First Time as a College Student
Like many students, I was happy, excited, scared, nervous, and a mix of many emotions when I was starting college. I was preoccupied with adapting to the college life while trying to balance out many things like getting good grades, making new friends, joining student organizations, and many other events. One experience I had that many can probably relate to is the Freshman 15. The “Freshman 15“, is a term commonly used to express the amount of weight gained during one’s first year in college which is typically 15 lbs, more or less. This does not have to apply to the freshman college group only but includes anyone who has gained unwanted lbs over the years.
What I Did About “Freshman 15”?
I did just about what many would typically do: Exercise really hard and eat healthy! I was fairly fit for my age and weight and so I did various forms of weight training, bouts of high intensity interval training (HIIT), and ate all kinds of vegetables, fruits, and protein. I avoided as much foods and drinks containing sugars. Of course, I started to lose weight and saw some results within a short time.
Something That Came Up
Although I lost a significant amount weight, I came to later realize…exercising really hard and eating healthy was NOT an easy task. It worked very well in the beginning stages (when I had A LOT of free time) but it was EXTREMELY difficult to maintain long term. Social event gatherings would come up often such as potlucks and it felt torturing to have to avoid such delicious foods because of the strict diet and exercise regimen I put myself through.
Of course, I eventually caved in to the foods and lost motivation to exercise hard and eat healthy. My goals at the time were just unrealistic. I felt heavy, bloated, and tired often. I did find motivation again later to exercise and eat right but just like the first time, I regained all the weight back plus extra. It was quite a discouraging experience.
What I Do Today that Works for Me?
Just as it seems almost hopeless for me to lose weight, I eventually ran into something that DID started to work for me accidentally: Intermittent fasting (IF)! I say accidental ONLY because I got frustrated with dieting and losing weight one day so I started to “starve” myself but eventually caved in later that very same night to eat. Who would’ve known that this was pretty much IF in disguise except IF has a more positive connotation!
Anyways, when trying out IF, you are essentially putting your body in a fasted state for a certain period of time throughout your day with a certain time window for eating. During that fasted state, your body still needs energy to function and so it starts to break down certain molecules for energy and the most readily form is that “unpleasant” looking fat in undesired locations.
A common belief is that muscle is broken down significantly first when in a starvation mode. To some degree, there is a small amount of muscle breakdown but breaking down fat is much more efficient (and hence the high ketones in our urine when doing a fasting blood test). Fat is stored, unused energy after all and that is EXACTLY what we want to use up. The body also breaks down old, dysfunction proteins into smaller, usable parts (kind of like spring cleaning our bodies).
Intermittent Fasting Tracks
- 16/8 method (16 hour fast with an 8 hour window of eating) is the most popular IF track
- Eat-Stop-Eat method (fast for 24 hours and eating 1 meal a day)
- 5/2 method (Eating 500-600 calories on 2 NON-consecutive days, and then eating regular on the other 5 days)
Here is a YouTube video that can explain it in more detail:
And now, here is a YouTube video of those with some amazing results:
My Experience with IF
Starting out with IF can be difficult initially if you are accustomed to eating 3-5 meals a day with snacks in between. Here’s what I started out with.
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What I did was focused on removing breakfast from my daily routine. I slowly reduced my breakfast meal size from the regular amount to half. After a week or so, I would reduce to about a fourth of the regular amount. Eventually I was able to feel satisfied with a protein shake which you can check out here.
By the way, I really love Premier Protein since it only contains 1 g of sugar when compared with some other brands and it still tastes great (especially when compared to soda with 20 or even 30 g of sugar). I personally really like caramel and strawberry flavor!
Anyways, I eventually trained myself to skip breakfast. When I became accustomed to skipping breakfast, I eventually trained my body a bit more by even replacing my lunch with these protein shakes. If you are looking to go more into the muscle build, you can check out my other post here and take Whey Protein. Currently, I alternate between the 18/6 and the Eat-Stop-Eat methods.
Some Tips and Recommendations
When implementing this diet change, you do not necessarily need to exercise to see the pounds shed but it does help speed up the process. Some people avoid exercising due to knee pain from the wear and tear caused by their weight. Click here to find out how to manage knee pain.
I exercise about 1 to 3 times a week depending on my schedule and mood. Types of exercise depends on your preference. Keep in mind though that higher intensity exercise like HIIT means more burning of calories due to increased metabolism but it also means you’ll be more hungry and wanting to eat more.
In terms of types of foods to eat with IF, you can pretty much eat whatever you like and still lose weight but DO be aware of the foods that are higher in sugar and bad fat content (so moderation is always key). These still add up calories and it is still better to eat more nutritious foods (Another reason why I like the protein shakes since it has high nutrient content). Also, keep in mind the intake (ingestion of calories) and outtake (burning of calories). Focus on reducing intake and increasing outtake. The weight loss will be VERY fast in the early stages but will start to plateau once you approach your targeted weight. To go beyond the targeted weight would require the addition of something extra like reduced eating window, an additional day of exercise, etc.
Try to use sleep to your advantage and incorporate it during your fasting hours. Click here if you have trouble sleeping.
I originally started packing on much weight approaching close to 210 lbs. But after trying out IF? I am currently standing at about 180 lbs. I am satisfied with my weight for now and I haven’t tried too hard to push below 20% body fat with a visible 6-pack (I guess you can say I currently have a slightly visible 3 pack?). Regardless, this was one of the few health changes that worked consistently for me and it has already become my lifestyle. It doesn’t take too much effort from me anymore to go through my IF routine.
Benefits of IF
In addition to weight loss, one can also experience:
- Reduced Insulin resistance
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved heart health
- Cancer prevention
- Improved brain health
- Slowed aging
IF is a really great way to help you become or even stay healthy especially for those with really busy and stressful schedules. It can be difficult to transition right away so the protein shakes can be used as a meal replacement until you are ready to cut one complete meal like breakfast. As with anything, if you are never sure whether a change in lifestyle is safe or right for you, always check with your physician. Hope IF works out for you too!
Did you enjoy this life hack on how to lose weight? Please leave a comment below!