Intermittent Fasting, experiences and software used
December 28, 2017 2:03 PM   Subscribe

For those who have done or doing intermittent fasting, which way did you try? What worked and did not work? Any apps, software or any organizational tools used?

After some research, I have decided to try intermittent fasting. I would like the community's latest experiences and planning. I do some walking but do not plan for the gym due to not wanting to set myself for disappointment. My favorite deadly sin is sloth so nothing complicated, please. What worked or did not work for you? Which way of fasting worked for you?
posted by jadepearl to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I tried method 6 - "[s]kip meals when convenient" - basically, whenever I was too busy to cook, I didn't. Whenever I had an event in the evening, I skipped dinner. This usually ended up being 2-3 meals a week, mostly dinner, sometimes lunch. I didn't skip breakfast because it gave me a headache otherwise. I was reasonably successful - over the course of a year combined with exercise, I lost ~60 lb.

Plus side is that I didn't notice hunger as often. I was busy and/or otherwise occupied, so the hunger wasn't so noticeable. Also, it's actually fairly convenient in the grand scheme of things and saves some money - don't have time for a meal? Just don't bother, rather than going out to eat!

Down side is it didn't actually help me change the rest of the meals I ate. When I wasn't skipping meals, I was either calorie-neutral or (more common) calorie-positive. Hence, there was effectively no way of stopping the diet without gaining weight. It solved some of the symptoms of an underlying diet defect, but not the actual causes.
posted by saeculorum at 2:22 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

It was easier for me to skip breakfast than dinner, and doing any exercise while fasted will accelerate fat loss. It was also way WAY easier on the keto diet, bc I didn’t get insanely hungry.

HOWEVER. IF was very much not good for me (so I stopped), and while low carb is good for me, doing keto for too long was not. I have two X chromosomes, and this is not uncommon for us XXers. If you also have two Xs, be forewarned that much of the research on this stuff was done on college aged males. XX endocrine systems are different. It can be really bad for us.
posted by schadenfrau at 2:22 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Alternate day fasting (method 4) is what I've tried off and on for several years.

Pros: immensely effective when you stick to it (It took me 400->350, 360->330, 350->310, each of those being in a span of half a year or less). Once you get into the rhythm of it, it's pretty easy to maintain. It's incredibly simple to do - you don't count calories, or change what you eat - you just don't eat every other day. After a while, you'll find yourself less hungry on days you eat, which is a nice change.

Cons: unless you simultaneously change your 'normal day' eating habits, you will regain the weight when you stop (I'm back up to 350 from 310 because I stopped fasting regularly). Getting started is a major mental hurdle - at least for me, learning to accept 'hungry' as a state during my fasts is difficult for the first couple of weeks every time I started or restarted it. You get 'used' to it, but it was never fun or enjoyable for me (though I'd occasionally feel more energetic and focused in my fasted state than I would on eating days).

I used no tools, apps, or software, but I was most effective // compliant with the system when I had a good support buddy while I was doing it. So I'd recommend having someone to check in with about it, and to rant to when you're feeling tired and hungry instead of eating to resolve that.
posted by isauteikisa at 2:24 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I do a 14 hour daily fast and eat from 10 am to 8pm. I eat lowish carb moderate protein. I make sure lunch is my biggest meal of the day. I don’t feel hungry.
posted by SyraCarol at 2:24 PM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

I did it for awhile, doing basically a 16/8 (the first way in your link). When I broke my fast, I’d have a small meal with protein and fat (about 1/4 to 1/3 my daily calorie allotment) and then nothing again til my big meal, about 6 hours later, in which I ate dinner with my family, whatever they ate. It worked pretty well for me til I fell off the wagon due to the shifting nature of my work schedules.
posted by Night_owl at 2:27 PM on December 28, 2017

5:2 all the way for me. It works like a fucking charm; for the first time EVER, I am able to KEEP the calories off, because I know that tomorrow I will be able to eat again. And surprisingly, when I wake up the next day, I do not feel like I have to eat the doorknob, just a regular meal makes me feel so so so happy because I am having food again! Yippee! Yahoo!

