There are many different ways to eat, and choosing the one that’s right for you can take some time. You also might find that something has been working for you, yet you want to try something new. That’s what I’ve been doing with Intermittent Fasting (IF). So what is Intermittent Fasting?
It’s a way of eating. This isn’t really about what you eat, it’s more about when you eat. Your day is divided into 2 periods: fasting + eating. I’ve been doing it for 4 weeks now, and it’s the easiest eating habit to adopt.
After 2 & 1/2 years of following the bodybuilding lifestyle and way of eating, I knew I wanted to have more flexibility in 2017.
I started the year doing ‘flexible dieting’. I had a meal plan written for me, and this made me feel better about using sauces again. In a bodybuilding diet it’s all about seasoning, but the food gets dry and boring after a long time of eating that way.
Flexible dieting was about eating a wider variety of food, and it was my responsibility to make sure the days food fit into my macro nutrient allowance (my tracking my food in myfitnesspal).
Anyway, I then heard about Intermittent Fasting. Anything related to fasting was always a no-no in my books as I had been conditioned from bodybuilding to eat regularly, and eat as early as possible in the day to kick start my metabolism. And don’t get me started on skipping breakfast, ha ha. I have been telling my Mum off about that for ages!
Want to know more about Intermittent Fasting?
I read up about Intermittent Fasting before I started, as I recommend you too do. This article is a great beginners guide, it gives you 3 ways to fast. I opted for daily fasting, but as I said at the beginning you need to find what will work for you.
“If there is one area of diet and nutrition that also has strong scientific evidence to support its use it is intermittent fasting – the phenomena that sees dieters restrict calories for set periods of time to achieve both weight loss and significant reductions in inflammation in the body.”(1)
The fasting diet that you have most likely heard of is the 5:2 diet, where you fast for 2 days a week and the other 5 you eat as you normally would. This article from Body & Soul compares the 5:2 diet with the style of Intermittent Fasting that I have adopted. I personally don’t agree with the 5:2 approach as I’ve seen people doing this, and the 500 calorie day brings with it hangry moods, a reduction in productivity and the ability to carry out simple tasks. It also encourages the mentality that people can still eat poor quality food for the other 5 days and still expect weight loss results. Nothing was learnt about what you should eat to change your body composition, so they were expecting miracles, with minimum effort. If you have made it work for you then hats off to you, I couldn’t cope with the misery though.
With IF, the theory is to aim for an 8hr eating period a day, I can see in my log below that I was usually eating for 8-10hrs so I need to decrease my eating hours to see greater benefits.
By aiming for an 8 hour eating window “you are not limiting calories to an extreme level, you are allowing an extended period of time for the body’s hormones to return to baseline levels without constantly being disrupted with numerous feeding occasions. While research examining this exact approach is limited, any regime that limits calorie intake via clear daily structure is likely to support weight loss.
Ultimately the key component of any fasting approach to dieting is compliance and consistency.”(1)
What I love about Intermittent Fasting
- It’s flexible
- It’s convenient
- My day does not revolve around set meal times
- It’s intuitive – I listen to my body and eat when I’m hungry
- My meals are not restricted to eating certain types of food in the morning, or at night
What does Intermittent Fasting look like?
For my first week I logged all my fasting and eating period, and how I was feeling about Intermittent Fasting. I haven’t given you any weight loss results, because my results were not just from IF, they were also from being on holiday for 3 weeks in the UK where I was on the road a lot visiting people, I had a few party weekends and I only worked out 3 times. I returned to Sydney, got back to eating my usual healthy food and training 4-5 times per week, and I would normally drop 1.5-2kg in the first 10 days after a trip, so my weight loss can’t be credited just to IF. Since that initial drop, my weight loss results have been slow & steady which is a good sign that my body responds well to this fasting / eating style.
So if you love digging into the detail here you go…I made a table too so you can easily see what my fasting and eating pattern looked like in my first week.
Day 1 Fri 16th June
- 1st day after landing back from UK trip. Back to controlling my diet again and exercising.
- Fasted period: 14 + 1/2hrs
- Eating period: 10 + 1/4hrs
I fasted 7:15pm Thurs night – 9:45am Fri morning (14.5 hours). I was hungry and ready to eat. I had tuna, avo + ricecakes to break the fast.
