I began Intermittent Fasting (IF) on January 1st, and so far so far good! I am beginning with what I consider the most relaxed version of IF, which involves a 1:1 ratio of 12 hour eating window to 12 hour fasting window. Initially I chose my eating window as 10am-10pm, but I am going to adjust that so it is 9am-9pm on weekdays and 10am-10pm on weekends (Friday/Saturday) for this week and see how that goes.
Like many others, I am also participating in “Dry January”, abstaining from alcohol after imbibing a little too much over the holiday season. In the evening, I have been drinking tea, meditating, and journaling to get over the alcohol cravings. Yesterday I picked up some dark-chocolate raisinets to help with cravings, too.
Anyways, let’s move on to cover the basics of IF. Keep reading, and you’ll find information on my measurements and calorie calculations. Read further on and you’ll find a few tidbits of advice on meal planning, and my meal plan (with links to recipes) for the upcoming week.
What is “Intermittent Fasting” (IF)
Intermittent Fasting involves cyclical periods of brief fasting and those of unrestricted eating. Fasting diets have been around for a long time, the first evidence I could find of published research around IF was in March 1946 from researchers Anton Carlson and Frederick Hoezel in The Journal of Nutrition, titled “Apparent Prolongation of the Lifespan of Rats by Intermittent Fasting: One Figure”. The researchers concluded that one in three day fasting periods (i.e.: fast one day, eat two days, repeat) showed the greatest increase in lifespans for the rats.
While the researchers then were looking at the lifespan of rats, IF is now being turned to for weight loss and improving various biological markers. In fact, in 2013 The Canadian Medical Association Journal published an article claiming that IF was “the next big weight loss fad”.
And now there are many varieties of fasting. As well as the tapering hours on to hours off variations that I will be trying out, there are also the variations of “meal skipping” – skip meals when convenient; “5:2 Diet” – Eat for five days, fast for two; “Eat-Stop-Eat” – involves a 24-hour fast once or twice per week; “Warrior Fasting” – eat raw fruits and vegetables during the day then one huge meal at night (“feast” within a four hour window); etc.As stated before, I am currently doing the 12:12 method and will taper down to 14:10 on January 21st, then to the 16:8 method in February. For the last three weeks of March, I will do Alternate Day Fasting (ADF), in which you eat unrestricted for one day and then restrict to less than 600 calories the next day.
During the coming weeks, I will share and discuss research around how IF impacts weight loss, and various biological markers. If you are following a fasting diet, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
My Nutrition Needs
Though you don’t need to count calories during IF (that’s kind of the point of this lifestyle; the more restrictive you get with your eating window, the less you generally need to think about it), I thought it would be useful to the reader to know my stats. I step on the scale every day because I find it interesting and it personally helps me stay in line, and I take tape measurements on the first Sunday of the month. Each month, I will share my new measurements here on this blog.
Currently, my height is 5’7” (67”), and my weight is 146lb (66.4kg). This is my “post-holiday” weight, where my usual weight is 135lb. Thus, I am going to use 135lb (61.4kg) for my nutrition calculations.
Measurements as of 1/6/2019:
I use the Mifflin equation to estimate my calorie needs, which is:
Resting Energy Expenditure (REE):
= (kg wt x 10) + (cm ht x 6.25) – (Age x 5) – 161 = (61kg x 10) + (170cm x 6.25) – (33 x 5) – 161 = 610 + 1062.5 – 165 – 161
REE = 1347 calories
After finding REE, you find Total Energy Expenditure (TEE) by multiplying REE with an activity factor to account for exercise on movement on top of activities of daily living. I am using an AF of 1.7 to account for sports/exercise 6-7 days per week.
TEE = 1347 x 1.7 = 2290 calories
Thus, my calorie needs are ~2300 calories per day.
Here is how I generally approach meal planning for the week ahead (see below for this weeks meal planning with pics):
- I look at what’s coming in my Hungry Harvest box
- Hungry Harvest is nice because you can see ahead of time what’s scheduled for delivery and customize the box each week so you don’t get something you won’t use
- Look at what I have in my pantry and/or freezer
- Plan out my week and what I’d like to make for meals
- Write a grocery list for what I need by section of the store
- Eat something so I don’t impulse purchase, head to the store
- Prep and portion meals
Things to keep in mind when you’re planning out your week:
- Events during which you may be eating
- Planned lunches and/or dinners
- Commuting times / emergencies
- Say you oversleep or “forget to eat lunch” (hey I guess that happens to some people), it’s not a bad idea to have some nuts or something in your bag in case you get hungry
This week in my Hungry Harvest:
So I decided I wanted to make:
- Greek Chicken Stew (makes 5 servings)
- Tortellini with peas and asparagus (makes 3 large servings, or six small servings)
- Lentil hash with bacon and veggies (add eggs for breakfast)
- Apples and pears for snacks
- Bell peppers for snacks
And these were my planning / grocery lists:
When My Hungry Harvest Came:
After cutting up all my veggies and prepping and portioning my meals for the week:
Challenges and their outcomes:
- Snap peas came with the Hungry Harvest, not shelled peas. Luckily i had some in the freezer to use with the tortellini, so I will snack on snap peas along with bell peppers this week.
- I toggled back and forth between making an asparagus and pea risotto for “Meatless Monday” or a tortellini with peas that I used to make. The winner was tortellini because risotto calls for white wine and I didn’t want to have to open a bottle, since I’m not drinking this month!
- Being single, and a girl who likes to eat, I generally have the problem where my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I make too much food. I was originally going to make a ground pork and rice noodle soup but realized that would probably put me over the edge for meals. I decided to eat smaller portions of the tortellini supplemented with salads.
How this weeks meal plan looks now, with workouts plugged in:
I will likely add peanut butter to my apples and/or avocado to my salads, which I will dress using the dressings in my fridge or oil and vinegar.
Right now, I am working from home (aka: trying to find a job and working with private clients in my LLC), so I am fortunate that I can eat most of my meals at home. When I start commuting to an office again on my bike, I’ll let you know how that impacts meal planning 😛