Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Have You Tried Intermittent Fasting?

I had read plenty from Mangan on the positives of Intermittent Fasting. I decided to check out other websites as well. I noticed a few websites lists or write ups on different types of fasts. I messaged Mangan to post on a schedule for fasting, and he crafted one. I promised him a review after incorporating fasting into my weekly diet. I can't go full paleo, and wouldn't want to, and I can't go a full week of scheduled fasting, so I found a schedule that worked for me.

Basics
- I work out 3-4 days per week. I would not fast on training days or the day directly after.
- I used the "16 hours fasting, 8 hour window of eating" fast. This fast was 16 hours of no food, then an 8 hour window of eating, followed by another 16 hour window of no food.
- I started the fast at 7pm on Wednesday and ended it at 11am on Saturday.
- I eat 3 regular meals, a banana or yogurt as a snack, and then a combination of protein bar/shake twice a day.

Pros
- Once you break habits, fasting in this manner is easy. You are in essence just delaying breakfast and eliminating post-dinner snacking.
- 8 hours is a wide window to fill in your caloric intake. It is not a forced "Let's gulp down 2000 calories at once" fast. I created an every other hour feeding method like: 11am - breakfast, 1pm - lunch, 3pm - snack, 5pm dinner, right before 7pm, protein bars/shakes.
- If you have any casein protein powder, it might be best and helpful with getting thru the overnight fast as it breaks down slower.
- Slight weight loss immediately seen on the scale of 5 lbs.

Cons
- I had some headaches at night. I messaged Mangan. He said he did not have those. Might have just been me, maybe a carb deficit. Maybe just dehydration as I drank more water after messaging him, and they went away. Not bad in total.
- Tough part was the late at night period before bed. Stomach was hungry then, but doing a shake right before 7pm was better than sneaking in a small half sandwich. Once I slept, the morning routine was easy to fast thru if I brewed a large cup of tea.
- The urge to snack was high.

Helpful Hints
- Drink some coffee or tea in the morning. Caffeine is an appetite suppressant anyway.
- Drink plenty of water. Doesn't hurt to fill the stomach with water.
- Drink a nighttime sleep aid tea to help you if a growling stomach will prevent you from falling asleep.

This was actually a lot easier to execute than I expected. The second week of fasting was much easier than the first after knowing how my body reacted. I will be doing this from now on from Wednesday nights to Saturday mornings. Paleo is a bit of a pain due to having to eat separately from what the rest of the family eats. I have turned my paleo habits into a general, "eat fewer refined carbs, more nuts and fruit" diet. I now even eat and enjoy salads, which at 23, I never thought would happen. Fasting is just a routine change and not even that hard. The toughest thing was the late night stomach growls of "feed me" and the simple, conditioned urge to snack after 8pm or so. It's part conditioning and part accessability. It's amazing how much we Americans have become grazers. I'm a pretty fit guy, so I can't imagine how hard it would be for a fatter person who snacks constantly. You can break the conditioning. It will take some effort. If the science is anything to believe, then the results and consequences are worth it.
 
***If you have tried fasting or do fast regularly, please leave a comment below***

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've tried 24- hour fasts every once in a while. I feel pretty good afterwards.

The book "The Perfect Health Diet" has some good details on the benefits of IF, but you probably know them already. Great diet book.

I have problems with blood sugar (I'm a few points away from "Pre-diabetic") even though I'm thin. The fast seems to help with the energy problems.

nikcrit said...

Yes...I think the key to fasting effectiveness is to go 36 hrs once a week, sustained only by water......that is a way to counter any off-diet indulgences each week.... Fasting & a paleo-centered consistency is foolproof IMO

Anonymous said...

