How I Implement Intermittent Fasting / Time Restricted Eating
You hear a lot about intermittent fasting, time restricted eating, and fasting these days. People will say fasting all day and having a large meal at dinner is best, others say it is better to eat at lunch, some say 2 meals is best, it goes on and on. Then there are the arguments over whether or not it is intermittent fasting or time restricted eating, I don't really care what you call it. It is a period of time when you don't eat for several hours. I understand people have to put in place times to know what each other are talking about and which benefits come from what sort of fasts, but for the majority if us, it is a matter of actually implementing some form or the other, not just picking and choosing randomly what will fit us for that day to justify shitty choices, or laziness in not preparing properly.
When following any of these types of plans I strongly believe you still have to eat quality food. Your plan doesn't have to change. You just drop a meal or two out of your regular eating pattern. Some people want to follow intermittent fasting because they think they can fast all day and then smash pizza and ice cream for dinner. I think this totally misses the point.
The way I implement any type of time restricted eating / intermittent fasting is to simply not eat dinner. I typically eat 5 meals per day as this is what works well for me. When I want to get some of the benefits of fasting or if I want to lean out a bit, or just give my digestive tract a bit of a rest, I simply finishing eating my last meal at 2 or 3 pm and then don't eat until my breakfast the following morning at 5am. That gives me about 14 to 15 hours which I feel quite good doing.
I like to do it this way because it makes the fast seem a lot easier as I sleep for 8 hours of it and I get to eat of a morning when I have to be on coaching my clients in the gym and I also train of a morning. So by doing it this way I get to eat around my workout and I feel I have better energy/brain function for coaching my clients.
Now I know some people say it is better to fast whilst you are awake then it is whilst you sleep but for me this approach works better. I feel I have good energy throughout the day and then I have a good sleep of a night as I am not digesting a whole heap of food.
Also, I don't do it every day. When I do go through a period of time restricted eating / intermittent fasting, I only do it 3 days out of the week, maybe 4, depending on my goals at the time. The rest of the time I eat my regular 5 meals and have my dinner around 6.30pm.
This approach is easy for me to implement. I don't feel like I am missing out on anything, doesn't increase my stress levels, I don't have to tap into any type of motivation to get it done, nothing like that. It is stress free. If I were to force myself to follow a different approach I could do it with my willpower but I probably wouldn't do it for long and I am not sure the benefits would be all that much greater anyway. I feel as though doing my simple approach might get me 70% or so of the benefits than a more strict version of fasting would get me. More importantly, I actually do this. Implementation is more important than a perfect plan not implemented.
Just work out what works best for you. With my clients, I don't force my approach upon them. Some hate to eat breakfast so we skip that and have it around 10am. Some might have 3 meals a day whilst they are intermittent fasting and other may have two. Then there are others like me that have 4. I don't think it really matters as long as you get in a long enough fast of 14 hours or more. 12 may even have enough benefits, I haven't really obsessed too much on it.
I do always recommend an early dinner so people get to digest their food before going to bed, and most people report better sleep by doing this. So even on a regular eating schedule, most people get close to a 12 hour fast by doing so. Missing either breakfast or dinner, depending on the person tends to give them that longer break that may be more beneficial.
Play around with what works but just implement the plan once you have decided on what you will do. We are being crippled by too much information.
For those of you who want to look into the benefits of time restricted eating or intermittent fasting then look at the work of Valter Longo and Sachin Panda, as they have done a lot of work in that area.