Today marks 30 days of incorporating the Five Bite Diet with daily intermittent fasting on a 19:5 (Fast-5) schedule. Wow, it has been quite an experiment! And I’m excited to share the results.
To recap briefly, after over a year of following Fast-5 and losing 50 lbs, my weight on October 11, 2015 was 188 lbs, up a pound from my lowest since beginning my weight-loss journey (187 lbs.). Since July 1 of this year, I had been plateaued, give or take a pound or two. I was getting frustrated as I still had another 52 lbs to get to my goal weight of 135 lbs. Knowing that I needed to shake things up, I started looking at adjusting my caloric intake, which brought me to the Five Bite Diet. I was skeptical, but watching this video and this video, convinced me to give it a try and thus began my journey.
Here’s the rundown of how things went, from week to week.
Again, my starting weight was 188.2 lbs. As suggested by this video, I started off with “bars only,” in my case Clif and Zone protein bars, instead of Snickers. The first three days were rough! I was hungry and grumpy, which weren’t conditions I was used to experiencing after 15 months of Fast-5. It’s pretty easy to see and smell food during your fasting hours and be able to say, “I can have that later.” Whether you do end up having it or not, psychologically it helps to know you never have to deprive yourself of anything. It’s quite a different story to only have a protein bar to look forward to when dinner time comes after a full day of fasting.
At day four I tried incorporating unlimited fruits and veggies which is a variation of the Five Bite Diet that many have had success with. For me, it only made me hungrier. I guessed it was due to the volume of food. Keeping the volume of food intake relatively low is part of the Five Bite process and a huge salad threw off my “hungerstat.” So back to protein bars I went.
After a few days, it seemed like I was going to be just fine and I became satisfied with bars, even looking forward to them. But, there were a few days I gave in to cravings and ate more than bars toward the end of my window. Still, by the end of week one, I had lost over eight pounds! It was definitely motivated enough by that loss to put up with the hunger, irritability and sense of deprivation. If I could lose about a pound a day, as many have on Five Bites, I would be ecstatic. On my best months with Fast-5 alone I had averaged about a 5-lb monthly loss. With Five Bites I had lost more than that in one week. However – and this is a big however – I never felt deprived on Fast-5 and up until I plateaued at a 50-lb loss, I was able to eat whatever I wanted and however much of it I wanted. Despite it taking me 11 months to lose the weight with Fast-5, it didn’t feel slow and painful because of the ease of the plan. This was much different. There was a price to pay for this fast loss. It just wasn’t easy.
During week two, I stayed on track for the most part, but had a few days during which I ate more. Still, I managed to lose a few pounds, but only losing a few pounds didn’t keep me as motivated as the first week’s loss. It was very hard to keep at it with only a relatively small loss. Still, I had lost more than ten pounds total, which was still quite impressive considering it had only been two weeks.
During week three, I decided to try the by-the-book method, although I couldn’t bring myself to eat sugary Snickers bars and ate protein bars instead. I lasted the entire week faithfully eating only bars and dropped only (yes, I know I shouldn’t say only, but…) 3.6 lbs. I was hungry, there was no diversity in meals, no ability to say, “I can have that, I just have to wait until later” and all that for a measly (yes, I know I shouldn’t say measly, but…) 3.6 lbs. I wasn’t happy so I abandoned ship and went back to my standard Fast-5 for several days. I thought the Five Bite Diet was the golden ticket, the magic bullet. But, as if I shouldn’t know better, it turns out that no plan is a guarantee.
By the beginning of week four I had lost over 14 lbs, but it still didn’t feel worth it to me at that time. It felt like the most miserably earned 14 lb weight-loss ever. I was at a crossroad. I understood that Five Bites is a temporary plan. It is not meant to be followed for many months consecutively. It’s meant to be a tool to help you lose the weight safely and efficiently as quickly as possible so that you can then go on with your life. I already know how to maintain my weight. I was plateaued for over four months – that’s maintaining. I knew I could maintain with Fast-5 alone, but I needed to lose the remaining 38 lbs. first.
