I just want to begin by disclosing that this is MY STORY and from MY EXPERIENCE. I am in no way a trained specialist nor a nutritionist, but I know what has worked for me and that I would never try something that would harm my body. This is not a post to motivate you to try it, I merely want to share my story, because it has been truly life changing for my digestion and stomach issues. I did not use this method for weight loss as I didn’t need that, but I did want to share the images above to show changes in my body too. The text on this post is not focused on the weight loss benefits from Intermittent Fasting though (I am merely using these pics to illustrate and show you the impact on this aspect too –since I cant show you the before and after from my digestion-, haha).
I have always had issues with my stomach, yet I never knew this until I move to The Netherlands. What I mean is that I thought it was “normal” to have an indigestion almost every day, but surprise surprise, it turns out it was not. I am lactose intolerant which seems to be an issue for 30% percent of Mexicans and 65% percent of the global population, which means that A LOT of us cant actually digest lactose properly.
In addition to this, I indulged in a lot of highly acidic and spicy foods while growing up (I added -many- lemons to absolutely everything, from rice, to potato chips), so unsurprisingly I developed a stomach ulcer by the time I was 15 years old. Despite all of this, I have learnt to deal with all of this and I try to eat healthy and avoid things that irritate my stomach, until April this year…
Straight after coming back from Coachella, I started to get this horrible stomach aches EVERY SINGLE DAY. I was used to indigestion, but these pain was constant and for months on end. I started to get quite worried so I went to visit my doctor to find some answers. She did tests for a bunch of stuff and told me she didn’t find the helicobacter pylori (which is the one causing stomach ulcers). She couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me so I patiently waited until I went home to Mexico on holiday, as I knew there was nobody better to figure this one out as a Mexican Gastroenterologist.
LONG story short, I was diagnosed with IBS (which is short for irritable bowel syndrome). I was really shocked because I though this was a condition you are born with but it turns out, you can develop this later in life and one of the main causes it; Yep, STRESS.
I got this diagnosis in July and I did A LOT of research on the topic. A lot of doctors suggested to go through the FODMAP diet, which basically means you have to almost remove everything from your diet and then re-introduce it slowly to see which foods are the ones triggering the symptoms.
This seemed like a big ass effort and I have never been fond of diets, I just simply don’t like dieting yet this time it felt like a life changing decision. Through this process, I discovered; “Intermittent Fasting” or IF for short, which is a term I have heard before but never paid much attention to.
Digesting food is quite a big job for our body and I realised that eating constantly throughout the whole day from morning to evening, was giving my stomach NO REST whatsoever, which was causing my IBS flares to be constantly triggered. I read in various places that Intermittent Fasting could help with this, as giving your body that rest while fasting, could have a dramatic positive effect on digestion and by default, improve my gut health and hopefully get rid of my stomach complains.
This fact alone triggered me so I went down the rabbit hole and watched every single YouTube video I could find on Intermittent Fasting (IF), as well as reading few scientific papers on the matter (I was not gonna try ANYTHING that would harm my body).
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting means that you eat your daily meals on a specific time window and you fast for the remaining hours of the day.
A lot of people use this method for weightloss but what really pulled me in was the health benefits involved. There are a ton of health benefit claims on Intermittent Fasting including longevity, improved memory and learning, mental clarity and sharpness, decreased inflammation (which we know to be the root of many if not most diseases), anti-aging, increased HGH (human growth hormone—hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and cell regeneration), better balanced metabolic hormones (like insulin, leptin and ghrelin, which regulate hunger and metabolism), detoxification, increased energy and better immune function.
How do you do it?
There are different Intermittent fasting methods, but the most common (and the one I have been practicing for 2 months) is the 16/8, where you fast for 16 hours and eat in an 8 hour “feeding window”. To be honest this seems like a long fasting time at first, but once you break it down, it’s not. I thought it would be too hard to jump into this and that I would have to adapt slowly (starting with 12 hours of fasting and building it up slowly), but I was able to do it from day 1 (this might not be the case for you, so be patient).
What I basically do is that I “break my fast” (breakfast) at 12:00pm, eat my usual meals (I have been vegetarian for a few months but thats another post haha), I eat my last meal at 8:00pm and fast from 8:00pm until 12:00 pm the next day.
This sounds harder than it actually is. My body got used to this SO FAST and it has basically CHANGED MY LIFE. Those 16 hours of fasting give my stomach the time it needs to digest my food, getting rid of ALL my stomach complains. Because my body KNOWS that it will receive food at 12pm every day, I do not feel cravings or hunger, I have essentially put my body on a feeding schedule.
I know what you are thinking; “There is no way I could start my day without breakfast” and believe me, I empathise because I used to be that girl, but turns out that I was wrong. I still have break-fast (break my fast), the only difference is that I have it at midday. And no, I am not starving myself because I eat enough during my feeding window. I eat quite balanced and I eat enough.
“Again, this is NOT A DIET, it’s a feeding window.”
Now, its very important that you understand that during your periods of fasting, the only things you can have are water, black coffee, tea and sparkling water, but you cannot add cream, sweeteners or anything containing glucose or fat, because this will break your fast immediately. Please drink PLENTY of water.
I do admit that I have lost some fat from “Intermittent Fasting” by default (as this is also one of the benefits), but what has amazed me even more, is that I seem to be building more muscle than when I was eating all day throughout the day, snacking at night and ending up with mayor stomachaches.
Who should NOT try Intermittent Fasting? If you’re malnourished, taking medication, have diabetes, suffer from hormonal imbalance, have blood pressure concerns, have been dealing with chronic stress or suffer from an eating disorder, Intermittent Fasting may not be for you, so please consult your doctor before trying. If you’re currently pregnant or nursing, this is definitely not the time for you to try Intermittent Fasting”.
I wanted to try this for one month to see if it would have any impact on my body and the results have been SO beneficial for me, this is my second month and I am planning on keeping this schedule as part of my lifestyle. I want to point out tho that I am not extremely strict with it. I often don’t fast on the weekends, or when I go to dinners with friends or my Fiancé. You can also be flexible ;)
Please do some research of your own before trying it but I wanted to share my story, because this method has changed my digestion for the better, with that said, Intermittent Fasting might not be for everyone.