Weight loss and Lockdown: a new challenge- Intermittent Fasting

At the time of writing we are into our 4th week of covid19 lockdown in the UK. This unprecedented crisis has created several challenges for many of us. One challenge that I know many of my friends, colleagues and myself have is that of maintaining a healthy diet whilst working from home. Yes we have access to healthy food but the increased availability of food and options to snack more can lead to unhealthy habits.

My normal routine when working in clinics would be to have 3 meals a day with very few snacks- working in clinic with a busy list means that this is usually very easy to do. Working from home though does mean that there is increased temptation to snack-including on unhealthy foods. I also know that myself and some colleagues have stated that they are drinking more alcohol than usual. For myself and many I suspect that this is not to any degree that needs urgent concern. However wine in the evenings along with increased snacking will no doubt lead to weight gain.

My usual weight can vary between 92-95Kg- I am classified as overweight with a BMI of around 28 ( overweight range is 25-30, obese is over 30. Normal range is 20-25). I run and workout several times per week and with a resting pulse on waking of 48 I regard myself as having high cardiovascular fitness. However, I noted after the second week of lockdown that my weight had increased to 96kg which I was definitely not happy with.

Over the last 2 weeks I have lost some of the weight and I am at 94kg weight at the time of writing this. I have cut back on snacks and wine but I now want to get my weight to under 90kg. One way I hope to achieve this is by using INTERMITTENT FASTING.

What is intermittent fasting ? Essentially it means going longer periods of time without eating. There are various methods that people use- including whole 24 hour fasts. However most people use a daily pattern- and perhaps the 16/8 method is most frequently used. This means that for any 24 hour day you can only eat during an 8 hour window. I have started this week on Monday and plan to do for a month to see what effects it will have on my health. I am only allowed to eat between 1200 and 2000 each day. I will then have 16 hours before I can eat food again. During the fasting hours, clear drinks are allowed- black coffee/ tea/ water etc…. Then between 1200-2000 I will eat normally- trying to avoid unhealthy and processed foods that have high calories.

There is good evidence that this type of fasting will help weight loss. But there are many more potential gains as well- increased concentration, reduced cholesterol levels, reduced risk of diabetes, etc…

How has this been so far this week ? Well it has been good. Yes I feel some hunger between getting up at 0730-0800 until I eat at 1200. However drinking green tea and lots of water ( also good for weight loss) really helps to take the edge of the hunger. I do not feel the tiredness mid morning from having had carbs for breakfast- with the resultant drop in sugar levels making me more hungry and tired. I will try and increase my protein content at meals to fill me up more and to avoid processed carbs such as rice, pasta. white potatoes etc… Eggs, chicken, lean meat, lots of veggies and some fruit the main focus.

Now that I have blogged about this I have to stick with it ! 30 days of fasting like this and I hope to be nearer to my under 90kg target. The current lockdown has changed many lives and how we live each day. Even if not fasting it may be worthwhile checking your own snacking and alcohol levels to ensure that the weight does not creep up during these times.

Of course do keep exercising for health too. Walking, cycling, running and home workouts are a great way to further boost metabolism.

Meantime keep safe. Keep moving. Keep well.

Dr Michael Burdon April 23rd 2020

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