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Random musings of a fast dieter

Not sure how this blog will turn out, so for now it can be described simply as 'random' but probably quite nerdy and foody!
11 replies Page 1 of 2

Experimenting with 16:8

by carorees on 08 Sep 2013, 17:12

Hmm, it's been an age since I added to this blog. I don't think I'm a natural blogger TBH but partly because most of the time I spend on the forum is done on my phone rather than at the computer and the prospect of writing a whole blog entry on my phone is rather off-putting! But I digress.

I thought it might be time to write an update about my experience of changing from 5:2 to 16:8.

I decided quite a while ago that the easiest way to manage my diet during my 3-week holiday in Sweden would be to skip breakfast (which at the place we go to is fairly uninspiring anyway being just bread and jam) and not eat until lunchtime. As we have our evening meal fairly early at our holiday house, it would mean I would naturally be adopting the 16:8 format of intermittent fasting.

I also aimed to cut down on carbs as far as possible. In the run up to the holiday I had been increasingly convinced that cutting down on carbs would be A Good Thing, so to skip breakfast meant an easy way to achieve a reduction in carbs. This also meant I could save some carb allowance for treats ;-)

    Brief aside for some background:
    16:8 means fasting for 16 hours each day and only eating during the remaining 8 hour "eating window". In practice one just concentrates on keeping the eating within the 8 hours and so the actual fast length will be shorter some days and longer on others.

    Our holiday home belongs to my mother in law and is on a very small island with no shop. The whole family congregates there during the summer and so it is very communal living style. The emphasis is on enjoying food and drink (apart from the dull breakfasts!) so I didn't want to cause comment from MIL about strange eating habits (MIL struggles with another daughter in law who is vegan so I didn't want to complicate things even more).

I decided to start the 16:8 approach a week before the holiday so I could see whether it would work for me. I found it fine as I was not getting up that early now that school had finished and I didn't need to get up at the crack of dawn to take DS to school, so I only had to kill 2-3 hours before the eating window would open...this was easily achieved with copious amounts of black coffee. Saying no to desserts if we had eaten dinner right at the end of the eating window was, perhaps, the hardest bit :oops: . I had been weighing daily for several months and was, by then, well-used to big ups and downs with the 5:2 approach, so I was amazed to find that the scales showed a small decrease each day (approx 100g) :victory: . There was also a small decrease in my waist.

I set off for Sweden feeling fairly confident that I would be able to keep any weight gain due to the daily fika (coffee :coffee: and cake :cake: , with emphasis on cake) and nightly happy hour (cocktails :drink: , vodka and Swedish drinking songs :musical: ) under some kind of control. I considered taking the weighing scales but failed to convince OH that they justified the space in the luggage, so I just took my tape measure on holiday.

Apart from some surprise from MIL (who mentioned to OH that she wasn't sure it was OK to skip meals :roll:), the rest of the family didn't bat an eye at me skipping breakfast. I made a big effort to keep carbs down at lunchtime and dinner so could indulge in the cake and cocktails and, amazingly, after a couple of weeks I discovered my waist had decreased in size :grin: ! When I got home again, the scales confirmed that I had lost weight on holiday....this is unheard of in the history of me going on holiday! Truly amazing :cool:

So, as it was still the summer holidays and I didn't need to get up early, I decided to carry on with 16:8 and in the month since getting back have lost a further 3kg, which is a tad faster than I had been losing with 5:2 before I changed :victory: .

How do I feel on 16:8? I am often hungry in the morning but a few cups of black coffee sorts that out and I'm happy to wait for lunch. Some days lunch is quite delayed (today it was 2pm) so I am usually fasting for at least 16 hours but sometimes up to 19 or 20 hours. I try hard not to snack between lunch and dinner and to keep the carb intake reduced compared with my feast days on 5:2 (just one or half a slice of bread with lunch and a small potato with dinner), but most days I have one treat (either cake with afternoon tea, or a dessert after dinner). I do also often feel a bit hungry in the evening. I am sleeping a bit better in general as I don't have those two fast days each week when I would get hardly any sleep. At the moment I don't mind feeling a bit hungry each day but I've discovered that if I have more than one treat and/or one glass of wine (I'm trying to keep wine just for weekends), then I will see no change or a small increase on the scales. I can see that if I treated the 8-hour eating window as being able to eat whenever I felt peckish then I would not be losing any weight. A rough calorie count suggests I am eating around 1200-1400 cals each day (=9100 per week) which compares with 2 x 500 + 5 x 1800 (10,000 per week) when I was doing 5:2, which explains the slightly faster weightloss :geek: .

