If I knew it was this easy, I would have started sooner.
I remember when my husband said he was going to start some sort of intermittent fasting, crazy-sounding business.
Fasting? Really? You have fun starving yourself.
Turns out he was onto something.
The Many Meals a Day Reality
I started seeing more and more online and in social media-- how eating constantly throughout the day was not as good for us as everyone says (it could even be a ploy from the food industry to get us to buy more--who knows).
After doing some research, there is no evidence that increasing meal frequency helps with weight loss (1). In fact, a lot of people are not satisfied eating tiny meals, so they end up over-eating to satisfy hunger and consuming more calories than they realize (2).
There is no supportive evidence that having several small meals throughout the day will help with weight loss.
For optimal weight, meal frequency should align with how many calories you allow yourself-- if you're only going to eat 2,000 calories a day, 5 to 6 meals is probably not ideal because 300-400 calories at a time will most likely not satisfy your hunger (3). Not what we're goin' for!
On the other hand, eating several small meals throughout the day works wonderfully for some who love to graze and stick to their calorie count. This is where individuality comes into play.
Big Picture: Weight Loss is Calories consumed vs. Calories burned. Do what works for you to stay in balance.
I, personally, was tired of the stress and tediousness of counting calories. It was such a chore to make so many meals to take with me for the day. Sometimes I would miss a meal. Then I would make poor decisions and over-eat what I shouldn't (like chocolate chip cookies and lattes...mmmm).
The Secret of the Fit
One day I was listening to the Chalene Show podcast, and one of my favorite Turbo trainers was on as a guest, Melissa McAllister. She was talking about how she's been intermittent fasting for a long, long time. Only now is she really sharing how she maintains her health because that wasn't the accepted "norm" back in the day. Have you seen this girl's abs? I only hope to look half as good when I'm in my 40s!
Only now that there is more acceptance, many of the fittest people are sharing their intermittent fasting lifestyle secrets.
So, I downloaded Melissa's free 8 Hour Abs guide and looked it over. I googled, read up so I knew I wasn't getting myself into anything crazy.
I also bought the book, The Fast Diet, for a more science-based + personal experience written resource. There are actually different ways to practice fasting, and the 5:2 diet was designed for 5 days of regular diet and 2 days of eating only 500 calories (4). This seemed a bit much for me when just beginning to experiment.
After much research, I thought:
Ok. I can try this-- what's it going to hurt? If I don't like, I'll move on.
** Remember to Always Talk to Your Doctor or Registered Dietician Before Beginning any Exercise Program or Making Changes to Your Diet.**
I slowly started to eat within a 10 hour window, then progressed to 9, then to 8. What did this mean? Eat all of my meals in a window of time-- the goal being 8 hours. This means "fasting" for 16 hours. I didn't eat strictly "healthy" like Melissa, but I made it into something I could handle.
What was the most shocking part about this? It was sooooooo easy!
Sure I would hear my stomach growling in the morning (with the occasional weird looks from co-workers), but I would just down my green tea, coffee, or water and be fine until my first meal around 11:30 or noon. The first few days were the hardest, but after that it became a regular routine. My body adjusted.
And 8 or more hours was me sleeping at night. That's half of the fasting time! I was not at all starving (but are we ever really "starving"?!).
The biggest adjustment was to make sure I was done eating by a certain time-- no more late night munching (let's be real, not such a bad side effect)!
What I have appreciated the most is that I feel less pooffy (bloated is the less fun term). Ladies know what I'm talking about. No more dreading putting on my jeans (even though I still love the feeling of putting on my stretchy pants :))
Did I lose weight? Yes. Did I lost fat? Yes. Do I feel good? I feel amazing!
And lemme just say, I've simplified my meal planning and I love it. I'm not worried about eating in the next 2 hours anymore while I'm super busy at work. I make less, but larger meals-- more time and savings. Bonus!
James Clear discusses how the simplicity of intermittent fasting is so appealing. It is easy to integrate into a busy schedule (5). And there are less decisions that have to be made about "what am I going to eat, when is my next meal?"
Eating within my window has changed my body, but it hasn't forced me to make a change that I can't maintain in my lifestyle (aka foodie life).
When the weekends come, I still eat pizza and tacos. I have never once felt like I am on some painful diet. I truly believe people can be happy and healthy by living a life of balance-- fitness, nutrition, and occasional pizza :)
Find Your Style
This really is a lifestyle, not a diet. Just as fitness is a lifestyle, not a short term commitment. And that is most important to me.
That is always my #1 message-- you gotta make a healthy lifestyle YOUR way so you can maintain it for life!
Whether it's counting calories, small meals throughout the day, 3 meals a day, timed fasting, etc. It's whatever works for YOU as long as it is safe and healthy. Don't be scared to reach out to your health care professional before making changes.
In my opinion diets = failure. Perfection is possible for only a select few. We need something we can easily adapt to and slowly learn how to naturally eat healthier along the way.
Try It Out For Yourself
That's why I created my own guide, the Window to Eating Tutorial. I wanted to give people an easy way to transition into this way of eating that is flexible enough for anyone, no matter their schedule or day to day activities.
Labeling it as intermittent "fasting" just didn't feel right. Fasting is associated with struggle and hunger. That's not what this is at all.
A lot of the tips are from my own personal experience. I am not an expert on all of the different kinds of intermittent fasting, but this is the way I have chosen to practice it.
Again, I am not a Registered Dietician. Talk to your doctor or RD before trying this out!
I truly believe if I can do this, anyone can!
P.S. Research shows intermittent fasting has many, many health benefits. Check out the links below.
P.P.S. If you want a list of some healthy foods to start incorporating into your meals, download my list of Healthy Foods here. Try some new ones each week, see what you like!