5 Effective Ways To Lose Weight With Intermittent Fasting

intermittent fasting for weight loss

I’m sure you’ve heard about what recently became a health trend: Intermittent fasting. It’s claimed to cause weight loss, improve metabolic health, and perhaps even extend lifespan, among other things. But the only thing I can personally confirm is the fact that it does help with weight loss. For me, it also improved my relationship with food in many ways. It’s important to mention it’s not right for everyone though. If you’re underweight or have eating disorders like anorexia, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, if you’re under the age of 18: this post is not for you. And if you have a medical condition like diabetes, it’s best to talk to your doctor first. Otherwise, you have no excuse not to give it a try and see what happens!

1. Choose the most appropriate plan for you

First of all, consider choosing an intermittent fasting plan that best matches your lifestyle and can be maintained for the long-haul. For example, some plans will be more or less easy to sustain depending if you have a 9-to-5 office job, if you’re working on shifts, or working from home, etc. It needs to be a plan that doesn’t prevent you from having a social life either (especially when lockdown is finally lifted). Among the most popular plans:

The 16:8 method

  • Eat only during 8 hours a day
  • Fast for the remaining 16 hours of the day
  • You can define your own “feeding window” (you could for example skip breakfast everyday or eat dinner really early)

The 5/2 diet

  • Eat normally for 5 days a week (i.e. your recommended calorie intake)
  • Reduce your calorie intake to only 500-600 for the other 2 days
  • You can pick which days of the week you want to fast

Eat-Stop-Eat

  • Fast for 24 hours, once or twice a week
  • You can pick which day(s) of the week you want to fast

Alternate day fasting

  • Fast every other day
  • An easier version would be to reduce your calorie intake to 500 calories on fasting days

The warrior diet

  • Eat very little during 20 hours a day (mostly small portions of raw fruits and vegetables)
  • Then eat what you want but only during a 4-hour window, at night

2. Drink a lot of water when you fast

No matter what plan you choose to adopt, remember to drink lots of fluid when you fast! Keeping yourself hydrated is extremely important. Water is of course the best option but you can also drink tea or coffee if you like, as long as you don’t add milk or any form of sweetener in it. Some consider it’s also fine to have calorie-free flavoured drinks but I would still avoid them, to guarantee a clean fast.

3. Dissociate fasting and starvation

The idea of fasting can be scary for some, but I think it’s important to remember fasting does not mean starving. The main difference being: starving is not a choice, it’s an involuntary absence of food that can lead to death. By fasting, you choose to avoid food (whether it’s for spiritual, health, or other reasons). It’s about taking control and learning how it actually feels like to be “hungry”. You’re unlikely to faint because you’re simply hungry… And hunger usually passes like a wave, you just need to learn how to ride the hunger waves. Don’t you think food tastes so much better when you’re hungry anyway, rather than when it’s simply “time to eat”? If done correctly, fasting shouldn’t cause suffering or lead to frustration. If that’s the case, pick another method or reduce your fasting window.

colourful fruit bowl vegan

4. Make the calories count

When you eat, do it well! Intermittent fasting is known to focus on when you eat rather than what you eat… But combining the two is always ideal. Binge eating junk food during your “feeding window” is not going to do you any good. It will only teach your mind that your reward for depriving yourself is to comfort eat. That’s why it’s so important to stay in control of what you put in your body.

When it’s time for you to eat, treat yourself to foods you like, preferably the ones packed with nutrients. Be sure to eat a balanced diet comprising fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Some foods will help you feel full for longer. Planning ahead will help you to achieve that: you’ll always make better choices if you’re well prepared. Remember to treat yourself too (not more than 10-20% of your total food intake) and you’ll be just fine!

5. Adopt your plan as a new way of life

Last but not least, the key to success is to adopt intermittent fasting as your healthy lifestyle, not for the short-term only. Personally I adopted the 16:8 method, which to me means I don’t have breakfast. I feel like I have more energy in the morning thanks to that, my body is not busy digesting a meal I don’t really need. I can focus more on my tasks, without feeling lethargic. Sometimes I extend the fasting period by a few hours (like 18:6 or 20:4 instead of 16:8) if I feel I can easily do it. Your body goes deeper into ketosis and focus on burning fat after 18 hours of fasting. I feel more in control, I have a better routine during the day and it prevents me from eating unnecessary evening snacks too.

