One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the eating schedule. Not to be confused with “diet,” what you eat, your eating schedule is simply when you eat… Managing when you eat is just as important as managing what you eat, more importantly, managing your eating patterns alone can yield noticeable results, without you needing to change what is actually in your diet! The best way to learn how to manage your eating times is (in my humble opinion,) intermittent fasting (IF).

Simply put, IF is switching between eating and fasting on a regular schedule, limiting your eating to a specific window, and then following up that eating window with a subsequent fasting period. Personally, my go to is the 16:8 method, where you have an 8 hour eating window, followed up by a 16 hour fasting period. Another intermittent fasting method that I have experimented with is the 5:2 method, where you follow your normal eating patterns for 5 days of the week, and for the other two, you limit yourself to consuming no more than 500 calories. I prefer these two techniques because they are the simplest to manage and still yield great results, even though I solemnly stand by the 16:8 method. There are more aggressive methods that use fasting periods of 24, 48 and even 72 hours at a time, but those should be practiced carefully and under the guidance and supervision of an experienced practitioner.

The human body is no stranger to fasting… we evolved from hunter-gatherers, and since preservative technologies are very new when compared to the existence and evolution of the human body as we know it today, ALL our ancestors unwittingly practiced intermittent fasting, and as a result, we are directly wired to respond positively to fasting. Done properly, IF can help you fast track your weight loss, and can yield a myriad of benefits including:

  • Reduced Insulin Levels: During fasting the insulin levels in your body is reduced drastically, which mitigates insulin resistance and significantly reduces the risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes.
  • Increased Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Levels: During fasting, the blood level of HGH increase (sometimes drastically), which facilitates fat burning, muscle gain, and yields numerous other health benefits.
  • Heart Health: Fasting improves numerous factors directly linked to your heart health namely blood pressure, blood sugar levels, blood triglycerides, reduces LDL cholesterol, and reduces inflammation.
  • Autophagy: Fasting triggers a cellular waste removal process known as autophagy, where the cells break down and metabolize broken and dysfunctional proteins that have built up in the cells over time.

Like all habits, it will take you sometime to find your groove. In my experience dealing with clients the first two weeks are the most vital, and you will face the most difficulty during that period. You will get hungry, you will get cranky, and the impulse to break that fasting period early will rear its ugly head. You can drink as much water as you would like, and you can also consume a black (no milk, sugar, or any other additives) cup of tea or coffee to stave off that hunger. All in all if you’re able to effectively control your eating patterns, you are well on your way to winning because managing something as vital as eating will bring you one giant step closer to achieving your health and fitness goals!

Written by Mukai Maromo