The diet for people who hate diets (and who don't wan't to spend 10 hours a day meal prepping)
Diets are dumb. Period. Not only do they get in the way of living your #bestlife they don't work either. In fact, 95% of people who do lose weight gain it all back (and sometimes more) within a few months or years of losing it. Which means you've just spent all that time eating paleo cardboard protein shakes only to end up right back where you started when you could have been eating things you actually enjoy.
On some level, we all know this, right? But there's something far more attractive about a quickie than a long term commitment, isn't there? ;) So we end up spending tons of $$$ on diets and exercise programs, torturing our stomachs and our bank accounts seeking a complicated solution to something that's actually pretty simple.
The bottom line is this:
The most effective diet in the world is the one you're able to stick to.
Paleo, Ketogenic, Whole30, Dukan, none of it matters, whatsoever. For two reasons.
- Science is just starting to explore this, but our bodies can actually vary quite a bit. While a high protein diet can make one person feel amazing, it can make another feel totally sluggish. It's important to pay attention to your body and feed it what makes you feel best.
- They're temporary. Even the most dedicated fitness enthusiast will eventually tire of an uber restrictive diet and when they fall, THEY FALL.
Which is why Intermittent fasting is the absolute best.
So what IS intermittent fasting?
Calling it a "diet" is misleading as intermittent fasting is all about when you eat, rather than what you eat. There are several different methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods. Most people already "fast" everyday, while they sleep. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending that for a few more hours. You can do this by postponing breakfast until 12, then finishing your last meal by 8. Expanding your fasting period to a 16 hour window and your eating period to a mere 8 hours. This is known as the 16/8 method, and is one of the most popular and easy to adapt forms.
Another popular method. is one day eating, one day fasting, rotating in perpetuity. You can eat completely normally one day, then 500 calories the next . It's not technically a full on fast but the calorie intake is low enough to reap the benefits.
Personally, I like to start my day around 5am (yes, I'm one of those rare and annoying morning people) with coffee and a tablespoon of MTC oil. It doesn't full on break the fast but keeps me satiated enough to focus on work and the gym before having a proper meal around 11. Then I eat, as needed, until 7.
The benefits of fasting
The reasons I love intermittent fasting are purely functional, and we'll get to those later, but there's actually a ton of science behind it as well so let's start there.
While fasting may sound difficult, we're actually wired to do so. The world we're living in now, where food is readily available basically all the time (obviously this is not the case everywhere, but is true for most of the developed world) is a totally new phenomenon. For thousands of years, we didn't know where or when our next meal would come from so our bodies are more equipped to handle periods of fasting than they are continuous consumption.
All sorts of things happen in the body when don't eat for a while, having to do with hormones, genes, and cellular repair processes. In a fasted state, we get significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as a drastic increase in human growth hormone (which helps with healing, muscle development, and the overall ageing process).
Fasting has been linked to everything from improved cardiovascular health, to reduced risk of Alzheimer's, and overall longevity. It's a lot to get into, but you can read more about the science of fasting here.
Why should you try it
In addition to all of the health benefits, intermittent fasting is a great way to get your body to its "happy weight" in a way that's totally sustainable. This works in a few ways.
- It breaks up bad habits but doesn't totally disrupt your life. Even if you are on an all donut diet right now, and you implement intermittent fasting into your routine, you'll probably lose weight, just by the fact you're spending less time eating, period. Because how many of us have eaten healthily all day long, only to make some really poor decisions late at night out of boredom or having had a few too many drinks? Basically everyone, ever, right?? But it's not possible when you're fasting!
- Fasting makes you more mindful of WHAT you're eating. Before IF, I'd wake up everyday and eat whatever was most convenient, whenever I felt like it. When you limit eating to a specific time frame, it forces you to think about your schedule and the options that will be available to you throughout the day to ensure you're getting the appropriate nutrients. As a vegetarian, this is especially important. Because I know that if I just wing it and end up eating a croissant on the go because its the only option available, I'm going to feel like absolute crap all day. IF forces you to make healthier choices not by eliminating anything from your diet, but by forcing you to be intentional about what you eat and crowding out the less healthy options with food that will make you feel your best!
- It's flexible, i.e. easy to stick to. One of the most difficult things about dieting can be maintaining your new routine without totally butchering your social life. Because no one likes to be that person who shows up to dinner then won't eat because nothing on the menu suits whatever diet they're currently trying. But also, your health is your health and you shouldn't feel bad for being on top of it! IF allows you a lot of flexibility, if you're invited to a dinner that falls outside of your normal eating time frame, starting your first meal later than you normally would allows you to participate socially without sabotaging your health goals. Easy as can be!
Even the most desired changes are difficult to make. But they're nearly impossible when you try to do too much at once. For me, intermittent fasting is a "gateway drug" to a healthier life. Because you find the more you eliminate the things that don't truly fuel your body, the less you crave them. And the better you feel, the healthier choices you want to make all around.
If you're looking to lose weight with IF, get ready to wait a while. Studies have shown that people can expect to see a 4-6% decrease in body weight after 12 weeks of fasting and lower incidences of gaining the weight back than other forms of dieting. So while the results won't come quickly, they're more likely to be maintained. Proving that , once again, the tortoise wins the race.