I'm in two minds now as to what to do :-? . Should I go back to 5:2, add a couple of 500 cal days to the 16:8 or carry on with 16:8? I like the idea of getting a reasonable night's sleep (a plus point for 16:8) but I am not sure whether the constant calorie restriction will in the end be detrimental (negative point for 16:8). I also like the ability to cut carb intake by skipping breakfast every day (positive point for 16:8) and I know that when I was doing 5:2 my feast days were too carb heavy (negative point for 5:2) but I feel that putting in a 500 cal day after only having 1200 the day before on a 16:8 day would make the 500 cal fast day really hard (negative point for combining both approaches). I am liking the faster weightloss though. Last, I feel guilty for being a mod on a 5:2 forum but actually currently doing 16:8!!!

I suspect that for now I will carry on with 16:8 but maybe allow more leeway at weekends and compensate by skipping both breakfast and lunch on a Monday if the weekend has been particularly indulgent, so a 6(16:8):1 if you will!
Last edited by carorees on 09 Sep 2013, 06:49, edited 1 time in total.

Weight at start: 105 kg; dress size UK 20
Target, 65 kg, reached 15 May 2014 - 18 months after my first fast
Current weight: 66.4 kg; dress size UK 8-10
Maintenance weight range: 64-67 kg
My method: 8 months of 5:2, remainder and maintenance 16:8 + low carbs
My story here
Follow me on Twitter @CJstGR


Nutritional coach for FastDay's sister company, Ways of Eating (www.waysofeating.com)
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Comments

Re: Experimenting with 16:8
09 Sep 2013, 00:31
Thanks for making the effort to update your blog, it makes for an interesting read. I think 16:8 approach is a good alternative if life is getting in the way of our usual 5:2 routine. Don't feel guilty about not actually doing 5:2 when you're on of the mods, many if us were drawn to IF by 5:2, but in reality practice a variety of IF regimes.
Re: Experimenting with 16:8
09 Sep 2013, 06:31
Wow interesting blog entry Caroline. You've made a similar discovery to me - nearly all my weight loss has been since I combined 16:8 with 5:2 back in June. Started with a week of 16:8 due to bit of a stressful week (nearly involved in head on crash) but amazingly found it worked so kept on and combined the two ... Still losing weight, last month 3lb, most ever lost. Little plateaus of a week or so but nothing really to worry about. Hope you continue and it carries on working for you.
Re: Experimenting with 16:8
09 Sep 2013, 10:22
Thank you for this very informative and encouraging post. It perfectly answers the question of what I should do for two upcoming events: a work conference in Italy (hard no to eat/indulge there) followed by a vacation in an all-inclusive resort. 16:8 should allow me to keep the weight ( I dare not say yet to keep losing weight) I have reached and not be rude with my fellow travelers (who will expect me to be present at meal times).
Re: Experimenting with 16:8
14 Sep 2013, 09:08
Particularly attracted to the sleeping better aspects of this. That has always been my biggest bugbear with 5.2
Will wait to get my thyroid checked again as it has been sub-clinical for years now, as I know from previous informative posts by you that thyroid function slows after fewer hours than the 16 hour fasting time, so not too sure if this would be a viable permanent alternative for me.
Thanks for update.
Re: Experimenting with 16:8
14 Sep 2013, 10:50
Thank you Caro, that's really intersting. :like:
I'd been wondering what 16:8 is and having it explained so clearly is very helpful - and makes it seem eminently do-able.
Re: Experimenting with 16:8
14 Sep 2013, 12:33
You have a summer house in Sweden? How cool and how come, forgive me for being nosy ;)
Re: Experimenting with 16:8
15 Sep 2013, 08:04
Thanks, Caroline, this has been really useful. I've been sort of mucking around with a combination of 5:2 and 16:8 and debating the best way forward.

Do you know if there's any info out there about other health benefits of doing 16.8 v 5:2? ie: Does a daily 16 hour fast with normal or slightly reduced calorie intake have the same impact on health indicators as 2 days of 500 cals?

I could swear I've seen something on probably more than one thread but can't find it now. Bit reluctant to start another thread though, if it's already out there.

And as for feeling guilty about being a 5:2 mod doing 16:8, for heaven's sake, don't! You do a great job, and experimentation is what it's all about, surely. :)
Re: Experimenting with 16:8
18 Sep 2013, 13:53
Wolfie wrote: You have a summer house in Sweden? How cool and how come, forgive me for being nosy ;)

@Wolfie OH is half Swedish so we have a share in the family summer house on an island in the Stockholm archipelago.
RE: Experimenting with 16:8
18 Sep 2013, 16:27
Thanks Caroline for the update :heart:
Gives me hope for my next holiday as I may try 16:8 I'm not bothered not losing weight but would prefer not to gain either.
But as I did on my last hop in may I won't get on scales on my return
because I ALWAYS. gain when I look at the plane Lol
My oedema plays havoc but since I began this WOL I know I can repair any damage quickly enough :clover: Sue. :clover:
Re: Experimenting with 16:8
26 Sep 2013, 22:04
Thanks Caroline for taking the time to let us know how 16.8 is working for you. Xx
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