By Tamara Khoury
Diet, Diet, Diet, Diet, that’s what everyone seems to be talking about, lately. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to eliminate the word diet – don’t believe it and never will. An alternative to ‘diet’ is lifestyle, a way of living.
Your body will respond to how you treat it – always remember that. If you feed your body with unhealthy foods, that’s what your body will crave and you will eventually find yourself in a spiral of unhealthy eating, only because you trained your system to want a certain level of sugar, fat, sodium and taste in order to satisfy your hunger.
Adjusting your lifestyle is easier said than done but you have to want to change in order to see a change. It’s a challenge at first but like everything else, it will take time to train your body to want good food and before you know it, you will crave nutritious meals.
The question always is, ‘how do I start?’. It took a few years (yes, it took that long!) for me to eliminate and start to feel the rhythm of what I felt comfortable eating. Once I set some ground rules on what my body accepts, the timing of when of my meals started to affect my every day life, the most obvious, was late night snacking. That had a terrible affect on my sleeping patterns and often left me with insomnia. I slowly started to adopt Intermittent Fasting and that has changed my life.
What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
Intermittent Fasting is a lifestyle that enables you to pick between any 8 to 10 hours in a day to eat or what experts call ‘feeding hour windows’. It’s up to you to decide the hours. For example, you allot a time to eat between the hours of 9am-6pm or 12pm -10pm and you stop eating at 6pm or 10pm (these hours are not written in stone, you are free to choose any time that works with your schedule, lifestyle, culture etc.) until the next day. You then start eating again at 9am/12pm leaving your body to fast a total of 15 hours. Everyone has different feeding windows, some fast for longer, however; the normal range is 14 hours for women and 16 hours for men. During those 14-16hour fasts, you are only allowed to drink water, tea or coffee.
Intermittent Fasting helps in fat loss, weight maintenance, muscle building, aids in food portion control and cleanses the system. It gives your body a chance to reboot itself before you start your next meal.
- Drink plenty of water: It’s a known fact that the majority of the time you feel hungry, you’re actually thirsty. Drink a glass of cold water and that should set the hunger bug off.
- Tea: is going to be your saviour, add a little bit of honey to satisfy your sweet tooth. I usually take about ½ teaspoon to 1tsp.
- Eat: If you feel at any time you can’t take the hunger– EAT! But, eat within moderation and always remember that you are going through withdrawal symptoms so your body is adjusting to a new lifestyle. With that said, you DO NOT want to binge eat (you shouldn’t – ever) but, have fruit or a small piece of chocolate; this will not do you any harm.
- Schedule: Always schedule a fast 2-3 times a week; you are more likely going to reap the benefits if you do it more than once per week. Also, try and stick to the same feeding hour windows, each time you fast it makes it easier for you. The remaining days are your normal eating days but remember to eat in moderation, have your three meals and three snacks – remember to keep it healthy.
- STAY BUSY!
- Don’t bite more than you can chew, as the saying goes. Always start small. If you feel the need to fast 10 hours to start and gradually make your way up to 14/16hours that also works.
- Don’t binge eat during your feeding hours; it will only make you feel sick! Eat normal portions and healthy meals.
- Don’t give up! Remember, 7- 8 hours of your fast are gone when you are sleeping.
What to expect:
- Headaches: Very common and a bit frustrating at the beginning but this is part of the withdrawal process where your body is releasing all the toxins and is in the course of making huge changes.
- Hunger: It’s inevitable that you are going to feel hungry, but know the difference between hunger and thirst. In most cases, you’re thirsty so drink plenty of water. If water doesn’t satisfy you as I mentioned earlier, eat something small.
- Will power: Especially your first week, it’s so important to be disciplined; you will reap all the benefits if you stick to your fasts. Every week after your initial week, your body will start to ask for smaller portions and healthier options. If you stick to this system long enough you will avoid late night snacking, your sleeping patterns will improve significantly and most importantly you are giving your body the chance to digest and soak in all the nutrients before your next meal.
What to take from this?
Take this as a cleansing system, where you clean your body 2-3 times a week and give it a rest. If you have any questions about intermittent fasting and need more advice on how to start please feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author
Tamara Khoury is a fitness enthusiast who is based in the UAE and has been running marathons since 2012. She ran marathons in the UAE, Spain, Jordan, Lebanon in addition to cycling across the Netherlands in July 2015. Tamara is always training for various runs and other adventurous events and is looking forward to running one of the 5 toughest marathons in the world on the Great Wall of China in May 2016. She is qualified under the International Sports Science Association (ISSA) and is studying to become a certified Stott Pilates Instructor and a REPs certified personal trainer.