My 7 Day Experiment with Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is what seems to be the latest craze to kick-start a sluggish metabolism and improve health. It’s basically a cycle between a period of fasting and a period of non-fasting during a specific time frame.
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But, you aren’t restricted on exactly what you can eat so it seems to be more of a lifestyle.
Supporters claim this works because it’s more in line with our hunting and gathering ancestors who would go stretches of time fasting, although probably not by choice.
However, I really like the thought of not feeling deprived of certain foods or counting calories all the time.
Once I hit 45, it seems like my metabolism crashed. I’ve tried most of the fad diets and they just never stick.
In Brazilian culture, lunch is the main meal of the day. I would actually prefer that but due to work hours and family schedules, dinner has become our big meal of the day.
Unfortunately, by dinner time I’m also tired from working all day so we end up eating a big meal then lounging around.
Intermittent fasting intrigued me enough to try to give it a shot, but there are a few choices out there.
Here’s a look at three popular fasting plans:
1. The 5:2 Diet
Popularized by Journalist Michael Mosley in the UK, is the 5:2 plan. The 5:2 diet consists of eating normal for five days, as long as two days per week are limited to 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men.
The two days of fasting can be spaced out throughout the week as long as there is at least one day of non-fasting between them.
Healthline.com lists several studies that suggest intermittent fasting has several health benefits and notes:
“The 5:2 diet may have several impressive health benefits, including weight loss, reduced insulin resistance and decreased inflammation. It may also improve blood lipids”
The 5:2 still has calorie restrictions, but I could see how it could be done, especially knowing mentally that the following day I wouldn’t be restricted.
Eggs, yogurt, fruit, vegetables and soup are some examples of low-calorie foods that could be eaten on fasting days.
2. The 8-Hour Diet
In the Book The 8-Hour Diet: Watch the Pounds Disappear Without Watching What You Eat! By David Zinzenko it promises that within six weeks you’ll lose five to 10 pounds by eating as much as you want within an eight-hour period and then fasting for the other 16 hours in the day. Apparently, even if you only follow the diet three days per week.
Ok! Tell me more!
Turns out it’s not really and “eat whatever you want” program. You are instructed to consume daily servings of nutritional foods, such as, turkey, chicken, eggs, fish, or other lean meats, nuts, yogurt/ dairy, beans, legumes, raspberries and other fruits, green vegetables, and whole grain breads & cereals.
It’s also not a eat first thing in the morning program, which is what I like to do. There’s a stretch of only consuming calorie free beverages (water, tea, etc) and having 8 minutes of exercise prior to eating.
Of course there are always skeptics
Skeptics of intermittent fasting share concerns that people will take the eating periods as a free for all and actually increase binge eating under the illusion that you can eat whatever you want in the designated timeframe.
I could see that happening.
3. The 14-hour Fast
A new study posted on August 30, 2018 from salk.edu claims 10-hours of eating followed by 14-hours of fasting are actually the magic numbers.
Scientists at the Salk Institute discovered that mice were less affected by obesity and metabolic diseases when food consumption was restricted to a 10-hour window. It is suggested that those same health problems could be corrected in humans by eating all calories within a 10-hour time-frame.
The researchers claim that there becomes a balance between nutrition during the fed state and repair and rejuvenation during the 14-hour fasting period.
Genes for digestion are more active earlier in the day while genes for cellular repair are more active at night.
The idea is that you burn more energy than you store. But food consumption actually needs to be more of a healthy lifestyle change in order to be sustained.
I decided to try the 10-hour eating/ 14-hour fasting plan.
Here’s my experience:
I wake up at 5:30 a.m. and one of my favorite things to do in the morning is have a cup of coffee and breakfast. This would mean that my last meal would be at 3:30 p.m.
“I can do that.” I thought to myself.
And, so I did. I stuck by this schedule for 7 days and really it wasn’t a problem for me.
I found that I was not that hungry within a 10-hour window to eat three solid meals, so my calorie consumption was definitely down. By the time my third meal came around all I felt like eating was some vegetables and fruit.
Also, I drank less wine since I can’t consume at work 🙁 and couldn’t in the evening so I saved my drinks for weekend afternoons. I think it’s probably better not to consume alcohol at all, but at this point in my life I enjoy a couple of glasses of wine and that’s not something I want to completely give up.
I drank a considerable amount more of water during the fasting period and actually throughout the entire day.
Another, benefit was I felt so much less bloated. After the seven days, I went off it for a few days and immediately went back to feeling bloated and sluggish.
After seven days, I lost 2.5 pounds. Probably water weight at this point, but definitely headed in the right direction.
The only drawbacks were that it makes it tricky having family meals. I decided while I was doing this our weekend lunches would be those meals. This is a lifestyle change we would have to get used to.
The other issue was that it takes some planning. Since I work during the day and would want a substantial meal at lunch, I would either have to eat out every day or pack a meal to take in. Sometimes that works fine, but it takes a little thought. Plus, with my last meal being at 3:30 p.m. I really would need to take a dinner to work as well.
Bottom line, there are more pro’s than con’s and I actually do feel better. I’m gonna stick to this. But, I’ve been considering experimenting with the 5:2 and the 8-hour diet. I also might try to move back my breakfast so I can have a later dinner.
But, either way this does not seem like a diet to me and is something I think I can stick to.
Fasting isn’t for everyone. As with all diets, it’s advisable to see your doctor before trying any new diet plan.
Have you tried intermittent fasting? If so, what plan? How did it work for you?