Let me preface this by saying I’m a big fan of intermittent fasting (IF).
From the time I was fully introduced to the concept a couple of years ago I’ve been using pretty much consistently since then and will probably never go back.
However, having said that I don’t think it’s a cure-all, magic bullet or necessarily the most effective dietary method for everyone BUT I do think everyone should give it a go as 16:8 intermittent fasting provides you with 2 major advantages when it comes to weight loss and sticking to your diet.
On top of this intermittent fasting has been shown to have several health benefits;
The method of fasting I use and that this article will cover is the 16:8 fast which is characterised by 16 hours of fasting, generally from the time you finish your last meal until 1 or 2 pm the next day, followed by an 8-hour period in which you eat your calories for the day.
There are other methods of fasting but I don’t use them for several reasons, chief of which is the fact they are not as lifestyle friendly.
Quick note: as with all other diet setups it will only work if hit your calorie and macro goal. Just something to keep in mind as you read this and in a more general sense.
For me, the biggest benefit of intermittent fasting is the dietary freedom it gives you to eat larger meals later in the day without going over your calorie allowance. This has several upsides;
By not eating breakfast you save anywhere from 300 calories to 1000 calories depending on what you normally eat and drink.
This means you can use these calories later in the day to include the foods you like in your diet and generally feel more satiated during the times of day you’re most likely to snack i.e. after lunch and after dinner. By eating bigger meals at these times, you help to remove the temptation to snack as you don’t feel hungry.
Additionally, once you adjust not eating breakfast in the morning you won’t feel hungry and free up time for other things. No more fussing around with breakfast, you can get on with your day.
To understand the benefits of being able to delay gratification we need to look at a study dubbed the ‘marshmallow study’ conducted by Walter Mischel, PhD over 40 years ago.
In this famous study, Walter and his colleagues sat a pre-schooler at a desk in an otherwise unfurnished room. In front of the child, he would place 2 marshmallows and a bell. He then told the child he had to leave, and they could do one of 2 things;
Walter and his colleagues found what you would expect, a lot of the children immediately ate the marshmallow once he had left the room, with a smaller number of children waiting until he returned to eat both.
He called the children that waited, ‘high-delay’ children and fascinatingly he found that these children “were more likely to score higher on the SAT, and their parents were more likely to rate them as having a greater ability to plan, handle stress, respond to reason, exhibit self-control in frustrating situations and concentrate without becoming distracted” (9)
In other words, the ability to delay gratification translates to;
The benefits of delayed gratification taught through regular fasting can also be seen in anecdotal evidence (10) which shows that by teaching yourself to delay gratification by regular fasting you can become less reliant on instant gratification, become less prone to binge eating and generally give greater thought to what you eat.
Personally, I’ve found that I’m less impulsive when it comes to food, more comfortable with feelings of hunger and generally more disciplined when it comes to snacking or when I’m in high temptation/ high-pressure environments.
When used properly intermittent fasting can provide you with 2 incredible benefits to make dieting easier;
If you’ve been struggling to find a method of eating that works with your lifestyle or struggling with self-control and out of control snacking, then I recommend giving intermittent fasting a go.