Fitness blogger Whitney Simmons has made eating three healthy meals a part of her daily routine for years. But recently, she tried intermittently fasting for five days — and documented the whole thing for her followers.
Intermittent fasting (IF) entails not eating for a certain amount of time, with the length different for each individual’s dietary goals. For example, one can fast for 16 hours a day and eat only during the remaining eight hours of the day. So if you designate your eating period from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., you’d consume food strictly during those hours. As for Simmons, she did 18:6, meaning she fasted for 18 hours and ate only during a six-hour period.
Before trying IF, Simmons explored the different ways IF can be done. Although it might sound extreme, IF can help some lose weight faster, and research shows that it can decrease risk factors for diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
“Your body is constantly relying on food for energy, taking glucose to get you through the day. So when the food is gone and there is no food to rely on for that glucose, [your body] starts attacking the fat that is already stored on your body,” Simmons explained.
And while Simmons worked out on day one, by day two she “didn’t feel so hot.” By day three, she came to the realization that sticking to a schedule and breaking the fast right after exercising is important in order to maintain muscle mass but shed pounds.
“I am loving the convenience of waking up and not worrying about making food,” said Simmons. She especially likes the convenience of getting all her daily nutrition in six hours, which makes her meals bigger and shortens her meal prep time. However, she noted, “the one downside is that my energy levels are way down.”
At the end of the process, she observed that the biggest change was she wasn’t feeling as bloated as before. “My body and my stomach felt tight,” said Simmons. “I like it because I don’t feel like it’s a diet, nor do I feel restricted to follow some rules.”
This isn’t the only time Simmons has shifted her health strategy. Four years ago, she turned from couch potato to fitness junkie, and her Instagram following has grown to almost 650,000 since.
She grew up doing gymnastics and was a cheerleader in high school and college. After being cut from her cheer squad her freshman year of college in Utah, she stopped working out altogether and gained weight.
“I would eat two double-doubles from McDonald’s and a large Coke in a styrofoam cup every day,” Simmons said in a vlog post. “I felt sorry for myself, ‘Poor little Whitney got kicked off the cheer team.’”
Her dad was the one who inspired her to get back into fitness, and she signed up at her local gym. Working out then “became so much more than a physical workout. It became an escape for me. I went to this place for my mental health,” she said.
In working out she found the confidence she had lost when she was cut from her cheer squad. She started learning more about nutrition and fell in love with the fitness world: “I kept going, and I still until this day consider the gym my therapy. Whether I am happy or sad, I always make sure I get my workout in.”
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