Intermittent Fasting

One Year of Intermittent Fasting. Does It Work For Weight Loss?


The year 2020 is a year that will forever mark my life, and I’m sure countless others would say the same. As a world we experienced the first global pandemic since 1918 which led to shelter-in-place orders, waiting in long lines to enter grocery stores, and our children were sent home from school. As a nation we watched the news in horror as injustices, social unrest and political unrest took place on our streets and at government buildings. On a personal level, despite eating an overall healthy diet, I experienced rapid weight gain and stepped on the scale to see the same number that I had last seen ten years earlier at nine months pregnant with my third baby. To say that 2020 was a stressful year might be an understatement.

My History

I’ve had a passion for studying food ever since taking a college nutrition class in 2001 and as a result of that class, would go on to read countless nutrition books over the years. Like it or not, my husband and kids have primarily been fed real food, minimally processed, and organic when possible. We’ve always been quite active, typically skiing together in the winter and the rest of the year I often alternate between at home workouts and running, including participating in multiple half-marathons over the past several years.

In January of 2020 I saw my doctor for my annual physical and weighed what I expected to, almost the same that I did at my physical the year before. I was right on par with the CDC’s 2016 estimation that American adults put on one to two pounds of weight each year, mine being an average of almost one pound of weight gain annually since getting married in 2003. Although I didn’t love the fact that my weight was slowly climbing, it did not really concern me.

Fast forward to August 2020, a month before my 39th birthday, when after noticing that all of my clothes were getting tight, I did what I very seldom did, and stepped on the scale. I actually got off and then back on the scale multiple times, as I thought it must be malfunctioning. Nope, not a mistake. It turns out that between January and August I had gained 14 pounds, officially putting me in the “overweight” category. At 5’4”, a 14 pound weight gain in a matter of months shows up especially in the fit of clothing.

Eat Less, Move More?

I immediately got serious about stopping this sudden weight gain, as I feared where it could lead. I went back to what I knew and started a consistent, daily exercise regimen. As well, I did what we are told to do when we have weight to lose; eat less and move more. I started to track my food quantity for the first time in my life. Initially I did not count calories, rather I used portion-controlled containers that each represented macronutrient groups. For each meal I was to eat only the food that could fit in each container for the different macronutrients. That seemed to be easy enough, right?

After three months of working out and tracking my food, I had managed to lose ten pounds. Although I was happy to be moving in the right direction, the mental fatigue of having to track my food and workout every day was wearing on me. As soon as I relaxed a bit, my weight went back up. It seemed that my options were perfection or weight gain and the holiday season was coming up. Sigh.

In the early spring of 2021 I found myself back to just a few pounds shy of my heaviest weight and I was motivated to find a realistic lifestyle that would work for me to reach and maintain a healthy weight. I started working out again consistently and downloaded an app to track my calories instead of doing the containers. Although I was skeptical of counting calories, I read that if I simply figured out how many calories that I needed to maintain my weight and then cut my calories by 500 a day, I should be able to lose a pound a week. Since I had never counted calories before, maybe I just needed to see what quantity of food my caloric needs represented and it could be a lifestyle. Again, easy, right? Nope. Recording everything I ate and weighing my food got old, fast! Also, spreading 1300 daily calories between three meals and snacks was not satisfying and I often found myself feeling hungry. That definitely was not a lifestyle that I could sustain.

March 2021 – Before intermittent fasting.

Intermittent Fasting

“Intermittent fasting” is often also called “time restricted eating”, meaning food is eaten in a designated time period, for example every day in an 8 hour window that is from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. There are several different time windows that people choose for their intermittent fasting pattern, ranging from a 12:12 (fast 12 hours a day, eat 12 hours a day), to alternate daily fasting (eat 3 meals one day, fully fast the next day).

Reflecting back, my first time reading about intermittent fasting as a healthy lifestyle was in 2004 when I read Jordan Rubin’s book, The Maker’s Diet. In it he suggested fasting one day a week for health. Although his book impacted me a great deal and I did make a lot of dietary and life changes after reading it, at the time I felt that fasting every week was too extreme and not for me.

