Updated: Nov 5, 2021
At the age of 70, I read about intermittent fasting (IF). Intermittent fasting involves fasting from anywhere between 16 to 23 hours a day. Those who do a 23 hour fast only eat one meal a day (OMAD). My wife’s and my preference is to only eat during a 6 hour window from noon until 6 PM. This is commonly known as the 18/6 fast. This routine allows our bodies a full 18 hours to deal with the food we consume. While the system is not so much about what you eat but when you eat, we do strive to eat healthy balanced foods and to limit sugars and carbs.
Before starting the 18/6 fast, I weighed close to 200 pounds. Three months into the diet I stabilized at 178 pounds. We find the diet sensible, flexible and easy to follow. We do it six days a week with an off day on Sunday. If we are invited out for dinner, we can always adjust the 18/6 schedule. So, on a day when we have a late meal that ends at 9 PM, our first meal the next day is not until 3 PM and our window is 3 hours instead of 6 for that day.
Here is a typical day on Mondays to Fridays. On rising in the morning, I slowly drink about three glasses of water. I follow this with a cup of black coffee. My wife and I then do a forty minute bike ride. On a rainy day we have a Concept2 rower that will substitute for the morning bike ride. An hour after the bike ride, I do my strength training with my Hexrox bands. This takes no more than 20 minutes. After my strength workout, I start cooking our meal that will break our fast at noon. We only drink water before the noon meal. Normally, the noon meal is our heaviest and consists of animal protein, vegetables and some carbs. We normally only have a fruit shake with protein powder just before 6 PM but on some days may have a salad or a light meal. We also allow ourselves one glass of beer or wine during this time. Water is the only item consumed for the rest of the evening before bedtime. This may sound boring, but remember, on days when we eat out we can make the time adjustments.
While I urge you to do your own research and decide if IF is for you, and which time frame would best suit your life-style, here are some health benefits of intermittent fasting to consider.
Boosts in verbal memory
Improved blood pressure and resting heart rates
Benefits in insulin resistance and reduction in blood sugar levels
May stimulate an increase in human growth hormone levels
Facilitates cellular repair and autophagy
Can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation
You should ease into intermittent fasting should you decide to try it. Here are some tips on how to do so.
Start with an 8 hour eating window.
Choose the times that suit your lifestyle. If breakfast is your main thing, then eat from 8 AM to 4 PM. If you are a regular night eater, eat from 2 PM to 10 PM.
Start by eating as freely as you like during the eating window and then slowly choose a balance of healthier foods and try to just eat at two sittings.
In time, reduce the eating window to 6 hours or even progress to OMAD.
Drink lots of water during the fasting period. If you love coffee and/or tea, drinking black coffee and/or unsweetened teas will not break your fast.
Personally, after 2 years of 18/6 IF, my wife and I have both experienced excellent weight maintenance, much improved medical blood test results, increased energy levels and an overall sense of improved health management.