This is a smooth transition from the 21 Day Challenge which involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 12–8 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between. This method takes advantage of the overnight fast. You can also adjust your window depending on your schedule for the day and when you eat your most important meals. This method should be very doable for long term sustainability.
Perhaps after a month or two of doing 16/8, you can sprinkle in some days of fasting for 20 hours and eating within a 4-hour window. It is good to keep the body guessing in order to make you more metabolically flexible. This 4-hour window could be one big meal or two small ones. This way of eating could also be used on a daily basis if 16/8 wasn’t achieving your body/health goals.
This could be a transition from 16/8 or 20/4 which would consist of one meal a day which could be at any hour of the day (ex. Dinner to dinner). Sometimes individuals don’t like to squeeze all their calories in a 1-2 hour time frame and I would just make sure you do not eat too late and close to bedtime. I would say this is geared for weight loss and probably not for someone who is looking to gain muscle. This is not for everyone but could be great for sedentary people who want to lose weight. If you’re not working out at all or do it only a few times a week then you don’t really need to eat more often either. OMAD is not ideal if you’re an older person or someone trying to build muscle. The elderly should eat more often (16/8) because it’s harder for them to maintain muscle.
ALTERNATE DAY FASTING
(36 hour fast): This involves fasting for approximately 36 hours. For example, if you eat dinner on day 1, you would fast for all of day 2 and not eat again until breakfast on day 3. For some people, this might be a bit extreme but if you have plateaued in your weight loss journey perhaps adding in a few 36-hour fasts would help. Also, I recommend fasting on days when you have a busy schedule and aren’t sitting at home. Drinking water with minerals is highly recommended too
For five days per week, you eat normally and don’t have to think about restricting calories. Then, on the other two days, you reduce your calorie intake to a quarter of your daily needs. This is about 500 calories per day for women, and 600 for men. It might even be easier to have the 2 days be a complete fast (just water, tea, and coffee) as opposed to just eating a little because that might drive more hunger. You can choose whichever two days of the week you prefer, as long as there is at least one non-fasting day in between them.
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Yoga is defined as physical, mental, and spiritual discipline that’s been originally practiced by Hindu in ancient India. So if you are experiencing too much stress right now, do not get overwhelmed by your situation, just do some simple yoga or meditation to cope with stress effectively. I consider yoga a form of movement meditation.
We have to accept that stress is our constant partner as we go along with our changing environment. Therefore, we must be ready to experience and pass through it when it comes. Also, our response to stress will greatly define our condition as it is only us who can make things better or worse.
One of the best ways to fight stress is to identify your stressor. By doing so you will become more aware of the things that cause you stress and therefore you will be able to apply the appropriate solution. Yoga can help you in this phase. It will help you reflect on which things are giving you stress. Also, it will help discipline your mind to achieve complete serenity which can alleviate anxiety and stress.
Hatha yoga is considered one of the best choices to relieve stress although any type of yoga can be of great help in terms of stress management. Hatha yoga is characterized by specific postures and series of movements that can increase flexibility and strength in the body.
Furthermore, its breathing technique can dramatically help you stay present and quiet your mind which in effect gives you strong control over your body and mind. Your body will then respond positively by producing constructive moods that alleviate stress and overall well-being.
Below are simple meditative procedures that can help you control stress.
Sit and rest against the wall to relax. (perhaps on a block if your hips are tight)
Position your hand and legs in your most comfortable sitting position.
Be still and feel the tranquility brought by silence. Surrender completely and if you have thoughts that is completely normal just let them pass.
Focus your concentration on your breath with a soft and gentle rhythm.
Stay passive and concentrate more on your breath until you are completely captivated by it. Remain in that state for about 10 Minutes.
**Meditation takes time to get used to and it is not easy or else everyone would do it. We live in an environment of constant stimulation which makes it even more important to have times of silence and self-reflection.
Does the body have some mechanism to count calories? Does the body have sensors to detect calories? No and No 🙂
Consider two foods of equal caloric value. On the one hand, you have a sugar cookie, and on the other is a plate of lettuce. The calories are identical. OK. So what?
When you eat those two foods, does your body somehow measure these calories? No.
The metabolic effect of those two foods is completely different.
Sugar cookie will stimulate insulin and no other satiety hormone
Lettuce will not stimulate insulin and you will feel fuller.
To understand weight loss, we need to understand what our body ‘cares’ about.
The answer is clearly not ‘calories. The answer is ‘hormones’, predominantly insulin.
Hormones run everything in our body
Our body gains or loses fat according to detailed hormonal instructions from our brain.
The rise and fall of insulin is the main stimulus to weight gain.
So, foods that stimulate insulin are typically more fattening (cookies). Those that do not (broccoli) are typically not fattening at all.
