I’m rather a fan of Michael Moseley’ s health documentaries on the BBC and have tried his 5:2 diet with some success. But then life intervened with a couple of deaths in the family, not untimely ones, but we were still grieving and the aftermath of dealing with the personal effects was very stressful too.
I kept putting on weight, feeling helpless, nearing a BMI of 30. Yikes, that’s obese! I could not imagine succeeding at a traditional low calorie diet, necessary over many months to get enough weight off, and even the 5:2 diet seemed to offer only measly rewards for the effort involved. It had been easy in the beginning, but after a while sticking to the 500 calories on fast days was quite hard and I wanted to overeat on the days in between. A loss of 1kg a month was not enough of an incentive to make this type of dieting attractive for the time span necessary to lose 10+ kg.
That was when I came across the 16:8 diet, again via Michael Moseley and reinforced by other sources I respect. In the end my doctor brother told me I had to lose weight and why not try it? I came up with a lot of reasons why I couldn’t possibly fast for 16 hours a day, but the idea marinated in my brain until, several months later, I decided to give it a go.
There are much better explanations elsewhere of how this diet is supposed to work, but very simply put the idea is that you give your body a daily break from food. A lot of sugar in your blood is bad for all your organs, so eating for a restricted period each day limits exposure. Regarding weight loss, after twelve hours of fasting the energy stores in your liver are exhausted and your body is supposed to use your fat reserves to keep going.
The 16:8 diet isn’t supposed to restrict or count calories, and this might work, but it didn’t work that way for me. Practically as soon as I started it, it became so easy to eat much less that I did so simply because I could. I also had not intended to cut out sugar, thinking it was too much change all at once, but this too proved so easy that I would have been silly not to. The first few weeks were like a miracle, my body seemed to be embracing this. I cut down to 1100 calories of totally healthy food a day, with absolutely no cravings. That was the key: no cravings. I couldn’t believe it. I did feel hungry at times, but it was just a feeling I noted, it didn’t make me want to go and eat. The kgs melted away at one per week, an absolute record for me. I was on a constant high of feeling so incredibly virtuous!
Of course it did get more difficult down the track, but the initial phase of that very easy weight loss lasted for 7kg, a hell of a good start and very encouraging to continue. I had kicked the diet off in early January, but by Easter I had hit a bit of a plateau. A friend gave me some good advice to just ease off and eat normally for a while. I did so over that long weekend and it worked like a charm. By the time I was going on holiday at the end of April I had lost nearly 10 kg and decided to put the diet on hold and enjoy myself. By that time though my stomach had shrunk and I had realised how much I used to overeat, so it came quite naturally to eat sensibly. While I didn’t lose any weight in the 2 weeks I was away I didn’t gain anything either. Win/win I would say.
It is now mid July and I have lost almost 14kg. I had planned for 10, but as I went along I became more ambitious. I am still losing because I can and am planning to continue until my next holiday at the end of September. I have slowed down a lot, I would eat around 1400 calories on a weekday and probably close to 1650 on the weekend, which is my daily requirement. Weight loss is around 1/2 kg per week, sometimes less. My scales are old, but as long as the trend is downwards I’m not too fussed about the actual amount. I have definitely lost many cm from bust, waist, tummy, hips and thighs. My clothes look much better and I feel fitter.
A disappointment is that some of my food weaknesses have reappeared. I just love cake and other baked goods, and I am allowing myself one sweet treat on the weekend. I am trying to make this myself to have some control over what goes into it and cut down drastically on any sugar in the recipe. Butter is fine!
On the upside I can look at sweets and chocolate all day without feeling tempted. I used to be such a chocolate and sugar addict, but it’s a bit like alcohol: if you have it you want more. I am still having a glass of wine several times a week with dinner, but I am wondering if I really want to continue that.
I thought I would share this with you in case you find it useful, but dieting is such an individual thing. The 16:8 diet works for me because it seems to suit my body, but it probably won’t suit everyone. Still, as my brother said, it’s worth a try.