Is eating every other day the key to weight loss? This woman lost 108lbs and says yes
-Jan 31, Hannah Hargrave , Nutrition -
Rachel Sharp struggled with her weight for years and tried pretty much every diet under the sun. But it wasn’t until she tried intermittent alternate day fasting that she noticed results. Now 108lbs lighter and feeling healthier than ever, she talks to Lumity about why eating every other day has been the key to her incredible weight loss and how it can work for others too.
Two years ago, Rachel Sharpe tipped the scales at 236lbs. She was, in her own admission, miserable, unfit and desperate to make a change. The 26-year-old decided to try ADF and she’s never looked back. After 12 months she’d dropped more weight than she ever thought possible and continues to follow the regime today.
Here’s how she says eating every other day has changed her life.
How long had you been battling with your weight when you decided to give alternate day fasting a try?
“I have been battling with my weight my entire life,” Rachel shares with Lumity. “Ever since I was a little girl, I was overweight. I was never taught the best types of foods to eat growing up and shied away from physical activity because I was so clumsy and hated drawing attention to myself. Both of these things stemmed into my adulthood. It wasn’t until I started my ADF lifestyle, after I had given up on every other diet and workout plan out there, that I really started understanding how to take back control of my weight.”
Related: Is fasting the key to a longer life?
What weight loss methods had you tried before and had any of them worked?
“I had tried everything up until two and a half years ago. I tried restricting my calories, going to the gym every day, Insanity, Jillian Michaels workout DVDs, The “Hamburger diet” where you eat plain hamburgers for three days straight, prescription weight loss pills, the list goes on. I never saw any results, so I became discouraged and would give up after one or two weeks. I never had the patience to wait and ADF has most definitely taught me that!”
What made you decide to do alternate day fasting and did you have a goal of how much weight you wanted to lose?
“I decided to do ADF after a failed weekend hike with my boyfriend, now fiancé. It was only two miles, but by the time I was done, I was out of breath, my feet hurt and I was overall just miserable.
“I was embarrassed that I couldn’t walk for two miles without feeling sick!
“ My boyfriend was practicing intermittent fasting for his own health which had put a bug in my ear for a while. Like so many others, I was skeptical about it. Fasting wasn’t as big as it is now, and I had done no research on it to learn the benefits and just went off what I heard from the nay-sayers.
“The Monday after the hiking trip, I found an article by Sumya Kazi called “How I dropped 50 pounds” where she talked about Intermittent Fasting and for the first time in a long time I had a glimmer of hope. I decided that day would be my first eat day and the next my first fasting day.
“I started my journey on September 5th, 2017 and by October 5th, I was down 16 pounds!
“After that first month, I set my first goal of 50 pounds in one year. I passed that by month five. As I continued my journey, by the end of my first year, I had lost the incredible amount of 98 pounds with Alternate Day Fasting!
Were you skeptical or concerned about ADF though, because lots of people can’t fathom only eating every other day?
“Like I said previously, I had done no research on the subject before I decided to give it a try,” says Rachel. “I didn’t think going without food for so long was healthy and could never imagine doing it myself. We have been taught that we MUST eat everyday or else we will go into starvation mode and that’s not the case.
“It wasn’t until I was TRULY motivated and determined to find something to actually work for me and decided to give this a try, that I realised it’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s actually much more manageable than people think and the health benefits are extraordinary! Of course there are hard days, but the good ones outweigh those and I wouldn’t change that for anything.”
How many calories do you think you were consuming per day before starting ADF? How many did you allow yourself when you began fasting?
“Comparing what I eat now to what I ate then, I would say I probably consumed close to 2500 calories a day. That’s such a dramatic increase to what I eat now, which is about 2100-2200 every other day. When I first started ADF, I calculated my calories according to my BMR (Basal metabolic rate, the amount of calories you burn while resting ) and TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure, the amount of calories you burn going throughout your day) I would calculate both of those numbers and eat in between them, which put me at about 1900 calories per eat day. That way, if I ate over, I knew I still had some leeway. Now, since I am so physically active, I eat closer to 2100-2200 per eat day.”
