Eating for only 2-hours a day for 5.5 weeks
As an evidence-based PT and transformation specialist, I won’t recommend anything to my clients that doesn’t have a firm rooting in scientific theory. More than that, if I haven’t lived through the process, then I won’t recommend it. This means that I am always reading new scientific literature and using my own body as a ‘guinea pig’ to test out the most up-to-date theories.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a technique I have spent a lot of time researching, trialing different variations on myself, and have seen amazing results with my clients (though I cannot stress how much there is a correct and an incorrect way to ‘do’ IF, and that this way varies enormously from person to person!).
Although IF has been an integral part of my life for many years now, I've recently read some interesting studies on the health and wellness benefits (detailing the fat loss and brain optimisation benefits) of longer fasting windows, and wanted to test these out on myself, especially since I've generally followed a more 8:16 structure of eating:fasting or simply skipping a meal or two every now and again.
Specifically, I implemented a 2:22 eating:fasting ratio. i.e., I was eating all of my food in one 2-hour window each day. I was specifically interested in how this would affect my body fat percentage and my body weight training performance. I didn’t gear my approach to testing the brain optimisation claims.
Here are the simple guidelines I followed:
1. Only train fasted (towards the end of my fasting window) with the theory being that I’m enhancing the fat loss benefits of my fast.
2. Only eating once I’ve trained. An implication of the above – i.e., a way to ensure I always trained fasted, but it also became an incentive for me and pushed me through my workouts.
3. Only use body weight training. Since I specifically wanted to improve my body weight movements, I decided to focus on that…similarly, if you want to be a better swimmer, then you have to get into the pool and actually swim!
4. Only eat for 2-hours a day. Altering the warrior diet (eating for a 4-hour period and fasting for 20-hours), which I’d done previously but decided to turn it up a notch to see what happens.
5. No counting macros or calories. I don't like calories counting as it add unwanted pressure and stress plus my experience, understanding and application of nutrition is generally on-point,.
6. Optimise quality and quantity of protein intake. I didn’t count my protein intake either, but I ensured high quality and a generous quantity of protein in every meal.
7. Eat consciously. Carbs and fats were both on the menu, but I ate until I was satisfied and not stuffed.
8. Only drink water and black/white (small amount of milk) coffee during my fasting window and the occasional diet coke and glass of red wine with my meals (when appropriate).
These simple guidelines allowed me the freedom to eat without restriction or too many requirements during my 2-hour window, and made the whole experience a lot easier. Having used IF for years, my mindset wasn’t set to eat everything and anything in sight when breaking the fast, which some people experience during the early days of fasting. I simply ate the food I enjoy until I was satisfied.
My performance dropped at the beginning of the programme as my body adapted to fasted training, however, I significantly improved my maximum chin-ups by a score of 8.
Once my energy and performance levels balanced out I did feel a great difference in my skill work. I saw a huge improvement in my handstands and handstands walks which I believe is the result of being both lighter and the consistent practice.
For this experiment, I only used normal bathroom scales and photos to track my progress. I lost 10lbs (4.54 kgs) in 5 1/2 weeks, but my body composition definitely improved.
Even though this programme was set-up to require minimal effort, challenges remained.
My main battles came later in the programme as the 4th week approached. I simply felt like I couldn’t eat enough during my feeding window which then starting to weigh on my mental game. I’ve always enjoyed being “big and strong” but I started to feel as though I was losing too much size and, as the great British summer and the associated social calendar ramped-up, I began to also resent the impact the short eating window had on my social calendar.
Water and iced coffees helped keep hunger at bay, but as it got hotter, my appetite reduced, which meant it was also extremely tough to get enough calories post-workout. On other days, I had to fit in a workout a few hours before social commitments, which made it tough not to eat and wait around.
As with all programmes there are times where you simply unable to follow along, and need to re-evaluate to keep progressing. There were 4 events where I had to increase my eating as I had double booked myself with different social commitments where a few beers during my eating window turned into a few more once it had closed. However once these instances were over normal practice was resumed.
Fasting as a whole is amazing and the results speak for themselves but this length/type of fasting is definitely not for a beginner, or someone who struggles with 12:12 or 14:10. Some days I found myself drinking more coffee than usual (its a great hunger suppressant) which I’m fortunate enough to be able to handle as caffeine doesn’t affect me like it does some.
Would I recommend this to a client? Maybe, but only with the right client. This method did decrease the weeks needed to see results which I believe in the wrong hands could set them up to fail, much like those on their summer vacation following a crash diet.
I would however guide an experienced client who is looking to mix things up a little as the overall results speak for themselves and I believe that fasting for less overall (daily or weekly) over a longer period of time could yield the same results (and not to mentioned better mental strength and understanding of themselves).