Intermittent fasting gives me consistency and I’m now very close to reaching my weight goal! I’m sure it will help with weight maintenance too. If you find the idea too complicated, there is still the option of doing spontaneous meal skipping. The rule couldn’t be easier to follow: just skip a meal if you’re not hungry for example. I know you’ve heard all your life to never skip a meal but it’s just a myth! Simply listen to your body.

Big Girl x

How To Enjoy a Big Family Feast Without Compromising Your Healthy Lifestyle

The festive season can represent a big risk for anyone trying to lose or maintain their weight. How many times have you heard someone say: “I’ll wait until January to start a diet” or “I wanted to start eating healthy but I know I’ll eat a lot at Christmas so I’ll start afterwards”. If you wait for big festive events to be behind you before you start living healthier, then you might never start at all. I’m a strong believer you don’t need to wait for the new year to make good resolutions in life, the sooner the better. And if you’re already on the path to become a better version of yourself, you can still enjoy the festivities without letting them ruin your efforts.

When you think about it, why would people consciously overeat to celebrate? Surely you shouldn’t have to compromise your health to celebrate anything. I know temptation is everywhere and sometimes difficult to avoid, especially if there is a buffet in front of you (out of sight, out of mind) but you ARE strong enough to indulge yourself without feeling like a beached whale afterwards. The keyword is moderation. But I know it’s not enough to say that, so below are 4 important points that hopefully will help you keep in mind that the Christmas period doesn’t have to compromise your healthy plans.

Underestimate your food portions

I know you’re really looking forward to these Christmas delicacies, just try to put on your plate smaller portions than you would usually! When we’re hungry, we tend to overestimate the quantity of food we need and then we’re left with no choice but to keep eating after we’re already full. Putting less on your plate would allow you to ask yourself if you want more or not. And don’t worry, there will be enough food for you to come back to – actually, chances are there will be way too much food so don’t be greedy. Now, this advice sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many of us don’t listen: if you’re not hungry, do not eat. For the Christmas edition, I would go further: if there is anything you don’t like, don’t eat it! Yes, Brussels sprouts are part of the traditional British dinner but if you don’t like them, save space to enjoy other foods you really like. If you’re planning to have dessert, you don’t want to be already full by then. And when you eat, do it mindfully, take the time to really appreciate it. It’s not a quantity game and binge eating will not do you any good (even on healthy food).

Drink a lot… of water

Festivities almost always include alcohol, but drinking doesn’t make you feel fuller… Unless it’s water. If all you drink is sugary and/or alcohol, not only are you going to go way above your calorie budget but you’re going to feel dehydrated (and then drink more alcohol, you know how this works). And when you’ve had too much alcohol, you’ll make poorer choices between your food options. Try to limit your consumption of alcohol and increase your water intake. If you’re struggling with the idea, remember that water cleanses your body and is a natural hunger suppressant. It’s the number 1 thing your body needs to function properly (after the air you’re breathing obviously). Still not convinced? Take a look at how many calories each alcoholic drink contains on average. It quickly adds up.

Allow your body to digest

By that, I don’t necessarily mean vegetating in front of TV (let’s be honest, we’ve all seen Christmas movies several times, they’re not as good). Think of your body like a machine that needs to process everything you give it. If you keep feeding it when it’s already full, it won’t have time to process what it already has. Why not go for a walk to help burn some calories? It doesn’t have to be a long walk, even 30 minutes in the neighbourhood would be beneficial. If you’re bored, don’t think of food as the solution to keep yourself busy, offer to play a game that will keep everyone entertained. Remember to stop eating at least 2 hours before bedtime to allow enough time for digestion. You could also prepare to fast the next day to clean up your body, or practise intermittent fasting, although this is not an ideal solution for everyone.

