Intermittent fasting – 16 hours fasting and 8 hours of eating- does is work and is it practical?
So there are lots of eating regimes where you fast for days/hours or are on a restricted diet on some days over some others. The 16: 8 protocol is a concept of only eating within 8 consecutive hours of the day and then fasting for 16 remaining hours (including your sleep). Within the 8 hours you are to maintain your balanced healthy diet.
Simply put it makes your body more sensitive to hormones, specifically to insulin, so when you do feed your body can use the macronutrients most effectively. Your body becomes more efficient in burning fat and your blood sugar levels are sustainably maintained throughout the day meaning more energy without the dips or crashes. For more details then please email me but for the purpose of this blog is to see how it works in day to day life.
So I gave it a go…
I gave this a go as I was finding I was constantly eating from 5/6 am until 9/10 pm (due to my work patterns) and not feeling that I was gaining from eating so early/ late. This protocol seemed more sustainable as it gave me something I could stick to without counting calories (hard when grabbing food on the go) and a clear cut yes eat, or no don’t eat, principle.
What I noticed:
I lost 2.6 kg in two weeks. Over 4 weeks I lost 3.1kg and 2.7% body fat.
You unintentionally eat less
You drink more (water)
You aren’t as hungry as you think
Energy is more sustained
There is some flexibility
Being organised and prepared
I chose to fast until either 9 or 10 am and then eat through to 5pm or 6pm. This normally meant I would eat pre work or after my morning PT clients and then eat my last meal prior to my evening clients. Within the first week I found my energy levels were ok in the am fast. This was a surprise to me and I was drinking 2 coffees prior to 12 noon (another rule of my own) and a lot of water.
This schedule meant I could complete a fasted morning cardio session, not for performance though, and still have energy after. The hardest thing was getting use to the hunger coming and going. The hassle of taking all my prepared food into work was a pain but got used to it.
Within the first week I found one potential draw back, it’s antisocial. In a trip to the cinema I was in my fasting time. I resisted buying anything but when offered some popcorn I couldn’t say no. For me the decision in eating and not eating is easy if I prepare the foods and choice in eating but when it revolves around socialising and being part of a social group eating / drinking I personally don’t want to exclude myself.
However the advantage of this is that you can adjust the start of the eating time the next day. Normally I would be flexible with the start time between 8am to noon but I would always keep the following 16 hour fast, resulting in a smaller eating window on that day.
The benefit I found to fasting in the morning was being more productive or getting more sleep. I found that without eating I could sleep for longer or be up and working, exercising and getting started with the day instead of being ruled by cramming food down my neck when I wasn’t hungry.
I ended up moving my breakfast foods into work and having an evening or two evenings making big meals, portioning out and freezing for the days/ weeks to come. Doing this enough allows you a little stash of healthy ready meals. Chilli, stir fries, roasted fish and veg, homemade curry etc. This can back fire when you have been away for a weekend and / or don’t have time on consecutive days to plan and prep.
I noticed the later I ate the hungrier I was in the morning so don’t eat after7 pm latest. In the second week I wasn’t eating all of my prepared meals, I simply wasn’t hungry and cutting out sugary items too.
Is that this is a great regime as it doesn’t restrict your intake and can still eat your normal balanced diet. I feel it helps you notice if you are really hungry or not. This is also a great one to do around training to aid fat burning however not performance. However I think that you have to be very organised with your food and your training. Being a morning faster I could survive off coffee and water for the first 4 hours of the day but I am not sure if everyone would be the same. Saying that, this gives the individual flexibility to eat what they like and when they like as long it’s in 8 consecutive hours. I have carried on with this regime and added in days when training for endurance running events or social events where I have a day off this fasting and still showing good results.