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Intermittent fasting for weight loss

By MYLENE MENDOZA-DAYRIT, The Philippine STAR Published Dec 01, 2020 5:00 am Updated Dec 01, 2020 12:09 am

What makes intermittent fasting easy to follow is the fact that it is not a diet. There are no strict restrictions. There's no need to count calories or measure your food. You make your own schedule.

It has already been a few years since I first started intermittent fasting or IF. My son, who could never stick to a diet, swears by it as well.

It is quite noticeable that more and more are using IF to achieve their fitness and health goals. Reported benefits of IF include weight loss, improved metabolic health, and better management of diabetes.

Since I had my total abdominal hysterectomy bilateral salpingo oophorectomy (TAHBSO) in 2009 and was diagnosed with diabetes and hypothyroidism shortly after, it was difficult for me to lose weight even if I exercised regularly.

I have been following IF for almost four years now and have lost 25 pounds. That may not seem like a lot, but what is more  important is being able to maintain the weight loss.

What makes IF easy to follow is the fact that it is not a diet, there are no strict restrictions, you make your own schedule, there is no need to really count calories or measure your food.

There are so many methods or patterns to choose from. Basically speaking, it is a pattern of feasting and fasting. You determine the best times for you to eat your food and the times when you defer from taking anything. Choosing the best schedule will depend on your lifestyle and personal preferences.

It is a pattern of feasting and fasting. You determine the best times for you to eat your food and the times when you defer from taking anything. Choosing the best schedule will depend on your lifestyle and personal preferences.

Let’s look at the different options. First and most popular is the 16/8 method. This gives you eight hours to eat meals and 16 hours to fast. So for example, you can eat lunch at noon and end your last meal by 8 pm. Your fast can be from 8 p.m. to 11:59 a.m., which would be 16 hours.

I started my IF following this pattern. It was so easy because I do not really eat breakfast. Plus, I would rather not have dinner past 8 p.m. When I was doing 16/8, I just did two meals. Three or more meals can be consumed, though, as long as all are taken within the feasting window.

Note that you can consume unlimited amounts of water, black coffee, and tea (without milk or sugar) throughout the fast. It would still be best to focus on balanced meals with sufficient greens or fruits aside from lean protein and carbohydrates.

Another popular one is called the 5:2 diet or the Fast Diet, which was popularized by British journalist Michael Mosley. This is an easy plan to follow because you eat normally for five days of the week then you limit your caloric intake for two days (500 calories for women and 600 calories for men).

You can choose to be on a caloric restriction on Thursday and Sunday, for example, and eat whatever you like on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. On Thursday and Sunday, you can take two small meals or just one meal.

Eat-Stop-Eat is a method that involves a 24-hour fast once or twice per week. Fitness expert Brad Pilon popularized this fasting pattern. To make it easy to plan, all you have to do is to eat the same meal at the same time the following day.

If you take lunch on a Monday, your next meal would be lunch on a Tuesday for a 24-hour fast. If your most important meal is dinner, then you can finish dinner at 8 p.m. on a Wednesday and break your fast with an 8 p.m. dinner on Thursday.

You have to bear in mind that you have to eat normally during the eating window. You shouldn’t reduce your food intake. This 24-hour fast once or twice a week is not for beginners. It is normally a progression for those who wish to do more than a 16/8.

Another variation is the Alternate Day Fast or a 24-hour fast every other day. You alternate between eating normally one day and fasting 24 hours the following day. Since this is quite extreme, some take at least 500 calories during the fasting days. This is certainly not for beginners.

Still some people eat one large meal a day or The Warrior Diet popularized by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler. You basically fast the whole day and feast at night, or any one large meal. This is the pattern my son follows. He just has one large meal around 4 p.m. every day. Small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables are allowed during fasting windows.

Another popular IF modification is called Spontaneous Meal Skipping. If your daily activities or schedule cannot support a strict eating schedule then you can just skip meals when you do not feel hungry or when you are too busy. When you skip one or two meals on certain days of the week, you are basically doing a spontaneous intermittent fast.

(Banner photo from intermountainhealthcare.org)