I felt good during the day, I had low carb (only veggies + protein) meals for lunch and an afternoon snack, which meant I didn’t have much energy for the gym in the evening. I was ready for meatballs, pasta & veggies for dinner at 7:45pm though.
Finishing eating at 8pm means the eating period was longer than it should have been, so I’ll need to watch that.
Day 2 Sat 17th June
- Fasted period: 15hrs
- Eating period: 13hrs (due to a friend’s late birthday dinner)
I fasted 8pm Fri night – 11am Sat morning (15hrs). I trained in the morning, doing resistance and HIIT in the gym fuelled by pre-workout. I went food shopping after the gym and had to have a banana at 11am, as I was feeling light headed and my body was very much in need of some fuel.
Today was a longer eating period as I went out for a friends birthday dinner which was 5 course of lebanese food. So I ate sensibly during the day – low calorie, high protein to offset the upcoming dinner (and wine).
We didn’t finish eating until Midnight so that was a 13 hour eating phase.
Day 3 Sun 18th June
- Fasted period: 10hrs
- Eating period: 9hrs
I knew my fasting phase wouldn’t be that long after eating until Midnight last night. I had a protein shake & banana at 10am.
I fasted Midnight – 10am (10 hours). I was then starving and ready for lunch at Midday and we had sushi – my weakness!!!!!! We have a sushi counter in our local Woolworths so every weekend Tom & I get fresh sushi (until Tom started on a strict 12 week program).
Day 4 Mon 19th June
- Fasted period: 16hrs
- Eating period: 8hrs
I fasted Sun night 7pm – 11am Mon morning (16hrs)
I broke the fast because a meeting at work would push me until Midday and make it a 17hr fast, which felt a bit much. I trained this morning so I had worked up an appetite.
I’m feeling good though. I realised that I still packed breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack for work, but I ate my breakfast late, so really I don’t need the afternoon snack. That said I did have a hot chocolate as I needed a boost at 3:30pm after coming out of a data heavy meeting and feeling quite sleepy.
Day 5 Tues 20th June
- Fasted period: 17hrs
- Eating period: 8hrs
I fasted Mon night 7pm – Midday Tues (17hrs)
Meetings can actually help keep the fast going longer, as I would have liked to eat at about 10:30am but I couldn’t eat until Midday. I drink lots of water during my fasting period in the morning, my body needs re-hydrating after training anyway.
I ate 3 meals, and had 25g of organic popcorn as an after dinner snack. I hit the calories I was aiming for, though my macro’s showed I didn’t eat enough protein. I’ll improve on that tomorrow.
The last 2 nights I have been ready for bed by 9pm, instead of my usual 10pm, so I need to watch that, I don’t want the fasting to make me lethargic in the evenings and falling asleep on the sofa.
Day 6 Wed 21st June
- Fasting period: 14hrs
- Eating period: 10hrs
I fasted Tues night 8pm to 10am Wed morning. Nothing new to report today, this is just working for me. It’s flexible, I break the fast when I’m really ready to eat and when it’s possible to eat around meetings. I’m feeling good, enjoying eating bigger portions but knowing overall in a day my calorie intake hasn’t changed much. I can see my eating period was too long here, that’s something to watch. If I know I’m going to be eating late due to training after work, I need to make sure I only start eating at approx. 11am or later.
Day 7 Thurs 22nd June
- Fasting period: 14hrs
- Eating period: 9hrs
I fasted from 8pm Wed night to 10am Friday morning.
That’s my first 7 days, and I’m 4 weeks in now. See my final thoughts below.
After 4 weeks I’m enjoying the freedom that Intermittent Fasting offers. There aren’t any rules, I can eat when I like, more importantly when I’m hungry rather than having to adhere to a food timetable and have my day revolve around food. That’s not sustainable, or fun. Lucy loves Fitness, Lucy loves Food and Lucy loves Fun! Therefore right now, Intermittent Fasting is the sweet spot. I give it a thumbs up!
Comment below what eating style you follow and let me know of your experiences of Intermittent Fasting too.
Sources: 1. http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/diet/lose-weight/how-to-fast-the-right-way-according-to-a-dietitian/news-story/830a5a7cc683d1e8163e086307076304