What is the 5pm diet?

Anna Power ‏@Anna__Power: You don’t eat after 5pm – is this a form of intermittent fasting? What changes to your diet, have you found beneficial and why?


On Saturday mornings I go to the local farmer’s market and buy a loaf of Challah bread. I love Challah bread. Jews talk constantly about constipation by the way. Everyone thinks the cliche of a Jewish person is that they are good at money. I don’t know about that. I’ve lost all my money a few times and then some. But one cliche which is true: thick, concrete, starchy constipation – and then talk about it with every Jewish person you know. Usually over dinner.

After I buy that Challah bread, I eat it. The entire loaf. I can’t stop myself. So sweet and soft. It’s like bread made out of clouds. I love it. I eat it. And then I suffer.

That’s my one treat a week. The rest of the week I don’t eat bread at all. I don’t eat sugar or sweets. I’m 44. I want to look good, feel good, sleep well, long, and most importantly, when I eat something, I want to shit all of it out. At least the waste parts.

So here’s what I do for now.

After 5pm (sometimes 6pm), I don’t eat. And during the day I don’t eat carbs or sugars anymore (well, 2 sugars in my first cup of coffee for the day – I can’t help it!).

Why do this:

– Better for digestion. I know by the time I go to sleep (between 8 and 9pm) the food will have worked it’s way mostly through my digestive system. Imagine you eat a big steak and then go to sleep. Where is that steak all night long? It’s right in the middle of your digestive tract, an entire part of a cow. And it doesn’t move. Your stomach rumbles, you feel nauseous, etc.

– Better for sleep. For the reasons above. I like to keep things clear so at night my body is focused on what it’s supposed to be doing – sleeping! Insomnia is a horrible illness that I don’t like getting.

– You lose weight. You can’t help it.

– Your face gets more angular. I’ve seen it happen. Not just with me. With everyone on this pseudo-Paleo diet.

– Less pain. I used to wake up around 3 in the morning every night with pain in my stomach. Either sharp pain or naeusea. I used to attribute it to stress. But now I see it was because my eating habits were bad. It might’ve been the starch, or the eating past 5pm, or the drinking. Who knows? I don’t do any of those anymore and I no longer wake up in pain.

– You have more energy. On those Saturdays when I have the loaf of bread I go into “Challah Coma”. I can’t function for about 3-5 hours afterwards. And I’m even recovering the next day (like right now as I write this). I’m usually fully recovered by Tuesday. I’ve become much more aware of my body because of this diet and I can see how it changes and reacts to different foods.

– You appreciate what you eat more. One yoga practitioner suggests this: imagine your stomach as four fists. One fist is for food. The other for water, and two fists for air. This particular yoga guy lived to over 100 and probably only died that “young” because when he was 95 he fell and refused to have hip surgery. When he was 89 he demonstrated 20 different kinds of headstands. He attributed his long life to “good breathing”. Claudia is doing a bunch of posts on Pranayama (“good breathing”) on her website right now.

– Less snacking. We all know that most diets don’t work. The flip side is that EVERY diet works. How can that contradiction be? Well, most people can’t follow a diet for more than a few weeks. But why does every diet work? Because there isn’t a single diet that lets you eat Cheez Doodles. if all you do is avoid junk food, then you are fine. But extend out your definition of junk food. Over 80% of the grocery store is carbs. Mmm, delicious starchy carbs, cookies, breads, snacks, fried this, breaded that. Mmmmm. If you just do two things: no carbs, no eating after 5pm, you’ll get all the benefits of any diet you want.

What if you are invited to a dinner and you know there will be heavy eating, drinking, etc. I go to those, but not too often because I know it will take me awhile to recover. I don’t drink alcohol at them (all sugar and I hate the taste) and I avoid the dessert and appetizers and eat about half the entree. But it’s still after 5pm. And I know I’m going to sleep uncomfortably and be destroyed all the next day. As opposed to tommorrow, where I will be feeling great.