I was feeling pretty discouraged with the Five Bite Diet. Intermittent fasting is not a diet in the traditional sense so I had long done away with “diet thinking.” But now, having to think about calories and portions and bites and getting fixated on the reading on the scale from day to day was putting me in a bad space mentally. I was exhausted. Added to that was the fact that I caught a terrible cold, which I hadn’t experienced to that severity in a while. Was it all that sugar? I wondered.
I bellyached to the Facebook group I belong to about my struggle. There are folks in that groups who have lost a lot of weight with intermittent fasting and with Five Bites, and by a lot of weight I mean over 100 lbs. They are an inspiration and they certainly inspired me not to give up.
There are aspects of Five Bites I really dislike but I do like the idea of losing weight quickly and safely so that I can return to the more comfortable and easy Fast-5 plan. To be honest, what finally made me recommit to trying Five Bites again and trying to tweak it enough to a tolerable level for me, was the fact that I didn’t want to look back three months from now being only a few pounds lighter, and knowing I could have been at my goal weight if only I had given it my all and done the work. So, with that in mind I hatched a plan for a variation of Five Bites I could live with and even enjoy. Here it is:
- I focus on nutrient density and whole unprocessed foods. As much as I love carbs, especially bread and was able to eat it and still lose weight with Fast-5, all the sugar of protein bars wasn’t appealing to me. I longed for my healthy, savory meals and I was determined to have them, even if that meant measuring everything that I ate. Focusing on nutrient density gives me the most bang for my buck per bite. Despite taking a multivitamin, as suggested by the plan, I still believe eating real food that is nutrient rich is the way to go regardless. So know I eat meals much like my past healthy breakfast plates, only in much smaller portions.
- I stick to 10 bites of food within my five hour window as measured by mini muffin tins and table spoons. Five bites measures out to approximately 1/3 cup of food. An average mini muffin tin is about a bite of food – actually a good-sized bite. About three tablespoons is approximately a bite. Right now I’m measuring everything I eat, but I’m guessing that eventually I’ll be able to gauge more accurately without measuring. It may not seem like very much food, but after a while, it actually is satisfying, especially if the food is nutrient dense. I don’t adhere to eating no more than five bites per meal as the plan suggests. Sometimes I my dinner is seven bites, followed by a two bite snack a few hours later, followed by a bite before closing my window. This feels most like how I eat normally, just in smaller portions.
- I stay prepared for hunger. I’ve long talked about white tea and saffron being a hunger cure, yet I hadn’t need to use it in quite a while with Fast-5 alone. But now I’m prepared and have it ready to go whenever I get the urge to go off the plan. I also eat something with cinnamon in at least one of my bites as that also tends to greatly reduce hunger, among other benefits.
- I drink half my body weight in ounces of water daily. It’s important to stay hydrated and it’s especially essential with this plan.
- I don’t call it “The Five Bite Diet.” This is an important part of my plan. I call what I’m doing “portion control.” Yes, I know it’s all semantics, but for me, it puts me in a better place psychologically and emotionally not to be on a “diet” but rather to be learning to control my portions – a tool that will benefit me for life.
So today, I’m 15 lbs lighter than I was on October 11th all due to intermittent fasting and
The Five Bite Diet portion control. I feel like I’m getting the hang of it, and I’m excited and motivated by the thought of reaching my goal within the next three months or so while eating healthy food and learning portion control. Here the rundown of the numbers:
Week 1: Ending weight 179.8 = 8.4 lbs. lost
Week 2: Ending weight 177.4 = 2.4 lbs. lost
Week 3 (bars only): Ending weight 173.8 = 3.6 lbs. lost
Week 4 (off the wagon): Ending weight 174 lbs = .2 lbs. gained
Back on track on November 8, 2015 (Starting 175.6 = +1.6)
Ending weight on November 11, 2015 = 173 lbs. 30- Day Total weight-loss: 15.2 lbs.
Would I recommend this for everyone? No. But nothing, not even intermittent fasting is right for everyone. Consider the pros and cons, weigh your options, consider your goals, your strengths and your common pitfalls, and decide for yourself if it’s worth the effort because it requires a great deal of it. In the meantime, stay tuned as I keep you updated on my journey with intermittent fasting and portion control.