Ok, that title is probably a little attention grabbing/controversial… but fasting for 16 hours per day is technically what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks.
It started when I listened to this podcast a few weeks ago and thought, “hey, I could try that!”
The basic premise of Melissa McAllister’s 8 Hour Abs Diet is that you only eat during an 8-hour window in the day. So for Melissa, that’s from 11am to 7pm. After 7pm, she doesn’t eat any more – and when she gets up in the morning, she doesn’t have any calories until 11am.
Does that mean you skip breakfast? No, it means you have breakfast at 11, then lunch around 3ish and dinner around 6ish – or a variation thereof. For someone who generally eats pretty healthily any way, restricting your eating to an 8-hour window doesn’t lower your calorie intake; it just means you only eat until 7pm, and then you stop.
I am one of those people who can happily munch my way through the kitchen over the course of the evening. Until I started this, if there was chocolate or cake anywhere in the house, it would generally be gone before I went to bed. I often went to bed feeling over-full and uncomfortable. So for me, to stop eating at 7pm does dramatically reduce my calorie intake.
More important than calorie intake for me though, is the way I feel from doing this. I sleep a lot better, because my stomach is not busy trying to digest all the food I’ve eaten during the evening. I don’t feel starving hungry when I wake up, and I don’t feel like I need to eat before or after I work out at 6am. I feel good! When I wake up in the morning my stomach feels flat and I tend not to over-eat through the day now.
I think actually, doing this has improved my eating habits too. Because I know I need to stop eating by 7pm, and I don’t want to be starving by 9pm, I know I need to eat a proper meal around 6:30. So whereas before I would just eat whatever junk I fancied through the day and evening, now I avoid most of the junk because I don’t want to not be hungry at 6:30, when I know I need to eat a decent meal. Does that make sense?
In Melissa’s book, she recommends you gradually build up to doing this, by first only eating 10 hours per day, then 9 and then 8 – but for me I honestly didn’t find it so much of a wrench to cut right back from day 1. The only difference was that I had grown used to drinking my coffee with cream in the mornings. On the first day I had a black coffee at “breakfast time” and actually, black coffee with no sugar is not so bad!
This is how my foodie day looks these days:
7am: black coffee
11am: smoothie with protein powder and maca powder
2/3pm: lunch of some description
5pm: a little snack with S as she eats her tea
6:30pm: dinner – usually steak and salad with chia seeds
As a rule, I don’t feel hungry when I wake up in the morning and it’s not a struggle to wait until 11am for some food. I’m not great with willpower so honestly, if it was a struggle to wait until 11 it’s highly unlikely I would have stuck to this.
For me, this approach to eating works really well in terms of avoiding over eating, and avoiding just generally grazing my way through my evenings. I’ve tried so many different “healthy eating” plans and as a general rule I’ve stuck to them for a few days before just going mad and going on a massive binge and ricocheting back to eating habits twice as bad as they were before.
Something as simple as saying, “right, I’m not eating after 7pm” – without restricting what I can eat within that window – has made a massive difference to the way I feel and my diet as a whole. In fact, I find now that if I decide to move my 8 hour window along so that I can eat up until 8pm, I feel bloated and sluggish that night and often the next day too!
Have you tried the 8 Hour Abs Diet or another form of intermitent fasting? I’d love to know how you get on with it!