Intermittent Fasting is a big topic in the fitness industry. Rightly so, as it's such…
Let me start by saying that you will always mess up occasionally, and that no dieting structure will make you completely invincible. But, IF will decrease your fail rate tremendously.
It’s a funny phenomenon, dieting. It shows just how irrational people are, myself included – the Psychologist, Kahneman touches on this in much of his work.
Logic says, when you’re in a hole, stop digging – don’t make your situation even worse. But this logic, as I’m sure we all know, doesn’t actually apply at all to dieting. You have a spoonful of that ice cream….and boom, you have to finish the rest off.
OR, you have a Mars bar at lunch time. You’ve actually not eaten any sugar all week, and diet adherence has been ridiculously good. But, you’ve now had a Mars bar. Everything is fine, up until about 6pm, and you have a sudden, uncontrollable urge to eat a load of shit. Where the hell has this come from??
What normally follows is a load of guilty feelings, and
“I’ll start again tomorrow.”
Or, “I’ll start again next week.”
The problem with the fitness industry, is that many fitness gurus know about these binge problems, but don’t really provide any solutions. They just say:
“Learn to fail small.”
Yeah, that’s helpful. Telling a human to stop being irrational doesn’t work. Emotions trump logic in these situations. It’s like telling someone who is depressed:
“Look, ok, you are depressed, but you want to be happy. If you continue to be depressed, you are throwing away your one chance at life. Start being happy, please.”
Obviously, that’s not helpful. I’m here to offer a solution, with several alterations based off your individual circumstances/lifestyle/genetics/preferences/etc.
Intermittent Fasting will reduce this binge tendency/mentality. It offers freedom, fun and flexibility. It’s the opposite of the restrictive mindset that causes the whole:
“Ah, I’ve messed up now, so I may as well mess up royally, and then start again tomorrow” psychology.
Too many restrictions = bad. Too many rules = bad.
Couple this dieting structure with the knowledge that you really don’t need that much protein, (and therefore are allowed to eat more carbs), and you have a formula for binge-minimisation. Damage limitation is the key here.
Most people will perform best by pushing back their first meal by four hours. This allows the most food to be consumed in the afternoon and evening; when willpower is lowest, and social activity is highest.
Low willpower + social eating = danger zone.
However, there are plenty of exceptions to this. Training in the morning will affect certain people differently. How lean you are, and how long you’ve been dieting can affect things like:
So, sometimes, you may be better off having a large meal for breakfast, fasting during the day, and then having another large meal in the evening. There are many formats you can play around with here, but generally speaking, having a “Fasting Window”, where you only consume coffee/tea/water/, is a great way to prevent binging.
It allows for larger meals when you actually do eat, and better meal timing to suit your needs.
Personally, I have had to shift my eating patterns over time, as when I reach approx 8% body fat, I can’t push my first meal back by 4-5 hours any longer. My productivity in the morning just becomes too inhibited due to low blood sugar, and I need to be productive in the mornings.
The solution is to just bring that meal forward by two hours, and have a coffee after it. It’s not ideal, but flexibility is key here, and allows me to have the best of everything.
And one last thing, all of this will be fairly irrelevant if you’re slashing your calories by 25%+ chunks, so keep the deficit small!
Rules – For “Security Dieters”
I also understand that some people prefer rules when dieting, and some people prefer freedom like me. If you want rules, you can track/weigh everything precisely, but under the umbrella of an IF approach. If diet adherence isn’t an issue, then of course, you don’t need IF. But you’re reading this, so I will assume that IF will help you.
Good rules for most people:
- If you’re not already losing weight: Track your current calorie intake for a week, and reduce it by 10%. If you’re already losing weight, keep the calorie deficit constant (unless you’re losing more than about 1.5 pounds per week.)
- Protein: Set it at 0.75 grams per pound of bodyweight (yes this is enough). If you are single digit body fat, then move it up to 0.9 grams per pound of body weight.
- Intermittent Fasting (aka the binge preventer): Push your first meal back by 3-5 hours. Combine this first meal with your second meal. Then have your evening meal as normal. OR, you could add your second meal into your evening meal.