Hey Everyone, welcome to my new series where I get into the nitty gritty of some of the most interesting and biggest trending diets of the moment. Are they easy to follow? Will they result in the promised weight loss? Are they healthy? And will you keep the weight off?
The first big trending diet I was curious to delve into further is Intermittent Fasting or IF as it’s referred to most often by it’s aficionados. If you haven’t heard of it, IF is any diet where you do just as the name implies, you fast for periods of time and then resume eating again. The most popular right now is the easiest to follow, the 16/8 method, where you fast for 16 hrs. (8 of which you are asleep for) and eat during an 8 hr. Window. If this sounds difficult believe me it’s not, what it looks like for most people is this:
Eat a late breakfast around 10 or 10:30am, lunch between 1 or 2pm, and dinner at 6pm.
Doesn’t sound that bad when it’s put like that does it? The purpose of eating like this is to shorten the amount of time you are consuming food so you will naturally eat less without really trying. I have been using this method off and on and I will tell you I find it does work. I eat less on those days and am not hungry for anything beside what I’d planned to eat. I’ve always found that the earlier I eat my breakfast the more food I ate because it just seemed to make me hungrier so it just made sense for me. But if you are the type of person you gets HANGRY or unwell when they haven’t eaten in a while this might not be the diet trend to try.
And there is some science behind it. When you fast, insulin levels drop and human growth hormone increases. Your cells also initiate important cellular repair processes and change which genes they express. This all increases the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy. For this reason, short-term fasting actually increases your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, helping you burn even more calories! In other words, intermittent fasting works on both sides of the calorie equation. It boosts your metabolic rate (increases calories out) and reduces the amount of food you eat (reduces calories in).
There’s also been a lot of fascinating studies on humans and animals that show IF may help promising evidence from animal studies indicates that intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer, and there is also some evidence on human cancer patients, showing that fasting reduced various side effects of chemotherapy. Animal studies also show that intermittent fasting can improve numerous risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and inflammatory markers. And further studies suggest that intermittent fasting may be protective against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.
Intermittent fasting has also been shown to reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the body. This should have benefits against aging and development of numerous diseases. One of the most exciting applications of intermittent fasting may be its ability to extend lifespan.
The Intermittent Fasting Plan
So with all this in mind I figured what’s the harm in trying it out right? So since I’ve already done 16/8 with some success, I thought it might be interesting to try 5:2. With this method of IF you eat “normally” for 5 days and 2 days a week you “fast” or eat very little. They recommend 500 to 600 calories on your fast days but no recommendations on your non fast days. My thoughts are I’d still like to be in a 500 a day calorie deficit per day on average, so if I need say 1900 calories to maintain my current weight and muscle mass, then a 500 calorie deficit would put me at 1500 calories a day. But on 2 days a week I’ll be eating only say 600 calories, so that would give me an extra 900 x 2 days = 1750 calories per day the other 5 days a week to eat! So that would mean I could eat about 1750 calories per day on my non fasting days, which seems decadent for a weight loss plan, but that’s the whole purpose of the 5:2 method. You never feel deprived. And your body never gets the feeling you’re on a “diet” so it doesn’t do the things it normally does to compensate when you give it less food, like hanging on to body fat in case you starve.
I am SUPER excited to try this one out and see if it works. I naturally, due to my crazy work schedule, eat less food on Tuesdays and Thursdays than I do the rest of the week (especially the weekends!), so I figured this would fit into my life perfectly. The only thing is they say not to fast on days you train hard, which would be a problem for Tuesday when I teach Bootcamp class, but not so much for Thursday which is Yoga and Pilates classes. But from what I’ve read from other people who workout a lot the bigger problem is the day after a fast because your muscles have very little stored glycogen to fuel your workout, so lifting heavy or pushing yourself through very intense cardio becomes an issue. But since I’ll have the entire weekend and Monday to store glycogen I figured Tuesdays wouldn’t be an issue.
There’s also no restrictions on what you can and can’t eat, as long as it fits in your calorie range. I still plan on eating healthy at least 80% of the time on my higher calorie days. I might also tweak my weekends up a bit and my weekdays down a bit to allow for some extra indulgences (like wine or brunch) on the weekends.
So this is a sample of what my days will looks like for the next few weeks:
Mondays and Wednesdays
1400 – 1500 calories/day
Breakfast – Coffee with Collagen, honey and cream + Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Smoothie = 335 calories
Lunch – 2 Eggs and 1/4 cup cheese in large wrap with 1 cup spinach and 1 cup cooked veggies = 435 calories
Dinner – African Peanut Stew (amazing recipe from Budget Bytes!)= 475 calories
Snack – Black Bean Brownie (Chocolate Covered Katie’s delicious recipe)= 155 calories
Daily Total = 1400 calories
Tuesdays and Thursdays
600 – 650 calories/day
Breakfast – Coffee with 2 tbsp. Collagen, 1 tsp. Honey and 1 tbsp. Cream = 85 calories
Lunch – 1 egg + 3 egg white omelette with ¼ cup shredded cheese and 1 cup chopped veggies + 1 cup spinach = 225 calories
Dinner – Large Salad with veggies + 1 can tuna + 1 tbsp. Oil and vinegar dressing = 230 calories
Snack – 1 cup raspberries = 60 calories
Daily Total = 600 calories
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
1750 – 1850 calories/day
Brunch – Coffee with Collagen, honey and cream + 2 Pancakes with butter and maple syrup and 2 slices thick cut bacon – 505 calories
Snack – ½ bag SkinnyPop + 1 cup strawberries – 335 calories
Dinner – 6 oz. Striploin Steak, 1 cup Asparagus, 2 cups Caesar Salad + 1 cup roasted potatoes – 630 calories
Snack – 2 6 oz. glasses of wine and 1 pieces of dark chocolate = 350 calories
Daily Total = 1800 calories
I will report my actual food diary for the week next Monday as well as how I was feeling after the first week and let you know if I think I need to tweek things any further. I’ll also let you know if I lose any weight 🙂 Have a great week and if you’re following along, good luck!
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