(Easy Strategies for Long-term Success — Even a Little Cheating)
One of the hottest health trends is time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting.
[Related Article: Why I Stopped Taking Cold Showers]
Whatever diet one chooses — the ketogenic, vegan, Mediterranean diet, or even no diet, intermittent fasting works extremely well.
Because intermittent fasting is more of a strategy than a diet.
Intermittent fasting is the single most easily repeatable method of weight management.
Don’t believe me?
(IF you get anything out of this article, focus on the tips and tricks at the bottom of the article.)
Even though there is nothing new about the concept of fasting, there is so much to love about it.
Intermittent fasting is the biohacker “diet” of choice because it does not involve changing what or how much we eat.
It is the “cheater’s diet.”
And let’s consider the glass as half-full and reframe this topic.
Why not think about this as intermittent feasting?
Won’t this get you excited to eat, unlike ever before?
It sure does for me.
So we can call this a lifestyle more than anything else.
What’s not to love about a non-diet, which is still as effective as an actual diet?
And when one gets into the habit of intermittent fasting, they notice this is the easiest diet ever, because it is not actually a diet.
Most diets fail because of their lack of sustainability, whereas intermittent fasting is a strategy that we can depend on for life.
A simple way to think of intermittent fasting is merely moving your first and last meal closer together.
What can we eat and drink while fasting?
We can have coffee, water, tea (no cream or sweeteners), and most medications during the fasting window.
This is the strict absolutist approach, and I’ll explain in the tips at the bottom why 100% adherence is not required for results.
From a strict interpretation, many will say caloric intake inside the fasting window should be under 50 calories.
Others will argue whether you can or can’t have your supplements in the fasting window.
My best suggestion is to avoid digging in the weeds and minutia with the all-or-nothing approach, which typically dooms sustainability with long-term dieting.
As I explain in the tips section at the bottom, focusing long-term allows for success to arrive and more importantly to stay.
That said, I cheat plenty, and this still works better than anything else.
I’ll explain this later in this article.
What can we eat and drink during our eating window?
This part is the best news.
And the answer is we can eat and drink whatever we like.
How cool is that?
That’s easy enough, right?
You got this; do you not?
The primary reasons for this lifestyle to be trending — weight loss, metabolic health, and increasing longevity.
My 9 Favorite Reasons for Loving the Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle:
1) Appetite Suppression
Interestingly enough, I’ve gone from someone who was perpetually hungry, to only experiencing hunger at 2 pm, when it’s time to begin “intermittent feasting.”
And naturally, research supports this adaptive response in our bodies.
2) Natural Energy
There is little doubt this is an effective method of tapping into our natural energy source.
Multiple studies show intermittent fasting to be an effective mood-enhancing strategy for boosting endorphins.
Studies show fasting improves the function of MAO-A and COMT, the enzymes regulating our “feel good” dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and serotonin neurotransmitters, thus improving our mood.
Subjectively, our focus seems much greater when the body is not in “rest-and-digest” mode, having to break down food.
While animal studies have proven the benefits of intermittent fasting on the brain, human studies are now beginning to evaluate this relationship.
Most studies have looked at the sustainability of weight loss with this strategy.
From my view easily maintaining a daily practice, as an ongoing lifestyle with any diet, travel, or another variable is most important.
6)Appreciation for “Feasting” Time
When it is 2 pm and it’s time for my first meal of the day, it sure is exciting, which feels really good.
I’m unaware of any studies supporting the increasing appreciation for food, but certainly, some researcher somewhere is considering this priming effect.
7)Effective with Cheating
It still works with a reasonable amount of cheating. In the morning, I have my coffee with coconut milk and my supplements, along with a protein shake.
This is more than the 50 calorie allowance, and it still works.
8)Works with Travel
While I might eat lunch earlier or dinner later when I’m out of town, it remains easy to skip breakfast no matter where you are.
And as long as I don’t eat over 2 meals outside of my eating window per week, flexibility exists while allowing it to continue working.
9)Consistency and Accomplishment
Nothing is worse than Yo-Yo dieting.