In the thick of trying to figure out how to manage my weight in 2020, I heard of an online fitness and nutrition program that included daily intermittent fasting with a carb-cycling diet, which is going back and forth between high carb days and low carb days. After being burnt out on the macronutrient container system, I knew that carb-cycling was not going to be a sustainable lifestyle for me. I want the option to have chips WITH my guacamole, not guacamole one day, chips the next. However, the idea of intermittent fasting intrigued me and I kept searching until I later would discover the book that changed my life.

As dramatic as it may seem, I credit the book Fast. Feast. Repeat. by Gin Stephens as actually changing the trajectory of my life. I checked out the audiobook from my library in late May of 2021 (and went on to purchase and give away several paper copies of the book since) and I’ve never looked back. The author, Gin, had spent most of her adult life trying almost every diet that you’ve ever heard of and ended up dieting herself to obese. She had given up hope until she started living an intermittent fasting lifestyle and as of this year she has maintained an 80 pound weight loss for 7 years!

Fast. Feast. Repeat. The book that changed everything.

How Does It Work?

Although many people assume that intermittent fasting is just about calorie restriction, it isn’t necessarily and it’s so much more amazing than that! Since the 1970’s as a nation we have transitioned from primarily preparing and eating 3 meals a day at home, on our stovetops and ovens, to being told by the “experts” that we should be eating 5-6 meals a day. We now have access to drive-throughs on every street corner, microwaves, and an abundance of cheap, ultra-processed food that requires no preparation before eating. As much as I LOVE coffee, we also have become a society that is constantly sipping on flavored coffees or flavored beverages from the moment we wake up until we go to bed at night. These dietary changes have led the United States to having a very metabolically unhealthy population. A 2018 study found that at least half of all adults are insulin resistant, with estimations that the number is actually 85% of all adults. Yikes! Insulin resistance is linked to heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s. Yep, all leading causes of death in our nation.

Guess what the most effective method of reversing insulin resistance is? Fasting. (The second most effective method is exercise). It turns out that when we are consuming flavored beverages or eating food every waking moment, our insulin levels never get a break. Although we can drink calorie-free/sugar-free beverages and not have an elevated blood glucose response, our body interprets those sweet flavors as food coming in and releases insulin. Once insulin is released, we feel hungry and we’re likely to go get a snack, perpetuating our state of constantly being fed. When insulin levels are high in our body, we are in “energy storing” mode, not “energy burning” mode. Therefore, we do not burn fat when we have elevated insulin levels, rather we store fat.

When I first read about this I had a lightbulb moment, as I am married to a type 1 diabetic. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune, chronic condition where the pancreas stops making insulin. One of the first signs of type 1 diabetes is significant weight loss as well as excessive urinating. Going all the way to 150 AD, the Greek physician, Arateus, described what we now call type 1 diabetes as “the melting down of flesh and limbs into urine.” Without insulin, which turns food into energy, people literally just lost weight until they died. It wasn’t until 1922 when doctors began to inject type 1 diabetics with insulin, that they had a treatment, stopping the extreme weight loss, and saving their lives.

On the other hand, type 2 diabetes is a problem of too much insulin. When we are over fed or over weight, our cells can become insulin resistant, causing our blood glucose levels to go up. Because our body is always doing it’s best to keep us in a state of homeostasis, it makes more insulin to try to maintain normal blood glucose levels. Our bodies are then constantly in a state of high insulin levels and the vicious cycle of more weight gain follows.

To somewhat oversimplify all of this, by looking at the two types of diabetes you can see that too little insulin makes it impossible to gain weight, too much insulin makes it impossible to lose weight.

Other Benefits of Fasting

Besides the magic of correcting insulin resistance, another phenomenon that takes place when we are fasting is a process called autophagy. Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells. In 2016 Japanese cell biologist, Yoshinori Ohsumi, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his research on autophagy. Simply put, when we are not using all of our energy digesting food, our bodies can focus on cleaning up problem and junk cells. Fasting actually ramps up autophagy!