Was it difficult to begin with (how can people expect to feel?) and if so when did it begin to get easier?
“For me, it wasn’t that difficult when I started,” she admits. “Mostly because I NEEDED a change and I was determined to make it happen. Within the first week, I did eat up to 500 calories on my fasting days to help me make it through the day, but after that, I didn’t need anything anymore and my willpower won over my hunger! Overtime your body will get used to the change. You really just have to power through it and keep up on fluids and stay distracted. The hunger “pains” typically pass in 5-10 minutes.”
How quickly did you start seeing and feeling results?
“I would say within the first one to two months I started feeling the results. Mostly in my clothes. After two months of Alternate Day Fasting I had lost 25 pounds and I started feeling more confident in myself. However, actually seeing the changes, it took me a while.
“When you see yourself everyday, you don’t notice the changes as much. That’s when I started doing comparison pictures to see them. Everyone kept complimenting me on my loss, but it was still so difficult for me to see! I think it wasn’t until I got down to a size US 10, a size I NEVER thought I would reach, it hit me. I’ll be honest though… some days, I still struggle to see the changes! I know, its crazy!”
Is it now a way of life? Does that need to be the case for others, or once they get to their goal can they return to eating every day, but just in a healthy, balanced way?
“For me, it is currently a way of life, as I am doing prolonged fast to get the autophogy benefits which heals dead skin cells and tightens loose skin,” Rachel explains to Lumity. “However, I believe, that if someone fasted for a period of time, they could go back to eating every day without a problem. I for one, have learned how to be healthy with this way of living, so I know once I go back to eating everyday, that would continue to be the case for me.”
What happens if someone asks you out for dinner on a day you should be fasting?
“In the beginning, I would decline and reschedule the dinner. Most people, after you have lived this lifestyle for such a long time, and they know that you live this lifestyle, are pretty understanding. Now, if someone invites me to dinner on a fasting day, I usually decide if I want to either break my fast by doing OMAD (one meal a day), eat up to 500 calories or eat nothing at all. It really just depends on the circumstances.”
What does your daily diet look like now?
“On my eat days, I really just eat what I want. The best thing about fasting is you don’t have to restrict any certain type of food. Just as long as you stay in your calorie range you should be fine.
“Of course, because I want to stay in my calorie range, I just choose healthier options, so that way I can enjoy more food! I am a huge foodie, I love trying everything new. I enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner and sometimes a dessert. It just depends on what I have left at the end of the day.”
Do you think ADF can work for everyone? (provided they consult a health professional first)
“I think it can if you set your mind to it and do it correctly,” Rachel says. “A lot of people cut their calories even lower than suggested and end up not losing anything or gaining weight. It’s important that you eat enough. Already fasting everyday, you’re in a calorie deficit so there is no need to cut more calories.
It is also suggested if you have any health concerns to see a doctor before starting this method.”
You must be overjoyed with the improvement in your health. How as it changed your life?
“Oh, so much so! I have gained confidence and truly found myself along the way. Not only am I very physically active, I have so much more mental clarity. I am a much happier and healthier person in all aspects of my life and I’ve found my passion which is helping people and showing them that if I can do it… If I can lose 108 pounds by changing my lifestyle just slightly in the beginning, then they can too. All it takes is willpower and the determination to change.”
What advice would you give someone else who is perhaps considering ADF as a weight loss method?
- It’s not easy, it’s hard and you will struggle on some days, not so much on others. If you don’t give it your all, you won’t stick with this method very long.
- Keep up on your fluids. They will help you stay full and you won’t feel like you need to eat.
- Distractions are key! Netflix, taking a walk, reading a book, listening to music, etc… Whatever keeps your mind off food will help you get through your days so much easier!
- Don’t give up! Your body will take a week, maybe two, to get used to this method. YOU got this!
You can follow Rachel’s weight loss journey on her Instagram or watch her inspiring Vlog ‘Killer Curves Goes Vlogging’ where she talks about her experience with Alternate Day Fasting and answers your questions too.