Yes, caveat: the fasting days fucking SUCK. But it works, and I lost 20 pounds (now I mostly maintain, and it still works).

I've been doing this almost constantly for more than two years; during holidays I might just do only one fast day in a week, but except for a week in Las Vegas there has not been one week where I haven't fasted at least one day. (At the beginning, I did three days a week instead of two, and it sped up things, but after a while I decided I didn't need to torture myself and two still seems to work.)

Also: I don't exercise one iota, except for lunchtime outdoor walks at work, when the weather is nice, which is not now.

Good luck!
posted by Melismata at 2:31 PM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm on the 5:2 diet and it's working really well. On fast days I don't even get that hungry anymore now that I'm used to them - I just get bored because I miss eating for pleasure on those days. This diet is more effective for me than any other I've tried and it feels sustainable because I only need willpower two days a week.
posted by hazyjane at 2:31 PM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

I started IF in early December because of some comments on here and it's amazing! Female, 43, started at 165 and already down to 157 after three weeks. I planned to do the 2 days a week fast and discovered pretty much immediately that that wouldn't work for me, so I've been doing the 16/8 instead and it works really well, and is so easy, I don't see why I can't just do it for the rest of my life. Unlike low-carb which required so much advance planning, IF is extremely convenient. I just don't eat until noon, and I stop by 8pm. It's so simple. The last hour or two in the morning, 10-12, is the only time I get hungry at all generally, and if I'm busy during that time I hardly notice it.

I just use a weight tracker app on my iPhone but once I hit my goal I'm going to stop. By then hopefully the IF will just be my new lifestyle and it won't need any kind of tracking or whatever.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:40 PM on December 28, 2017

I do a 13-hour fast, which generally means I don’t eat after 7 pm. I didn’t lose a lot of weight, but I sleep better and end up eating less junk. Also, not thinking about food after 7 seems to free up time and mental energy. I get more done in the evenings now.
posted by FencingGal at 2:57 PM on December 28, 2017

When I tried it earlier this year, I skipped breakfast, which was super great, I didn't get hungry and there was one less thing to worry about in the morning! It probably worked out to about a 14-hour fast. However.

I didn't notice any weight loss or other physical changes, but it really messed with my mood to the point where I wondered if I was going through early menopause (had a hormone test and no). Irritable, moody, angry, sad and I couldn't figure out why.

I mentioned my weird mood changes to a friend who had also tried an IF diet and he suggested I go off it and see if that helped.
When I started eating breakfast again, I saw a HUGE improvement. Of course I am still angry and sad about the state of the world at times, but no more random crying or snapping at people! yaaaay
posted by exceptinsects at 3:09 PM on December 28, 2017

I've done some version of every entry except #3. (I can't do 24 hours because of medication issues.)

They're all much easier to to when eating low carb or keto, with the exception of #6. Because #6 is the opposite of a diet plan. The Johnson Up Day Down Day Diet (while low carb) is the version of the alternating day that I tried. It worked the best of all the fasting methods for me. But not any better than just going low carb, and I don't think I could do it without being in ketosis.

Unfortunately, I have discovered that deliberate fasting beyond 12 hours messes up my body clock. A few years ago someone commenting on this FPP found a piece about resestting one's body clock using timed fasting to offset jetlag. It works damn well. If you happen to have a difficult or delicate body clock, planned fasting can really mess it up. (I have let my schedule drift, partly because I've been skipping breakfast. I'm not at my mental best. To a point where I was looking at this other FPP about circadian rhythm and almost favorited my own damn comment.)
posted by monopas at 4:33 PM on December 28, 2017

I eat nothing at all two days a week - usually Monday and Thursday, but I move it around sometimes if there's likely to be cake, and I only took Wednesday off this week. I've done this for several years and didn't lose any weight (in fact packing it on over Christmas), but did lose a lot (about 25kg) over the last year by keeping track of what I ate. Strangely when you have to account for that biscuit you wonder how much it's actually worth it.

