Ways to Create a Calorie Deficit- Part Two – Intermittent Fasting

I wrote last week about how I tend to use a Paleo based diet to help me remain within my calorie allowance for the week (whether that be calorie deficit or maintenance).  Restricting certain foods is not for everyone – another way some people control their calorie intake is Intermittent Fasting (IM Fasting).

IM Fasting in a nut shell is only eating during an 8 hour window each day (e.g. 10 am-6 pm / 12-8 pm) and fasting the rest of the time (consuming only water and perhaps black coffee).

Now this naturally restricts your calorie intake each day because it’s hard to eat THAT many calories in only 8 hours.  The plus side is you can eat relatively freely in terms of what you eat knowing that the time window will assist in preventing over eating.

Like Paleo, this is also not for everyone.

I tried it for a while and liked some things about it but ultimately struggled to stick to it- largely because I’m very active across two jobs most days of the week.  This being said I do know some people who regularly use this as a tool.

For me the Pro’s were:

  • Being able to eat all food types freely during the 8 hour window.
  • Eating larger meals (I like big plates of food!).

Ultimately the Con’s outweighed this for me though:

  • Having to teach at 7 am and then wait until mid morning to eat.
  • My eating window closing and having to teach an evening class and then not eat afterwards.
  • It takes planning – you need to have a good meal ready for when you break the fast. That’s hard in an office.
  • I found that in actual fact I was creating a massive calorie deficit on many days because I didn’t want to eat as many calories as I needed in such a short space of time.  FYI- A massive deficit is not ideal / sustainable over time and I need to be adequately fueled to do my job(s).
  • It made social occasions difficult.

As I concluded last week.  The fundamental characteristic of all fat loss methods is creating a calorie deficit.  IM Fasting is another option which will assist in eating less than you burn if used correctly, although probably only genuinely suits a small proportion of people.




Intermittent Fasting and Me

Earlier this year I tried IM Fasting.

When I first heard about it towards the end of last year it sounded like the most bonkers idea ever.

Only eat for 8 hours a day.

Like seriously- how are you supposed to do that!?

But I am strongly of the opinion that you can’t say something doesn’t work for you if you haven’t given it a go.  I also know people who do it and it works for them.

So for two months earlier this year I experimented with IM Fasting.

Quick summary in case you aren’t familiar with the concept:

  • You eat for an 8 hour window each day. That could be 10.00-18.00 / 12.00-20.00 / 8.00-16.00 or any 8 hours to suit your day.
  • Then you fast for the other 16 hours.
  • You eat normally – no other gimmicks
  • You eat the same number of calories you need to eat as per any normal healthy eating plan just in a shorter window
  • Whilst fasting you drink water and black coffee
  • Some people suggest adding coconut oil to this (some say this means it’s not fasting!)

Day 1 was hard.  I decided to do 12.00 to 20.00.  After teaching spin at 7.00 waiting another 5 hours to teach was torture.  This slowly subsided over the next few days and my body got used to functioning in hanger mode.

I experimented with my windows and found different slots worked better on different days depending on my schedule.

Evenings were tough- once I got home I wanted to eat.  On some levels IM fasting was good for this as it stopped me eating just because I was sat on the sofa.  On other levels it was a mild form of torture.

I tend to teach both first thing in the morning and also last thing in the evening with an office job in between so my days are long and moving for 16 hours a day on 8 hours of eating took its toll.

I’ll be honest – a large amount of this toll was mental.  There were days I would have felt so much happier if I’d have eaten and by sticking to my plan I actually made a bad mood worse.

PMT symptoms were timed by ten!

I’m active and my TDDE is pretty high.  I struggled on a lot of days to hit my calorie target.

If I ‘broke’ my fast I felt guilty- guilt is never great for the mindset.

I did find I could eat more carbs and fatty food with less effect on my weight.

I discovered I like coconut oil in black coffee.

I realised I won’t die if I don’t eat for half an hour (always a worry previously).

But ultimately, I realised for a happy headspace I need to eat when my body tells me it needs to eat.

So after a couple of months I decided to stop, take another look at my eating habits and find a system that worked better for me.

Upshot- IM Fasting is (in my unqualified opinion) safe and works for some people.  If it works for you that’s great and I wouldn’t dissuade people from trying it.  For me and my schedule I need the flexibility to eat when I want and find the restrictions of a feeding window negatively affect my mood.

I’d love to hear other people’s experiences with this method of eating.