Intermittent fasting, which truth be told, is less of a diet and more of a routine. It is one that I have personally tried and tested and decided to stick to, which is the reason why I am sharing this information with all of you. I will be describing some of the rules of this routine, sharing my personal routine and what the results were. Finally, I will also be sharing some interesting information on what real detox is like, backed up with not only scientific proof but even a Nobel Prize in Medicine (can’t get any more scientifically proven than that).
Intermittent fasting and wellbeing
We are constantly bombarded with images (the oldest marketing tool), to get us to feel inadequate and push us into buying products. For some, a fitness routine may, in fact, get them to a point of understanding and loving themselves, for someone else a diet may make them feel more in control of their body and therefore feel comfortable in their own skin, but neither are recipes to suit all.
This overused sales pitch seems to walk past the concept of wellbeing. Fitness, diets, and health are not the same as wellbeing. Wellbeing is the combination of the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of every individual. To me, each needs to be looked into individually, and it is only when you open yourself up to what each aspect contains, understand it, accept it and ultimately find the balance between the three, is when you truly find the inner happiness and acceptance that marketing taglines tend to speak of when selling products.
Intermittent fasting and the 8 Hour Diet/Routine
As mentioned earlier, this diet is not so much a diet as it is a routine. In order to try this routine, there are no food items, clothing items, or supplements you need to invest in. Believe it or not, I won’t even be telling you to munch on something of a total of 5 meals per day. The concept is simple, all you need to do is pick 8 hours of every day, during this gap you allow yourself to eat. You choose your 8 hour gap, you choose the number of meals you wish to intake in that given time gap and you choose your meals.
There are of course a few rules to this routine. During the 8 hour gap:
- Avoid snacks – Try sticking to meals that are enough to fill you to a point of giving you nutrition and energy and not a small snack which is simply a tease to your body which ends up craving more food after a short while.
- Portions of food – Each of us knows the portion we need to eat in order to be fully nourished and not fall into what we call a food coma. I won’t tell you in grams and calories how much a filling meal is because each of us has our own needs, but I will simply say, have a good filling meal that will give you energy and won’t overload your system.
- Amount of meals – The same as we each know the portion of a meal that is filling for us, we are all also aware of our individual feeding time, when our body usually requires food. Some people feel well with 3 meals per day, while others do just as well with one main meal. For me, 14:00 is my energy meal time, when I need a good meal to have the energy to keep going. Between 19:00 and 21:00, my body requires something small, but I can also do without it.
- Limit your alcohol intake – Aside from calories, heavy drinking usually leads to cravings and disruption of your feeding pattern the following day. I am not saying to not drink at all, but the same way as you limit your feeding time and portions, it helps to limit the alcohol intake, especially if you want to help your body balance out in the aspect of weight.
Rules to the routine, outside those 8 hours of feeding:
- Water, coffee, and tea – You can drink all three as much as you want, prior to starting your 8 hours and after the 8 hour feeding gap, just make sure not to mix those beverages with anything. No sugar, cream, juice, concentrate, nothing.
Your new routine using the 8 hour diet and intermittent fasting
I love my food. Yes, I will start this section by putting that out there and will add that I am capable of eating huge portions. And even though I am truly a foodie and there is no chance I will ever refuse myself the pleasure of eating, I always had problems eating in the morning. In fact, I feel nausea when I look at or smell food from when I wake up till around 11:00 am. I remember hearing my mother’s phrase as old as time, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, but the same as when I was a child, today I feel sick from even thinking of eating in the mornings.
However, with this routine, I have finally managed to open my ears and listen to my body rather than listening to what marketing ‘experts’ claim to sell about our bodies. This routine has helped me to finally understand the way my body functions, adjust my routine accordingly and as a result, for the first time in a long time, I no longer feel like I am in a battle with myself.
Before I share my routine, it would be wise for me to advise you all that I sleep later than most people. I also sleep approximately 2 to 3 hours after my last food intake. This is my routine:
- Waking time: between 08:00 and 10:00
8 hour feeding gap between 12:00 to 20:00 or 14:00 to 22:00
*14:00 is my main meal
** between 19:00 and 21:00 a smaller meal, but not always
- Sleeping time between 23:00 or 01:00
Benefits of the 8 hour diet and intermittent fasting
So, you are probably wondering what exactly are the benefits of this routine? I can speak from my own experience and say that I lost 2 kilos in the first 2 weeks of this routine and it also helped me overcome my late-night cravings and binge eating.
- Weight loss – Since I was 15, my height and weight haven’t changed much. My weight for the past 14 years has ranged from 58kg to 62kg. Regardless of what I ate, my weight never went below 58kg and never above 62kg. For about a year it stuck to 62kg but after just 2 weeks in the 8 hour diet, my weight went from 62kg to 60kg. Just to get some questions out of the way, this routine does not diminish fat into thin air. It allows your body to break down fat, turning it into muscle, and helps your body take a balanced shape, given that you are giving your body the nutrients it needs and not that you simply desire.
- Late-night food cravings – I also lost my late evening food cravings. This has been a little of an issue, not in terms of weight but in terms of affecting my sleep. For a few years now, I developed a habit of binge eating right before sleeping, which made the quality of sleep poor and subsequently affected my energy and concentration the following day, not to mention my mood.
