Why intermittent fasting is the healthier alternative to dieting

In January, I was in your boy-meets-friendly-girl-on-a-boat scenario on Sydney Harbour situation. Months later she was smiling on my smartphone, and we both swiped right on Tinder. She was keen for a drink, but I was not. Her reply (before blocking me) to a polite rejection was: "I saw you walking your dogs the other day, and you look fat."

I've never professed nor aspired to having Zac Efron's body – I'm happy, and I'm doctor-free-healthy. Yet I still have my personal health ups and downs. What she said stung yet the truth is, I was wanting to make a lifestyle change. Her trolling lit just the right fuse in my soul.


I fasted over two weeks, and I lost weight. "What's the strategy?" my friends asked. Here's how I broke it down:

16 hour intermittent fasting

During intermittent fasting (IF) you eat breakfast at seven am, have a snack at 11 then finish a late lunch by 3pm, only consuming water until the next breakfast at 7am (a 16 hour intermittent fast). The goal is to fast two to five times per week (I pushed it, and made it five).

It's challenging

It's not easy. It's not hard, but it's challenging. At eight pm hunger kicks in; by then it's only a two hour period before heading to bed. Toughen up with a little hunger for a couple of hours, or cry yourself to bloated sleep with alcohol, chocolate cake...and weight gain.

Science backs it up

Science is catching up to the religious, medical, and yoga communities who have practiced fasting for many years. But numerous studies (even the CSIRO opined on the matter) conclude intermittent fasting is a useful tool for weight loss, glycaemic control, and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The 5:2 Diet

It's a popular book, but the 5:2 Diet is not fasting. By eating three small meals per day (500/600 calories for women/men), it's solely calorie restriction two days per week.

Sacrifice is a must

On the lead up, I missed the Orange's Food and Wine Festival in NSW, and on subsequent weekends I sacrificed Manly's Food and Wine Festival along with a black tie charity event.


But know this – bars, restaurants, and food festivals will be there next week, month, and year – so you're not really missing out on anything when you're concentrating on weight loss.

Ditch meal replacement shakes

During IF, you obtain all the protein you need from chicken, steak, salmon, milk, eggs, and greens. Don't hand over your money to snake oil salesmen at supplement warehouses and multi-level marketing companies.

Hunger won't kill you

When it comes to hunger, I'm sympathetic to those with eating disorders and families that can't afford consistent meals. Hunger – it's a tough word for many.

Yet Australia's a country with an overweight statistic of 70 per cent and bulging. For those 70 per cent, the glee and consumption of Chicken Big Mac's and Nutella Krispy Kreme's is killing your health. A bit of hunger? It's mind over matter – a little hunger during IF can strengthen you.

Remember exercise

Fasting is a great tool, but it's more efficient when coupled with healthy meals and quality exercise. You avoid the doctor with exercise, lose more weight while leaning or toning, and you'll look and feel better. You must exercise.

Enjoy some cheating

After a tough work week that includes exercise and healthy eating, enjoy a few wines and a bit of chocolate. You deserve it.

Eliminate The Graze Phase

Sure, you can IF by missing morning breakfast – it's a common question. However, how many people not only just eat dinner, but from 5pm to 10pm they live in The Graze Phase.

After work, you reach for a snack and a drink. You consume dinner portions too big then go for seconds. Drink more. Dessert more. Then top it with a bedtime snack. This isn't dinner – it's grazing, and it's a major calorie and kilojoule intake and the cause of weight gain. Opinions and research differ, but the Journal of the College of American Nutrition reported a study where two groups ate the same foods, but at different times. Those that ate more calories in the first half of the day lost 33 per cent more off their waistlines, exhibited better metabolic activity, which resulted in more weight loss.

When you IF at night The Graze Phase becomes a non-existent pastime. It doesn't take long before you wake with a non-bloated, slimmer tummy, and your lifestyle will love waking with a glass of water and ("damn I'm hungry") hearty breakfast rather than going to bed in a fatty, food coma state.

How much weight did I lose?

I lost five kilos in two weeks, and my jeans feel bloody good. I slept well. Utilising leftovers while tapering the booze – I saved loads of money. My energy is way up. I'm loving it, and I'm going to keep on going.

After two weeks, I find it easy.

Dieting sucks. The good news is, IF is not a diet – it's a behaviour change. IF doesn't add "more", rather "less" to a busy day. Fasting may not be for everybody or every body. And of course results might vary.

Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of Executive Style readers to undertake his 'Cut The BS' diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.

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Have you ever tried intermittent fasting? Share your experience in the comments section below.