Intermittent Fasting Results: Real People Share Before & After IF Stories
Of all the tools for wellness that we have at our disposal, intermittent fasting (IF) is, by far, one of the most exciting. Touted for its ability to help with weight loss and fat burning, it's helped many celebs and health experts maintain their healthiest weight.
Joel Kahn, M.D., is a big fan of the fasting-mimicking diet, a program created by Valter Longo, Ph.D., at USC. "I adopted a five consecutive day, low-calorie, plant-based "fasting mimicking diet" plan and lost 18 pounds in three months" he explained.
But fasting is about way more than just weight loss. Amy Shah, M.D., integrative medicine doctor and mindbodygreen Collective member, fasts regularly and swears by it for making her feel mentally sharper and less "hangry." She also thinks that it's improved her skin significantly. "The benefits that I have received from intermittent fasting go far beyond fat loss! A lot of people think it's just another diet. And while fat loss is one of the benefits, it's not the only reason to do it," she explained.
Intermittent fasting benefits.
So what are the other reasons to fast? The list is a long one and includes benefits like increased energy levels, less brain fog, no more sugar and carb cravings, and better workouts. Research has also shown that it can help activate autophagy—which is basically a process that cleans out old, dead, and damaged cells—which, according to Shah, might explain the improvements in her skin. It's also famous for decreasing inflammation, which is one of the underlying factors in almost all disease.
Intermittent fasting results.
Fasting is intriguing—who wouldn't want to burn more fat, lose weight, and feel clearheaded and energized? That said, we can read the research on fasting all day, but it's not the same as hearing from real people who have made IF part of their life. We asked six real people to share the benefits they've received from their fasting protocol and this is what they had to say:
1. Stable energy levels—all day long.
"I do at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. I like working out on an empty stomach, and then it helps me focus on a real protein- and fiber-packed breakfast that'll get me through to lunch. I've been doing it for a while now, and I definitely have noticed an improvement in my morning energy, as well as stabilization of my energy during the day. I aim for 14 hours." —Simone, 1.5 years fasting
2. A healthier relationship with food and better long-term eating habits.
"Three times a week, I'll fast from after an early dinner till lunch the next day. I've found that it totally gets rid of my cravings for carbs and sweets. Of course, I'm hungry by lunchtime but I'm not ravenous and, instead, feel totally in control of my cravings. Every once in a while, I'll do a whole day of bone broth fasting. I haven't tracked the physical results, but, for me, it's more about the mental effect it has. It reminds me how much control I have over my eating and helps me realize how easy it is to eat healthy. It totally resets my way of thinking about food and has had a long-term effect on my eating habits." —Georgina, 1 year of fasting
3. Freedom from food, especially snacking.
"I've been fasting one day a week for the last two months. It makes me feel energized and very excited to see that my body doesn't rely on food as often as we think. I always used to think that I'd feel weak or get a stomachache if I didn't eat, but that's just not true. It also helps remind me to drink more water or tea instead of going directly for food whenever I'm feeling bored." —Daphne, 2 months of fasting
4. No morning stomachaches and more energy for workouts.
"I fast every day 12 to 14 hours, most of the time 14 hours—but I don't push it beyond that because whenever I have super-low energy and I think it throws off my hormones, I get irritable and tend to eat too much food when I break my fast because my appetite feels insatiable. However, keeping it below 14 hours (I eat an early dinner because if I eat too close I don't wake up with a stomachache and work out on an empty stomach. This gives me so much more energy for my workouts, and that's the most exciting benefit I've gotten." —Rachel, 1 year of fasting
5. Improved athletic performance.
"I always fast before a workout primarily because it improves my performance. When my stomach is empty, I feel more agile and less lethargic. As a personal trainer, I advise my clients to eat in whatever window is most convenient for them. I've had people tell me that I'd be better off spreading out my protein intake to increase muscle anabolism, but in reality, total daily intake is paramount. Plus, that post-workout meal is much more satisfying when you haven’t eaten!" —Steven, 5+ years of fasting
6. No more brain fog and stable blood sugar.
"I've been fasting for about two years, and I've noticed so many great benefits. Most importantly, I'm able to sit down to work in the mornings with such a clear head. I used to suffer from a lot of brain fog, and fasting has helped so much. I typically leave about 15 hours between dinner and breakfast the next day. I've also noticed that when I'm on a regular fasting schedule, my blood sugar is so much more stable. I don't crave sweets, and I'm much more mindful about what I decide to put in my body." —Gabi, 2+ years of fasting
7. Improved productivity and better meal portioning.
"It's made my mind sharper in the mornings and improved my productivity. It's also kept me at the most consistent weight I've been in years. And in better shape. My meal portioning has also improved as I tend not to overeat surprisingly. And when I do indulge, I rarely feel the guilt I used to feel caused by bloating or a heavy feeling after eating too richly or too much. The only con is that it becomes a strict schedule; eating becomes necessary exactly at noon or I lose concentration." —Geoffrey, 1 year of fasting
Intermittent fasting plans.
After reading these endorsements, you might be ready to give IF a try. There are a lot of different types of fasting, but the most common is the 16:8 plan, where a person fasts for 16 hours out of the day and eats only during an eight-hour window. This means you'd eat dinner at 8 p.m. and not eat breakfast until noon. Or you could eat an early dinner at 6 and not eat until 10 a.m. the next morning. You can also fast one day a week or try a more structured protocol like the ProLon fasting-mimicking diet, which lasts five days.
If you still have questions, check out our complete beginners guide to intermittent fasting.
Gretchen Lidicker is an mbg health contributor, content strategist, and the author of CBD Oil Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Hemp-Derived Health and Wellness and Magnesium Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Epsom Salts, Magnesium Oil, and Nature's Relaxation Mineral. She holds a B.S. in biology and earned her master’s degree in physiology with a concentration in complementary and alternative medicine from Georgetown University.