So what is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is pretty much exactly how it sounds, giving your body a break from food for a certain amount of time. There are a couple different types of fasting you may have read about and new styles being invented every day. Some are a bit extreme, in fact some are extremely extreme and harder to follow than others, but probably all work to some degree. Buddha’s Diet focuses on an eating clock of about 9-10 hours. (we explain more about why that is here – links to science).
I go out to eat a lot with friends, family, colleagues. How is this going to work if I eat a late dinner a lot?
First, know that you can have cheat days. There’s some evidence that cheat days help keep the metabolism on its toes. Perhaps more importantly, cheat days prevent the dreaded feeling of being deprived. We quit diets (though Buddha’s Diet is more a way of eating as opposed to a diet) because they are too hard to stick to. If you’ve ever tried a restrictive diet you probably found it worked for a while, and then it didn’t because it was just too hard to stick to. Second, you can still go out to eat. This isn’t a diet that restricts certain food types or insist you go wheat free or eat clean or become paleo. Third, you may find your friends and family to be supportive of this new eating style. After all they may be looking to make changes in their own lives. So eating a bit earlier than you usually did may not actually be that hard. If you find you simply have to go out to a late dinner after your eating clock has ended, have something light, there’s no reason you need to have a three course meal, you’ll more than likely sleep better anyway.
When does my eating clock officially start? When I have my coffee?
Your eating clock starts and ends with calories. So if you’re having black coffee it hasn’t started yet, because there are no calories in black coffee. If you’re having a cup of tea before bed, that doesn’t count either. These days most beverages have calories. A lot of the drinks at Starbucks (we’re looking at you, caramel machiatto) pretty much qualify as a dessert. If you’re having a glass of wine to relax before bed, that counts too. Back to coffee for a moment, a splash of milk in your coffee may be okay, the truth is studies haven’t been done about this small amount of calories and its effect on intermittent fasting diets. But if you really want to stick to the plan, wait and have your coffee drink a little later.
So alcohol counts too?
Yes. There are lots of reasons to cut back on booze. We talk about this in our chapter Buddha’s Whiskey. But to be brief, alcohol counts because it has calories. And yes, we’ve heard about the studies the health benefits of wine. We aren’t saying you can’t indulge in those health benefits. You just need to be sure you keep it within certain hours. Late night wine means calories you take to bed with you, since more than likely you’re just a couple hours away from bedtime.
But the French, the Spanish…don’t they all eat late? And they’re all skinny.
Well, kinda. First of all, those countries are struggling with weight gain too. Processed foods aren’t unique to the United States. Also remember that while some countries may tend toward eating later, they may also have later, lighter breakfasts and lunches. We have also adopted some of their food types without adopting those same food traditions. We don’t just have a cappuccino in the morning like the Italians, we have cappuccinos throughout the day.
You may in fact find that eating a later dinner, like some european countries do is okay for you, as long as you have a later breakfast or maybe even skip breakfast and have an earlyish lunch. We recommend of course that you follow Buddha’s Diet fairly strictly at first and see what works. As we say in chapter X, Buddha really loved data, he wanted proof. You should seek proof too, by figuring out what works for you – what makes you feel better, what has you losing weight, what has you sleeping more soundly, etc. In this way Buddha was a bit of a data scientist, you can be one too.
So I can eat whatever I want, as long as I stop eating at a certain time?
Well you’d be crazy to eat nothing but donuts. You’ll feel like garbage for starters. Surely you’ve eaten a bunch of junk and felt disgusting. We’ve all been there. We don’t want that for you. Use common sense and some easy guidelines if you are worried about what to eat. That said you don’t need to be a vegetarian (though that has its benefits) or swear off sugar for life (though too much sugar is all kinds of trouble), you just need to eat a variety of good foods, indulge in the occasional junk if you like, and stick to your eating clock.
How much weight am I going to lose?
Really that part is up to you, but with BD you can expect to lose about a pound to a pound and a half a week. What we’ve heard from converts is that sometimes the weight loss is not immediate, it takes a week or two to notice effects; this is your body adjusting. But once your new eating pattern is in place, the weight will come off easily. You may think a few pounds a week isn’t very dramatic. But add that up over the course of weeks, months, a year. And consider that this is weight that can stay off. Yes, there are diets that claim you’ll lose ten pounds a week. You can try those, maybe you already have. But you’ll probably put the weight back on and slide back into your own habits. And who wants that?
What happens if I lose too much weight?
It happens. It does. It happened to both of us once we moved down to the 8 hour window. But as we said before, you’ll want to figure out what works for you and your eating clock may shift, expanding and contracting as you figure out what works for you and your life and your body. As you learn how your body responds to your new eating clock, you’ll find yourself feeling more in control of the choices you make, in all aspects of your life.
I don’t really have weight to lose, I’m pretty happy with my weight and body.
That’s great! What are you doing here? Just kidding. Here’s the thing: even people who don’t want to lose weight can benefit from intermittent fasting. There are now lots of studies about the benefit of fasting on x, x and x. What we know through studies (and simply from talking to people) is that people often do their worst eating after hours. We all wake up and start our days with the best of intentions. But by the evening, things deteriorate a little. The stresses of the day compound and there we are at 10 PM shoving a stale cookie in our mouth. Nighttime is when we tend to drink too, so maybe you’re having a glass of wine, maybe two, maybe three, to relax or de-stress. Night is when we are most vulnerable to bad choices. So cutting out that free-for-all evening eating – a lot of which happens post dinner, is a way for you to cut back on things that are probably not all that good for you anyway. After all, it’s unlikely you’re throwing together a kale salad right before bed. More than likely you’re having something far less good for you. Having a hard stop on your eating at a certain time encourages you to look somewhere other than food for comfort and distraction. Instead of eating you might read or chat with a friend or watch a show, or go for an evening stroll.
This diet is called Buddha’s diet. But I don’t really want to look like that guy. Wasn’t he pretty uh…big boned.
Not even a little bit. The guy you’re thinking of…laughing, big bellied, topless, is not the Buddha we’re talking about. Not the buddha anyway. The real buddha was actually pretty svelte. He tried dieting too (fasting until he nearly died) and realized it brought him no closer to enlightenment. Instead, he adopted a “middle way” with a period of fasting and eating during each day.
Ah, I’m intrigued. So what’s (the real) Buddha got to do with all this