Focus more on how you feel, rather than restricting your eating. If you need more energy, you may need more food. Be cautious about the word diet – it can be very restrictive! Listen to your body and nourish it.
With eating, timing is everything. Intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating are the most common approaches that we talk about with our clients.
This is where you eat during a smaller window during the day e.g. an 8-10 hour window in the middle of the day such as between 10am and 6pm. During other times, water is sufficient. Drinking a big class of water as soon as you wake up will help with hunger cravings, keep you full as you get used to eating later and also get you started on your hydration for the day!
The window you choose should be shaped by your sleep so you can make sure you are eating as early into the evening as possible, at least 3 hours before you sleep.
NOTE: please remember that if you are on medications that need to be taken with food or with specific gaps between doses, consulting with your GP is recommended before you attempt any time-based eating.
Benefits of time-restricted eating
Research has shown a link between eating in a smaller window and reduced levels of chronic disease, particularly heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
A January 2020 study found that participants who ate in a 10-hour window had reduced blood pressure and cholesterol, lost weight and size around their waist and also had better sleep – this reflects on our topic from last week on SLEEP where we talked about the body’s natural Circadian Rhythm being influenced by things such as sunrise and sunset, food and stimulants just before bed!
Implementing time-restricted eating
Time-restricted is quite simple and easy to implement!
- Start by reducing the time window you eat by ONE hour
e.g. if you have breakfast at 7am and dinner at 8pm, that is a 13-hour window
- Trial eating breakfast at 8pm or dinner at 7pm – do what feels right for your body!
The times you choose may be dependent on your workload, what time you prefer to exercise, wake up in the morning and go to sleep!
What you eat still matters!
Regardless of whether you do time-restricted eating or not, what you eat still matters! We often feel a huge difference the following morning if we eat larger complex carbohydrate meals (like pastas) for dinner the night before.
This does not mean cutting out carbohydrates and all sweet things, but you want to make sure you are still eating lots of vegetables, fruit, lean meats, nuts, seeds and lentils.
The 5:2 diet
This is an eating program implemented by Dr Michael Mosley, and it is simple and easy to implement! The guide requires you to restrict your caloric intake to 25% of the normal intake for 2 days a week.
- 500 calories per day for women
- 600 calories per day for men
- This is dependent on your activity levels and daily energy requirements – if you are extremely active you may want to increase by 100 calories if needed
The trick AND goal is to focus on eating good quality foods on your fasting days. TECHNICALLY, you could eat a slice of cake on your fasting day and not be breaking the rules of the program. However, this is a bad idea! Depending on your individual metabolism, this could leave you super cranky and hungry early into a day of fasting, which is never a good thing!
Week 7 challenge:
Look at your meal times. Eliminate snacks at night and if you are desperate for something to occupy you, have some water with lemon or mint, or perhaps a tea that could help you sleep e.g. chamomile.
Week 7 EXTRA challenge:
Try going sugar free for 2 weeks!
This is tough but so worth it, especially as research is coming out about the detrimental effects of sugar (especially with all the hidden sugar in our food!). Tips:
- Eliminate processed sugar from your diet by looking at the label
- Anything with more than 2-grams of sugar per serving should be eliminated
- Be cautious with processed carbohydrates like pasta, rice and bread
You may feel worse the first week that you try this extra challenge, but your body will adapt to it, just like it did the first few weeks you started exercising for the first time!
This extra challenge is also tough if you find yourself eating out with friends a lot – however if you can manage for 2 weeks and stay consistent, it is something that will stay with you in the long-run.
NOTE: if you have any blood sugar issues, please make sure you undertake the above with clearance from your doctor.