Two of the most popular approaches to diet and healthy eating are the Paleo diet and intermittent fasting. Both are genuine lifestyle changes rather than short-term weight loss strategies. If you really want to get the biggest bang for your buck, what about combining them for even better results ?
Perhaps it is a good idea to explain what each diet involves. Paleo is basically a hunter-gatherer way of eating. Cut all all modern foods and particularly processed foods. Even grains should be left aside because they too are a relatively modern introduction into our diet. Everything will basically revolve around meat, fish, fruit and vegetables. Of course, there are lots of ways of adapting things too.
Intermittent fasting or IF is exactly what you might expect : alternating periods of fasting (that is, not eating) and eating. There are lots of different methods people have used successfully with IF. Here are two of the most common and perhaps the easiest to implement.
1. The 5/2 Fasting Cycle
This is pretty simple and effective because it follows a weekly pattern. You just pick two days in the week and fast for those two twenty-four hour blocks. This is a clever way of actually reducing calories without too much effort. Rather than trying to cut down daily which many find to be a real pain, eat normal quantities on eating days. The two off days take care of calorie reduction over the week.
2. 16/8 Or Daily Fasting
This is an even more common technique and one I have used myself for a long time because it is so easy and effective. Just divide the day into eating and non-eating blocks. For example, have your first meal at 12 O’Clock. Eat normally during the afternoon and early evening and then finish your last meal by 8PM, so an 8 hour total ‘eating window’. Then it is time to fast. You wouldn’t eat again until 12 o’clock lunchtime the next day, or 16 hours later. This might seem long but given that a large part of it is sleeping and many people forgo breakfast for a lot of reasons anyway, it is surprisingly easy.
The beauty of combining these two methods is that they work so well together. Usually trying to follow two things at the same time is recipe for disaster. You have to chop and change things to make it work. Here it is just the opposite. You can follow both to the letter.
You might be wondering why you would do this. Actually, this is probably the most natural way to eat that you can get. If you are following Paleo, why not really follow it ? When mankind was eating like this, they also followed a fasting cycle. Not because of some desire for a six pack (although they were certainly lean and muscular) but because that is how they lived.
During the day, people moved around from place to place, hunting and collecting food. They certainly didn’t sit down to eat three square meals ! They might snack on fruit or nuts that were gathered.It was only in the evening when they would eat a large meal. And what did this meal consist of ? Meat and vegetables, almost certainly.
So are there any downsides to combining Paleo and IF ? Actually, I can think of two. Firstly, if you are coming from an unhealthy diet and a big, carb-heavy breakfast, the change might just be too extreme. Better to do a gradual change to healthy paleo living before thinking of adding fasting to the mix.
Secondly, it can be tough just to get enough calories in. Some people struggle to eat enough healthy, nutrient dense food in a limited daily period. This does make it great for fat loss though.
So if you are already enjoying the benefits of either Paleo or IF, why not take things a step further and try both together ? You might be surprised just how effective it is to follow the ultimate natural eating pattern.