Learn how to say ‘no’

You will 100% be offered extra food or another glass of alcohol when you’re already full. Don’t be polite and accept because you can’t say no. Prioritise your body, not the host (I know it sounds selfish but no one else but you is responsible for your own health). People tend to insist when they’re feeling very festive but they won’t remember the next day you said no. There is nothing more unpleasant than forcing yourself, so just be honest (don’t forget to smile while doing it) and it will be all good! If there is too much food (there will be), offer to take some leftovers with you to enjoy the next day as an alternative.

Finally, I think it’s important to remind you this: don’t forget to enjoy yourself in the process. Doing things in moderation shouldn’t be boring or prevent you from having fun! Remember why you’re doing this and all the benefits in the long term! Happy body, healthy mind, healthy soul, everything goes together. And if you know this time you ate more than you should have, it’s all fine, you’ll lose it naturally over time if you stick to your healthy lifestyle. Christmas is only 2 weeks away now… Do you feel you have enough mental tools to overcome the family feast this year?

Big Girl x

Possible Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight & Tips to Regain Control

Possible Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight And Tips to Regain Control

If you’re on a weight loss journey, December is probably the worst month of the year to stay motivated. It’s getting cold, days are shorter, and it’s more difficult to stay active… Switching to “couch potato” mode and watch your favourite shows instead (with some comfort food?) seems like a much better idea. Plus it’s Christmas soon so why bother losing weight now, let’s postpone to January when everyone will be making good resolutions, right? Well I don’t want you to give up now! There is no one-size-fits-all solution but if you feel demotivated because you’re doing everything by the book and still don’t lose weight, then let’s go through the most common reasons why it’s not happening and how to overcome this phase.

Possible reasons why you’re not losing weight

It’s important to know losing weight and losing fat are not the same thing. Losing fat is ultimately what you want… And if you’re not losing weight, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not losing fat. So before going through the list below, ask yourself if your new lifestyle is making positive impacts on your body and soul. If the answer is yes, then you have nothing to worry about, just carry on!

  • If you recently started to exercise, then you can gain muscle (which is heavy) and therefore think you’re doing something wrong. As it’s fat you want to lose anyway, this is actually a good thing.
  • Have you been keeping track of what you’re eating? Sometimes the difference between what you think you eat and what you actually eat can be huge… You could be eating too many calories without even noticing.
  • If you “drink” your calories, it will jeopardise your efforts of eating healthy and won’t even fill you up. A can of coke contains 140 calories, a glass of wine 80 calories, a pint of beer 200 calories. Remember than water is what you really need to stay hydrated and it contains 0 calories.
  • Sleep deprivation can not only lead to mental health issues but could also be a risk factor for obesity. Have you been getting enough sleep lately?
  • Maybe you’re not eating when you’re really hungry. You could either stop and think if you really need food right now, or you could try intermittent fasting to limit your feeding window during the day (but do not starve yourself!).
  • Have you already hit your healthy set point? Your body will naturally go towards its ideal weight if you have a healthy lifestyle. Question is: do you and your body both agree on what your ideal weight is? Have realistic expectations.
  • Some medical conditions can make weight loss a lot harder. If you think it could be your case or have any doubts, speak to a doctor about your options.
you can win if you want

Tips to regain control of your weight loss

I can’t tell you exactly what you should eat (or stop eating) to suddenly lose weight, but I can give you some tips to stay focused on your healthy goals. If you’ve ever been promised to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time by eating a specific food, your chances of success are very slim. Dieticians would agree it’s more about a lifestyle change and building a long-term habit! So play the long game.

