Updated: May 18
Why should you follow the intermittent fasting schedule?
- Firstly, intermittent fasting is not a diet. It is an eating schedule. The main reasons people follow this schedule is to either lose weight or to lose body fat whilst maintaining muscle mass and size
- There are a fair few types of intermittent fasting, but arguably, the two most popular approaches are the 16:8 fast and the 5:2 fast.
a. The 16:8 fast is EATING / CONSUMING for 8 hours in the day and then FASTING for 16 hours. Common timings are: Eating from 9am to 5pm Fasting from 5pm to 9am (next morning)
Eating from noon to 8pm Fasting from 8pm to noon (next day)
This is the most popular approach; however, you have to make sure your timings work around your working lifestyle. Meal prepping is an extremely helpful way to help stick to your timings.
b. The 5:2 fast is different as it is EATING / CONSUMING for 5 DAYS and then FASTING for 2 DAYS
How does intermittent fasting work?
- When we consume food, what we are doing, is supplying our body with energy. However, it is common for us to consume the wrong foods or the wrong amount of foods. This results in the body using what it needs for energy and then storing the rest “for a rainy day”. This is how we gain weight (fat).
- Intermittent fasting works because when we don’t eat, our bodies are required to change the way it accesses its energy source. If you are not feeding your body constantly with the easily broken-down carbohydrates (glycogen), your body has to alter its approach to find energy sources elsewhere. This is when it begins to use the sources that are already stored. Our fat sources. This leads to a change in our central nervous system and hormones.
- When we eat, our insulin levels increase. When we don’t eat, our insulin levels decrease which then encourages fat burning.
- Norepinephrine is essential for our body. It plays so many roles within our brain, but also throughout the whole body. Norepinephrine helps burn calories within the body as it is sent to our fat stores, breaking them down into fatty acids which are then burned for energy to generate body heat. = Simply put, calories being burned.
Timings and how to build your meals Goal: Weight loss
Approach: 8 hours of eating / intake and 16 hours of fasting
Two popular ways:
a. Many people like to eat between noon and 8 p.m. – This means you can fast mainly through the night, however, it requires you to skip breakfast.
b. The other option is to eat between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. OR 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. – This allows you to have a healthy breakfast at 9am, a normal lunch around midday and then an early dinner around 4:30pm before the fasting starts.
How to build a meal:
a. By focusing your meals around protein and fibre (veg + wholemeal/grain), you will feel fuller for longer, plus when the body breaks down protein, it burns calories.
b. WATER is key. Water reduces the feeling of hunger and helps with the digestion process.
2l minimum a day. Green tea and coffee are both encouraged.
c. Reduce or remove sugar from your diet e.g. Sweets and Fizzy drinks! Biggest fat gainer
Ingredients / Food sources:
a. Sources of Protein – Meat e.g. Steaks, Chicken or Turkey. Eggs, Nuts (Almonds + cashews), seeds, legumes (Broad beans, Chickpeas etc) and Fish (Cod, Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel)
b. Sources of carbohydrates – Brown Pasta, Rice (ideally brown), Quinoa, Oats, Sweet potatoes
c. Veggies – Broccoli, cucumbers, leafy greens (spinach, cabbage, lettuce), chilli, Bell peppers, Mushrooms, carrots and beets
d. Healthy fats – Cook with olive oil or coconut oil and use avocados in meals
e. Fruits – Apples, BERRIES, oranges, pineapple, melon, pears and bananas
Examples of filling meals if you’re being strict on your intake:
a. Avocado, salmon and scrambled eggs (brown bread optional)
b. Chicken or steak with sweet potato mash with veggies
c. Salmon and sweet potato mash or rice and veggies
d. Chilli con carne with turkey mince and rice
e. Mexican bean chili (with broad beans, black beans, kidney beans and pinto beans)
DO’s and DON’Ts & Tips to be successful
a. DO Eat a well-balanced diet
b. DO eat healthy portions. Snack on healthy foods throughout the consumption window
c. DO continue to exercise! Exercising will simply encourage the calorie burning
d. DO drink plenty of water throughout the day. You can drink water, green tea, tea or coffee throughout the day, even when you’re fasting. This will help manage your hunger levels
e. DO Eat HIGH PROTEIN and HIGH FIBRE meals
a. DON’T eat whatever you want. That will defeat the purpose
b. DON’T over-eat just because you’ll be fasting afterwards. You will gain weight
c. DON’T drink fizzy, high sugar drinks
d. DON’T reduce your calorie intake to less than 1,200kcal a day. You will fall ill
e. DON’T snack on unhealthy, high fat and high sugar products during your consumption window
Tips to be successful:
- Try your best to stick to your timings and keep them the same! This allows your body to adjust and alter accordingly
- Avoid alcohol intake
- Drink plenty of water and green tea when you are fasting. This will help keep you hydrated and reduce the chances of wanting to eat
- Meal prep. Prepare your meals so you are not wasting any time cooking
- Exercises is still a key component. 30 mins a day is advised for everyone. On or off the diet.
- Exercising when in the fasting window will help target fat sources
Contraindications + who shouldn’t fast / when to stop
Don’t fast if you are:
· Suffer from eating disorders
· Have low blood sugar
· Have diabetes
· Any other health related problems
· You can stop your fast at any time
· If you’re feeling unwell, weak or extremely fatigued STOP your fasting
· Intermittent fasting works differently for everyone
· Women may struggle or have less results then men due to different hormones requirements and levels. Remember, women have a naturally higher body fat % than men so don’t compare.