Since our body is not likely to learn the language of ‘calories’, we need to learn the language of ‘insulin’, by translating food into insulin effect instead of calories.
We need to start using the common language of the body – Insulin.
What’s the most powerful way to control your insulin levels? Start intermittent fasting and eat whole foods that aren’t processed 🙂
Carbs vs Fats
Are you a carboholic? I ate this way for a good majority of my life! I realized that if I wanted to lean out and lose those extra 10-15 pounds I needed to replace pasta (refined carbs) with something else.
So I got into eating salads but it wasn’t filling me up?! Do you have this issue?
So I made a small tweak – I started adding fats into my salad which helped fill me up and gave me prolonged energy!! Why is this??
When you are no longer consuming a lot of heavy, refined carbs, the body’s engine will convert to burning fat. It will either burn the fat you have eaten or the fat stored on your body. You are essentially “training” your metabolism to use fats more often and more efficiently!
On the other hand, when you eat a large plate of carbohydrates, this is followed by an immediate spike in your blood sugar levels. Which causes a sudden release of insulin, which triggers the body to start absorbing the glucose from the blood and potentially storing it as fat.
And in turn, that then leaves you with a low blood sugar level (and the corresponding low serotonin) which makes you feel tired, energy-less, and hungry. In turn, this leads to snacking behavior.
Fats on the other hand release much more slowly into the bloodstream, providing you with a steadier and longer-lasting supply of energy without the crash.
How to Lose Weight With Intermittent Fasting
When you are eating all day, it will be more difficult for your body to gain access to your body fat to use as energy. Only after most of your glycogen is burned for energy then does your body turn to its stores of fat. So these two compartments of energy are not burned simultaneously.
First, you need to empty the glycogen storage (fridge) before using your fat storage (freezer). You either burn sugar or fat, but not both. If you continually fill up the fridge 3-6 times a day, then you will never start burning the fat in your freezer. The old method of “calories in, calories out” pretends that all calories are stored equally and burned equally, even though you have two compartments of storage (glucose and fat).
So the key is to have periods of fasting so your body can gain access to your fat stores instead of always relying on glucose for energy. Balancing out your fasting and feasting times is one key to helping you lose weight.
In order to ease yourself into fasting, I recommend pushing back breakfast an hour every day until you get to noon or 1 pm. Then this will be your first meal of the day. Doing it this way you take advantage of the overnight fast and are simply pushing back your first meal of the day.
Along with fasting for a portion of the day here are a few other tips:
Eat high-quality, minimally-processed foods. (fish, meat, eggs…)
Reduce the amount of carbohydrate in your meal, particularly sugar or simple carbs such as soft drinks, candy, juice, sports drinks, chocolate, cakes, breads, buns, pastries, potatoes, french fries, ice cream, and breakfast cereals.
Avoid packaged goods.
Buy at local farmers’ markets.
You don’t need to count calories.
Stop eating when you feel satisfied, healthy, and 80% full.
Protein makes up the building blocks of organs, muscles, skin, hormones, and pretty much everything that matters in your body. Protein is what we get from meat (among other sources) and it’s where we get the ‘amino acids’ our bodies need. Amino acids are used when repairing skin and bone and for building muscle but they come in a range of different shapes and sizes.
To grow as much muscle as possible, the recommendation is that we get around 1 gram of protein for every one pound of body-weight! Of course, this advice is aimed at bodybuilders and athletes and wouldn’t apply to the Average Joe… but it shows what a key role protein plays in our body composition. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of protein is 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men but everyone is different depending on body weight and activity level.
What’s also important to bear in mind is that there is more than one ‘type’ of amino acid. Actually, there are currently thought to be 20 amino acids, with nine essential amino acids. If you don’t get all of these amino acids from your diet, then certain important repair jobs around your body will not get carried out.
Seeing as most sources of protein only contain certain combinations of amino acids, it’s generally important to make sure your diet contains a variety of different types of wild fish, eggs, and grass-fed meat. (One of the only ‘complete’ sources for amino acids is the egg!)
Foods containing all nine of these amino acids are called complete proteins.
Some of these complete proteins include:
These complete proteins are essential to our overall health, which is why they are comprised of the essential amino acids. Our bodies need all nine of these essential amino acids for basic health; since our bodies cannot make them naturally, we must get them from other sources.
Keep in mind that protein is essential for satiety; it holds off hunger better than any other macronutrient, and protein-rich foods are highly satiating.
When you eat refined carbs it will cause a spike in blood sugar and you will soon crash causing tiredness and more hunger. Avoiding empty calories such as pasta, bread, cereals, and most fast foods will make fasting easier.
Here is why the Western way of eating has a lot of problems.
The first issue is that we’re too focused on short-term energy. We know we’re hungry because our serotonin levels are depleted and so we are motivated to increase that serotonin and our energy levels as quickly as possible. And the best way to do this? Eat a quick release, simple carbohydrate such as a bag of chips.
