Intermittent fasting is a form of dieting that consists of periods of fasting and eating. It has received quite a lot of attention over the past few years and can be a sustainable way to maintain a lower calorie intake over a long period of time.
Basically, how it works is you have a short-term fasting period, where you are only allowed to have water, coffee and tea. You then break your fast by starting your eating period, where you can eat whatever you like. This may sound like a regular binge-eating session, where you fill up on even more calories than usual, but research has shown that people usually do end up eating less calories.
Apart from the weight loss benefits this eating cycle can offer, various other health benefits have been linked to this lifestyle, including its impact on heart health, blood sugar levels and insulin levels. You can read up about it here.
There are various methods of intermittent fasting, leaving you room to find what works best for you.
Popular methods of Intermittent Fasting
These are some of the popular methods of IF I’ve read about. Some of these diets may seem very extreme, but it does work for some people. Try finding a method that fits into your lifestyle.
The 16/8 or 18/6 method
This is a very popular method and involves fasting for 16 or 18 hours and eating for 8 or 6 hours. This method will work well if you’re not big on eating breakfasts.
The eat-stop-eat method involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week. So, you end up only eating five or six days worth of calories per week.
The 5:2 Diet
This method restricts your calorie intake to 500 calories on two days of the week; and allows you to eat normally on the remaining five days.
The Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet involves only eating one meal per day. So, you basically fast the entire day and eat one large meal at the end of the day.
Trying the 18/6 method for a week
Day 1 – 3
According to this diet, I would eat my last meal of the day around 7pm, and then fast until lunch time the next day. It didn’t sound too hard. I’m not much of a breakfast person in general – normally my day would consist of a snack around 11am, then lunch, another snack, dinner and then some more snacks.
Then I realised how much my body was used to eating around this time. I filled up on black coffee and water to suppress my appetite. Luckily, I enjoy my coffee a lot.
After lunch, I felt good to go for a few more hours and only started feeling hungry around five. I drank a lot of water and had a very large, tasty dinner; and realised that I felt fuller much earlier than usual. Unfortunately, this feeling only lasted for a while and I started feeling hungry again around 11pm, but wasn’t allowed to eat until the next day at 1:30pm. So needless to say, I didn’t sleep very well.
Day 4 – 6
The surprising thing about IF is the amount of energy you have. I would have thought that not eating for more than 12 hours would leave me exhausted, but it had quite the opposite effect.
I woke up feeling hungry, yet full of energy. I was even ready to go for a run, which is something I have been dreading to do the past month. Having to wait till lunch to eat did scare me a little, but after a few cups of coffee and a big bottle of sparkling water, it didn’t seem impossible.
I was also starting to notice that because I was paying so much attention to when I was eating, I was also paying a lot more attention to what I was eating. By 9am I was already planning what I was going to have for lunch. And, I didn’t feel like eating a burrito at the Mexican deli. I was craving something healthy and nutritious.
By the last day of my week’s commitment of IF, I felt really good. I did slip up one or two times and had a drink later than planned, but the cool thing about IF is that you can adjust your hours. So, eating a bit later at night means you will be eating a bit later the next day – which in my opinion makes it easy to incorporate into your lifestyle.
IF may not be fitting for everybody, but if you are not a fan of breakfast or enjoy eating larger meals, less frequently during the day, I would suggest giving it a try.