- Hunger – Truth be told, I first thought this routine would have me constantly thinking about food, which in turn would get to my head and I would end up being unproductive and moody. I was pleasantly surprised when I started the routine, that it seemed to balance out my need to eat, where eating became a routine rather than a comfort dependency element. My mind seemed to have begun perceiving food not as a bad habit or a comfort element, but rather as an element of energy, which I choose when to have and how much.
A way of living with intermittent fasting
The detox everyone should be talking about
Now for the bonus section and in my opinion a huge breakthrough both for society as well as for every individual. The detox everyone should be talking about does not come in the form of tea, or coffee that tastes like mud, or even in pill form. The real detox that not only helps you lose weight but most importantly, reboots and cleanses your body on a cellular level, is fasting.
When you fast, and only intake water, tea, or coffee (with no milk or sugar), but truth be told, mainly water, your entire body, specifically your cells, go into the process called Autophagy. This process places your body, on a cellular level, into a mode in which each cell begins to break down any component which is not vital, including any damaged components, in order to process energy.
Nobel Prize for Medicine – Fasting research by Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi, Japan
Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi, a Japanese cell biologist, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his remarkable Autophagy research, in 2016 followed by the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences in 2017. These awards are just the most recent awards from numerous others that Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi received throughout his career.
I’d like to stress again the importance of basic research,” said Ohsumi as reported by the Wall Street Journal. “When I started researching, I never thought this was the research that would lead to a Nobel Prize. To be honest, that was never something that was motivating me.
Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi began his work by studying the process of baker’s yeast, concentrating on how cells recycle their content, which is known as autophagy. The word “autophagy” comes from the Greek word autophagos, meaning self-devouring. As the term suggests, it describes a vital process in which cells break down proteins and any nonessential components in order to reuse them for energy. In addition, cells use the same process to get rid of any damaged structures. This process is achieved during starvation.
Understanding the depth of this crucial cell process could give a chance to decoding cancer, immunological diseases, infectious disease, and neurodegenerative disorders. Before Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi’s research, there was little known on the process, its role on development and disease as well as which genes are involved. His research began by studying yeast, where he first identified the genes that play a role in controlling the process of autophagy. This became the ground on which it was clearly identified that any disruption or defect to the process, later was identified to be linked to diseases from Alzheimer’s to cancer.
As mentioned earlier, the process of autophagy is triggered by fasting. It is also said that this could also be the reason why fasting is linked to slow aging. Currently, activators and inhibitors are being developed, that may become available on the market in the near future.
Types of intermitent fasting
Intermittent fasting is a term used to describe various cycles of fasting. Ex-UFC champion Georges St. Pierre has spoken openly about his personal experience with intermittent fasting during his interview with Joe Rogan. He mentioned how after just 5 months of this routine, he lost fat and gained muscle, among other health benefits, and his overall wellbeing.
There are several types of cycles of intermittent fasting:
- The 8 hour diet mentioned in the beginning is also a means of intermittent fasting, normally referred to as the 16/8 method. It is considered to be the optimal cycle as it is just enough for the fat to burn and cause no muscle loss.
- The 5:2 refers to fasting for 2 days every week.
- The very common type is the 24 hour fast, which means you fast for the whole of 24 hours once a week or once every two weeks.
- A more aggressive routine is to fast on alternate days or every other day.
- A cycle you may have come across recently is the Warrior diet, which means that you stick to small portions of raw fruits and vegetables during the day and have one huge meal at night.
- The simplest fasting cycle is spontaneous meal skipping. This, as the name suggests, means that if you are someone who has a precise meal schedule, you basically skip a meal and only eat when you are really hungry.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
As mentioned earlier, fasting activates a cycle on a cellular level, creating changes in the function of cells, hormones, and genes.
Here is a list of some of the changes that occur in your body during fasting:
- Human growth hormone levels may increase to facilitate the burning of fat and muscle gain.
- Insulin levels drop which also facilitate the burning of fat.
- Cells undergo the repair process, which means that any unnecessary and waste material from cells is removed. The process of autophagy is seen to be the key to provide protection against several diseases.
- Reduction of oxidative stress (leading to aging and many chronic diseases) and inflammation in the body.
- Several changes in genes and molecules related to longevity and disease protection were also seen.
The following are benefits that researchers have listed as a result of fasting:
- Rapid weight loss.
- Reducing Insulin resistance, therefore reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
- Improved brain function.
- Trains your body to use fat as energy instead of sugar.
- Immune system boost helping fight inflammation.
The lists above are just some of the most common examples. There are many other medical and health articles online which provide you with more detailed studies. So far, from my own experience I can say that in a short amount of time I have seen weight loss (and not the drastic kind), improved sleep, improvement with my concentration, anxiety has become mild, no food cravings or late night binge eating and even my skin has gotten firmer and smoother, although in this type of weather it normally acts up quite a bit.
Apart from all that is mentioned above, I must say that the one thing I am feeling that I never felt before, is balance and complete control of the body. I no longer feel like I should feel comfortable or as though my body and I are fighting each other head-on. There is finally a sense of understanding and that we are on the same page.