As a health and fitness enthusiast, I've spent years testing diets and approaches to creating a healthy lifestyle while maintaining a busy calendar. After testing diets like keto, vegan (didn't last very long), and paleo, to name a few, I've finally found a diet that has provided more energy, crunched hunger, and allowed me to maintain a stable weight:
16/8 intermittent fasting. Sixteen hours of fasting followed by an eating window of eight hours per day.
While researching various diets, I came across a few studies that revealed the short and long-term benefits with minimal downside. For example, a few studies show improved insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, oxidative stress, weight loss, improved health, and prevention of disease.
Of the diets that require intermittent fasting, 16/8 seemed to be the most popular among fitness forums with athletes and weightlifters who managed a similar lifestyle.
So, I did a little research and gave it a go.
Last week marks six months of experimenting, and I feel it's a great time to share my opinion on this diet.
To begin, I set the 16/8 rules that would be most convenient for my lifestyle. My eating window lies between 12:00 pm and 8:00 pm, and I typically have two (healthy) larger meals or three smaller meals throughout, totaling 2,300 - 2,500 calories. Often, one of my meals consists of a salad with a protein of my choice (Steak, Chicken, or Tuna). After just two weeks of consistency, I was no longer hungry until my eating window began.
In the beginning, it can be tough being so hungry and craving certain foods, but after a while -- about a week or two of intermittent fasting - your body adapts.
During my fasting period, I exclusively drink water, unsweetened tea, and black coffee. Zero or extremely low-calorie beverages will not break a fast and can be employed to power through.
As an active runner and weightlifter, I didn't start this with the goal of losing weight in mind. However, in the initial month, I had lost a quick five or six pounds and saw the percentage of body fat cut down by a hefty percentage.
I felt decreased stomach bloating after meals, less hunger throughout the day or before bed, and increased energy in month two. No longer was I waking up exhausted or felt the need to nap later in the day. It then made my workouts more explosive. Over months three and four, I began to notice my strength and muscle endurance picking up - making lifting even more enjoyable than it was before.
I've felt an increased level of productivity and focus. In the past six months, I've felt a transformative amount of motivation and have been able to manage a structured diet that leads to the ability to structure and optimize other parts of your life.
There have also been improvements in my ability to sleep through the night. This also was a reason I began my research on alternative diets. Before this, I went through a rough period of three to four months (on a regular eating schedule) where I would lay in bed staring at the ceiling or wake up consistently throughout the night. This has been dramatically reduced six months into intermittent fasting and I also attribute this to fasting after 8 PM, giving my body enough time to digest before sleep.
After six months on a 16/8 intermittent fasting diet, I can confidently say that this has been one of my favorite diets with its wide range of benefits - including weight loss if desired.
Although you will be hungrier at times throughout the day, especially around a mealtime (notably when coupling intermittent fasting with an active lifestyle), your body quickly adjusts, and hunger subsides for the most part. Of course, there will be days where you are out late or simply feel like sleeping through your fast - try to use the low calorie beverages to get through it and make sure you're getting all the necessary macros and nutrients throughout your eight-hour eating window.
Keeping your body in a fasted state can be beneficial, but it's important to consult with your doctor before starting 16/8 intermittent fasting.
I wanted to write this blog because I want everyone to know that there are many ways of living healthily and staying fit while enjoying life without depriving yourself or working too hard for results.
Thanks for reading!
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