I don’t know if you saw the Horizon Programme broadcast last year, ‘Eat, Fast, Live Longer’, but it seems to have created a big wave of interest in using Intermittent Fasting as a way of improving your health and losing weight. One of my patients suggested that I would find the programme interesting. After watching it, I was so impressed that I decided to give it a go myself.
Why bother? I am fairly fit, eat healthily and no one would have described me as overweight…but I knew that the scales and my clothing were telling me that I had piled on more pounds than I really needed. When I applied for the Healthy Ambitions Award back in 2011 one of the activities I had done was measure my BMI (Body Mass Index). This is a rough and ready comparison of your height against your weight and gives an indicator of obesity (a big risk factor for all sorts of health problems). It was a bit of shock to see my BMI was 24%…nearly one quarter of my weight was FAT!
I am not a fan of diets generally as there is tons of evidence to show that over the long term it doesn’t work, people usually put on whatever they have lost and then add some more! However, I have tried out the Low GI diet as outlined by Patrick Holford as I really like all the recipes and did lose weight on it. But predictably once I stopped watching what I ate like a hawk, a few pounds crept back on again.
With Intermittent Fasting you only have to think hard about what you are eating for 2 days per week…for 5 days you can relax…And Yes, you do cut back alot on your fasting days, aiming to eat about 550 to 600 calories in my case as a opposed to 2000 cals. But it has worked. After doing it (not too rigorously I have to confess) between Sept and Dec I lost half a stone.
Over Christmas I stopped the fasting days and just ate as I used to and boy did I notice the difference. I really felt sluggish and heavy and not a little grumpy! Time to get back on the wagon. I have been more rigorous since January began, and even more so since reading the book derived from the Horizon programme. And for the first time in at least 20 years I have gone below 9 stone. I am aiming for 8.5 stone by the end of Feb…my BMI then will be a more healthy 21.8.
Is it hard to do? Well if you have a good sized evening meal the night before and drink lots during the fasting day its quite managable. I have had headaches and felt quite light headed at times so I split my calorie intake into three meals as I don’t think I can manage with just two.
My biggest problem, particularly if I haven’t had a good meal the night before is my stomach. It feels as though it is carrying out its normal squeezing activities for starting the digestive process but there is nothing in there for it to work on! It aches and I burp alot! So if you see me going round pressing firmly under my ribcage you will know that I am activiating the acupuncture points for the stomach so I can get it to quieten down!
Exercising hasn’t been a problem when fasting, in fact it is highly recommended! I get my own exercise fix from walking, with rucksack filled with camera gear if I really want to work hard.
After Feb I hope to go on a maintainence programme, just fasting once a week. The challenge will be to see if this is a lifestyle change for me and one that I can sustain 🙂