I personally will use this method for 2-3 weeks every now and again to help increase my leanness, mental strength and health.
I'd love to know what you think, leave me a comment below.
Speak soon, JC.
22/2/2020 03:05:56 pm
21/7/2020 04:58:09 am
21/8/2020 06:12:02 am
Hi there, good article, and would've been fun had you actually measured your change body fat percentage. After having stuck to a 16:8 regime for half a year, I started a 22:2 fast 4 days ago and I feel great! I'm a researcher and I took the coming back to the lab after COVID-lockdown as a starting point on Monday to try out this new regime... As I'm so busy running around all day at work I don't think about that I'm not eating. Around the 20th hour, I do 45min HIIT workout and lots of stretching. My energy levels at training, which involves sprinting, body weight exercised and TRX are definitely as high as before. I eat plant based, no refined sugar and only whole grains, I make efforts to try fueling my body well in the evening and sleeping 8h. I know this all might sound very restrictive but this is of course the ideal desciption, and there will sure be compromises in the future :-) I feel great and am definitely continuing this for another couple of weeks and see how it goes. I'm female, 1,72m and 60kg with bodyfat of 14% (before lockdown I must add lol)
29/8/2020 06:05:34 am
Glad to have read this, i've come up with the 2hr window on my own and have been doing it for about 3 months now. I agree this approach isn't for everyone, i essentially eat mostly healthy during that window but do not restrict myself from having bad meals if i choose to. With this laxed approach i've still lost considerable amount of weight and have the freedom to do what i want. I dont lift but do a lot of walking (8 miles a day roughly). never felt better!
12/7/2021 07:44:53 am
It's lose weight not loose weight.
Losing Loose Weight
22/4/2022 04:20:58 am
Losing Loose Weight
19/7/2020 04:05:04 am
Hi! I am a just-turned 50 year old woman who is battling thickness around my middle for the first time ever. I am physically active, doing weights 3-6 times a week. A month ago I decided to try this method. I actually started eating OMAD and found it too hard to get in my post workout nutrition (a superfood shake with good protein) and also one solid meal. So I a few days ago I started doing the 2 hour eating window. So far so good! I drink a couple of coke zeros each day (I know, not great) but I completely eliminated booze (even beer wine at this point) because I find it stimulates my appetite and I just want to keep eating and drinking. I'll prob revert to social drinking at some point but for now I'm totally off it.
21/7/2020 05:01:14 am
Hey Kelli, I love this comment!! Thank you for reaching out and great job! I'm hosting a free live talk on instagram (@nutri_train) and Facebook (Nutri-Train By JC) tomorrow evening at 8pm GMT all about intermittent fasting! I'll also be doing a Q&A at the end.
13/8/2020 04:05:21 pm
I am 23 years old and amd looking to lose weight. Currently I am 6 foot and 320 lbs. Is this something you could do to lose weight from an obese state or should I focus on eating healthy overall at first? I am looking to lose 100 lbs overall but at the moment, im just trying to change my lifestyle. Thanks!
19/9/2020 02:52:20 pm
Check out Amanda Rose and her story at eatlikeabear.com. Her journey with weight loss via intermittent fasting led to starting a Facebook group by the same name as her website. It is a fantastic group that is super positive and supportive. I believe you will find great success. Women, and man, of all ages and stages are experiencing amazing results. Good luck!
20/8/2020 07:49:32 am
Hey JC my name is Raven and I am 4'11-5'0 and I weigh 120-122 and I am trying to fast to lose weight cause I hate the look of my body so how long should I fast for? I want my ideal weight to be 100-110 and i just started fasting today I'm about to reach my 17 hour mark and I'm going to be fasting for about 20 hours
I stumbled upon the 22:2 because I told myself I would do OMAD. It's turned into 22:2 because it wasn't quite enough. lol
15/10/2020 11:06:04 am
I have been doing 18/6 for about 4 years and have just started with 2/22. For me it works great. I love consuming all of my calories in a 2 hr window. I am 50.
