Fitness

Published on April 26th, 2014 | by Grinds4Gamers

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Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting

I have fought the urge to tackle this topic for several months, mostly because I didn’t know exactly what IF entailed and it really didn’t seem all that healthy to me.  This came as no surprise, however, as the topic is widely debated in the fitness/wellness world.  How could anyone just starve themselves?  Many of you would probably cut me deep with a two-handed axe and a running start if I told you to skip breakfast.  That’s NOT what society has programmed us to believe, right?  Breakfast is the most important part of your day!  Well, it turns out science is proving a different theory.  Before you get started, just like when you first heard about the Paleolithic Lifestyle, you’re going to need to keep an open mind as you absorb the following article.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting is basically eliminating caloric intake for certain periods of time.  You’re effectively skipping meals.  This fast could be every day, one or two times per week, or other variations.  Your calorie intake is restricted to certain times of the day.  Less caloric intake means weight loss simply because you are consuming less food. Sound tough? Well, from what I’ve seen, you have to experiment with IF and see what works for you.

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Through my research….Who am I kidding?  I’ve let a bunch of other people do the research.  I’m just reaping the benefits of the information they’ve compiled.  So, thank you! Essentially, the benefits of reducing caloric intake by using the IF method are as follows:

Scientific Benefits:

Fat Loss.  Simply put, with less in your stomach, your body pulls from your fat stores for energy.  This effect is further magnified if you are actively training.

Increases glucagon, adrenaline and lipolysis hormones, thus speeding up fatty acid oxidation (this is the main reason for fasting in the first place! Burning FAT!)

When fasting, your body uses up the glycogen stores in your cells. This reduces the amount of available fat to store.

Helps preserve lean muscle mass

Increases growth hormone secretion (effective in building muscle)

Lowers systemic inflammation

Lowers blood pressure

Lowers blood glucose and insulin levels

Improves overall metabolism

 

Lifestyle Benefits:

Provides relief from obsessing about food for long periods

Eliminates the need for preparing meals during the busiest time of the day (16-hour fast)

Requires less time and will save you money!

Allows a bit of flexibility for that “cheat day”

 

The Downside to Intermittent Fasting

There are undoubtedly some drawbacks to intermittent fasting.  Most of them, you’re probably already guessing might be factors.

Loss of energy:  As I’ve found with my experimentation, you can certainly feel a bit “blah” during those last couple of hours before your fuelling period.  Especially if you’re coupling physical training with fasting.  That’s why it’s a good idea to time your workouts to where your fuelling period happens immediately afterward.  This will optimize your muscle recovery and decrease the amount of fuel that gets stored as fat, due to your body still being in a fat-burning mode after your workout.

You’re gonna be hungry:  We’ve been trained to eat several small meals all day, right?  Well, it turns out that may not be the best thing for you.  Studies have shown that eating small meals throughout the day doesn’t actually speed up your metabolism.  Pro-tip for when you’re hungry.  Water.  Guzzle a large glass of water if you get hunger pains.  It really works for me.

Here’s an interesting article I found while researching Intermittent Fasting.

You’ll have to reconsider what society has taught you!  But if you’ve already transitioned to a Paleolithic lifestyle, you should be an expert at this by now! No breakfast? I will admit, when you’re actually skipping a meal or two, it can be rough at first.  But after two weeks of experimenting with Intermittent Fasting, I’ve actually done quite well!  Of course by that last hour, I’m ready to eat.  But if you’re busy doing your thing, the time goes by quickly and before you know it, you’re mowing down a big plate of healthy foods.  The fact that I’ve quickly adapted to 16-hours of fasting after just a couple of days is a testament to the amazing flexibility of the human body.  A bit of mental toughness for the first few days, but now I’m good to go.

Examples of Intermittent Fasting Schedules

A typical intermittent fasting schedule would be the 16-hour fast.  This is what I’ve opted to try. Basically, you would eat a meal around dinner time and then not eat again until around lunch time on the next day.  Your fuelling window would be in between Noon and 8PM each day and the fasting period is basically while you sleep, minus the morning hours that next day.  This schedule could be performed daily.  The flexibility of this fasting schedule would allow you to do it more frequently.

Another type of fasting schedule that I’ve researched is the 24-hour Intermittent Fast.  Obviously you wouldn’t be able to sustain this one for multiple days per week.  I know for me, I would eventually get what I like to call “hangry”. Nobody wants to be around Kash when he’s hangry. This type of fast is usually performed 1-2 times per week.  The caloric intake during the 24-hour fast is minimal, with only one small meal usually taking place during the later hours of the afternoon-evening.

Factors to consider before fasting

Of course there are variables to consider prior to diving in head-first.  Keep in mind that this might not be the thing for you based on your particular caloric needs, training regimen, recovery needs and food choices. Heck your mind might not let you do this.  But remember your mental toughness!  It’s definitely worth a shot.

As a general recommendation, make sure you check with your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.  In my opinion, however, you’ll probably know more about Intermittent Fasting than your doctor will.  That being said, if you can make it work, you may stand to lose some fat from those stubborn areas!

My thoughts so far on Intermittent Fasting?

After experimenting with IF for the past two weeks, I feel great.  I DEFINITELY feel leaner and I can tell my most stubborn belly fat is coming off.  I’ve gone from 204 lbs to 195 during the two weeks and I don’t feel that I’ve lost muscle or strength.  I do think I’ll need to reconsider the hours I fast, however, in relation to my workout schedule.  Currently, I’m fasting from 8PM to Noon the next day.  The problem:  I workout around 7 or 8AM.  That leaves me without a refueling period at the most demanding part of my day, the post workout.  I would imagine that after my stubborn fat is no longer available to be burned in the post workout period, I risk burning some muscle.  I kind of want to keep that stuff.  So I may start my fast after a meal at 5PM, so I can eat a meal around 9 or 10AM on the next day after my workout.  It’s all a matter of what works for me.  Experimentation is key.

I also might try fasting fewer days per week.  Right now, it’s been easy to fast every day.  But it might get old or perhaps impractical after a while.  I might want a chorizo and egg burrito for breakfast one day.  Some silly fast isn’t going to stand in my way.  Just play with it and see what works for you.

In the middle of my experiment, I actually went on a date with my wife and had a pretty substantial cheat meal.  I thought my workout would suffer the next day, however, I woke up feeling great.  I wasn’t hungry, I was energetic and ready to CRUSH the day’s workout.  It happened to be a rather tough workout and I absolutely killed it.  Was it a result of the fasting?  Who knows, but I will definitely be continuing this little experiment.  If this feeling continues, I may just make Intermittent Fasting a regular thing.

In closing, I learned something here.  I was so opposed to trying the intermittent fasting technique that I had closed my eyes to questioning conventional wisdom.  What did I learn?  Question everything.  Reconsider what society tells you is “good for you”.  There’s a good chance there is something new to try – something that might actually net you some results.  Don’t be afraid to weigh out the risks versus gain of trying something new.  If it doesn’t look like it will kill you, educate yourself and dive in.

As always, hit me up with any questions.  If you discover something better or you can improve upon my findings, please let me know!  After all, we’re all learning together.

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About the Author

Kash is the creator of Grinds 4 Gamers and the Founder of MOG Nation Gaming & a Co-Host on the Wildcast Podcast. I'm a busy & humble public servant, daddy, hubby, game geek, Crossfit Coach and self-proclaimed Paleo chef. Need help with min-maxing your life? Hit me up at kash@grinds4gamers.com.



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