And running, I did a lot of running. And then a bit of falling over. And then nothing at all.
posted by Grangousier at 5:01 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I just want to second exceptinsects experience along with anecdotes from other female-bodied people: myself and other friends of mine have tried IF (usually a fasting window, so eating every day but only within certain timeframes) and seen some success but also seen a lot of hormonal issues. I believe I read somewhere that the studies on IF are only on men, so if you AFAB proceed with caution/consider tracking your hormonal symptoms to more easily identify if they change due to fasting.
posted by jouir at 6:31 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't eat Tuesdays and Thursdays, it's not a big deal, I am used to it. I do buy some nice mineral water those days to drink. I am not trying to lose weight- I had gut issues and started with one long water fast and felt so much better that I made it a regular thing. (I was diagnosed with adult onset celiac, and have had 100% healing per biopsy which is fairly unusual). If you have sensitive gut, giving it lots of rest if good for it.

I usually eat between 10-8 or 11-9 only, fast one or two days per week and occasionally do a long fast of 3-7 days. I have never made it to 14 days but maybe sometime! It's hard if you work as you get a bit manic after fasting for a while. Someday I will go to a nice spa in eastern europe and fast for two weeks though. I did not think I could do this before I tried, I thought I would die or murder someone but it's pretty easy tbh. I've always been a healthy eater but now I really make an effort to eat lots of nutrient rich food and I do feel well. My weaknessess are chocolate and red wine which I consume in moderation but boy, do I really notice the sugar now. I literally have had heart palpitations from eating too many M&Ms because I'm not used to it anymore. A bit sobering!

I'm female an it's worked fine for me but I was never very overweight, it was mostly for gut health. I personally think if your weight or body composition changes as an adult woman you get hormonal issues, period, just due to adipose tissue being such a strong influence. I've noticed this myself several times. The hope is you can power though and they go away when your weight stabilizes.

I have lost some weight btw, but some of it was definitely water. I don't bloat anymore ever, really. Also I've gotten leaner, more like I was when I was young without trying to "diet" or anything. I do walk at least one hour per day and work out several times per week and it doesn't make much difference if it's a fasting day or not, I don't notice.
posted by fshgrl at 7:09 PM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

I started #5 (usually called OMAD or One Meal A Day) in June, but I'm back to around 1.5 meals a day now.

OMAD worked REALLY well for me for the first month -- I had zero hunger for the first time in my entire life. Then I had to change something and it all came back, so I'll be trying again next year.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 9:25 AM on December 29, 2017

A couple years ago I did 16:8 fasting, skipping breakfast. I combined this with a restricted calorie diet which was keto (no carbs) on non-workout days and few carbs (<30g, IIRC) on my three workout days a week. I lost about a pound a week going from 165 to 150ish and kept it off until I got pregnant this year. I found it pretty easy to follow especially if I had meal plans set in advance so didn't have to also think about WHAT I was eating to fulfill my requirements for the day. After about 15 weeks I got out of the habit because we moved (oops) but found myself occasionally skipping dinner due to no hunger. So unintentional IF? This led to about 5-8 more pounds weight loss over six months or so. I tend to eat low carb ish anyway but I personally would not attempt this on a a diet not high in fat, protein, or both. For me the hunger would be overwhelming.

I am planning to go back to the routine after I've delivered. The only hangup I foresee is that I take ADHD meds now which work best if eaten with protein. If I take them first thing, then not eating breakfast is out.
posted by emkelley at 2:30 PM on December 29, 2017

Female here. I did 16:8 for almost a year as a weight loss aid. I skipped breakfast and ate between 12pm and 8pm and lost about 10kg (which was my goal). I was also exercising and counting kilojoules at that time, which obviously helped.

I found that eating within that window made it easier for me to stick to eating healthy foods, possibly because I was hungrier at meal times, so I ate more and then didn't fill up on sweet things at other times. Even now I still regularly don't eat breakfast - I just don't get hungry in the mornings. I do miss breakfast food sometimes and eat it for lunch (porridge!).

I was aware when I started of the problems women sometimes encounter when using IF, and I did have occasional mood swings. These generally started because of hormones, and on those days I had a snack or breakfast and found that helped. I also had (and still have) a policy to never enter a meeting hungry :)

I didn't use any tools to track IF, just My Fitness Pal to track kilojoules.
posted by eloeth-starr at 6:06 PM on December 29, 2017

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