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Time-Restricted Eating and Intermittent Fasting - Fads or the key to your weight loss goals?

Intermittent fasting has definitely gained popularity over the past few years as a form of diet, and I have heard people have some great results with it. So in this blog post, we are going to look at the possible benefits of fasting. Is it just a fad? Or is it sustainable long term?

time restricted eating intermittent fasting 16:8 5:2 warrior diet 1:1 weight fat loss nutrition

The terms seem interchangeable, but there’s a vast difference between the two, especially if you love your food. Intermittent fasting involves a calorie restriction between your meals and is pretty much an umbrella form for all types of fasting. Time-restricted is a form of Intermittent Fasting where you could eat for 8 hours and fast for the next 16, for example, and the focus is primarily on the window you have to eat. Some people start on a bigger window, 10-12 hours, and then reduced the window over time… no pun intended.

Side note on getting enough calories in and a new reason why I don’t prescribe to this method (prescribe? I never say that). Let’s say your goal is to eat 2000kcal a day. It’s a Monday, you plan on starting this week strong. No more than 2000 kcal. However, you had a killer workout because nobody skips a Monday! Your Fitbit, or whatever you use to track calories, says that you have burned an additional 500kcal. Great says you! You can now afford to eat an extra 500kcal and still be in an overall caloric deficit. Except, you might not be. Why? While technology is getting better at measuring heart rate, most devices have at least a 20% error in energy expenditure calculations. So while you think you have 500kcal to eat, it could be a lot less and lead to overeating and not achieving your goals even though you think you are on track.

That was a pretty long ‘note’. Where was I?

Time-restricted eating always you to eat whatever you want in a time frame and then fast. A small study done on it concluded that you could have some weight loss and calorie reduction without the need for counting calories. I do think you should eat nutrient-dense food during these feasting hours. Time-restricted eating could help with your metabolism, but studies are minimal at this stage to conclusively say that. For a more detailed, scientific look at time-restricted eating, check out Dr Rhonda Patrick’s article on it HERE.

16:8 Diet

The one you would hear about the most would be the 16:8 or 14:10 fast. That’s 16 hours fasting and 8 eating. Squeezing your 3 meals into an 8-hour window would probably mean skipping breakfast. If you train in the mornings, that’s out. For some people that work a 9-5pm, this could be possible if you skipped breakfast, had your first meal at lunchtime and had your last meal at 7pm/8pm. It would be tough to overeat on this diet, in my opinion. Keeping track at the weekends, like most diets, would be a lot harder to stick to.

There are many different types of intermittent fasting, so let’s go through some of the more popular methods.

5:2 Diet

5 hours fast and 2-hour window for eating? Afraid not. This is 5 days of eating and two non-consecutive days of not eating… well eating 500 kcal only each day. That’s not a lot of food! You would probably have to have a high protein meal with those 500kcal to have a sustainable meal. A Big Mac is over 500kcal. Think you could survive a day eating nearly 1 Big Mac? Or you could somehow spread 500kcal over the day… I googled this link, not subscribed, I swear.

1:1 Diet

This is eating one day and fasting the next. Yeah, no. I’m not even going into that because that’s not sustainable. 

And there are studies done that don’t back this up as well. Ok, I’m done. Next!

Warrior Diet

While you are allowed some fruit, vegetables and zero-calorie liquids throughout the day, you have a 4-hour window at night to have one big meal.

Yeah, I’m going to label this one as stupid too. I just don’t think that’s sustainable. And once you fall off the wagon, and you will, you’re going to feel and be in a lot worse state. I’m not even going to look up studies on this one. Not sustainable for 99% of the population. Wait, that’s still over 77 million people. 99.99999999%. At least. 

There are a few more different types, but you get the point.

When it comes to energy expenditure, however, there are some studies to suggest that neither time-restricted eating nor intermittent fasting has an effect on energy expenditure. Eating and fasting might help decrease your appetite, so you are not eating as much, and that will lead to an overall calorific deficit.

My opinion, I would view intermittent fasting/time-restricted eating as a strategy to lower the number of calories you are consuming in a day. For some people, depending on your lifestyle, it is very achievable to have your meals within an 8-hour window.

If you feel like what you are doing isn’t working for you right now, this could be an option. Look at your schedule. Plan your meals and ask yourself ‘is this sustainable?’. And it might very well be for you. And by that, I mean the 16:8 or 14:10 diets. I can’t get behind the others although I have had people say good things about the 5:2 diet. It is plausible for some people only to eat 8 hours of the day and have enough calories to feel good as well as achieve their goals. It comes down to lifestyle.

For me? Football season is right around the corner. That means late nights watching games, early mornings for PT sessions and trying to do the latest craze in the fitness industry just isn’t going to make any fasting options right for me.

I like the balance of 3-4 meals spread throughout the day, never eating when I’m absolutely starving nor eating just for the sake of it either. It’s a myth that 6 small meals a day are not going to help burn your metabolism more. I think your body is smart enough to use the energy consumed from 24 hours as opposed to eating every 2-3 hours. Maybe diets like a 16-8 may have some merit.