Forget diets, simply cut out your refined sugars and integrate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle…
You heard me right, forget about diets, forget about calorie counting, forget about points and only eating certain foods with a certain number of points. Forget about diet classes. The more you restrict yourself from the food and drinks you like the more likely it is to fall off the wagon! If you want to loose weight and be in shape just cut out as much refined sugar as you can and fast 2–3 times per week on non-consecutive days. It really is that simple!
My journey into intermittent fasting started in 2016, I was 36 years old and realised that eating thrice a day I had a small but apparent gut. This was despite eating healthy foods and attending the gym 3 to 4 times per week. I decided to book a health assessment at my gym (which was free to members on a quarterly basis). My measurements were taken and I was given a health score of 65 out of 100. Not bad I thought, but not great. I told my assessor (who was also a fitness instructor) that I wanted to loose the weight around my midriff. He told me to cut out all my sugar and if I’d heard of intermittent fasting. So basically, drink my tea and coffee with no added sugar or syrups, don’t eat sweets and no fizzy drinks (only the odd cordial). At almost the same time me and my wife (who is the same age as me) watched a documentary on intermittent fasting on the BBC presented by Dr. Mike Mosely who gave an in-depth insight into why fasting works so well. I also bought the book ‘The Fast Diet’ (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fast-Diet-Healthy-Revised-Updated/dp/1780722370/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=5%3A2+diet&qid=1617777162&sr=8-3). After reading it, we both thought I’d give it go and fast on Tuesdays and Thursdays; days which were mundane and predictable, also days which didn’t involve us socialising with anyone.
Within a matter of weeks our body weight started to fall. For me it was most obvious around the waist, I went from a waist size 34” to between 31” and 32”. I had to use my dad’s hole punch kit to put a new hole at the end of my leather belts. The fat around my neck disappeared too and I was able to close the top button of my work shirts for the first time in ages. My gut disappeared, and my body started to adopt the “V-shape”. My abdominal muscles became more visible through my T-shirt and I actually enjoyed wearing fitted clothing. We felt a whole lot better too. My wife told me my snoring had eased and she could get a better nights sleep (especially on the nights I wasn’t drinking alcohol). As for her, she started looking more shapely too and some of her old dresses she bought in her late 20’s/early 30’s started to fit her better. The fat around the triceps disappeared. We both felt lighter, more energetic and much more comfortable from fasting only twice a week.
We continued this fasting programme twice per week, eating the foods we enjoyed on the days we didn’t fast and drinking alcohol perhaps once or twice per week. After six months of this we both noticed that our body weight would not drop anymore. We both hit a plateau stage and if we wanted to loose any more weight we’d have to fast an extra day in the week. I tried this on a Saturday for a few weeks and I noticed that I did loose a little more weight around the waist. My waist went to a size 31” which was exactly where I wanted to be. I have been fasting 2–3 days a week ever since.
The fast days
We aim for a “hearty” breakfast; salmon on toast or avocado and poached egg on toast. Eating protein kept us fuller for longer. We skipped lunch and ate a small evening meal. The foods we ate were omelettes of two eggs each or a Caesar salad. I aimed at keeping my daily intake around 600 700 calories; 350 in the morning and 350 in the evening. I had a pint glass on my desk which I filled with water and drank throughout the day, this also helped keep the hunger pangs at bay which would typically occur in the afternoon. The one thing I did notice was that my breath started to smell unpleasant, akin to rotting flesh. This was because my body was undergoing “ketosis”; instead of burning glucose; body’s immediate source of energy it was burning fat. This was alleviated by chewing some sugar free gum (especially if I was talking to someone face to face).
The non-fast days
The one thing we needed to be aware of was not to overeat the day after the fast. Just a bowl of cereal for breakfast and a salad for lunch, but more importantly we could enjoy the foods we loved eating and looked forward to these on the weekends. Chocolate eclairs, almond croissants, chocolate chip cookies, as long as it was in moderation and balanced with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables we enjoyed it.
Intermittent fasting won’t get you ripped
I still have body fat but it is around the 10–15% which is a good healthy level. I can still pinch my belly fat sitting down but it’s far less than an inch. This is known as “subcutaneous fat”; good fat which sits below the skin. What has gone is my visceral fat; dangerous fat that surrounds organs and can lead to heart disease. I’ll never look like a professional body builder doing this; that requires eating six small meals a day of pretty much the same thing each day and no sweet treats at all for months on end (only having a single “cheat” day per week).
Making fasting part of my lifestyle
At the gym I spoke to a fitness instructor who was of muscular build. He informed me that he did the 16:8 several times a week; eat for 8 hours of the day and fast for 16. So, if I was to do this all I needed to do was swap my skipping lunch for skipping breakfast or dinner. So, this is what I’ve integrated into my lifestyle. Tuesdays and Thursdays I have breakfast and lunch and skip dinner. I ensure that 4pm is the cut-off time after which I don’t eat anything and only drink water. By doing this the fasting period is stretched to as long as possible; from 4pm to 7–8am the next day; 16 hours. I’m no movie-star, nor do I intend to be. I just wanted my clothes to fit better and be in shape and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, that’s all that really matters to me and my wife.
As my fitness instructor mentioned “the diet is the clay, the gym is the scalpel, not the other way round’. 70–80% of your body weight is defined by your diet. The other 20–30 % is defined by your exercise regime. If you do more cardio-vascular exercises you’ll be more leaner. If you do more weight-based training, you’ll me more muscular. If you combine the two you’ll be leaner and more muscular providing you eat the right amount of proteins and carbohydrates. If you’ve never hit the gym (you can’t here in the UK due to lockdown) and you want to integrate fasting into your lifestyle to loose weight just plan which days suit you during the week and be strict on yourself. I recommend the book I bought by Dr. Mike MosIey and this has worked wonders for me and my wife and it should for you too (NOTE: consult your doctor if you have any medical conditions before you do fast. It’s not recommended for pregnant women or those with diabetes but there are other variations of this).