Call me slow on the uptake, but I've just heard about this thing called 'intermittent fasting', after getting the latest issue Red magazine which has a plan formulated by Amanda Hamilton. And I'm intrigued, because the most palatable version of it - the 16/8 method (16 hours fasting, mostly while you sleep, and 8 hours eating) - seems like the easiest way of dropping pounds I've ever come across. But as with many new weight loss crazes, it sounds too good to be true?!
In its essence, for this plan, you basically finish eating by 7pm at night, or whatever time suits your lifestyle, and then you don't have your breakfast until 11am the next morning, or whichever time leaves 16 hours between when you last ate.
What you're 'supposed' to eat in between varies considerably on who is doing the talking, but it appears a standard, healthy approach (which means vegan, in my opinion!) with three meals and a snack or two could do the trick (read Mama's Weeds account).
As anyone who has followed this blog from its beginnings knows though, I'm a diet-dumper. I'm all about eating intuitively, rather than restricting. I think deprivation is the devil, and I'm not a fan of promoting the next 'big' weight loss fad.
Currently, I do usually eat a few evening snacks that I genuinely don't need. So I am now tending to be less mindful about eating, returning to old habits of putting stuff in my mouth when there is actually no hunger for it. Therefore, I'm thinking a 16:8 intermittent fasting plan may be just the thing I need to help me be mindful again, while still eating healthily in the eight hours between 11am and 7pm.
So, I'm giving it a whirl.
My 16/8 vegan intermittent fasting experiment
I'm absolutely not one to put myself through any serious suffering, of any kind. So this just about sounds perfect, really. Having read around the internet, there are so many people doing it intermittent fasting in so many ways, that I may as well just go with my own way too. And if it works, then I've saved myself buying a book (which I would never do anymore anyhow).
I admit, I've started already. On Wednesday, in fact, because I read the article in Red magazine and it appeared so easy, I just didn't see any reason to postpone (it definitely doesn't feel like one of those “Oh my diet starts on Monday” things).
Amanda's suggestion in Red for the 16/8 method (it's one of those two-week bikini plan efforts) is to do the fasting on two days (that means ensuring two nights of having a full 16-hour break from food), and then eat what times you like the third day, then return to two days fasting, and so on for two weeks. Or I'm assuming until you've got to where you want to be.
So – I'm thinking I may try a bit harder – three days following 16/8, and one day eating when I like (if it suits me to).
What will I eat?
Well, I already eat pretty healthy food, so I have no real need to change much of what I actually eat. Maybe I just eat too much of it and when I'm not hungry, hence why I'm stuck with this 12lbs or so on my body that I don't need.
In the article I read, the rule is to rely on 'real' food – not processed. That's easy, as I do that already most of the time. Though I guess I'll be making more of my own veggie burgers, instead of buying commercial ones. I'm not a stranger to this, as you'll know if you read my recipes.
Also – I will avoid sugar and white carbs, instead opting for whole grains and slow-releasing carbs (porridge oats, not cornflakes, wholemeal bread, not white bread, and so on). And I will aim to keep a check on sweet things (expect maybe when I'm at Cake Liberation Front). I'd definitely be having an occasional nibble of yummy raw choccie when I feel like it though.
And, of course, as a vegan all my protein will be coming from plant-based sources, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds and so on – so I shall make a more concerted effort to ensure my meals are giving me what I need.
I will not be going without a couple of mugs of tea first thing, with a splash of soya milk. Though I suppose alcohol has to go out of the window, at least for the majority of the week – which isn't a bad thing, and something I want to do anyhow (having drank a bit too much for various reasons over the last few weeks!).
I do find that I tend to shift weight when I endeavour to have smoothies for breakfast (like this one), over a period of time. This is also a great way for me to get a lot of nutrients easily and quickly, in one meal. So my first meal of the day, most of the time, is going to be a power smoothie – full of goodness, and as always, packed with ground linseed, sometimes nuts, different fruits, coconut, soya milk and sometimes oats, kale or spinach.
I'll probably stick with breakfast at 11am, and supper at 6.30pm (to have finished by 7pm), with lunch in the middle of the day, when I'm hungry (to be intuitive). And if needed, a couple of snacks (piece of fruit, soya yoghurt, handful of raw nuts, carrot sticks & hummous, etc).
So far my meals have included the following:
Hummous and mashed avocado on wholemeal toast with vine tomato salad
Veggie bolognese made with carrots, courgette, mushrooms, soya mince etc, and wholemeal pasta
Porridge made with soya milk, chopped figs, walnut, banana and linseed
Cauliflower, flageolet bean and fennel soup
Watercress, apple & walnut salad with balsamic vinegar with hummous on wholemeal pitta
Many variations of smoothies!
They sound pretty tasty and healthy, wouldn't you say? Since I began this 16/8 intermittent fasting method of eating, I haven't felt hungry in the evenings, and have been happy enough with my cup of rooibos tea at night. I did have one glass of wine last night, but it was Friday! And I have felt hungry upon waking, but after a cup of tea, then getting on with work, I've been fine waiting until 11am before I have my smoothie.
So, can I shift 12lbs eating this way? Let's find out. I'm a fan of slow, sustained weight loss over any fast drops - so if a 16/8 plan can help with that, alongside my normal, more intuitive eating approach, I'll be happy.
And yes, I do already feel like I'm starting to get rid of the stodge that I seemed to gain in Dubrovnik the other week (which I shall write about soon!). Watch this space! More vegan recipes coming up soon too - and you'll know that it's the food I'm eating while giving this apprach a go.