Opinion

Sunday 8 December 2019

Brendan O'Connor: 'My war on breakfast has been vindicated-ish'

"I try and hold off the apple until 12, and have a nice lunch and dinner"
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

OK, we better get around to the weight loss. I know it bugs some of you, but just be patient and remember not everyone is as fortunate as you, and we in the weight loss community like to know what other big losers are up to. So, here's the current regime in a nutshell:

When I tell people I don't eat breakfast, a lot of them say to me; 'Oh you have to eat breakfast.' For years we were told that skipping breakfast caused weight gain and more eating throughout the rest of the day.

But, of course, they're always changing their minds on these things and just last week there was more new research saying that people who skip breakfast actually eat less in the course of a day.

Eating all your food during a restricted period of the day is also generally accepted to help with weight loss now too. Even Dr Michael Mosley is now on board. The inventor of the 5:2 diet has now accepted that a little bit of daily fasting is probably just as good at "turbocharging your weight loss" (his words, not mine) as fasting two days a week under the 5:2. I was never going to fast two days a week, but I find Time Restricted Eating (TRE) pretty doable.

The ideal time restricted eating pattern is apparently 16:8, meaning you try and do all your eating in an eight-hour period of the day. For me that involves attempting not to eat after nine at night and not eating again until one in the afternoon. I know some of you will be thinking that stopping eating at nine-o-clock at night is no huge feat of endurance.

Most of you probably stop eating long before nine in the evening. But for me, some of my best work on the eating front is done in the evening. I am perfectly capable of eating steadily once I get home from work until when I go to bed. I see an evening of eating as a reward for the day.

The beauty of starting your 16-hour fast in the evening also means, obviously, that you will be in bed for a good eight or nine hours of it, so that passes reasonably painlessly. Then you just have to get through the morning, until lunchtime. I was never much of a breakfast person anyway, so the first few hours are grand. Michael Mosley is strict on the morning, saying that even if you take coffee or tea you should take no milk in it, that you ingest no calories whatsoever until your fast is over. But I tend to have a drop of milk in my tea. I also take a Berocca and a Revive Active first thing in the morning, so there's no chance of me passing out from malnutrition or anything. Also, if I really find myself getting hungry during the morning, I might sometimes cheat with an apple. I try and hold off the apple until 12, but I'll admit it sometimes happens at 11. Still, I think it's working reasonably well. I have a nice lunch and dinner and a few treats here and there. That's the beauty of the TRE. You have one simple rule to follow, which is to not eat for 16 hours-ish. So beyond that I don't tend to limit myself. So when I am eating, I'm eating whatever I want.

The reality is, though, that as the weight comes off, you will find yourself in a virtuous cycle. So for example, I find I'm tending not to eat a lot of meat during the week, which I find good for the gut as well. And then I'm walking like a maniac. It's not exactly doing a triathlon but it does keep the head reasonably clear, it gets you some fresh air and light and as long as you walk at a good clip I think it can count as exercise.

So that's it. I find it a simple enough regime, doesn't require masses of willpower, and it seems to be working. And I'll shut up about it now for a while.

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