So, you’ve likely heard about intermittent fasting. Occasionally you’ll hear about it in the news, or maybe you’ve known someone whose delved in it. Perhaps someone has talked about their “new diet” and you didn’t even realize it was intermittent fasting of which there is many variations. That gal over there eating a huge inch thick waffle with homemade caramel sauce, nuts, cinnamon, and whip cream? She could even be doing intermittent fasting… eating waffles and still losing weight!
Intermittent fasting basically is just that, a period of fasting or extreme calorie restriction. I can talk about all the numerous variations, but the one I have the most experience with and have used consistently is The Every Other Day Diet. There is a book by Krista Varady which outlines this method and the science to back it up. The plan is simple, one day you eat 500 calories, the next day you eat whatever you want. Yes, I said whatever you want. For anyone who has been trying to lose weight, the latter sounds like a dream! But what about the 500 calorie days? How will I survive?! Isn’t that too few calories? Won’t my metabolism drop? Why should I even listen to Dr. Varady and her variation when there are so many others out there (such as the 5:2 plan where you only fast 2 days a week) and numerous books that have preceded hers? Well, many of those books and plans base their information off of her research!! And some of those other authors even skewed or got it just plain wrong. Why not go to the source? She has been studying and testing intermittent fasting for over 10 years and has a wealth of information to share. I highly recommend reading the book and joining Krista Varady’s EOD Diet Page on Facebook to learn more, but I’ll share my thoughts and tips from my own personal experience.
Now, eating anything you want in a day is easy, what those that ask me about the plan always ask “What do you eat on the 500 calorie days??!”. I won’t try to candy coat it for you – the 500 calorie days can be challenging. The first 10 days particularly (or after a few days off the program) can be the most difficult. Here are some Pros/Cons that will put things into perspective….
- You can whatever you want on your “off” days.
- There is very little extra work involved. You only need to count calories on the 500 calorie days. Since it’s only 500 calories it’s not time-consuming.
- No massive food prep – but having staples on-hand (such as lots of water, seltzer, gum, low-calorie foods, etc.) is recommended.
- Have a special event or long weekend away? No problem! Just make it an “off day” or “off weekend” and get right back to 500 calories the next day. Doing this ever so often won’t derail your progress and gives you freedom to make this program work for you.
- Oddly, you may find you have better mental clarity and possibly more energy on the 500 calorie days.
- You are eating 500 calories every other day, for some that can be quite challenging. The first week to 10 days tend to be the hardest.
- You can potentially have some stomach upset going from eating very little to eating anything.
- If you have lots events/gatherings involving food it can be difficult to maintain regular 500 calorie days.
- Focus on one day at a time. If you have a strong craving on a 500 calorie day, just remind yourself you only need to make it through today, and if you really want something you can have it the next day (though you may find when you can have it your really don’t want it).
- Only weigh yourself 1-2 times per week, always after a 500 calorie day. Doing The Every Other Day Diet you’ll find your weight will fluctuate, but if you stick with it you will lose weight.
- Have lots of water and low-calorie drinks on-hand for those 500 calorie days. I love Bai drinks, Polar and Ice Mountain flavored seltzers, Monster Energy Drinks (Low Carb and the various zero calorie flavors) and PACt Water (from Ocean Spray).
- Wait as long as you can to eat. I find once I start eating I want more soon after. Also, I find that I’m generally tired once I eat, so eating my 500 calories in the evening helps put me to sleep.
- Invest in low-calorie seasonings, flavored vinegars, spray olive oil (Bertolli spray olive oils (for cooking and salad), mustards, low cal sauces, etc.
- If your desperate for something, try gum or a couple of Tic Tacs
- Eating too many sweets and fried or rich foods can leave you with major cravings on the 500 calorie days. Opt for healthier options and mini meals and the 500 calorie days will be much easier.
- Have some options in mind for meals on 500 calorie days. Some of my favorites are shrimp, fish, or scallops with kale or spinach sautéed in garlic and spray olive oil, turkey nitrate free hotdogs, eggs with turkey bacon and a 100-calorie English muffin with spray butter, a giant salad, Trader Joe’s chicken burgers with sautéed onions and a side o grilled zucchini, zucchini noodles with shrimp, garlic, and spray butter and olive oil, and flatbread pizza made with turkey bacon, veggies, and low cal cheese. OR we opt to eat out. YES, eat out! There are more and more places offering great low-calorie meal options, like the following…
- Applebee’s low-calorie meals
- Ruby Tuesday low-calorie meals
- Panera (various salads, soups, etc.)
- Chick-Fil-A grilled nuggets, Superfood salad, and Sm Ice Dream Cone
- Chili’s low cal options
- Subway turkey or chicken breast 6-inch, no cheese, various veggies, seasonings, red wine vinegar, and spray olive oil
- Various fast food options (though it’s better to focus on healthier choices)
- Read The Every Other Day Diet book and “Like” the Every Other Day Diet FB page to keep up on the latest info and tips.
Oh, and that gal I mentioned eating the giant waffle with all the yummy toppings? That was me; I was steadily losing weight, feeling great, but still having my occasional treat. Lose weight, feel great, and eat my waffle too? I’ll take it!
Until next time…