It feels like I had tried everything in the last 4 months to lose weight – unsuccessfully! I have become obsessed and spent my lunch times and every spare minute reading blogs and searching for my next weight loss fix!
I’ve come to the conclusion that my calorie allowance to lose weight is pretty low! i.e. not enough to get through a day, and this makes it very difficult to create a big enough calorie deficit to lose weight. I find it really infuriating when I read anything in the media or in literature suggesting the typical calorie allowance for a man is 2500Kcal and 2000Kcal for a women. WHAT? This is so misleading! You show me an average women with a BMI in the healthy range with a calorie allowance of 2000Kcal (not including those doing lots of exercise). I am 5ft 8in (172cm) and my calorie allowance is around 1500Kcal with no exercise, and shifts to 1750Kcal with moderate exercise. Of course if I wanted to lose weight I would need to create a 20% deficit, reducing those 1750Kcal to around 1400Kcal per day. So where does this 2000Kcal approximation come from? Is this for an overweight person? If so this is wrong, when talking about nutrition and diet, we should be basing the recommended daily allowance on an average healthy person, i.e. average weight and height. Anyway enough ranting…
So I have been reading about Intermittent Fasting or IF and it sounds like this method could be what I need to finally lose weight. Despite various claims about IF effects on insulin and fat loss, there isn’t anything magical about IF. It works simply by restricting your eating window, i.e. the number of hours in a day in which you eat, which ultimately reduces the calories you consume, causing weight loss. Of course if you were to consume the same number of calories as you would without IF, then of course you won’t lose weight – so you do still need to monitor what you eat. I log most of what I eat daily on MyfitnessPal, so monitoring what I eat isn’t a problem. There are various IF protocols that recommend fasting for 20 hours, 18 hours, or 16 hours etc. The one I have picked is the Leangains 16 hours fasting protocol, where you have an 8 hour eating window. For instance:
- Eat 8am to 4pm
- Eat 10am to 6pm
- Eat 12am to 8pm
You can visit the LeanGains website for more information here: http://www.leangains.com/
I have decided to try the 12am to 8pm protocol as my biggest weakness is the evening! I cannot stop snacking and thinking of food in the evening so there is no way I could stop eating at 6pm, plus I don’t get home until after 6pm, so I wouldn’t have time to eat my dinner. Whereas in the morning, I can control my eating more. Of course I love breakfast, I could easily eat cereal or pastries any time of the morning, but I feel more able to stop myself and say no. I guess I wake up more motivated, with the attitude, today is going to be a good day, I am going to be good, eat clean and lose weight today. Whereas in the evening after a long day at work, or sitting in rush hour traffic, or sat in front of the TV bored, I am more inclined to eat. So following this protocol, I will skip breakfast and eat lunch anytime after 12 noon. Of course I still need to eat healthily to lose weight, so I will eat exactly the same healthy lunch and dinner as I would eat without following IF, the only difference is I won’t eat breakfast, and more importantly, I won’t consume the calories from breakfast later in the day! This means by 8pm when I stop eating, I will have created a calorie deficit of around 200 – 300Kcal from the breakfast I skipped. i.e. if I normally eat around 1500Kcal per day, by skipping breakfast I will only have eaten 1200Kcal, causing a calorie deficit.
I successfully followed this protocol for 2 days and then ended up eating breakfast the next few days and going over my daily calorie allowance. So I didn’t lose weight, and wouldn’t really expect to, as a calorie deficit of ~300 Calories each day for only 2 days isn’t enough to lose 1 pound. You need to eat ~3500Kcal less to lose 1 Ib of fat!
However, I don’t class my initial attempt at IF as a failure, I class it as Practice! Its going to take time to get used to this way of eating, after all, we have been told our entire lives to not skip breakfast “Its the most important meal of the day” blah blah, when in fact there is no scientific evidence to say ‘skipping breakfast’ is bad for us. I can’t imagine our ancestors the Hunter-Gatherers eat from 8am until 10pm at night? they wouldn’t have food available at 8am in the morning, they would have to go out and hunt their prey, and they might not successfully find or catch anything until after lunch time…so yes I think this way of eating will take practice, it certainly doesn’t come naturally to someone like me who normally loves breakfast. According to the IF protocols online, you don’t even need to follow IF everyday, you can do it a few times a week, like the 5:2 diet. However, I want IF to become a daily occurrence for me and for that reason I will continue to practice! As I said above, I find it a lot easier to find the willpower to avoid food in the morning than I do in the evening, so you have to find what works best for you. I am currently on day 2 of my second attempt at IF – Hopefully i will make it to day 3 this time 🙂
Have you had any success on IF?