  • Focus on your wellbeing – How do you feel?
  • Remember why you’re doing it – Think long term. For example: “I want to be a healthy person and live a high quality life. I want to feel good about myself too.”
  • Create a food plan when you’re not hungry – Know in advance what and when you eat (even better if you eat at the same time every day), it will give you control over your food choices and make impulsive unhealthy meals less frequent.
  • Eat mindfully, enjoy each meal and focus on your food (no distractions like TV, phone, etc).
  • Make sure you accurately estimate food portions and be wary of hidden calories. Sometimes you don’t realise the impact of small additions to your meal: an extra tablespoon of olive oil is 120 calories, an extra tablespoon of mayonnaise is another 100 calories, etc. Sugary drinks and alcohol are also very high in calories (as mentioned earlier), so it’s best to avoid them completely or at least reduce your consumption in your day-to-day routine.
  • Remember you make choices, not rules. If you have too many food restrictions in your diet, it will eventually frustrate you and make you subconsciously want them more. Focus instead on healthy food you love.
  • Sleep well and drink more water (and stay consistent). The right amount of sleep and staying hydrated will help you manage your appetite better!
  • Don’t focus only on weight – it’s just one indicator among others – and track other healthful changes that may have happened, like your waist and hips circumferences. You can also use a smart scale to get more information on your body composition (% fat, % water, muscle mass, etc).
  • Don’t compensate your boredom with food and distract yourself – I give you a few ideas how in this post.
  • Be patient and realistic, things won’t happen overnight.

I think it’s pretty normal to experience a weight loss plateau at some point. The key is to not give up, weight loss will eventually resume, unless you’re doing something wrong without knowing… This is why I wanted to list the most common reasons why you’re not losing weight and how to overcome it. And if you constantly remind yourself of how far you’ve come, it should definitely keep you on track. Not everyone can succeed in changing their lifestyle for good, because it requires dedication, self-discipline, perseverance and resilience. Do you have what it takes? I know you do!

Big Girl x

Bored? How to Soothe Yourself Without Food

bored? soothe yourself without food

We’ve all been bored at some point in our lives… Especially this year. I used to complain about not having enough time for myself, now I have lots of quality time and this is a good thing. What it could mean though is weight gain. I thought I would make a list of things to do to avoid being bored, because it’s easy to turn to food when you’re bored. Think about it, if people only ate when their body needed it, the population in the entire world would be so much healthier…

“We use food to entertain, distract, comfort, and calm us.”

Boredom is not the only issue. Truth is it’s actually quite hard to tell if you’re really hungry, food temptation is everywhere and is sometimes used as a comforting answer to our potential problems. How do we stop that behaviour?

Make a list of things to do when you’re bored

This is a very useful exercise that will keep you away from food for a moment. I’ve done it myself and below is a list of some ideas:

  • Do you have pets who need to spend some energy? Play with them, it will keep you busy and they will love the attention.
  • Clean your home, hoover, dust, mop the floor etc – It’s not necessarily an appealing activity for everyone but it’s very rewarding when done.
  • It’s Christmas in a few months, why don’t you start browsing ideas online?
  • Brush your teeth – The feeling of having a great oral hygiene will put you off food if you’re not hungry.
  • Is there a friend you haven’t talked to for a long time? Time to connect!
  • Read a good book, it’s a great alternative to social media
  • Play mobile games (I love Angry Birds…)
  • Listen to music
  • Go for a walk and take some fresh air
  • Invest time in a blog to discuss topics close to your heart
  • Create your own list, I’m sure you’ll have more suggestions!
glass of water

How to identify real hunger

Still thinking of food? Maybe you are hungry for real. But make sure it’s not just boredom and try the exercises below first:

  • Drink a glass of water and wait for 20 minutes, that’s how long it takes for the brain to register any satiety information. Sometimes you think you’re hungry but you just needed to hydrate!
  • Rate your hunger from 0 (I’m stuffed, really don’t fancy food right now) to 5 (I’m so hungry that my stomach is making funny noise and my I feel light-headed).
    • If you rate is below 3, avoid unnecessary snacking, especially if you’ve eaten not so long ago. Drink instead, water, tea or even diet sodas.
    • If you rate is 3 or above, then maybe you do need some food! Your body knows, listen to it.

Knowing how to identify when you’re hungry is key to weight management. Signs of hunger include: stomach rumbling, lack of energy, feeling light-headed. If you really listen to your body, it’s difficult to miss these signs. Also, remember that food tastes so much better when you’re hungry! Eat only when you’re really hungry (but not when you’re starving or you’ll binge) and stop eating when you don’t need any more food (don’t wait until you’re about to explode!). The way to achieve this is to eat slowly to let your brain register every bite. Easier said than done, I know… But master this and you’ll never have to diet anymore.

What do you do to distract yourself when you’re bored?

Big Girl x