Have you heard of the 5:2 diet? A couple of years ago the bestseller chart was full of books claiming that this was the diet that would revolutionise the way we eat. I know lots of people who tried it and did see some great results. I have been reading widely about the benefits of fasting and some alternative ways of using it other than the popular 5:2 diet. As someone who trains most days I would struggle to manage on the 2 days with only 500 calories. Read on to see why we should fast and why it has been such a success for me.

Strawberries in December!

In years gone by we lived in a world of scarcity. We ate well when we could and relied on our fat stores for survival when food was scarce. Fast forward to the modern day and we live a life of convenience. We can eat any food at any time and eating is quicker and cheaper than ever before. The consequences of our ‘have it all, whenever’ lifestyle are clear to see. Wherever you look there are people who are overweight, struggling to move and their health is suffering. Digestive complaints and allergies are also more prevalent than ever before.

There is growing support for the argument that we need to stop and reset. We cannot keep going as we are and it is down to us to act on an individual level. Some progress is being made such as limiting the sugar content in drinks and their consumption – think IRN BRU and Jamie Oliver increasing the price of fizzy drinks in his restaurants. It is however slow and it is hard to effect change. People like what they are eating and drinking and find it hard to change habits.

I work with people every day who are keen to lose weight and to feel healthier. They know that they are not at their best and want to do something to change that before their health and future independence is compromised. Seeing parents or friends age and have deteriorating health can be the catalyst. Retiring or having more time as the children leave home or start school can give the time and space to acknowledge that you want to make changes.

‘Taking Control of Sugar’

I was becoming increasingly concerned at how food was making me feel. My eating was disordered with the timing of sessions which made regular mealtimes trickier on some days. I made the move to cut added sugar out of my diet a couple of years ago and created my ‘Take Control of Sugar’ plans to help others to take the same journey. I have added the link for you to see more  My 6 Steps to ‘Taking Control of Sugar’  My energy levels soared, I was slimmer around the middle and I felt much better. However, I still suffered from some bloating, an upset stomach and sensitivity to certain foods. I read widely and one thing that kept coming up was the need to give your body a break from food and allow your digestion to reset. Fasting is seen as the solution here. In the past you would give your body a chance to catch up and calm down after having worked to digest food all day long. I thought about going back to the 5:2 but I knew that it didn’t suit me so I needed an alternative.

Intermittent fasting with a difference – 16/8

A chance conversation with a friend in November made me look at the intermittent fasting model whereby you only eat for 8 of 24 hours. That means that your body has longer to digest and to recover than it spends working hard. The idea is that over time it will reduce the stress that your digestion is under and start to eliminate some of the sensitivities. I have been following this pattern since November and I have not looked back. I even managed it over Christmas and the holidays. I have found that I eat less as I am not nearly so hungry. I eat better because I am planning what I will eat and when. Most importantly I am less bloated and do not have the discomfort that I have struggled with for years. I have also stopped wasting my time and energy worrying about what is upsetting me and eliminating one food after another. I eat everything now and am mostly fine.

I don’t always manage the full 16 hours without food but it is always 12 or more. If I am working solidly then I need to eat before I start at 8.30am. I am not going to have managed to have my dinner the night before by 4pm but 5pm is possible. I can consistently manage 14 hours and sometimes more and that works for me.

What I wanted to share was that there are always alternatives. It is about finding a way that works for you. I feel so good having built fasting into my daily life. I didn’t aim to lose any weight but I haven’t put any on either over Christmas. For me the win was eliminating the discomfort and stopping all the obsessing about what I could eat. The stress has gone and I feel so much better.

Have you fasted? If so what made you start and what results have you had? I would love to hear about your experiences and to share any wins with the fit4evermore Community Facebook Group. If you would like to discuss more topics like fasting and to be part of a supportive and like minded community then make sure you join using the ‘connect’ link below.

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