I shed a few unexpected pounds.
  • Here are seven things I learned from intermittent fasting for 10 days.

For over a decade, I have maintained a gluten-free diet, because I have celiac disease. Although my weight has remained fairly stable over the last 10 years, every so often I will gain a few pounds that I want to lose. Because I already restrict what I eat, diets that include food elimination are challenging for me.

I recently gained a few pounds due to a shoulder injury that prevented me from participating in my daily barre class, so I wanted to change my eating habits to shed the extra two or three pounds. I came across an article about intermittent fasting, a practice that involves giving up food for certain periods of the day or week.

Intermittent fasting, a diet popular in Silicon Valley, can produce a number of health benefits whether you shed pounds or not. By restricting calorie consumption to a specific time period each day or week (for example, only eating between 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.), you could lose weight,decrease your risk of cancer,reduce blood pressure, andimprove blood-sugar control, as Business Insider previously reported. Intermittent fasting is unlike most diets in that it allows you to eat whatever you want, as long as it’s within the consumption period.

Intermittent fasting can take many forms. Some peoplefast for 24 hours every third or fourth day of the week, according to Healthline. Others opt forthe 5:2 diet, meaning they take in a normal amount of calories for five days, then only eat 500 or 600 calories for two days.

Because I am prone to migraines, I worried about choosing a fast that would be too drastic a change from my normal diet. I chose the16-8 method, where you fast for 16 hours and eat for eight. Here’s what I learned after 10 days of intermittent fasting.

1. It’s normal to be really hungry at first

frantic00/ShutterstockAt first, I woke up hungry.

I decided to do my daily fast from about 8 p.m. until noon the next day. This meant all of my eating for the day occurred between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m. At first, I woke up starving.

I discovered that eating a high-protein snack around 8 p.m., like egg whites or cheese, prevented the hunger pangs that came the following morning, making it significantly easier to fast until noon.

2. I got headaches the first few days, but they slowly went away

LStockStudio/ShutterstockMy body eventually adjusted.

Although I (luckily) didn’t have a migraine during the experiment, I did get a handful of dull headaches the first few days, particularly toward the end of my fast around 11 a.m. or noon. After three or four days, my body adjusted to the diet and the headaches dissipated.

3. It’s a good diet if you already skip breakfast

I don’t eat breakfast and never have, which made this form of intermittent fasting fairly easy for me. The stretch from about 10 a.m. to noon was difficult, but I always made it.

I did drink coffee with creamer every morning upon waking up. (Some experts suggest only drinking black coffee when intermittent fasting, though opinions vary, according toPopsugar.) I can go 16 hours without eating, but Idefinitelycan’t write without my usual morning cup of java.

4. The biggest challenge was not being able to eat (or drink) spontaneously

Ruocaled/Attribution Licence/FlickrIt was hard to give up ice cream runs.

By far, the most difficult part of intermittent fasting for me was the effect it had on my social life. I had to make dinner plans with friends earlier than I typically would and had to pass on a tempting ice cream run with my husband on a 100-degree night in Dallas.

5. When I did splurge on food, I didn’t feel as guilty about it

Bit Boy/Attribution Licence/FlickrYou can eat normally outside of the fasting period.

I have a habit of doing a rough mental count of how many calories I eat each day. I’m not a strict calorie counter, but I always have an idea of how much I’ve eaten, and I try to stay in the 1,600 to 1,800 calorie range. During this experiment, I didn’t worry as much as I normally would about going over 1,800 calories, because I was limiting my hours for eating.

One day I definitely ate more than 1,800 calories. But because I knew I had a fast ahead of me, I didn’t feel as guilty about the cheeseburger, sweet potato fries, and Moscow mules I indulged in.

6. My acid reflux and GERD improved significantly

RossHelen/ShutterstockMy symptoms were not as severe.

I have GERDand take a daily medication to prevent acid reflux and heartburn. I forgot to take my medication for a couple of days (a regular occurrence) and noticed that my GERD symptoms – which usually strike late at night – weren’t as severe.

By giving myself three or four hours before bed to properly digest my food, I avoided the reflux that often accompanies rich dinners or late-night snacking.

7. It was nice not having to cut out any foods

Eugenio Maongiu/ShutterstockI never felt deprived.

I have always avoided specific diets (like the Mediterranean diet or the Atkins diet) because I feared cutting out too many foods. I already eat gluten-free because I have celiac disease, and I didn’t want to give up anything like dairy or meat, too. I enjoyed intermittent fasting because I could still eat everything I wanted to without feeling deprived.

Intermittent fasting is something I’ll continue to do during the week, but not on the weekend

Rawpixel.comI’ll definitely continue intermittent fasting … maybe just not on the weekends.

At the end of my 10 days, I lost about two pounds, which was more than I anticipated. I don’t have significant weight loss goals and was primarily looking for a diet that would help me shed a few pounds and then maintain a healthy weight. This diet felt accessible and realistic.

The major downside of the 16/8 method, however, was how prohibitive it was on the weekends. I couldn’t grab drinks with friends or splurge on a late-night chocolate Haagen-Dazs bar with my husband. Moving forward, I plan on partaking in the diet Sunday through Thursday and taking a break on Friday and Saturday.

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