Is intermittent fasting any good?
Posted on 10th February 2022 at 15:46
When it comes to different diets there can often be a sense of illusion or magic that surrounds them. A sense that this diet is very different to other diets and will work better than any other approach you have tried before.
Now to burst your bubble all successful diets have one thing in common and one reason why they work. They put you in a calorie deficit.
Now having said that another important reason why a diet will work for someone is because they can sustain it and it fits their lifestyle and that’s why not every approach works for everyone.
Today I am going to delve into intermittent fasting and when I say this, I mean the 16-8 approach where you fast for sixteen hours and have an eight-hour eating window.
That is in essence the basis of the diet, that you can only eat within an eight-hour window which is generally a much shorter window than what most people would eat in.
The normal split of this eating window is 11am-7pm or 12pm-8pm but you could also do 10am-6pm or 9am-5pm or whatever works best for you.
Now the positives of this diet are that it’s a very simple diet to follow. Just keep your food in this window and this will most likely mean that you will cut out a meal. With 12pm-8pm you miss breakfast, maybe have a mid-afternoon snack and then an evening meal.
The other reason why this diet can work well is for those people who are so busy in the morning and don’t have time to make a good breakfast or they just don’t feel hungry at this time.
Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day despite what Mr Kellogg’s or your mum would have you think.
As you reduce your eating window and most likely reduce your meal frequency you are more likely to reduce your calorie intake, and this is why this diet works well for so many people as they achieve a calorie deficit.
Below shows potentially how intermittent fasting can work well.
Normal eating pattern (total calorie intake 2400 calories)
Meal 1 – 500 calories
Meal 2 – 750 calories
Meal 3 – 850 calories
Snacks and drinks – 300 calories
Intermittent fasting eating pattern (total calorie intake 1900 calories)
Meal 1 – 750 calories
Meal 2 – 850 calories
Snacks and drinks – 300 calories
But, yes there is a big but, and that’s if you don’t have much insight into the calorie content of foods you could still very easily overeat in eight-hours.
Just because you’re fasting doesn’t mean that calories have changed, the basics still apply, and you can still put away a lot of calories over two meals.
In my opinion intermittent fasting works much better for people who have at some stage tracked their calories. This will mean they have good experience in how to construct a balanced calorie meal, and not fall into the trap that because they are fasting they can eat whatever the hell they want.
It’s important to understand that although it’s harder to eat more calories in an eight-hour window compared to a twelve-hour one it’s not impossible and you still need to be conscious of your food choices. Just like during any successful diet.
Now having said the above I am still a fan of intermittent fasting and there are a few other times when it can be used well.
With most of my clients we will look at tracking calories for a period but on days they can’t track or don’t want to we will utilise intermittent fasting. Things like going out for meals out or on holiday are a few examples that work well. Those moments when they want to keep on track but don’t want to track calories. Intermittent fasting keeps their calories in check while they enjoy themselves but like always they are aware of their food choices and don't relax completley just becasue they are fasting.
So, there you have it, the pros and cons of intermittent fasting. A dieting approach that can work really well but also might not work for some people.
Just remember that a successful diet will only be one that puts you in a calorie deficit consistently and is a diet that you can sustain and fits your lifestyle.
There is no other magic just hard work and consistency.
Tagged as: Nutrition
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