Although there are so many, I have to share one more benefit of fasting. Studies show that fasting greatly increases human growth hormone (HGH) levels, which significantly decrease as we age. In fact, by the age of 60 HGH is usually less than half of what it was at age 25 . The benefits of HGH include slowing down the aging process and helping to maintain, build, and repair healthy tissue in the brain and other organs including building muscle mass, boosting metabolism, and burning fat. So guess what? It actually is to our benefit to exercise in the fasted state. It is simply not true that we have to “rev up our metabolism with food before we workout, in order to prevent our bodies from burning muscle”. In fact the opposite is true. We will have more muscle gains by working out fasted.

March 2022 – about nine months after starting intermittent fating.

How Do I Fast?

One of the biggest lessons that I learned in the book, Fast. Feast. Repeat. is the principle of “clean fasting”. As I mentioned earlier, when we drink anything that our bodies perceive as food, our insulin levels go up, even if it is calorie and sugar-free (also, despite the rumors floating around, even 50 calories or less of cream in our coffee will release insulin and break our fast). Good news though, bitter flavor profiles do not increase our insulin levels. Plain, black coffee, plain black or green tea, plain water and plain seltzer water do not break a fast and are okay to drink during a fast. For many of us, getting used to black coffee is a process, but I promise you it is so worth it!

Before fasting my typical day went a lot like this:

  • 6:00 am – wake up and drink first cup of coffee with oat milk

  • 8:30 am – eat a hand full of almonds to “rev up my metabolism” and workout; drink water with lemon

  • 9:00 am to 12:00 pm – sip on coffee with oat milk and a big green smoothie loaded with greens, ginger, lemon, apple, hempseed

  • 12:30 pm – eat a salad for lunch with flavored seltzer water followed by a coffee with oat milk

  • 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm – sip on flavored seltzer water and have a snack of an apple with peanut butter

  • 6:30 pm – eat burrito bowl for dinner with brown rice, beans, salsa, guacamole

  • 7:00 pm to bedtime – eat some dark chocolate and sip on flavored seltzer water

If you just look at what I was eating, it was almost all healthy, minimally processed foods. Why would I gain weight eating healthy food? What I didn’t realize was that I was elevating my insulin levels from the moment I woke up, until I went to bed at night EVERY SINGLE DAY.

When I started fasting in May 2021 my typical day went a lot like this:

  • 6:00 am – wake up and drink black coffee and plain water

  • 8:30 am – work out fasted

  • 11:00 am – eat a huge salad for lunch with flavored seltzer water

  • 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm – sip on flavored seltzer water or coffee with oat milk and have a snack of an apple with peanut butter

  • 6:30 pm – eat burrito bowl for dinner with brown rice, beans, salsa, guacamole (including chips if I wanted them 🙂 and have some dark chocolate for dessert

  • 7:00 pm to bedtime – drink plain water or plain seltzer water

    Really, I just took the oat milk out of my coffee during my fast, eliminated breakfast and quit eating or drinking anything flavored after dinner.


I officially started intermittent fasting with a 16:8 schedule (16 hours of fasting, 8 hour eating window) on May 25, 2021 and I had been working out at least 3 days a week before I started intermittent fasting. By simply changing when I was eating and not what I was eating, I lost 8 pounds the first month! I found it much easier than I expected to adjust to this schedule. It can take up to four weeks for our bodies to adjust to fasting and not everyone loses weight immediately, but I found that I adapted much quicker.

I continued to work out 3 days a week until July 2021. In July we went out of town for a few weeks and came home to some remodeling projects at our house that lasted for a few months. It’s a lame excuse but since I was working out at home at the time, I didn’t want to work out with construction people in my house so I just didn’t do anything other than walking. In October I had a surgery that required two nights in the hospital and then recovery of course. In November I had Covid, and then came the Christmas season so I did not start working out again until January 2022. Even so, I had lost and maintained 10 pounds from my May 2021 start (down 13 pounds total from my highest weight in August 2020), simply by averaging a 16:8 daily fast.

