Yesterday, I promised to review a few of the many ways to intermittent fast (IF). I am a man of my word, so let’s get to it.
As I mentioned yesterday, we all fast from our last meal of the day (one should not eat after 8pm) until the first meal of the next day, breakfast, so let’s just say most of us probably fast daily somewhere around twelve hours. If we can agree on that, the first IF protocol should present no problem for most people.
- 8/16: Eat in an eight hour window, fast for sixteen hours
This requires the intermittent faster to only extend the fasting period four hours. You basically skip breakfast (don’t worry, you will not die) or you skip the evening meal. Though it seems simple, it is not. The average American burns sugar as the primary fuel source. Sugar is 8X’s more addicting than cocaine! Our brains feed on the object of our addiction: sugar. Most people have difficulty with this lifestyle change from anywhere between two weeks to six weeks. It depends on the level of addiction to sugar of the neophyte faster. Once the initiate kicks the sugar habit and the body switches to fat burning, the faster experiences freedom from hunger and cravings and life becomes so much more pleasant. No one believes this. I would not have believed it, either, when sugar ruled my life. This must be experienced to be believed. Sugar addiction contributes to many diseases that cut our lives short, not to mention cause us a lot of pain, dis-ease. I will discuss the studies on calorie restriction (CR) and IF in regards to longevity and decrease in disease in other posts. Let’s move on, for now.
- The 5:2 IF Diet
Now we are getting a little tougher; however, the probationary period of pain and suffering lasts about the same as in the 8/16 regimen, above. Good news for those of us considering this lifestyle. Made famous by Michael Mosley in the BBC documentary “Eat, Fast, and Live Longer,” this program requires the faster to eat a normal diet (according to Mosley anything goes, even the Standard American Diet-SAD) for five days, and fast during the remaining two twenty-four hour periods during the week. The plan allows the faster on “fasting” days to eat 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men. Here’s the problem: the number one complaint of people on this plan is hunger, according to Michael Mosley. See critique below for explanation.
- Alternate Day Fasting
Fast one day, eat the next. Simple, eh? The good news: again, on fasting days women get 500 calories and men get 600 calories (sorry gals, it seems unfair). Made famous by Dr. Krista Varady’s book The Every-Other-Day Diet: The Diet That Lets You Eat All You Want (Half the Time) and Keep the Weight Off, this diet takes, again, the same amount of time to get used to. However, Michael Mosley tried this diet in his documentary and in another interview admitted that it proved too difficult. I spent one month on this diet, without the caloric intake on the fasting day, and I lost a ton of weight, but I scaled back after the month, due to too much weight loss. Such a problem, right? There is one problem with this diet, see critique below.
- The Peterson Protocol for Intermittent Fasting (PPIF)
Here is the lifestyle my wife and I have taken up. It combines the first two plans. For four or five days, the adherent eats pretty much whatever he or she wants in an eight-hour window, eating nothing after 8:00 pm in the evening. On the other two or three days, the faster abstains from any food until the beginning of the eight-hour window on the following day. During fasting, the protocol only allows the consumption of water (filtered, distilled, or mineral), organic black or green tea, and organic coffee. So the plan looks something like this:
Monday: eat from 11am to 7pm
Wednesday: eat from 11am to 7pm
Friday: eat from 11am to 7pm
Saturday: eat from 11am to 7pm
Sunday: eat from 11am to 7pm
The fasting periods alternate between 16 and 40 hours. When I discuss what happens to the body during a fast in future posts, you will understand why this is important.
We have been, for approximately four months, also fasting on Sunday. I have reached a low enough weight 64kg. from 95kg. that I will be following the above schedule very soon. If my weight continues to drop (I do not have that much more weight to lose), I will reduce the fasting to one day per week.
We allow for a high level of flexibility. Notice that we eat on Friday and Saturday, typically days for socializing. If a friend wants to have a beer and a meal at 9pm on Friday, I accept (especially if he is paying). If a friend or family member has a birthday on Thursday, we move our fasting day to a more convenient day. Who wants to skip birthday cake‽ If Jacie and I are late with our evening meal, as often happens with a busy life, we do not beat ourselves up for extending the eating window to nine or ten hours.
Hunger and cravings disappear, but every once in a while we see or think about a food that most would consider bad for the health. We do not restrict ourselves; we indulge. The inconceivable thing about this: the foods never taste like we remembered. On this fasting lifestyle, tastes change. When addicted to sugar and a consummate sugar burner, I would never have believed this. When the hunger and cravings vanish, this protocol becomes easier than eating the normal SAD.
There are literally way too many benefits about this lifestyle to enumerate in this post. That is why I started this blog: to show you the benefits of the Peterson Protocol for Intermittent Fasting.
At anytime, you can join us in this amazing lifestyle. Try the 60-day PPIF Challenge. I am working on an ebook for guidance and Jacie and I can help to coach you through the tough times at the beginning. We can help you ease into this lifestyle and avoid some of the mistakes that we made. There is also an exercise component that we can share with you. If you join us, our secrets become your secrets. Are you tempted?
Critique: it only takes 80 calories to break a fast, so the 5:2 plan and Alternate Day Fasting, by allowing caloric intake above 80 calories during the “fasting” periods, become calorie restriction (CR) diets or fasting imitation diets, not true fasting. Every expert that studies CR agrees that the difficulty level of this diet causes the vast majority of dieters to discontinue the course. If you cannot stick with it, you will ultimately fail. Hunger, and sugar addiction, if one continues the SAD while on these diets, will cause a high failure rate. Fasting, true fasting, becomes a lifestyle; these fast imitating plans are diets. Do we lose weight on diets? Yes, we do. Do we put that weight back on when we quit said diets? Yes, we do. The adherents to these diets have not tried true IF, and have never experienced the freedom from hunger and cravings that accompany it. The choice is yours.
Until next time, stay fast and fit.
Photo credit: pixabay.com