Many struggle with weight loss, as these negative feedback loops from failing, is presumably self-sabotaging.
The purpose of this article is to give you strategies to make intermittent fasting easy, effective, and enjoyable.
Let’s First Look at the Fasting Methods:
1) 16/8 Diet
By far the most common method, wherein one will eat in an 8-hour window and fast during a daily 16-hour window.
Because of consistency, this one best suits the average person. A full 16 hours fast is not needed for success. Even a 12 or 14-hour fast can be helpful, at least in the beginning, just to get going.
2) The Warrior Diet
This strategy has evolved into a 20/4 hour variation of the 16/8 hour. My strategy is somewhere in between this one and #1, which I call an 18/6.
Studies show benefits increase for each additional fasting hour to a maximum of 18 hours of fasting.
3) 5/2 Diet
This is another popular option, involving restricting caloric intake two days a week.
4) Eat Stop Eat
This involves fasting in a 24-hour window 1 to 2 days per week.
5) Alternate Day Fasting
Just as the name implies, this involves eating one day on and off.
6) Spontaneous Meal Skipping
This involves randomly skipping meals.
Tips and Tricks for Longterm Success
1. Ditch the All or Nothing Approach
Most advocates preach absolutism with food and dieting. I encourage you to ignore this. Diets don’t work because they are unsustainable for the average person.
As we are creatures who resist extreme change and instead adapt to it over time, the gradual approach is better. I can go without eating for 24 hours now with minor challenges — but this did not happen immediately.
I was always the opposite in this sense. My body and mind adapted, and your will. Resist immediate gratification thinking.
2. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Remember the kid’s story of the rabbit versus the turtle? Nothing can be more applicable here than this one.
Start with an easily repeatable goal and cheat a little if need be. Don’t start out with a 16-hour fasting window if you cannot accomplish it. Start with a 12 or even 10-hour fasting window, increasing it gradually.
Allow your body to adapt, knowing this works over time, as you rehearse and repeat success, as it becomes your pattern and routine. If you are looking for the quick fix and fast results with dieting, you might set yourself up for failure.
3. Cheaters Welcomed
No one will tell you this, but cheating can be a good thing. According to Dr. Rhonda Patrick, you can cheat two days a week, in having meals outside of your fasting window, with intermittent fasting, while it still works.
This is huge. Remember, the perfect diet executed at 100% lasting on average 5 weeks, 2 days, and 43 minutes, does not equate to success. Invariably, a diet followed at 80–90% sustained for life, will win the race.
So if you need to cheat, now and then, within the “cheating guidelines”, I’m giving you permission.
4. Use Appetite Suppressants
While your body adjusts, appetite suppressants can be an enormous part of your overall winning strategy.
#1) 4 Servings of Caffeine Throughout the Day
#2) Dietary Fiber or Fiber Supplements
#5) 5-HTP (Please use this one with caution and only if needed)
5. Remember to Feast
If you do not eat enough during your eating window, you will be hungry later. Don’t skip the best part of this lifestyle. I’ve made this mistake several times. Even if you are not hungry, eat something, because you will be hungry later.
Make sure you get plenty of dietary fiber during meals or at least fiber supplements. If you are following a ketogenic diet, there are plenty of keto-friendly fiber options such as avocados, cacao, cocoa, berries, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
6. Encourage Others
Encourage others around you to adopt the intermittent fasting lifestyle. As those in your circle are getting healthier, it makes it all the much easier to remain on this plan.
In the past year, one of my closest friends adopted intermittent fasting, and it has been truly a pleasure watching him lose 10 pounds and report the benefits.
We did a trip together recently, and as we both intermittently fasted, we also cheated together too. This is super cool and makes being healthy amongst friends and family fun.
Yes, you will probably annoy some people around you by sharing health and wellness as I do, but as well you will change a few lives. And what is the value of that?
So share your wellness with those you care about — for you and for them.
*Much like cold therapy, and other trending health strategies, intermittent fasting is not suitable for everyone. One should always consult their doctor or medical professional because of potentially conflicting health conditions.
[Related Article: Why I Stopped Taking Cold Showers]
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