My journey from five meals a day to only eight hour eating window per day.
For a person who runs away from the thought of skipping a meal and considering fasting my biggest nightmare, I was lucky to be introducedto Intermittent Fasting as Intermittent Eating… think po-tay-to po-tah-to!
Let me begin with a brief about Intermittent Fasting (IF)
There are over 3 commonly known variations to this eating schedule
- 5:2- here you eat normally for five days of the week and the fast for two days with a maximum calorie intake of 500-600 cal.
- Eat-Stop-Eat- here you fast for 24 hours (zero calorie intake), once or twice a week.
- 16/8- here your eating window is within 6 to 8 hours and you fast (zero calorie intake) for 16 to 18 hours.
For obvious reasons my choice was the 16/8 method of eating(as I like to call it instead of IF).
Coming to what is IF?
I wouldn’t call it a diet because it doesn’t tell you what to eat. I would rather refer to it as an eating pattern since it only tells you when to eat!
So, did I have to skip a meal? Not necessarily. I just had to time them better, or if it suits me, I could choose to skip a meal.
How did I move from 5 Meals per Day to an 8hr Eating Window?
- I took some time to notice my existing eating patterns, the average time difference between my dinners to the next morning’s breakfast. It seemed like I was spacing them by 14 hours already, but the issue was that of snacking after. I took it one week at a time.
The first week I made sure that I wasn’t snacking post dinner
- The next week I added an extra hour to my fasting period and came to 15/9
- The third week I glided into the 16/8 schedule
(Since I tend to have migraine attacks due to acidity from skipping or spacing meals too far apart, this gradual glide-in helped enormously)
The Mechanism of IF
The entire schedule of IF is based on Fed State and Fasted State
The Fed State begins when we start to eat and lasts upto 3-5 hours after, because that’s how long our body takes to breakdown and absorb the food. During the Fed State our insulin levels are high, making it difficult to burn fats
The Fasted State begins at the end of Fed State; it is the time when our body is resting and not processing our meals. The fat burning state begins only 8 to 12 hours after our last meal (post-absorption of all the meals).
Since we don’t easily enter the Fasted State with the habit of unconscious and/or mindless snacking, we store fats. But with IF the fats that pack Glycogen get the chance to be converted into Glucose; AKA Fat Burning State, leading to loss of fat without changing what one eats!
(Interesting fact: the human body can survive on zero calorie diet for eight days)
Working out while on IF?
When I first began this eating plan I was regularly running in the mornings. So, I went ahead with my morning routine of returning from a run by 7 am and made it to breakfast by 10am, which when clocked in for eight hours allows me have my last meal by 6:00 pm.
I wondered if I’d have enough energy for longer runs, but I was surprised that I could comfortably do it provided I had a meal after. Eat Dates (1-2 a day), Otherwise I was bound to feel dizzy and drained.
A friend who has been on IF for more than 18 months now, shared that he practices MMA; so high intensity workouts shouldn’t be an issue either.
What can we consume during the 16 hour zero calorie period?
There are three options. Water. Green Tea. Black Coffee (all of this is without any form of sweetner).
No, fresh fruit juices aren’t allowed either. They carry a certain amount of calories, putting the stomach back to work.
What about the dinner parties and events?
Stay liberal, don’t get obsessed- it’s never healthy. I spent time and created a list of priorities and enjoyed a late meal once in a while. But the very next day I was back on the schedule; no slacking there.
Benefits of IF
- A better and timely eating system, allowing my digestive system some rest
- Reduced hassle and time spent on meal preparation
- Burn body fat and build muscle, and improve body composition
- Lose weight (mostly around my abdomen region)
- Feeling light and energetic
- Reduced workout time without putting on weight or feeing lethargic
- Learned to say No!
Research based facts: IF can help reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. It also helps keep neuro degenerative diseases such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay and improve brain health.
Who shouldn’t try IF?
- Anyone who has a history of any form of eating disorder
- Those who are pregnant and breast feeding
- Anyone with a compromised immune system
- Those with thyroid, adrenal and hormonal issues
Hope my experience helps you start your own story if you’re looking at starting with IF. I personally love it because of its simple rules and the convenience it provides (no extra gadgets or supplies needed).
More love and power to all you guys. Hope all of you had a great V-Day and week!