Serotonin is often described as the ‘feel-good hormone’ and is associated with feelings of well-being and happiness. Generally, we think of serotonin as being responsible for our pleasant moods and think of it as a neurotransmitter that has a role in a number of psychological conditions. Low serotonin for instance is correlated with depression.
What you may not have known though, is that serotonin is also crucial for our regulation of hunger and plays a key role in our satiety.
Like ghrelin, serotonin is also a hormone that tells the brain that we’re full and that we don’t need to eat any more. This occurs partly through our consumption of carbohydrates, most of which will contain some amount of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid and is also found in protein but there’s only a small amount of it in most foods compared with other amino acids, which prevents it from having any major effect.
When you eat lots of refined carbohydrates then, you actually flood the bloodstream with tryptophan and this then remains in the blood once the insulin kicks in and you start absorbing the nutrients.
This then leads to a surplus of tryptophan which reaches the brain and guess what happens then? It turns into serotonin! This happens because tryptophan is actually a precursor to serotonin and one of the key building blocks used to create it.
All this explains why you tend to feel in a very good mood when you’ve just eaten and why your mood can plummet when you start to get low in blood sugar. This is where ‘hangry’ comes from!
The good news is that this is actually just one of several mechanisms that the body uses to tell how full it is. Leptin for instance is another hormone that is produced in the gut and which tells the brain to stop eating too.
If you are eating a diet that consists mainly of modern ‘snacks’ then you’ll be flooding the body with sugar and then seeing it through very quickly afterward. That then means you need to snack again. It also means that the body won’t use up the energy as quickly as it receives it, which leads to it being stored as fat.
It’s always better to use a complex carb diet rather than one that completely eradicates this whole food group from the diet and that means that you should be eating things like tubers, berries, and vegetables instead of things like crisps, white bread, and pasta!
The bigger problem with eating things that give us a quick ‘kick’ is that they often don’t contain any of the crucial nutrients that we described above. And this is where the idea of ‘empty calories’ comes in.
That means no protein to build muscles, no vitamins, and minerals to help you think better or feel in a better mood, and nothing else that the body needs. That doesn’t only apply to donuts either though – it also applies to ready meals, fast food, and anything else ‘processed’.
When you buy a ready-made lasagna from the store, you actually get very low-quality meat that will have been blended together with other meats and has lots of sugar added.
Despite getting a lot of mince, your body won’t actually be able to use many amino acids or other nutrients. The calories are increased but the nutritional benefits are drastically reduced.
This then means that you would not be as efficient at burning fat because your mitochondria would perform more poorly and your metabolism would be slowed by impaired levels of testosterone.
(By the way, if you think that testosterone, thyroid, and other hormones don’t have a big impact on weight loss then just ask someone who suffers from hypothyroidism or consider the difference between natural endomorphs and ectomorphs!)
When you don’t get the nutrients you need, your body actually makes you crave more food. The body knows what it needs and it sends signals that encourage you to want to eat those things.
So the bottom line is to eat nutrient-dense foods (quality protein, and fats) and avoid processed foods to make fasting throughout the day and night a lot easier.
Snacking throughout the day especially on junk will not help you accomplish low insulin and times of fasting. Which in turn will not help you use your own fat stores for energy and you will always rely on glucose.
Eating ready-to-eat prepared meals are typically low in nutrient density and have lots of artificial ingredients and preservatives. In an ideal world, we eat whole, natural foods but I know sometimes we have to eat food in a box or jar. So it’s important to be aware of what’s on the label and how to interpret it for your health. Be sure to read the ingredients!
Here are some basic ingredient tips…
Ingredients on labels are listed from highest to lowest quantity
If the first ingredient is brown rice syrup put it back
Look for SMALL ingredient lists (6 or less is ideal 🙂
If you can’t pronounce an ingredient put it back on the shelf For example – say this ten times – BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE or BHT used as a preservative in cereals, potato chips and chewing gum but the Health and Human Services pegged them as known carcinogens!
Be aware of SUGAR and all it’s different names! (i.e. malt syrup, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, barley malt, cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, maple syrup and on and on….) These aliases attempt to conceal the presence of large amounts of added sugars. 5 grams of sugar or less is a good baseline
Stay away from FAT FREE foods because they typically have a high sugar content and often contain artificial ingredients
Watch for certain artificial sweeteners
Avoid – Aspartame (in NutraSweet or Equal), Sucralose, or Acesulfam-K and Saccharin (branded as Sweet n Low)
Use only in moderation – Whey Low and Sugar Alcohols
Best choice – Raw Honey, Coconut Sugar and Stevia Leaf or Stevia drops
Avoid Veggie Oils – such as canola, soybean, corn, sunflower, peanut and safflower oil.