I’m as lost as everyone else in my midlife journey, so don’t follow me thinking I have all the answers. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new. Over the past few months, I’ve been trying different eating patterns including intermittent fasting and Keto to keep my weight within a more healthy range. I’d noticed that my jeans were getting tight in October and my face looked puffy aka chubby! At my starting weight of 11stone 5lbs/159lbs/ 72.12kgs, I was definitely moving outside of a healthy weight range for my height of 5’6”/ 167.64cm. Most importantly I felt heavy and wanted my jeans to feel less snug.
I decided to try intermittent fasting as I’d heard lots of success stories about not only weight loss, but also that the body puts its effort into repair mode when calories are scarce. I went full ahead but without doing any research regarding best times to eat etc, I just thought I would wing it to see what worked best for me. I don’t like eating large meals later in the day anyway, as I don’t have the time to walk off the full belly feeling at night and feel less inclined to exercise after food. I planned to eat breakfast, lunch and miss out my evening meal all together. The first thing I noticed was that I wasn’t in my usual good mood first thing in the morning, I was grumpy, impatient and short tempered, but this was short lived and quickly remedied by eating breakfast. I normally eat a wholefood plant-based diet, rich in fresh fruit and veggies, nuts, seeds and beans. Breakfast could be nut butter on toast with extra toasted seeds and sliced banana. Lunch would usually be rice or noodles, with tofu, seitan or tempeh as the substitute for animal meat protein, lots of veggies with some fruit afterwards.
In the evening, I opted for a large glass of freshly squeezed/prepared watermelon or orange juice. I felt hungry occasionally, but a cup of matcha tea would dull that feeling until the next meal. For me, the intermittent fasting approach meant that I could continue eating exactly what I wanted, carb heavy with pizza, pasta, toast (lots of wheat!) with no extra meal planning or major change in diet. I quickly lost 16lbs/7.26kgs without much effort or inconvenience. My energy levels remained high during the day, with only a notable dip first thing in the morning before breakfast.
My weight stabilised at 144lbs/65.31kgs and didn’t budge any lower. I had plenty of energy for hiking, swimming and cycling with little thought or concern for what I was eating. I’d highly recommend this way of scheduling food as it’s as simple as only eating two meals per day.
In December, I started listening to podcasts about the keto diet. As a vegan, this is a little more difficult as I don’t eat animal protein which makes up most of the keto diet plan. I was curious whether it was feasible to follow a keto plan as a vegan. Instead of toast or a vegan pancake for breakfast, I had either an apple or banana with nut butter and toasted seeds. Interestingly, I didn’t feel hungry at all at any point during the day. For lunch, I substituted wheat spaghetti with a sweet potato version, which is gluten free and lower in carbs. I followed a keto way of eating for 2 weeks and within the first couple of days I noticed I was peeing more. I expected to lose a couple of pounds over the first 2 weeks, but actually the result was zero weight loss. I was still exercising 2-3 hours per day, sleeping very well, not feeling hungry and my energy levels remained constant. No highs or lows, just adequate.
It’s important to note that I stopped drinking alcohol a few months ago as I noticed that after only a small glass of wine, I would feel less than 100% the next day. I feel like I am recovering from poisoning after only a small amount, so it seems pointless to continue drinking. I was a social drinker, enjoying a glass of Gin & Tonic with friends, but rarely drank alcohol when home alone. Giving up alcohol was easy, maybe when we return to a more social way of life I will be tempted to crack open a bottle of Ginger & Rhubarb gin….who knows?
I have become very conscious of my intake of cereal, especially wheat which I am keen to reduce. Trying the keto way of eating forced me to find alternatives which I really enjoyed. Especially the sweet potato spaghetti/noodles. I could happily continue on the intermittent fasting regime without any stress about carbs, but I did like not feeling hungry on a low carb diet. Going forward I will continue with two meals per day, but try harder to reduce wheat and carbs to combine intermittent fasting and Keto to keep my weight stable.
It’s important to me to stay in shape and to ensure I feed my body what it needs rather than what I want. It’s not always easy as there’s so much temptation, but ultimately, I know that if I want to live a long and active life, I need to invest in my health every day. I will keep you posted and share updates and recipes along the way.
What have you tried which worked for you? Have you tried intermittent fasting?