Recently a fellow fitness professional told me he was toying with the idea of intermittent fasting. He began explaining that it had to do with insulin sensitivity and some of the research was pretty astounding – he said that if done right one can lose fat and gain muscle .. Wait for it… At the same time! Waaaahhhhhhh????!!!!! Really?? So you know this peaked my interest… What is this intermittent fasting and is it just another low carb, low fat, never eat anything good again or anything at all, diet trend?
Initially, my skepticism brought me to a few articles – one which showed: “A 2014 review done by Longo and Mattson shed light on intermittent fasting’s role in adaptive cellular responses that reduce oxidative damage and inflammation, optimize energy metabolism, and bolster cellular production. The study showed how, in lower eukaryotes, chronic fasting extends longevity, in part, by reprogramming metabolic and stress resistance pathways. In rodents, intermittent fasting was shown to protect against diabetes, cancers, heart disease and neurodegeneration, while in humans it helps reduce obesity, hypertension, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.”
This is pretty interesting, but brought up a lot of questions…. Protects against all of those diseases? Really? Just by prolonged periods of not eating? But then what do you eat when you break your fast? Can I eat whatever I want or do I have to eat boring foods? How will workouts work around not eating?
And then… Then I came across this amazing graphic:
This graphic is a nice visual of the different types of intermittent fasting. So, what do I have to lose? Well, I will say that I’ve read that you need to be careful and pay attention to what you’re eating because you could potentially lose too much weight too fast and then your body will no longer use fat as fuel but you can start to burn your hard earned muscle – so, like everything, intermittent fasting could potentially have negative effects but overall the information out there seems to be pretty convincing.
So, I decided to do my own little experiment. Now, in a science lab this wouldn’t hold up, because the variables aren’t really constant and there’s only one subject – Me!
My first day, I stopped eating at 7:30pm, fell asleep around 9pm, woke up at 5, hit the gym at 6 -7, and started eating again at 8:30am. My first fast was 13 hours. The following day I did the exact same thing, and yesterday I did the same again. This morning was the first time I hit the gym and felt freaking awesome! It was a cardio based workout – one of those FOR TIME workouts that I usually come in close to last in, and I was the first one done!
So, I’m not sure how this will go as I’m only on day 3… But the plan is to continue at least 13-14 hours of fasting daily (biggest fasting period is at night at this point.) for a week. Since Saturday is the Palmerton, Pa Spartan Super, I plan to NOT fast on Friday so that I have lots of energy stored for Saturday. If all is still going well after the race, I will begin to stretch the fast longer – and we’ll see how this goes.
Have you tried intermittent fasting? What are your thoughts/experiences? Do you think this is just another diet craze?
And for your reading pleasure… Here’s a great article on intermittent fasting from bodybuilding.com: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/to-eat-or-not-to-eat-your-fast-guide-to-fasting.html