Recently I returned from a backpacking adventure in Europe with my sister. We got to see the most beautiful cities, roam the most picturesque streets, take a thousand Instagram photos, we even voluntarily jumped off of Mont Blanc, of course strapped to handsome Frenchmen and parachutes. Among all the adventure, disagreements, missed trains and getting hopelessly lost, we dedicated our two weeks to one thing- devouring every pastry, dessert, cone of gelato and waffles as far as the eye could see. We ate waffles like it was drinking water and pastries like we were training to be little sumo wrestlers. I remember my sister confidently stating while inhaling raviolis-
“It’s okay Ra, I read that because we carrying our heavy backpacks everywhere and doing so much walking, we’re actually going to lose weight.” Sounded legit.
Instead we came back home easily ten pounds overweight. Our North Indian mother was astounded by how tan (we loved it) and rotund we had become. Ironically we found that only our stretchy activewear continued to barely fit us. We needed to fix this quick, we’d spent all of our money in Europe and couldn’t afford new clothes. I consulted my personal trainer, Christopher Spina, a self-proclaimed Guido from Jersey Shore, and he swore that something called intermittent fasting, or IF, was the answer.
What is IF:
What you eat doesn’t matter, the secret is when you eat. IF is where you only consume calories within a certain window of time and absolutely nothing outside of your window. The most common version of IF is not to eat anything before 2pm and nothing after 10pm. Christopher explained that each time we eat, our bodies respond by releasing insulin. Two things happen as a result of this insulin spike:
- The insulin makes our bodies quickly convert the calories we just ate into fat
- Our bodies initiate a cascade of other hormonal reactions to recover from the insulin spike.
Therefore, by simply shortening the window of eating, we dramatically reduce the number of times our body releases and needs to recover from insulin spikes. Think of your body being filled with a hundred miniature little Salman Khans (I know). These Salmans love to keep you fit by repairing any wear and tear issues your body has, regenerating it, removing toxins. But each time we eat and insulin spikes, the Salmans lose their brains, like Aishwarya break up all over again. They rush to get rid of the insulin, forgetting detoxing and repair of the body.
The magic of IF is in the window spent not eating, we give our little Salmans the gift of time, where they can concentrate on fixing our bodies and burning fat.
I did more digging and found countless success stories of celebrities and regular people alike, all losing weight with IF. Doctors have even identified long-term benefits of IF ranging from controlling diabetes, decreased inflammation and longevity. I even found its roots in Ayurveda- where fasting can be used as method of healing.
Did it work?
I couldn’t believe my progress; in 8 weeks I’d not only lost the fat than I gained in Europe, but also started to make a dent in the extra fifteen I had prior to vacation. I even started enjoying my time fasting and had in increase in energy. I stuck to the diest because I loved that IF is devoid of any sort of counting calories, meal prep or difficult sessions in the gym. I could eat samosas and still lose weight- this was epic.
Always remember to consult your doctor before starting any changes in diet. Like any healthy weighloss, it is not drastic. Do not lose hope before the 8-week mark, keep it going, you’ve got this.