Intermittent fasting changed my approach to food

empty plate


After years of fad diets, JOEL SERRA introduced intermittent fasting into his lifestyle six months ago. Over time, he has noticed the benefits this controlled approach is having on his health and wellbeing, and the improvement in his ability to make smarter food choices to adequately fuel his body.

I’ve had a very long history of dieting. I got sick when I was 17 and all exercise had to be put on hold. Subsequently, I gained a lot of weight. Once my health improved, I went to the gym and tried my share of fad diets: no fruit, no veggies for three days a week, nothing but 100 grams of protein six times per day, The Lemon Detox Diet and Herballife. You name it, I tried it.

I stumbled across intermittent fasting six months ago. I was shopping for protein powders last summer and noticed most of these companies have blogs. Through reading these blogs, I saw intermittent fasting was becoming a common theme. I did some research to see what it was all about as it’s a pretty big change to make – limiting food for a large period of the day. After doing my research, I decided to give it a go.

I fast for 16 hours a day, and eat all my meals between 12pm and 8pm. This gives me enough time to have my three meals per day, and I find it helps me stick to a certain number of calories. Luckily, it’s simple to follow and there’s room to be flexible. You can pick a timeframe that suits your lifestyle; if you’re more of a morning person, just start eating earlier in the day. I find it’s quite easy to implement, but it does require dedication.

It’s helped me make better food choices. Convenient junk foods and snacks have become less appealing to me. I start my day off with full replenishment for the fasting I’ve just done by having a big lunch consisting of complex carbs. When I’m having a low energy day, I have branched amino acids – like meat, chicken, fish and dairy – but I constantly top up with green tea and water.

I look at the day in different parts. There’s eating and then there’s exercising – my two focuses for overall health. I’ve become accustomed to this approach and it allows me flexibility with what I eat, but at the right times when my body can process food and use it as fuel to go forward. It’s become a complete lifestyle choice and it’s given me a different outlook on my days.

I think about fuelling my body for the next stage. For me, it’s all about forward planning for the next day and the next task. If I just think of the now with this diet, it won’t work. In general, food doesn’t work like that. I need to know and have an understanding of what I’ll be doing the next 24 hours so I can specifically fuel for that activity. It’s all about setting myself up to get the better output.

It gives me energy at the right time. I had a habit of eating the right foods, but at the wrong times, which resulted in me getting bursts of energy when I didn’t need them. But by making better food choices during the hours I do eat, I have energy exactly when I need it. It’s given me an approach to eating that allows my body to process everything I’ve consumed in its entirety.

It’s made me enjoy cooking more. I’ve become more creative so I can avoid food regret. It’s no good when you’ve been waiting to eat your food all day, and when you do it’s not nice, or you don’t like it. I like trying new recipes and finding out different ways to prep my food for the day, and looking at new food combinations to make the most of the timeframe I do allow for food consumption.

(As told to Rebekah Patterson. This is one person’s experience and should not be considered medical advice. You should always consult with your GP before starting any new eating plan.)

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