We all have that co-worker, friend or gym buddy. The one who is constantly trying new diets/fads and reporting back to everyone on how AMAZING the results are. Well, I was in the work kitchen the other day, getting my morning Chobani when Susie from IT was boasting about her new “intermittent fasting” diet. This concept was pretty foreign to me considering I pretty much eat every four hours to avoid a hangry rage (I swear it’s low blood sugar). So I decided to look into it.
Turns out, intermittent fasting has been gaining popularity lately. It’s the concept of cycling through phases of eating and fasting, with less focus on what you eat and more on when you eat it. There are also several different types of intermittent fasting diets. Let’s explore.
Leangains aka 14/10 method
The concept is pretty easy to follow, fast for 14 hours, eat for 10 hours. During the 10 hour window, you can eat as much as you want, but only for 10 hours. Per Bob Harper, Biggest Loser trainer extraordinaire, on the Today Show Friday, May 13, the easiest way to achieve this is to stop eating after dinner, skip breakfast, have your morning coffee black and start eating again around lunchtime. I know, I know – it feels like a cardinal sin to not eat breakfast, but he insists it’s OK.
This one gets a little harder. Five days a week, you eat normally (note: normally, don’t over-indulge), but two days a week you reduce your intake to around 500 calories for the entire day. Just be mindful of tough work out days and where they fall in your eat-stop-eat cycle.
Taking the basic fast two days a week from the “5/2” method a little further. You only fast two days a week, however it is a true fast – no food, just black coffee, water and herbal tea. Two days a week. Shit. Basically, the main concept behind this is that even though you are eating whatever you want 5 days a week, you will never consume all the calories from your “bank” during your two days of fasting.
This is the 14/10 method on steroids. You fast all day and have a four hour window at the end of the day during which you eat, ideally one large meal – and for optimal results, it should be paleo. One nice perk (ok, maybe not exactly a perk) is that you can snack on small amounts of raw veggies and fruits throughout the day. Great, thanks … I’m so full.
Although fasting may not be ideal for everyone, if it aligns with your goals and health issues, why not give it a try? When starting for the first time, start with a shorter fast and work your way up. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water during your fasting period and try to continue getting your gym time in. But like anything, if it doesn’t make you feel better, don’t do it.