Top positive review
Excellent summary of the main IF diets
22 February 2014
I have a keen interest in nutrition and over the years have experimented with most diets out there in the quest to maintain healthy relationship with food and keep my weight in check, following an eating disorder in my early 20s. Funnily enough I have always gravitated intuitively towards intermittent fasting, well before I knew there was a term for it, as I have never been a breakfast person.
A few years ago I discovered low carb-ing, having read Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes and later on, Escape The Diet Trap by Dr John Briffa. To start with low carb-ing worked amazingly for me and allowed me to stop being obsessive about portion control as long as I steered clear from carbs. However over time, 2 years later, I started developing serious craving about carbs and will go through continuos periods of trying to be 'good' only to end up stuffing my face with the very foods I knew I should be avoiding. My weight has been in a steady healthy range for 8-9 years now, and for the first time I had difficulty controlling it, going through periods of losing and gaining the same 1 stone. I was putting on weight, the very thing I thought low carb-ing would help me avoid.
Apart from switching to low carb-ing, the other main difference to my previous way of eating was that I started forcing myself to have breakfast. I read over and over again that breakfast is necessary, that it would kick start my metabolism and keep me from becoming ravenous by midday. On the contrary, breakfast even low carb one (2x eggs, some veg and bacon or smoked salmon usually) seemed to make me hungrier. I was going through the day thinking about when my next food serving was coming. No matter how strict I was with myself, I regularly sabotaged myself with binges and treats.
Something had to change. I decided to re-visit my understanding about nutrition and the more I found out the more I realised skipping breakfast is actually what I should have never given up on. I am a natural 'thirder' as according to The IF Diet. It means I eat between 12pm and 8pm and avoid breakfast. I tend to have couple of black coffees and water during the morning and often find it no problem to delay my first meal until 2-3pm depending on how busy my day is. I am simply not hungry and it doesn't feel like I am making an effort to eat like this. I find I sleep better and am a lot more alert during the day too. Gone are the cravings, overeating and constant obsession with food. Two weeks in and I have lost 3kg, 1,5 inch off my hips and 1 inch off my waist. I do exercise, mainly short sessions of HIIT, weights or walking, but no more than 3-4 times a week- mainly for the health benefits, rather than for the weight loss. We all know by now that exercise alone is not the most efficient way of losing weight.
The IF Diet book is great for those who are wondering about the benefits from intermittent fasting. It gives options for implementing the fasts that fit with people's lifestyles and inclinations. I find this key as there is nothing worse that trying to sustain a way of eating that goes against your personality/ family and work set up/ social life. It is vital to point out that this way of eating does not mean one can eat whatever junk they like and hope they will stay healthy or lose weight. Having researched various online resources on the subject (Leangains website and The Diet of All Diets article by Anthony Mychal are both excellent), it is all about eating fresh/ real food, mostly lean protein, lots of vegetables, eggs, cottage cheese, good fats, some nuts and fruit.
For those interested in building muscle and losing body fat, carb cycling is a great method to consider and both sources provide plenty of information. I am eating carbs again on workout days and feeling great for it. The other great thing that this way of eating allows for is all of the un/expected of normal life, such as holidays, celebrations and just being a normal human being who is enjoying life. It allows for having an occasional bigger meal, treats and alcohol and not feeling like a total failure for it. It is such a flexible and adaptable way of eating that I can see myself eating like this permanently from now on. I love the fact I can have two decent sized meals instead of 3 small ones with couple of snacks. My days have been liberated from the constant thought about food and when I do have food I enjoy every bit of it.
I would say to those who have never tried intermittent fasting to give themselves time to adapt. In my view the 16:8 fast is by far the most practical for most people and you can slowly build up to it by gradually increasing the fasting periods. Your body will adapt within a week or so and you should find it much easier to fast for longer with minimal effort. It is worth mentioning that there is overwhelming scientific research demonstrating that intermittent fasting not only does not slow down metabolism, on the contrary it promotes surge in own body fat burning, and not muscle.
Overall I rate this diet book highly. It is written in an easy to understand way and provides key pointers about diet and exercise and how to combine them. Based on my experience with diets, I wouldn't call intermittent fasting a diet. It is a way of living and very flexible at that. Whether you like to restrict you intake on 2 days of the week, or alternative days, or like me- you prefer to use a shorter feeding window on a daily basis, the books provides you will all the info on how to do it and why it works and lets you make the choice.
Lastly the added health benefits related to intermittent fasting are truly staggering- even if you are not interested in this way of eating for weight loss purposes, I would still recommend this book as a quality read.