In 2022, for the month of January, I decided to fast from sugar and ultra-processed foods, as well as switch my fasting window to 18:6 (18 hour fast, 6 hour eating window). I also started working out 3 days a week again and walking at least 2 days a week. Guess what happened?! I lost 10 more pounds! I actually was weighing what I weighed in my twenties! As of today, my total weight loss from my heaviest is exactly 25 pounds; more than I imagined possible at age 40.

Left – Mother’s Day 2021, before intermittent fasting. Right – Mother’s Day 2022, intermittent fasting almost one year.


Not only has losing excess weight been incredibly encouraging and healthy (I’m no longer in the “over weight” category”) but I’ve had a few other victories that are just as significant to me.

  1. I am stronger than I ever have been. That increase of human growth hormone is amazing! In early March, just two months after I had started working out again, I saw a picture of myself and couldn’t believe the muscle definition that I had gained. I’m consistently setting new personal records in the amount of weight that I’m able to lift as well.

  2. When Tyler and I got married in 2003 he taught me to downhill ski. We invested in some quality ski pants that have lasted all these years. However, for the past decade I have been able to zip them up but not button them. The good news is that my ski jacket has a snow guard that easily covers up the top of my pants so they really didn’t have to be buttoned. In the winter of 2020 I was no longer able to even zip my ski pants. I actually had to buy a bigger size, but they weren’t as high quality so I would get cold more easily wearing them. This past month I was gathering up all of our ski gear to store until next winter and I decided to try on my 2003 ski pants. Not only did they zip but they easily buttoned as well! I cried tears of joy with that victory!

  3. I have the most energy and have the greatest mental clarity in the fasted state. I try to do all of my exercise and writing before I eat anything. My daily productivity has gone up significantly. In fact, this blog post has been written in the fasted state 🙂

  4. I have peace of mind knowing that I am doing what is in my power to be metabolically healthy and combat insulin resistance. Although none of them were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, three out of my four grandparents had dementia or Alzheimer’s when they got older, which researchers are now calling “type 3 diabetes” because of the consistent factor of insulin resistance that they are finding.



My life has been changed by intermittent fasting. It is not a diet but a sustainable lifestyle for me that has helped me achieve my health and weight loss goals. The beauty of it, is I can change my fasting window to fit my lifestyle. If my family wants to have brunch on Saturday morning, I can either have a longer eating window that day, or just open up my eating window early and close it earlier than I typically do. I have come to highly value not having to eat breakfast before I work out in the mornings or worry about it before getting out the door to start my day.

I cannot recommend enough the book, Fast. Feast. Repeat. by Gin Stephens. If you love to dive deeper into science, the books Obesity Code or Diabetes Code by Dr. Jason Fung, Why We Get Sick by Dr. Benjamin Bikman, or the Intermittent Fasting Revolution, by Dr. Mark Mattson are great as well and are packed full of scientific research on the benefits of fasting.

Fasting is not recommended for growing children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with a history of eating disorders. I am not a doctor or medical professional, just a person who is passionate about health and healthy living. My life has been changed by intermittent fasting and it is a lifestyle that I intend to always do. I truly desire that we all strive to overcome adversity and live abundantly and I believe that fasting is an incredible tool to help achieve that. If you’d like to try it but have health concerns, I recommend that you do research for yourself and talk to your medical doctor.

I’d love to hear from you! Are you an intermittent faster? If so, how has it changed your life?

Ski pants I purchased in 2003.


  • Rosemarie Kowalski

    Way to go! This was so practical and doable. Needed some inspiration, so thanks.

  • Jill Overfield

    Okay, you’re one of the smartest people I know. This was super interesting to read!

