There are all kinds of ways to do fasting – you can do alternate days, sunrise to sunset, one meal per day, a weekly 24-hour fast, etc.
The latest (but, by no means the newest) diet craze seems to be intermittent fasting and in particular, what is known as the 16:8 protocol.
It’s how actors get in shape quickly for their movie parts and blogs, magazines and tv shows everywhere have been picking up on it recently.
But is it just a fad?
Is it safe?
Is it all utter bollo*ks or does it really work?
Well, we checked it out for you!
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Let’s begin by repeating that fasting is nothing new.
Back in the days before we could just pop down to the local supermarket or dial a pizza or order online, our ancestors (not just cavemen, but much more recent ancestors too) would have spent long periods without eating in between much shorter periods eating as much as they could, whenever they could. That was just the nature of eating before food became an industry and was made convenient for us all.
The Romans believed it was healthier to eat just one meal a day, so they would go several hours either side of a meal without eating – which is basically a type of fasting.
Religious rituals have required fasting since religions began, right throughout history and into our modern world as we know it today. (Ramadan, as a prime and obvious example).
This stuff is far from new.
But, we’ve been conditioned to an alternative and generally-accepted mantra when it comes to eating, that being ’three square meals a day’ and the ‘importance of not skipping ‘the most important meal of the day’ – breakfast.
From what I can work out, this is something that happened as a result of the more structured 9-to-5 lifestyle we have in the modern world and the marketing power of the companies that produce your food and cereals.
In fact, our bodies are probably more suited to fasting, since there seems to be no biological reason (that I can find anywhere, at least) to even eat the classic ‘three square meals’ a day.
So the eating breakfast, lunch and dinner thing appears to be a modern cultural anomaly, rather than a biological necessity.
It’s simply a habit.
And I am sure this habit only contributes to the modern obesity and diabetes epidemic, but that’s another story.
To my mind, the fact that humans have actually been doing this since forever, makes (consciously) intermittent fasting seem like a pretty sensible and more importantly, sustainable approach to weight management.
The problem with a lot of dieting regimes is that there is too much you need to give up. And when you are forced to eat in whichever way that regimen dictates, eating becomes all-consuming (excuse the pun) and takes over your life.
When the primary topic of your life is about what you can and can’t eat, what you had for breakfast and what you are planning to have for lunch, dieting regimes can get pretty damn annoying pretty damn quickly for both those participating and for everyone around them.
And whilst food is something that can be enjoyable – and obviously, what we put into our bodies has direct ramifications on our health, so it is important – it’s the dullest damn topic of conversation ever.
I mean EVER. (Zzzzzzzzzzz)
The other thing is, the person doing the diet invariably gets bored or disillusioned with it after not too long, usually because they are not getting the results they expected and so they head off to find the next new regimen on Pinterest.
The 16:8 plan on the other hand, seems like a whole other gig. It makes sense, so I looked into it for you and here’s what I found!
What is the 16:8 protocol?
The clue is kind of in the title, but what you do is eat ‘intermittently’ for an 8-hour period every 16 hours each day.
So, basically, you choose an 8-hour window during waking hours, within which you can eat. Outside of that window, you’re not allowed to eat anything. The good news is that half of that time will probably be spent asleep (but possibly dreaming about food)!
You might decide that window is 10:00 until 18:00 each day (that’s your 8 hours, math friends), so as you can see, it is not massively different to a normal day for most people.
You are basically skipping breakfast (you are allowed to drink beverages like coffee, etc.) and getting in your final meal of the day before 6pm. Perfectly do-able for a lot of us.
Sounds simple, right?
(And here it comes.)
BUT . . .
Unfortunately, intermittent fasting is just part of the weight-loss puzzle. You can’t just spend those 8 hours wolfing down donuts, crisps and tiramasu and expect to lose weight. You need to eat sensibly and in moderation.
You should also do some EXERCISE.
Related ~ Ultimate Fat-Burning Workouts: Tabata
I know everyone is always looking for the quick fix to everything – that magic pill that enables you to get what you want without having to put in any effort.
Sorry to disappoint, people.
Reality check: life does not work that way. There is no magic bullet to replace healthy eating and regular exercise. At least not for now.
And the other thing is that there may be some negatives to consider.
You might find the transition from eating whenever they want to intermittent fasting a bit of a shock to the system, but the body will adapt quite quickly and you will find that you only have to push through a few days of stomach-rumbling.
Another thing is that you may initially feel lethargic or grumpy if you skip breakfast, but again, once you have retrained your body not to expect food first thing in the morning, you probably won’t even notice.
Be aware that intermittent fasting may affect men and women differently.
And, of course, if you are pregnant or have existing medical conditions, you should consult a doctor and get checked out before embarking and an intermitten fasting regimen.
Some doctors may advise against such a regimen, so you need to find one that actually knows about intermittent fasting and other dieting regimens. Whilst most doctors are great, it is a fact that the majority are not experts in nutrition and diet.
If your curiosity has been piqued and you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below. In the meantime, here are some of our top resources for intermittent fasting tips.