How many times have you started a diet only to break open the pizza rolls for a midnight snack later that day? Cheating on your diet is not like cheating on your significant other, it won’t slash your tires and post those photos of you on Instagram. Your diet can be forgiving if you maintain some semblance of discipline. I’m going to say it now, this is all about intermittent fasting to lose fat. So, if you’ve tried it before and hated it, continue reading and hopefully I can shed some light on the matter and make it less difficult for you.
What is Intermittent Fasting and why should I try it?
Intermittent fasting restricts the timeframe that you eat. So, you’d only eat for x number of hours per day. There are several different approaches out there on what time frame “beginners” should use and more extreme versions for people who are more accustomed to it. Like the 20:4 eating approach, which I personally enjoyed for what it was but would never do again.
Intermittent fasting has some pretty extensive benefits, which include reduced risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease while increasing performance and tissue health.
We’re only going to discuss the 16:8 approach and according to a study conducted by the University of Alabama, it’s one of most optimal approaches. The 16:8 approach is where we’ll eat within an 8-hour window each day, typically earlier in the day, and fast for the remaining 16.
How to Start
When you’re starting out, set your eating schedule from 7am and finish at 3pm to see how it works for you. If this doesn’t work with your schedule, just change the hours the next day! No need to stress over whether you’re blowing your progress or not. Just make sure you’re only eating within your window.
Here are a few key points when starting intermittent fasting:
Watch your beverages — If you’re a coffee drinker, wait until it’s time to break your fast to have your cup. The sugar and milk will break your fast. Black coffee and tea, again with no milk and sugar, are ok while fasting and can even increase the effectiveness of your fast.
Determine your calorie goals and needs — There are probably thousands of calorie calculators out there. Some are better than others, but my suggestion is using the one on MyFitnessPal or the one in the helpful resources above. Remember you must be in a caloric deficit to lose fat.
Track your intake — Download MyFitnessPal on your phone. Keep a log of what you’re eating. This helps in two ways. One, it will aid you in sticking to your calorie goal. Second, it will show you what you’re eating on daily basis and hopefully help you make healthier choices.
Eat all your calories — You don’t want the end of your window to roll around and you’ve still got 1000 calories to go. Make sure you’re hitting your goal before the end of your window. If work poses a problem, just adjust your window to fit your schedule, leaving time after work to eat.
Do not eat at night — This includes drinks. Have some tea, drink some water, and get some sleep. Once your eating window is closed, do not open it until the morning.
I suggest downloading the app and planning the calories before even starting to fast so you’re not trying to figure it out on the fly.
What to eat
Once you get a feel for what your meals will look like and know your caloric surplus, eat what you want within reason. The big thing in the fitness community used to be “If it fits in your macros” and it was a hit for a long time until something shinier came along but it sort of holds true with this approach. Say you’ve had your meals for the day, you’ve got some room left in your calories and that Cherry Garcia is calling your name, have some, not all but some. This doesn’t mean break your fast with drive thru and take out. Use some common sense, we all know that anything served through a window is probably not good for us.
When considering options for foods, think about what you like to eat and if it doesn’t come in a box, eat more of that. Tracking the calories and macros specific to you and ensuring you’re in a caloric deficit is what’s important.
Here is what a typical schedule can look like:
First meal: Breakfast 10am (Eggs or oatmeal)
Snack: 11am (Fruit or nuts)
Second meal: Lunch 1pm (Usually chicken with vegetables)
Snack: 3pm (Fruit, nuts, cottage cheese etc.)
Pre-workout meal: 4:00pm (Oatmeal and a banana)
Last meal: Dinner 5:30pm (Varies but usually chicken, steak or fish with vegetables)
For my family, we do taco Tuesday and pizza Friday. This is Ok, and honestly these days for some extra calories are encouraged. Just make sure that you eat these types of foods in moderation, don’t put back 8 tacos for dinner and make sure you skip the soda.
I am a firm believer that most people won’t stick to their diets if there is no enjoyment in it, you will not stick with it. So, the point here is this: If you want to lose fat and really lose fat, not just lose water weight, then fasting is the best approach. Track your meals and calories, eat healthier and have that snack when it makes sense.
Do not start any diet or exercise plan without first consulting with your physician! Let your doctor know about any drugs or supplements you are using and what the plan consists of.
This content is meant to be informative and should not be considered medical advice.
Stoked American Fitness is not affiliated with MyFitnessPal.
Jimmy Crawford, Stoked American Fitness