Late-night snacking had become a such habit that I was eating something after dinner almost every night. I had kind of become dependent on keeping myself full before going to bed. Probably not healthy long-term, and it contributed to me staying up late some nights.
So in August this year, after hearing yet again about “intermittent fasting”, I downloaded the eating tracker app “Zero” and give it a go. The basic idea is to spend the majority of each day in a fasting state (only drinking water). Many are interested in the possible health benefits, but for me it’s a simple way to enforce eating hours. I set a goal of 16 hours a day (eating roughly from 10am to 7pm).
For 4 months from 14 August to 14 December, I recorded almost every day, averaging about 16.3 hours per day. What I found is that after a couple days of not eating after dinner, it became natural to follow. For traveling, family gatherings, or busy days where I needed an early breakfast, I didn’t worry about only logging 12 hours. And I took the second half of December off entirely from tracking for those reasons.
I did lose a couple pounds due to calorie reduction (though I don’t track my calories), but nothing outside of my body’s normal weight fluctuations. I maintained an even sleep schedule, about 7.5 hours per night from around midnight to 8am. I didn’t notice any difference in energy levels, and still had occasional weeks where I napped in the afternoon with shorter sleeps. Perhaps the biggest change was consistently eating breakfast, and making it a larger meal.
In the winter months, I like to drink tea (caffeinated in the morning, herbal at night), which I can’t do as easily now. For next year, I plan instead to not explicitly track my hours, and allowing tea outside the 8 hour eating window, since I didn’t see any particular benefits from the fast beyond controlling when I snack. In general though, I really like having 8 hours a day where I basically allow myself to eat as much as I want, and 16 hours where I don’t consume calories.
Time-restricted feeding is a great tool to reduce caloric intake and limit snacking. The best part for me is feeling like I’m in control of food cravings (something I especially value while travelling), which is why I’m planning to stick to it on an conscious but informal basis in 2019.