  • Kelly Lake

    Hi Amber! Thank you for writing this. I’ve been listening to some You Tube videos on intermittent fasting and then I saw your post. I will be 64 on June 6th, and I’ve been gaining weight for the past several years to the point where I know I’ve got to take control. A lot of for me is bad habits (too many sweets, junk food, fast food). I think the stress of all the Covid lockdown stuff plus some personal family issues caused me to gain even more weight these past two years to the point where I weigh the most I ever have. I’m looking at needing to lose 40 lbs. I hear all the “it’s hard to lose weight after 60” talk but I really feel like intermittent fasting and eating healthy is what is going to do it for me. I do walk with my 14 year old black lab Tank about 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week but I need to figure out some kind of strength training. Thank you for posting your success with intermittent fasting. I think it confirms for me that I need to start making this a way of life too. I will order the book too that you recommend.

  • Dara Feltus

    You are such a good writer Amber! I’ve honestly been apprehensive about the fasting and you explained it so well (my language) lol
    I understand it and honestly want to try! Thank you for taking the time to share your journey with us! So very helpful! And hats off to your success!!

    • Amber Sollie

      Thank you, Dara! I hear you; fasting is contrary to what “experts” have said the past few decades. I was terrified that o would ruin my muscles if I didn’t eat before I worked out. Doing the research is so worth it.

      Also, looking back to before the 1970’s all the way back to thousands of years ago, people were not “stoking their metabolism” all day with multiple meals as it wasn’t practical. ❤️

  • Jacy Christensen

    My husband has been talking to me about doing this for a while. I already drink black coffee and am not much of a breakfast eater. I’ve gained 15-20lbs the last 2 years plus I’m a woman of a certain age (ahem). My weight had never been an issue til recently. In 2016-17 I had had a metabolic issue with my b12 and potassium tanking to the point of causing symptoms that mimicked MS and cardiac issues. I has 3 surgeries in 2 years. It was not a fun time, and my weight was very low for my height. Once I got those issues under control, I gained back needed weight, but Covid tipped me to the point of buying bigger underpants, and I was not happy about that! I think I’ll read the book you recommend, because I’m a bit in the woods with this stuff. And my idea of fun exercise is pushing a wheel barrow and doing yard work, I’m not great about working out. It’s nice to hear a first hand account of success with intermittent fasting. Thanks for the read!

    • Amber Sollie

      That’s a lot you’ve been through, Jacy! I think intermittent fasting would be in incredible for you! And pushing a wheel barrow is the real deal for exercise! I think you’d appreciate the author of the book a lot!

  • Mandi Jackson

    Thank you for sharing your journey! This may just be the answer I’ve been hoping to find. ♡

  • Marie Krueger

    I’m very inspired this! As a mom of two girls (toddler and a baby) I am always trying to find ways to take care of my body so I can keep up with them and continue to have the energy to do everything else that is important to me. I
    workout 3-4 times a week combining fitness classes and running but this may be something I want to try!! Thanks so much Amber!

  • Derek Olson

    Insightful article, confirmed to me that this is what I need to do. Thanks for sharing all your research

  • Joan hopkins

    Loved your post I was doing some intermitting fasting last year and was very happy with my progress. Then things seem to just stop and I wasn’t losing any more,I got discouraged and stoped. Started again this year with (my fitness pal) Calorie counting while I’ve lost some of the weight again it is not sustainable for me I’m excited to try intermittent fasting again with a renewed understanding of all the benefits thank you for your article was very insightful and encouraging to me.

    • Amber Sollie

      Thank you for sharing that, Joan! I’ve heard that plateaus are typical, and I have experienced that too. The book that I recommended does have lots of ideas for moving past plateaus. However, the health benefits alone are worth starting again. (I very much agree that counting calories is not a sustainable lifestyle for me) 😊❤️.

  • Holly Diaz

    Wow! Thank you for sharing your journey Amber. The timing is amazing. I’ve been out of state caring for my mother who has been diagnosed with the onset of Alzheimer’s. She is in Hospice care at home and it is difficult. But, I see there are choices to make for my future. Disease does not have to be part of it. Thank you!