An extremely beneficial dietary strategy that can help you “master your craft” is called intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is a dieting pattern which involves “cycling” between periods of fasting and non-fasting. In other words, eating food only during certain days or time period within a day.
Choosing the right diet is crucial because of the long-lasting impact that it has on your physical and mental health. However, nutrition is a complex science to understand and it is sometimes very hard to eat the right kinds of food due to our busy lifestyles.
Therefore, if you do not have the knowledge, time, and/or resources to make the necessary changes to what you are eating right now, can you still do something to become healthier? The answer is yes!
The great thing is that, apart from what you eat, the timing of when you eat has a major influence on your body’s composition and internal functions. There are a variety of intermittent fasting methods out there, but the simplest one, in my opinion, involves restricting your eating between a 9- to 12-hour “window” during a day.
Start off by eating within a 12-hour “window”. For example, if your first meal is at 8 am, then your last meal should be finished at 8 pm (12 hours later). So, in the morning, try to eat as late as possible (e.g., if you wake up at 7 am, try to make a few check marks on your “to-do list” before eating) and in the evening, try to eat as early as possible (e.g., 2 hours before bed). While you are fasting, you should drink lots of water and refrain from drinking beverages such as coffee or tea, if you want to gain the maximum health benefits associated with this practice. Once you get comfortable with a 12-hour “window” you can decide to shorten it (I would not go under an 8-hour “window”). Just make sure that you monitor your overall well-being when you decide to make a change (e.g., What are my energy levels like? What is my mood like?).
Check out this video of Terry Crews, American actor and former NLF player, who is talking about how intermittent fasting is enabling him to stay in great shape. Pay particular attention to his segment on “autophagy”.
Here is a study that shows how intermittent fasting can be used as a preventative and therapeutic intervention against different nutritional challenges. In 2014, Chaix and colleagues examined how different diets and “eating windows” affected mice. They fed the mice one of four diets: high fat, high sugar, high fat and sugar, and regular mouse kibble. The mice also had four different “eating windows”: 9 hours, 12 hours, 15 hours, and eating whenever they wanted. After 38 weeks, the results showed that, regardless of the diet they were eating, the mice that were eating within a 9-hour or 12-hour “window” stayed lean and healthy in comparison to the mice who were eating within a 15-hour “window” or whenever they wanted.
Set goals. Do just one thing at a time. Keep it simple and smart. Do it consistently. Reflect on the process.
Chaix, A., Zarrinpar, A., Miu, P., & Panda, S. (2014). Time-restricted feeding is a preventative and therapeutic intervention against diverse nutritional challenges. Cell Metabolism, 20, 991-1005.