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Thursday, 12 September 2019

Trying "12:36" (intermittent fasting) for a change

My 'diet' hadn't been working too well this year - I'd stopped tracking my daily intake and gotten into a bad habit of buying snack foods when doing grocery shopping and then browsing on them while watching TV in the evenings. Instead of losing weight, I'd been slowly gaining weight this year!

So, after reading about 12:36 ('alternate day'(ADF), or 'intermittent') fasting producing some good results for weight loss and improving a range of health markers, I decided to give that a go. I'd previously found it quite easy to stick to a five-day regime of my version of FMD ('fasting mimicking diet') that involved a balanced but low-calorie (~600/day) regime for five days, but after initially intending to do that once a month (and stick to my 'standard' healthy diet plan the rest of the time), I'd found it too much of a chore to buy and prepare the fairly specific food items for FMD. After doing it a couple of times I'd never gotten around to it again...

Therefore, the '12:36' fast seemed like a good idea, as it will be a lot easier to implement. The original version of 12:36 is to eat 'ad libitum' (whatever you feel like) for 12 hours (eg. from 8am to 8pm) and then eat nothing for 36 hours (i.e. have a fasting day). That has been applied to 'normal' weight humans, but as I am obese (BMI ~34) I really don't think having any 'ad libitum' days is a good idea (I can easily eat a family pizza and a couple of packets of confectionery or a family-sized block of chocolate in an evening if I'm in the mood). Therefore, my version of the '12:36' diet plan is to stick to my standard, healthy food plan most days of the week, and simply have a fasting day every Tuesday and Thursday. If I'm really keen I might also stick to my low-cal 'FMD' diet regime some weekends.

I experimented with doing a couple of days of fasting last week, but not stictly as I did eat a few food items on those days. I ended up having 936 cals last Tuesday and 685 cals last Thursday. I didn't feel particularly hungry on those days, so I stuck to a proper fast on Tuesday this week (no food at all) and today. I've actually found it very easy to 'fast' - not feeling very hungry at all (no more peckish that I often feel at 4pm after having a normal breakfast and lunch!).

Studies have shown that ADF has similar benefits (at least in animal studies) as CRAN, so I think this might be my ideal diet regime. The biggest plus from my point of view is that it is incredible easy to implement - no special foods to buy or prepare, and nothing to keep track of on the fast days.

So far the only 'glitch' caused by fasting is that one day I completely forgot to take my multivitamins and prescription medications in the morning as I didn't have any breakfast.

So far I haven't been on ADF long enough to determine what the long-term rate of weight loss might be, but I'm hoping to lose weight at a steady rate of 0.5-1 kg/wk once the initial 'water loss' period is over, and then slowly move towards my ideal BMI (70-75kg) over the next 12-18 months. Hopefully my rate of weight loss will slow down as I approach my ideal BMI (it takes a lot more calories to maintain and move 110kg compared with 70 kg!) - but if not I'll just replace the 'fast' days with the more modest FMD food plan on those days once I get close to the lower bound of the healthy weight range.

So far the initial results look quite promising:

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