Today I have something totally different to talk about as far as diets, working out, and healthy eating goes. I have recently decided to investigate and learn as much as possible about intermittent fasting, while implementing it into my life. The results so far (I have been only doing it for 3 days) are really promising.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is essentially when an individual goes through a period of fasting, lasting anywhere between 12-20 hours, followed by a feeding “window” of about 12-4 hours where all calorie intake occurs.
There are actually a ton of variations of intermittent fasting. Some call for a full 24 hours of fasting, followed by 24 hours of feeding. Most commonly people practice a 16 hour fast with an 8 hour feeding window, or a 20 hour fast with a 4 hour feeding window.
The idea behind intermittent fasting came from those who didn’t really believe that eating 6-7 meals a day, every 3-4 hours made them feel fuller or “stoked their metabolism.” Also, if you believe that your timing of food can “speed up your metabolism” you are incorrect.
Intermittent fasting leaves you feeling full and satisfied with your food. It also takes away the stress and time that goes into planning 5 or 6 meals, and then stopping yourself from eating between those meals, or overeating. Generally the diet is easier to maintain as you are less likely to binge or go over on macros when you feel full and satiated.
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Intermittent fasting is a way of essentially timing your calorie intake. It has nothing to do with depriving yourself of food (unless you are seriously restricting) and everything to do with the frequency with which you eat and the time period during the day that you eat.
For myself personally, I legitimately became interested in intermittent fasting this past Saturday when I wasn’t hungry, at all until 12pm at work. I had been up since 6:30am and only taken in 1L of water and my morning coffee with sugar free creamer. It was a rest day for me, meaning that my carbs were 30 grams lower. I brought with me all of my food, and even brought more vegetables than normal to “fill” myself up and prevent that starving feeling.
My sister who is currently following a keto diet leading up to her wedding has also tried intermittent fasting. She lost 15 lbs in one month implementing the practice with her diet. So I texted her and tried to get some more information about it. I also went to Lean Gains and read as much as I could able the whole idea.
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With my current cut, I find that I am constantly hungry throughout the day. I was following the “bro-science” method, eating every 3-4 hours, only to find that I was starving one hour after eating. I also found that when I was out of food at the end of the day, I would come home from work and eat everything in the pantry.
Rest days were miserable because I was constantly hungry and feeling deprived. After going to crossfit, I felt like I had to eat immediately, or else I would get lightheaded and feel like I was going to pass out. I continued to graze throughout the day, and definitely went over my macros, even if just by a few grams.
Since implementing this Saturday, I have never felt more satisfied with my food and I have not once felt deprived. I have chosen to implement at 16/8 pattern, and that seems to work for me. I eat my last meal around 8pm, head to bed fully stuffed, wake up in the morning with my morning coffee and my water and wait until around 12 pm to start eating my daily macros. From that point on, I eat my 1700 calories in 8 hours, which actually makes me feel SUPER full.
I’m never really starving in the morning, between the hours of 7am and 12pm until I eat. I thought I might be, but I haven’t experienced that yet.
As far as working out goes, I trained fasted today and actually noticed an increase and a consistent energy level rather than bottoming out when I normally eat a poptart and protein shake prior to working out. Today I hit a 175 lb split jerk, no problem, which is something I normally struggle with. My motor during the metcon felt great as well, and I never once felt like I was bottoming out.
That was my biggest concern with intermittent fasting; how would it affect my training. I posted the question on the Team WAG Facebook page and actually found out that one of our coaches practices intermittent fasting, which made me feel much more comfortable with it. The only thing I noticed this morning was that I was getting pretty hungry around 11 am, but nothing terrible. I had a cup of decaf coffee and felt fine until I started making my first meal.
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Another weird thing I have noticed with intermittent fasting is my weight. Currently I am on my cycle, about half way through. Usually when I am on my cycle, I gain 2-3 lbs, and it normally comes right back off, followed by a drop. The past few days my weight has been like this:
Friday: 149.2 (two days after refeed and went over macros prior to IF)
Saturday: 148.6 (started IF and cycle)
In this past week’s weekly update, I weighed in at 146.4. Today I already weigh less than my weekly update, while on my cycle. I’m thinking I’m going to have a HUGE drop at this week’s weigh in, considering like I said that I gain at least 2-3 lbs. That weight does not come off until I’m 100% off of my cycle. I’m really thinking I might break until 145 this week!
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For those reading this and thinking “fasting for 16 hours…isn’t that restrictive?”
Yes, and no. Most of the time you are fasting in spent sleeping. Maybe 8 hours of that is spent awake (3 before bed when you’re already full and 5 in the morning). I am still eating my FULL calories (1700 a day), just timing them a little different.
IF is NOT for everyone. Some people feel more full with 5-6 meals a day. Personally, I am enjoying IF too much to go back to eating every 3-4 hours and trying to keep my intake in between maintained. If I’m hungry in between those meals, I’m known to cheat on my macros, like I said, specifically at night.
This is just the beginning for me with IF and using flexible dieting. I’ve only been doing it for a few days, so I think a month or two of practicing it will really show whether or not this is the best practice for me, at least while cutting.
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Have you ever tried intermittent fasting, or fasting in general?
Do you prefer to eat your meals in a smaller window? Or spread them out through the day?