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Does Intermittent Fasting Actually Work?

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I'm always game to learn about different diets (I've watched every food documentary on Netflix), and about how our bodies interact with different foods. I'm also always on the hunt for an answer to the question, "What should I actually be eating?"  With so many options -- vegetarian, paleo, mediterranean, etc. -- it can be hard to know which diet is best.

I'm not getting married until April 2019, and between finishing business school, launching a company, and spending countless hours watching wedding videos trying to find a videographer, prepping my diet for my own wedding hasn't been a top priority. However, friends' weddings have led me to two interesting eating experiments: Whole30 and Intermittent Fasting (IF). Both have their pros and cons, and one, both, or neither may be right for you. So for the last piece of our three-part wedding wellness series, I'm sharing my trials, tribulations, and ultimate successes with both!


The Plan: Whole30

When I was a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding, I was too vain to order my "correct" size per the sizing chart, so naturally I ordered a size down. To no one's surprise, when the dress came, it didn't fit me -- I couldn't even zip it. I didn't have time to reorder, so I decided to clean up my eating by doing Whole30. I'd been wanting to try it after hearing so much hype, and this was the perfect excuse.

What It's All About

On Whole30, you can't eat alcohol, sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, or additives like MSG and sulfites.

So what can you eat? Meat, fruit, and vegetables -- which makes this a more intense version of paleo. If you read about Whole30, you'll come across stories of people who have emotional highs and lows as they ween themselves off sugar and start eating whole foods. I already ate pretty well, so I didn't experience any of these feelings to an extreme, though I will admit to feeling more energetic toward the end of the 30 days (again, nothing extreme enough to write home about). I was also REALLY thirsty, which I think came from my body going into ketosis (when your body burns fat rather than sugar), which I found unnerving. Fair warning: It's nearly impossible to do Whole30 without meal prepping (if you're traveling or going out to dinner often, I wouldn't recommend it), and it gets expensive (I ate more meat doing Whole30 than I typically do, which adds up). 


My Results

I finished the entire 30 days and didn't cheat once! Equally amazing: I lost an inch off my waist, and was able to zip up my too-small bridesmaid dress easily. (And two years later, I can still fit into that dress!) Whole30 proved to me that I do feel better when I eat clean, but the diet was extreme. I'm also not sure how I feel about eating so much meat.

The worst part about Whole30 was coming off of it. I was traveling for work and didn't have the time or the will power to introduce the forbidden foods back into my diet one at a time. As a result, when I started eating normally again, my stomach killed and I was sick for weeks -- clearly I'm sensitive to some of the foods I'd given up. I'll have to repeat to figure out which I should cut out for good!

The Plan: Intermittent Fasting (IF)

My friend used intermittent fasting to prep for her wedding. She asked a group of us to try it out as a two-week experiment -- a diet support group where we could share recipes, results, and how we were feeling along the way. Some of my friends weren't big fans, but I personally loved it; it was so much less restrictive than Whole30.

What It's All About

There are a million versions of intermittent fasting, but in the version I followed, I picked two fast days per week during which I only ate eat 500-600 calories a day. Every other day of the week, I ate and drank whatever I wanted. That's it! Intermittent fasting also required meal prep, but it wasn't just prepping food in advance like Whole30 (where you throw calories out the window) -- it was about figuring out how to eat the most food possible for the lowest amount of calories. I relied heavily on cauliflower rice, eggs, and zucchini noodles with tomato sauce to get me through. La Croix was a good way to distract myself with something flavorful for zero calories. 

My Results

Ultimately, this was my favorite diet I've ever tried. I didn't notice a huge shift in how I felt, but pounds seemed to fall off, despite the fact that there were zero restrictions five days of the week. I lost about five pounds after only a month or so!

If you're trying IF, I would do lighter workouts on fast days (or make those your rest days) -- maybe barre or yoga, but nothing too intense. And if you try it, let me know what you think!

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