Last week my husband mentioned hearing about an interesting diet on NPR, and a few days later my cousin posted the article on Facebook ~ Minifasting: How Occasionally Skipping Meals May Boost Health.
I was very intrigued & started doing some more research. There is one diet that follows the guidelines of "16:8", which means you go for 16 hours without eating and then eat within a 8 hour period. This sounds bad at first, but it basically means you don't have a snack after dinner, sleep all night, and skip breakfast. After this long stretch, your body has used up all the energy from your food and starts burning up a little bit of fat. Some people do this every day, but personally I know I've gone periods in my life where I was too busy to eat breakfast and I didn't notice any change, so I don't think it would work for me.
Then there is "5:2" (or the "fast diet") - 5 days of the week you eat normally, and then for 2 days you eat within that 8 hour window, but those days you also cut your calories down to 1/4 and only eat about 500-600 calories for the day ("fast" days). If 16:8 sounded bad, this seems horribly crazy! But I also know back when I was regularly counting calories (aiming for 1,200-1,500 calories a day), I had many lunches that were about 200 calories, like this yummy Faux Sizzling Rice Soup ~
Or there are some large dinners portions that could be reduced a little. Use half the peanuts and divide by 6 (instead of 5), and this Ginger Chicken with Peanuts stir-fry is only 250 calories! (skip the rice, of course)
Most vegetables are crazy low in calories, so if you make sure to throw in some good protein to help you feel full, you really can eat a lot of good food for 600 calories! You just need to plan ahead and squeeze as much as you can into those mini meals. SparkRecipes is a great, free site where you can calculate nutritional info for a meal and make adjustments until it is in the range you want.
I've gone months in the past counting calories every day, and I've grown to really hate it! This actually sounds much more do-able to me because I can just spend a little time planning out some meals that I can eat those days, and then there is not much to worry about or track after that. And if nothing else, you feel like, 'it's only for one day! I can eat normal tomorrow'. (You might assume that you would really overindulge on the off days, but from what I've read on forums, most people aren't hungry on the "fast" days and even feel less ravenous on the normal days.)
After researching & planning last week, my husband asked if we were starting this week. I kind of panicked, feeling like I needed more time to put together meal ideas, but then I realized I only need 2 days worth, and then I'll have all of this week to work on more ideas for the future. So I'm kicking aside my anxiety and we are starting tomorrow! (yikes) We will have dinner tonight around 5:00 & not eat anything after 6:00. Tomorrow I will eat between 10am-6pm and plan on doing three 200 calorie meals. And then the next day will start like normal at 6am and I can eat breakfast whenever I want. (Our days run pretty early, so bump this schedule back to fit your day.)
Although I do plan to cheat a little. For one thing, men are supposed to get 600 calories while women only get 500. But since I originally read "600" calories, that just seems cruel to knock it down further, haha. I am also adjusting the meals to get them close to something like 150, 200, 250, etc., and just ignoring it if they go 10 calories over or under. The worst that could happen is that I eat three meals I really rounded down and accidentally eat 50 extra calories, but for the sake of ease I think it is totally worth it.
So what do you think ~ crazy fad diet, or something you could see yourself trying? I will report back to tell you how it is going and to share meal & workout ideas.
(*Note - This diet is not intended for pregnant women, diabetics, children or teens, or people with a history of eating disorders.)