I have a client whose partner is into intermittent fasting – and now she is, too. She described their method as fairly simple – on the fasting days, they eat a max 500 calories (!), and on the non-fasting days, they basically eat whatever they want. The cycle is 1-2 fasting days per “regular” day, and the payoff is supposed to be 2-2.5 pounds lost per week.
That said, I listen to a podcast by a trainer I trust and she is a proponent of the eight-hour diet, which is the concept that you confine all of your daily eating into an eight-hour period – for example, 11am-7pm – and then fast the rest of the day/night (approximately 16 hours, some waking, some asleep). Apparently this, too, is intermittent fasting.
But wait! There are a boatload of other ways to fast – the warrior diet (one large meal per day ONLY), 24 and 36-hour cyclical fasting, and even carb-cycling – technically a “fast” from carbohydrate intake on certain days of the week. All of these fasts have one thing in common: they all rely on a restructuring of your mealtimes to maximize fast loss and minimize hunger. But do they work?
Well, readers, I truly don’t know – the client I mentioned who fasts has noticed some progress in weight loss, but alongside some undesirable “side effects” like fatigue on fasting days, uncontrollable binges on eating days, and frustration over not being able to eat at certain events because they don’t fall properly on her eating days.
That said, fellow trainer and model of physical perfection Melissa McAllister swears by the eight-hour diet and credits her rock-hard abs solely to her method of meal timing – she still eats carbs and sugars (albeit in moderate quantities) and is able to maintain a low-teens body fat percentage – no small feat at age 40 with two teenage kids!
So what simple steps should you take away from the complicated concept of intermittent fasting?
Well, first of all, I recommend to all my clients that they stop eating by 7pm to make sure that they sleep soundly and aren’t stockpiling calories that aren’t burned during rest. I also think that reducing carbohydrate intake in general is a great way to kick-start weight loss, and if alternating days of carbs is the only way to keep you honest, well, then give it a try. And finally, per my post about reverse pyramid eating, there is definitely some credence to the idea of starting your day with a big meal and tapering off toward the end of the day – which can be seen as a kind of gradual one-day fasting.
I’m thinking of giving the eight-hour thing a try this week (although with my wakeup call – usually around 5am – I may need to adjust this to nine hours) – and I will make sure to report back in full how I feel!
Have you ever tried intermittent fasting of any kind? Are you a three-square-meals person or do you like to graze?