3/11/2020 11:59:46 pm
Great experiment and amazing results! About 10 years ago I did OMAD for about a month and felt great but with a young child, school, and a job it just wasn’t sustainable for me. However, this year has been tough all around and I’ve been really struggling to do 16:8. I found that just setting the goal the night before to not eat until noon triggered overeating at dinner and then I’d feel so helpless the next morning that I’d go ahead and eat breakfast at 7am. However, I decided to just dive into the warrior diet (20:4) and while it’s not quite what you did, somehow for me it’s been easier to just sit with the discomfort until 3:30 (my last meal has been at 6:30) than break the fast at noon. It’s only been 4 days but so far it’s been a lot easier than trying to do 16:8. I do put some MCT oil in my morning coffee (1-2 teaspoons) and have some green tea around noon with 1 tsp of MCT oil ( I know it’s not a true fast but total calories are around 120 and it helps me get through it). I’ve been eating two medium size meals: I start with a bowl of raw spinach and add avocado, a little smoked salmon, an egg, and maybe some cherry tomatoes or a little goat cheese. It fills me up pretty quickly! Three hours later I’ll have a normal sized dinner and focus on quality fatty meats and veggies. I should say I’ve been following a keto diet the last few weeks - which I think has helped make the fasting period easier. I also supplement with pink salt, potassium and magnesium (it’s helped with the headaches). Anyway - I’m 4 pounds down in 4 days and while I know it’s probably just extra bloat it’s still motivating to see the scale move. Your pictures are really inspiring. Thank you for sharing.
14/11/2020 12:23:19 am
I commenced the 2:22 diet about 2 weeks ago combined with exercise and no carbs, junk food, process food, etc. I have gone from 103 kilos to 97kilos. The first few days was incredibly difficult but now I find it quite easy. I am completely put off sugar and have tea and black coffee to get me through the day. My energy levels have gone through the roof. I am not sure how much longer i'd like to sustain it for however before i start to eat more regularly i am determined to get down to 87kilos.
5/3/2021 05:30:29 pm
HI, 4 months ago I have started the Ketogenic diet the following measures:
17/7/2021 01:05:44 pm
Amazing blog, I'm very happy to read this blog. Basically, I know new many things to read this blog. I strongly believe that the blog delivers the best information to its audience.
1/8/2021 03:52:27 am
I just stumbled upon this article…I regularly do this and my meals are high in fat with lots of protein and just veg for carbs. My question is, considering circadian rhythms, is it terrible that my eating window is 6-8pm and I’m going to bed 2 hours later. I know that insulin sensitivity dips at night. I just cannot sleep unless I’ve eaten😞
28/12/2021 02:51:34 am
I too just started the 22:2 with my eating window being 6-8 p.m. so far so good and have lost a few pounds after 1 week.
7/9/2021 12:40:39 pm
Hi, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2012 when I woke up blind suddenly. I did my research however, and began an intense (or extreme) regimen of fasting. I've been following a 2/24 Fasting diet for over 5 YEARS now. No breaks, no cheats, every single day, 2 hours eating, 22 hour Fast. I just turned 43 and honestly FEEL as though I'm in my 20's. I'm lean, strong, determined, and responsible regarding my vitamin and nutrient intakes. I've not had any relapses thus far while adhering to my diet. We as Americans have had it beaten into our brains that we HAVE TO and NEED TO eat 3 square meals a day, and this simply isn't the case. For example, think about when we were "HUNTER GATHERERS". If you didn't kill, you didn't eat. Which meant even more energy would be used on the next hunt. The human body doesn't need 3 + meals per day, because it wasn't designed for it. Our body's use energy while simply digesting the foods we eat. Granted, I've had to follow strict guidelines in order to make sure I'm putting the right amounts of vitamins and nutrients into my body. As I said, I just turned 43 years old, I'm married with 2 little boys ages 8 and 5, and they can't keep up with me some days. My motto is "IF YOU PUT GOOD IN, YOU'LL GET GOOD OUT. IF YOU OUT BAD IN, EXPECT BAD TO COME OUT". The Mediterranean style diet has proved most beneficial to me. I have grown weary of washing and peeling fruits nightly, but it is what it is. Each evening when I finally sit down to eat it all, it's well worth the time and energy I use to prepare it. I don't see myself changing anything about my diet. If it's not broken, don't fix it. I've followed the 2/22 style of Fasting for over 5 years now and never plan on stopping it.
10/11/2021 10:54:33 pm
16/11/2021 10:44:58 pm
19/4/2022 01:01:05 am
You mention that you are a proponent of evidenced-based programs. Aside from your own anecdotal experience and results, do you have any further information that this 22:2 time restricted eating plan is safe? In your literature review, have you found any studies that investigate aspects such as metabolism and organ function in subjects who follow a two hour eating window? Thanks
Great article JC. I can TOTALLY agree that 2:22 works. During Covid i for a little too used to bad eating habits, alcohol and no gym!!! Recipe for large clothes and an unhappy chappie. I started the OMAD 2:22 and I’ve lost over 10 kilos of FAT not much muscle. I’ started this 3 months ago and have also increased my levels of incidental and low Heart rate exercise.
14/5/2022 03:15:41 pm
What an exquisite article! Your post is very helpful right now. Thank you for sharing this informative one.
1/2/2023 05:37:47 pm
Nice Post Very Informative Article Thanks for sharing
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