It’s not very often that a commercial really catches your attention. More often than not, you simply tune commercials out until the show or game is back on (sorry advertisers).
Not the case with those Snickers commercials. You know, the “You’re not you when you’re hungry” ones. See, I even remember the catch phrase.
The reason I remember those Snickers commercials so well is because they speak to me. I’ve spent years trying to avoid my hangry doppelganger, appeasing him by eating every few hours, and almost freaking out when I had to miss a meal.
So when I decided to try Intermittent Fasting (IF)for 30 days, I was nervous, and I am sure my hangry doppelganger did not approve.
Reading through articles online, I couldn’t help but think, “I’m supposed to drink only water for how many hours?”
Nerves aside, I dove into the world of IF to figure out how to actually go about fasting. There are a ton of variations of IF out there but I settled on what is probably the most common one: 16:8.
After a month of IF (look mama I made it), I’ve decided it is definitely the real deal. Still, I don’t know how long I will continue to follow IF. But, as long as it fits my schedule, the benefits that I gained have proven great enough that it makes sense for me to continue.
Here are some things I learned:
I no longer took the act of eating for granted. Wow. How good is food? How amazing is it to have such an incredible range of foods to eat with so many incredible flavors? Honestly, you get a whole new appreciation for Food when you can no longer eat it whenever the mood strikes you.
Like most things, you only appreciate it when you no longer are able to have it. IF has renewed my gratitude for the abundance of food options available in the United States. I now savor my meals and take my time enjoying the food. That alone is worth the price of admission.
Adjusting my lifestyle to fit IF was not easy. I ended up eating from 1 pm through 9 pm because this was the only 8 hour window that somewhat fit my schedule. It wasn’t perfect though. Skipping breakfast took me a good two weeks to get used to and I’m still not sure I like the idea.
There’s also the social ramifications. One time I had to turn down wine after dinner. Another time I had to turn down late night tacos with friends. Saying no to tacos? Talk about a test of willpower.
Saying no wasn’t always challenging but these moments stick out as times where it took a lot of willpower to stick to IF.
The hunger pangs subside (thank goodness). The first week was difficult. I felt weak, shaky, and ravenous. But I made it. I found out I was able to survive for 16 hours without food after all. The second week was a little better although still challenging physically. Around the 15–16 day mark though I noticed I could make it to 1 pm with little difficulty. A cup or two of black coffee in the morning and I was good to go.
For someone who identifies with hanger, this was a big achievement.
I didn’t notice a decrease in muscle mass. As someone who exercises at least 4 days a week, I was definitely concerned I would see my “gainz” disappear. Instead, I noticed very little loss of muscle mass, if any at all. I didn’t change up my workout routine at all and felt no more fatigued or weak during my workouts.
However, some people report fat melting away and great increases in Growth Hormone production. I didn’t notice these benefits, although, perhaps only a month is too short of a time-frame to see these types of results.
I discovered insight about when, what, and why I ate. Before trying IF, I didn’t appreciate just how intertwined food is with American culture.
Food plays a central role in most social gatherings, not only with friends but things like work functions as well. I actually love how food can bring people together, but IF gave me a different perspective on how integral food is when people gather.
More importantly, I realized I had zero structure around my eating habits. If I was hungry, I ate. If I was at a social gathering, I ate. If I was bored, well, I ate. Taking away the ability to eat made me fully conscious of how often I turn to food mindlessly.
Deciding If You Should Try Intermittent Fasting
IF isn’t perfect. I didn’t notice improved mental clarity or memory recall. I didn’t emerge with a rock hard set of abs. It was hard to break through the hunger pangs and I will openly admit that I almost quit around the two week mark.
With that being said, if you are still reading this article, then I think you should try IF. If nothing else, you will find out more about your relationship with food and will gain a deeper understanding of the role food plays in your daily life.
What’s more, you will learn so much more from experiencing IF compared to reading other people’s accounts. After all, experience is the best teacher.
Those Snickers commercials were wrong after all. You are you when you’re hungry. We just don’t recognize ourselves. When you discover more about this side of yourself, your stomach might not grow, but as a person, you will.
What I Learned (and Loved) from Intermittent Fasting was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.