I do love a personal challenge and my intermittent fasting diet plan is my latest quest. Nothing is more challenging than changing the way to eat. It’s cliche, but it is incredibly difficult to manage what you eat throughout the day. The goal is to teach my brain how to break unhealthy eating habits. All the hard work and determination goes out the window can go out the window with one brief moment of weakness. My goal is to do the 16:8 Fasting Plan for a month.
In this post, I will talk about the pros and cons of the most popular intermittent fasting diet plans and also post updates once by challenge period has been completed.
Reasons for intermittent fasting
What I like the most about the intermittent fasting diet plan is its simplicity. This straightforward approach is why so many people like and succeed with it.
While weight loss is the most common reason for people to try intermittent fasting, I chose it because I was tired of having to make meal choices several times a day.
As a result of eating fewer meals, intermittent fasting can lead to an automatic reduction in calorie intake. I should preface this by saying you need to have a good understanding of what you eat when you eat.
There’s also some research to suggest intermittent fasting changes hormone levels to facilitate weight loss.
By lowering insulin and increasing growth hormone levels, an intermittent fasting diet plan increases the release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine.
Scientific research has been conducted to suggest that intermittent fasting regimens may be a promising approach to lose weight and improve metabolic health for people who can tolerate intervals of not eating, or eating very little, for certain hours of the day.
So there is a lot of published informations to show that intermittent fasting can be a very powerful weight loss tool.
Skipping Breakfast Myth
I have long maintained eating breakfast was overrated. Most people trying to lose weight are told the skipping breakfast myth that not eating breakfast will slow down your metabolism. A recent article on the topic of skipping breakfast from the Harvard Medical School states, “Whatever your preferred schedule, try to stretch out the time between meals, and give your body a chance to burn fat. Your metabolism will thank you.” At least I have one source on my side, and it’s a good one.
Breakfast. I always viewed breakfast as the “fun meal”. It contains plenty of sweet and savory foods you can’t wait to dive into the first thing in the morning. Pancakes, waffles (love some Eggos), French toast, cereal, toast with jelly, bagels, biscuits, muffins, donuts, pastries… pass the butter, please. Yes, breakfast also had the good meats, too, like bacon and sausage. Let’s not forget the orange juice.
As we got more “knowledgeable” about nutrition, breakfast has evolved to shakes, fruit smoothies, fresh fruit, and yogurts. While perhaps slightly better for you depending on who you asked, breakfast was and still is loaded with sugars and more importantly, carbohydrates.
Unhealthy food for lunch
Lunch. The word lunch is derived from a word in another language that means bread and grease, it has to be. Most lunch choices consist of bread, either by the slice or loaf (think subs), and saturated fat. Sandwiches, burgers, and submarines (or subs, hoagies) consists of a lot of bread and a lot of bad meat stuffed inside, served alongside generous portions of fries or potato chips.
It’s always a fun exercise to mentally deconstruct a hoagie. What you end up with is a small or large loaf of bread, a handful of processed lunchmeat, a sprinkling of lettuce, maybe a few slices of tomato, cheese perhaps, throw in some mayo, let’s add some salt to go with the already overly processed meat selection, and even a slice or two of cheese. Wow. If you laid all those ingredients on a countertop I’m not sure I would think to put them all together and call it a meal. But hey, it does taste good!
The same can be said for most lunch items, in that they are served on bread (lots of it), and includes a fatty or processed meat choice.
I’m not going to breakdown each lunchtime menu item, but you get the idea. Salads are a great lunchtime choice, but they are normally difficult to find during a small lunchtime window, and they don’t travel so well if you wish to bring one from home.
Overeating at dinner
Dinner. So you’ve made it through the day. Time to relax, have a drink (or two) and indulge in a great dinner. Whether you choose to do eat dinner at home or go out, this is the feast of feasts. Large portions of meat, plus name your carb, and finished off with an amazing dessert. With cortisol levels soaring from the stresses of a workday, your appetite increases and can cause you to overeat. High cortisol levels from stress can also increase food cravings for sugary or fatty foods. More good news, stress is also associated with increased hunger hormones, which may also contribute to cravings for unhealthy foods.
Reinventing the way I view food
After a lifetime of struggling with the mentality of when and what I should be eating, I finally came to grips with an eating regimen that suited my lifestyle, intermittent fasting. From my earliest memories, we have been taught to eat three meals a day with cute names; breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
As part of my personal challenge, I am reinventing the way I view food. Gone are the blinders of meal specific foods. The focus will be making sense of the macros. When most people hear you talking about macros they think one of two things; you’re either a dietitian or a obsessesd fitness freak. Ignore the noise and formulate your plan.
Food can easily be broken down into 3 categories; protein, fat and carbohydrates. It you want to learn more about food macros, here is very good article on the topic
There are several free macro calculator apps available to make managing your daily diet macros a snap. My favorite fitness app is called MyFitnessPal. It’s free and awesome. MyFitnessPal has a built in scanner feature to scan UPC labels and makes entering you food choices very easy.
Here are the questions you will need to answer to determine your daily caloric needs:
- What is age, gender, height, and weight
- State your current level of activity – sedentary, active, very active
After you have completed the previous step, you will understand the approximate number of calories you burn in a day. From here you can adjust your daily calories to suit your needs, whether to gain, lose, or maintain your current weight levels.
Different types of Intermittent Fasting
The 16:8 Method
|Mid – 12 p|
|12 -8 pm||Eating window||Eating window||Eating window||Eating window||Eating window||Eating window||Eating window|
|8 pm – 12a|
There are several different types of Intermittent Fasting. Your individual threshold for hunger will differ. There are many variables that go into selecting the best Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan for each individual. For example, if you have a strenuous job there are certain plans they may work better for you than someone else that has different energy needs. For that reason, this is not one plan that’s perfect for everyone looking to try Intermittent Fasting.
