I expect you remember that I’ve participated in the Zoe Covid Symptom Study ever since the beginning of the pandemic. That has meant logging ones symptoms on an App even when well, which for us, apart from colds, was where we were most of the time. With 4 million participants this academic study was able to look at all the known Covid symptoms as they changed and mutated over time. In fact, they were able to say with absolute confidence that the main Covid symptoms changed hugely from the classic 3 symptoms that were promulgated in the first year of the pandemic. And yet the government ignored this. You can wonder why, but I won’t say any more about that as that’s a question to be answered in My Other Blog.
The Zoe Covid study was, and still is, a very significant and well-research body of work run by Professor Tim Spector of King’s College, London, but you may not know that Prof Spector’s main interest is the microbiome and the food we eat. The Zoe Covid app has now transmogrified into the the Zoe Health Study app and the team behind Zoe have begun many other studies including one on Intermittent Fasting. It’s an exciting time for Zoe as usually any research study takes time to set up and includes anything around 50-100 individuals. But Zoe is revolutionising research through its App participants: because, amazingly, they can study over 100,000 people at a time, and what is rather nice is they call us Citizen Scientists. The Intermittent Fasting study has currently over 100,000 participants.
Yes, I am participating in the Intermittent Fasting study. Before I get into the how you do it and what you do, I’ll tell you why I’m doing it.
I’ve read a little about IF and joined the Facebook group (The Big IF Study Community) before I started the study. Not everyone either likes IF or gets any benefits but what I have read is that some people do find that there are considerable benefits to restricting ones diet between fewer hours. Btw, this is not a ‘diet’ as you are not restricting your food, in fact you eat as normal but just between certain hours.
Benefits might be lowered blood sugars, reduced inflammation, reduction of cholesterol, (and I do say might as research of the benefits is in its early days, which is why the very large Zoe study is going to make a big contribution to the relatively small body of research that already exists). Other benefits that are thrown around are that fasting helps heart and brain health and extends life (but note, that’s in rats).
However, from the Facebook group I could see some people are very happy with their results and talk about better sleep and reduced joint pain. Well, that’s me in. Anything that will help my sleep and my arthritis (yup, I have that) is worth trying.
You see, I have an appalling sleep pattern. It goes – I sleep hardly at all one night and then sleep heavily the next. This crept up on my a few years ago (?5) and the pattern would last a couple of those non-sleeping nights. Then the pattern got longer until I think it was 2020 when it lasted weeks. I then did an online CBT course, which meant restricting ones hours. Didn’t work for me.
And btw, I have tried everything else; you name it, I’ve tried it. I remember some of you suggesting all sorts of things – well I tried most of them. But I don’t take meds until recently when I bought an over the counter product that is actually a histamine, one that makes you sleepy. It sort of works but I’m really sensitive to drugs of any kind and the dose of 2 tabs would send me into a coma! So I take 1 tab if absolutely necessary as it really makes me feel zombie-like the next day! Hate all meds, really.
What did work this summer was I bought Michael Moseley’s book Fast Asleep and followed the chapter on do-it-yourself CBT. This meant going to bed every day for 2 months at 12.30pm and getting up at the same time at 6.30. You do not, btw, stay up for the 12.30 deadline in the bedroom as the bed and the bedroom is only for sleeping and nothing else. You are effectively retraining your brain to see the bed as a place to sleep. And boy do you get tired! But it worked, I ended it and for several months I slept reasonably well. But the pattern has begun again.
Anyway, I have started the IF study, and all you have to do is Week 1 you eat normally, Week 2 you begin the 10-hour window and I have just completed this first week. You restrict yourself to the 10-hour window for 3 weeks and then you continue (or extend as they call it) if you want to. I believe they give you a survey at the end, and you will get some personal information back and the satisfaction that you have contributed to a huge and very worth-while research study.
However, I hadn’t realised though that this simple 10-hour rule needed big, really BIG, changes in my eating pattern. You see I usually start the day with a mug of tea, with milk, at 7.0am with breakfast at 8.0am. I then don’t eat much at lunch, then an evening meal at 6.0pm. Followed by, oh dear, biscuits and milk at 10pm. And then, oh my word, more snacks on a non-sleeping night! These snacks were more milk and biscuits if I was awake at 2.0am, and then if I was still awake at 3.0am I’d have a cup of (decaffeinated) tea. Sometimes those snacks helped me get to sleep. .
Well, if I have a 10-hour window that ends at 6.30pm I can’t eat until 8.30am which means no cup of tea with milk at 7.0am and black tea is so bitter. Not to worry, it’s taken a week to find (with help from the Facebook group) how nice White Tea is – it’s lovely mellow cuppa, I might continue with this type of tea for ever more. And then if one finishes the 10-hour window at 6.30pm that means NOTHING to eat or drink apart from herbal teas, and NO biscuits and NO milk and NO midnight feasts whatsoever.
Of course, people can choose any 10-hour window with people who work often choosing to end their 10-hour window much, much later in the day. A recent YouTube video from the IF study revealed that the later 10-hour participants eat more snacks while the earlier 10-hour window people have fewer. I can vouch for that as I don’t eat any snacks now. And oh my word I have lost weight (just a lb) and even better, inches especially around my belly area, which is exactly where I am happy to lose a bit of flesh! But I shall watch the weight situation.
Meantime I am finding it quite hard to not eat after 6.30pm but the hunger pangs are lessening and of course, you can drink as much as you like as long as it’s herbal. I am also finding that the non-sleeping nights are challenging without a cup of tea to help me go off to sleep at 3.0am.
But on the whole I am very pleased to be participating in this research study. I shall keep you all posted with my progress and let you know how I get on. The reduced belly fat is the only benefit for me so far, but I’m only a week in. If I can sleep better that will be a huge improvement to my health and well-being – watch this space!
Here is the link to the Zoe IF study.
That’s all for now, but do tell me if you have sleep problems or done any fasting or are currently fasting – any tips as to how to get through it is most welcome 🙂
With love Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper