Ask the blogger (intermittent fasting edition)

JPP (I’m 90% sure I’m remembering the middle initial correctly, sincere apologies if I’ve forgotten) writes:

Dr. Greene-
Hello sir. Long time reader, longer time friend!
I actually have a question based on some of your posts about intermittent fasting. I’ve been watching my meal times to see if I could make this move. So my questions are:
1. Does it have to be 16/8? I can get to 14/10 without much change from what I do now.
2. Does liquid count? Thinking mostly about tea in the morning.
3. Do you also keep it up on weekends? Are there “cheat days” or “cheat hours” I suppose?
So, to turn an email into a long-time friend into a blog post… no new research here, just some observations in response to these questions.  Also, hopefully some of you who have been following the science on this can weigh in in the comments where helpful.

1) I’ve not read of any protocols less than 16 hours of fast.  So, given everything I’ve written on Covid vaccine protocols, I’m not going to say “you have to follow the protocols!” but, to my knowledge, all the research is based on 16/8 or 18/6 and, the theory behind it substantially depends on it being a big chunk of time with no eating.  I’ll also say, based on my personal experience, the shorter the eating period, the more effective I suspect it will be.  For me, the reality is there’s only so much food that goes in my body over 7-8 hours.  If that’s only 6, even more so.  Among other things, I typically eat smaller dinners now because I’m just not that hungry at dinner time, with all my food consumption coming in the previous 6-7 hours.  

BB shared a study with me a while back (and I think I shared it here) that suggested the diet really does not help most people lose weight.  The idea of it creating some metabolic change that means more calorie burning, I suspect, just doesn’t pan out.  It’s all about calories in.  For me, though, I’m pretty confident that a 7-8 hour timeframe leads me to take in fewer calories than I otherwise would.  That won’t be the case for everybody, but, if limiting the hours makes it easier to take in fewer calories, then it’s a good diet for you.  I suspect that a 10-hour window would be too big to be truly effective for this.

2) I read a lot on this when I started, because I wanted permission to drink diet soda after hours.  A lot of different takes and no clear information. I came to the conclusion of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.  I ultimately decided I drink enough diet soda anyway, though, and actually only drink water during the 16 hours.  That’s definitely allowed.  IF you’ve got a morning tea ritual, I would say keep it, as long as there’s no calories involved.  I think that’s the biggest key.

3) I pretty much never cheat.  This week with a crazy senior retreat schedule, I cheated by about 5-10 minutes once or twice, but that was literally it.  As mentioned in my post a while back, I love the psychological benefits this diet gives me and I feel like working in “cheats” would actually make that part harder, so I don’t.  But, if that makes it easier for you to keep the diet, it’s probably worth it.  And, for what it’s worth, long-time reader, longer-time friend, DJC thinks it’s a good idea to kind of keep your body off-balance with the occasional cheat.  

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