The first plan I will discuss is the 16:8 Method. It is one of the more popular Intermittent Fasting diet plans and the one I currently use. The diet plan is a seven days a week method. I like the 16:8 fasting method because it fits well with my lifestyle. With this plan, all your food consumption is done within an 8-hour window. After you determine your daily caloric intake (mine is 2000 calories), all these calories are consumed during this feeding window.
I modified the hours slightly with my Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan to do a 19:5 Method. I consume my calories between 4 pm – 9 pm. Also, I only fast Monday through Friday. It is impossible for me to do it on the weekends. My total calories are the same on the weekend as they are during the week, I just spread them out over the course of the day.
From my experience, searching for good meal prep ideas is extremely helpful. Most days my hunger is manageable when approaching my feeding window. Then there are those other days… whoa! Again, meal prep ideas will allow you to cook in advance and have healthy food choices available when you are ready to eat. Also, having low carb snacks available is very handy.
While you may think being able to eat 2000 calories in 8 hours will allow you to eat like a king, you’d be surprised how quickly you can exceed your daily calorie allowance once the hunger sets in.
During the day I find water and black coffee helps to keep my appetite under control. However, once I stop drinking coffee in the late afternoon, my appetite quickly returns.
The 5:2 Plan
|Day 1||Day 2||Say 3||Day 4||Day 5||Day 6||Day 7|
|Eat Normally||Eat 500-600 Calories||Eat Normally||Eat Normally||Eat 500-600 Calories||Eat Normally||Eat Normally|
The 5:2 Plan is currently the most popular Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan. With this plan, you eating normally for 5 days a week, along with 2 days of restricted eating. Many people enjoy this diet plan since you eat normally for most of the week. The two restricted eating days do allow you 500-600 calories for the day, which is approximately a 6 ounce grilled chicken breast and a cup of white rice.
I personally find this type of difficult to adapt to. With only 2 days of restricted eating, it is hard for me to develop a fasting habit. It seems more like two days of torture. The 16:8 method diet plan is every day and once you get into the swing of things, it quickly becomes habit-forming.
Eat Stop Eat Fasting Diet Plan
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4||Day 5||Day 6||Day 7|
|Eat Normally||24 hour fast||Eat Normally||Eat Normally||24 hour fast||Eat Normally||Eat Normally|
Next up is the Eat Stop East Fasting Diet Plan. This is plan is much like the previous plan discussed, the 5:2 Fasting Plan, with one small ( or large, depending on your view) difference. Both fasting plans allow you to eat normally 5 days a week. However, where you have restricted eating on the fasting days with the 5:2 plan, it’s a total 24-hour fasting on those days with the Eat Stop Eat fasting plan.
The idea with Eat Stop East Fasting Diet Plan is when you cut the eating window down, you are creating a fasting period where your body will have to use its own stored glycogen from carbohydrates and fat as fuel. As your glucose and glycogen stores become depleted, your body switches over to burn fat for fuel, also known as a ketogenic state.
The process of your body burning fat as fuel instead of carbs is called ketosis, which is the main characteristic of the keto diet.
The potential downside of this plan is the level of difficulty of a 24-hour fast may be to much of a hurdle to achieve. In addition, the days following a full day fasting (with overeating highly likely) can be counterproductive to the overall goal.
The Alternate Day Fasting Diet Plan
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4||Day 5||Day 6||Day 7|
|Eat Normally||24 hour fast or 500-600 calories||Eat Normally||24 hour fast or 500-600 calories||Eat Normally||24 hour fast or 500-600 calories||Eat Normally|
If you thought the East Stop East Fasting Diet Plan was difficult, you’re definitely in for a treat with the Alternate Day Fasting Plan.
There are a few different versions of this fasting method, with some of them allowing some calories (500 – 600 calories) during the fasting days.
Full day fasting is quite extreme, especially every other day, so it’s not recommended this intermittent fasting diet plan be the first one you attempt if just starting out.
With this method, be prepared to endure a lot of hunger. Depending on your threshold for hunger, this plan can be very unpleasant until you get used to it or change plans altogether.
The Warrior Diet
|0000- 4pm||Small amounts of fruits and veggies||Small amounts of fruits and veggies||Small amounts of fruits and veggies||Small amounts of fruits and veggies||Small amounts of fruits and veggies||Small amounts of fruits and veggies||Small amounts of fruits and veggies|
|4 – 8 pm||Large Meal||Large Meal||Large Meal||Large Meal||Large Meal||Large Meal||Large Meal|
|8 pm – 12a||Fast||Fast||Fast||Fast||Fast||Fast||Fast|
The Warrior Diet weight-loss plan doesn’t require fasting entirely. You eat very little for 20 hours a day and then consume as much food as you’d like during a four-hour evening window with no calorie targets or limits.
Again, you basically are allowed to eat a little bit all day and then have a big meal in the evening. The Warrior Diet weight loss plan is one of the first fasting plans to become very popular.
The first thing to understand about fasting is that it should not be thought of as a short-term process. Intermittent fasting should not be considered a diet, rather as an eating pattern that must be committed to the long term in order to see potential benefits.
If you’re like most people, you would prefer to limit the hours of eating rather than severely limit calories.
All diets will work if followed, but the issue is that most are unsustainable. The best feature of an intermittent fasting diet plan is that it offers a pattern of eating which can be modified to meet your lifestyle, without the need for extensive food prep.
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