Being overweight is one of the most common problems of people all over the world. It not only makes a person look a certain way, but it is also the cause of different diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese. Overweight and obesity are the causes of death in most countries.
People have a hard time losing weight. Exercise is the first thing that comes to our minds when we think about weight loss. “Do this exercise and you will lose x Kgs in 2 weeks.” “Follow this workout routine for losing weight quickly.” The Internet is filled with weight-loss tips and exercises. If you google “how to lose weight”, you will surely find thousands of results. There are also thousands of videos on YouTube on this topic.
It is difficult to say what really works. We all have different types of bodies, we have different eating habits, metabolism, environment, and our lifestyles are different. Losing weight can be affected by these circumstances.
A Hard-Gainer’s Story
I am not a health expert and I am definitely not overweight. So I would not know how it feels like to be overweight and the struggle involving weight loss. I have been a hard-gainer for most of my life, even in the times when I used to eat a lot.
What is a hard-gainer? In simple terms, a hard gainer is someone who finds it difficult to gain weight.
I used to work out heavy. I lifted heavy and I ate heavy. At one point, I used to eat so much that I was literally full the entire day. Mass-gainers, protein shakes, high-carbs, fats – I ate them all. I used to drink mass-gainers and protein shakes between my meals. This process is often also known as dirty-bulking, where you forcefully eat everything you could get.
The result: I did gain a couple of Kgs, four to be exact, but only while I was on the diet. Once I stopped the diet, I was back to my normal weight.
Being a hard-gainer is not easy. I just cannot put on extra weight. But when it comes to losing weight, it is very easy for me. It has always been that way. There are a few reasons for it. Firstly, I like to work out. Running, wall-climbing, and working out at the gym – these are some forms of workouts that I usually do. When I run, it is natural that I lose calories. Wall-climbing also takes a lot of physical strength and effort. These activities help to burn extra fat in my body.
Secondly, I can’t eat a lot. To be honest, I wasn’t always like this. When I was a kid, I ate a lot. As I grew up, my appetite became low.
Lastly, I don’t eat meat and dairy. It’s been about 4 years since I quit meat and dairy. This has affected my health and my weight as well. When you don’t eat meat, you avoid the saturated fats and cholesterol present in it, which will prevent you from becoming overweight and other diseases.
A few years back, I had heard about this eating habit called intermittent fasting. I started looking up about it on the Internet. At the time, I used to work out at the gym and I wanted to lose my belly fat. So I decided to go for intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is an eating habit where you eat only during a certain period of the day and you fast (don’t eat) for the rest of the day. The standard time is 8 hours for eating and 16 hours for fasting. However, there are other variations of this as well.
So the idea is simple. You have 24 hours in a day. You divide this time into eating time and fasting time. Like I said, you eat only during the 8 hours time. You can pick any 8 hours of the day depending on your time schedule. And, you fast for the remaining 16 hours.
I was on intermittent fasting for about three weeks. This was my routine.
Lunch – 11 am to 12 pm
Mid-day snack – 3 to 4 pm
Dinner – 7 to 8 pm
(Total time: approx. 8 hours)
8 pm to 11 am (Total time: approx. 16 hours)
Note: I used to drink black coffee, black tea, lemonade, and water during my fasting time. However, I did not use sugar in any of my drinks.
Basically, I skipped breakfast. At first, it was difficult to follow this routine, especially during the first few days. Then slowing I started feeling comfortable with it.
What to Eat?
Now you might be wondering what are foods that you can eat during your eating time. Since you only have an 8-hour window to eat, basically you can eat anything as long as it is a balanced diet. A balanced diet is where you can find all the essential nutrients. It is recommended to eat healthy, obviously. Find foods that include protein, carbohydrate, and fats (avoid trans fat and saturated fat, instead eat monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats). Don’t forget to include fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, beans, seeds, and high-fiber nuts in your diet. Avoid saturated fats and high-cholesterol foods.
When I was on intermittent fasting, I didn’t have any special diet. I used to eat regular food like rice, vegetables, and curry. However, I did not eat any junk foods, saturated fats (found in meat), and sugar. Besides this, my diet included the usuals.
After about a week into intermittent fasting, I felt lighter and healthier. I felt energized, especially in the mornings. I was more productive and focused. Before intermittent fasting, I felt uncomfortable and overweight (because I had belly fat, which also was lowered).
I drank plenty of water during my fasting period, which helped me stay hydrated. Before, I had low immunity as I used to catch a common cold very often. My immune system improved, a lot.
Overall, I felt healthier. I lost about 3 Kilograms (6.61 pounds) in just 3 weeks of intermittent fasting.
According to research, intermittent fasting not only helps to lose weight but is also known to improve cholesterol, blood sugar control, and decrease inflammation.
Tips for Beginners
If you are new to intermittent fasting and want to try it, here are a few useful tips to consider.
- Select the time which is best for you to skip a meal. For me, it felt easier to skip breakfast.
- Start small if you cannot skip an entire meal. Try eating less instead. Then slowly skip it once you are comfortable with it.
- Replace your meal with low-calorie drinks like water, black coffee, black tea, and lemonades. (Warning: Do not use sugar in any of your drinks. If you can’t quit sugar completely, just try reducing the amount of its consumption. Also, do not drink too much coffee.)
- If you start feeling sick, do not force yourself into intermittent fasting.
- Remember: The goal is to be healthy, not just to lose weight.
- Research and experiment with different styles of intermittent fasting.
In my experience, intermittent fasting is the quickest way to lose weight. But again, I am a hard-gainer. So I’d say it was easier for me. It might not be the same for you because as I said, we all have different body types, eating habits, and lifestyles. If you want quick results, try including exercise in your daily routine. Cardio and aerobic exercise is highly recommended if you are overweight. Go for a jog or at least walk 8,000 steps a day (which is the standard recommended by WHO). Sign up for a Zumba class. Do some physical activity every day. It is not only helpful for weight loss but also helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, and other types of diseases.
Another thing that is very important to understand is that you have to quit sugar. Sugar is one of the main reasons for being overweight. Processed sugar should not be consumed at all.
Intermittent fasting with daily physical exercise and a sugar-free life will definitely help you lose extra weight. Trust me, you will be surprised by the results. Give it a go. Try intermittent fasting and see how it will impact your life for the good.