I skip breakfast but drink tea throughout the morning. At noon I have a normal-sized lunch, sometimes a bit more. Drink tea in afternoon. During the evening I typically won't eat dinner unless I worked out at the gym but will have a small amount of peanut butter or something otherwise quite light. Fasting - and otherwise sticking to quality meat & vegetables - has been very helpful. Once the habit took hold, and the initial hunger pains faded after the first few days, my focus and productivity greatly increased. Also, I try to do a day or two of liquids-only (water or tea) fasting on the weekend. I've found dry-fasting to be good as well, but I would start with intermittent and then liquids-only fasting. Very important to resist binge-eating junk/fast food after fasting. Fasting is like working out - your body benefits from mild, temporary, stresses

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Yes, I did the "16 hours fasting/8 hour food window" thing for years. I was eating Paleo. Woke up early and had a big breakfast. Lunch at 12 or 1pm. After work I would head to the gym for cardio and lifting. The hours from 7 to 10pm could be hard. I was in awesome shape. I'm starting to go back to that lifestyle. It's tough, though, giving up those nightly glases of red wine.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

If I do it again, I'd probably work out in the morning.

Son of Brock Landers said...

LBF - I am a weekend warrior where I workout Sat + Sun around 1pm. My Tuesday workout is after work, so it'd be before 7pm and give me time to pack in food. I'll probably go to 16 off/8 on full time come June. Give myself 1 cheat day a week.

peterike said...

What's the point of fasting? You mention a small weight loss, but other than that, what's the gain?

"eat fewer refined carbs, more nuts and fruit diet."

Some people say to avoid nuts entirely and to eat little fruit because modern fruit is basically just sugar. I never know what to believe in the face of such contradictions.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

That sounds good. Do you have breakfast? I'm a morning person and need that meal first thing. My concern is with lifting after work *and* skipping a post-workout meal. Not sure if that's going to help me reach my goals.

Son of Brock Landers said...

LBF - I'm a breakfast guy too, so it kills me on fast days to eat like 3 eggs at 11am. This will take time. Going without a nighttime drink will suck.

Peterike - Go to Mangan's site. He has a bunch of health related things to fasting.Keep in mind, i've done this for two weeks now.

NZT said...

I've been doing a 16/8 schedule pretty much every day except for cases of late night socializing. I do all my eating from 11am-7pm. I do workouts in the afternoon and take a protein shake right after, and while I'm definitely hungrier those days I've got the amount of food I need dialed in pretty well.

I'm a big fan of the concept. I find it much easier to control my weight this way, and tend to be much more focused and alert, especially in the mornings (coffee also works wonders for AM appetite control). Overall it makes you much better at self-control where food is concerned, and better able to tolerate hunger.

Anonymous said...

Peterike- intermittent fasting increases your insulin sensitivity, making you less susceptible to diabetes and potentially certain cancers. It also stimulates autophagy, a process which may slow aging.

SOBL - Ive done intermittent fasting even before it had a name, as Ive always had a low appetite in the mornings. I dont have a baseline to compare it to, but Ive always had high HDL, low triglycerides, low blood pressure, and other favorable numbers which I suspect are at least partially due to IF. If you are still getting headaches later in the day, it may be due to low blood sugar. In that case a small snack before bedtime may be optimal. You can pick up blood sugar measuring devices at your local pharmacy for $15 or so.

I know what you mean about the inconvenience of paleo, and for most people I think its overkill. As long as youre avoiding sugars and white flour you should be good. Some carbs are good (brown rice, sprouted whole wheat bread, rolled oatmeal, yams), especially if you do any intense resistance training. I try to stick to foods below a glycemic load of 15 or 20 and my insulin sensitivity is high as a result.

You may want to check out Jay's website at www.fabfitover40.com if youre into health. Along with Mangan's site, Ive learned a lot from it.

Anonymous said...

The 8 hour eating window is cake. In my heart of hearts I suspect that this is the paleo/crossfit/SWPL version of "skipping breakfast." I'm dying to see a dose/response curve for fasting. My gut tells me that at least 36 hours of fasting is required to get the hormonal, metabolic benefits, or growth factor benefits.

Suburban_elk said...

My approach to fasting would be to do it over a period of several (or many) days and to eat about a half-cup of brown rice and a piece of fruit or two and a half-cup of nuts, per day, and also to forego coffee and obviously sugar. That way your bowels will have a chance to clear out, which i think a big part of the health benefit.

This is crude, but related to fasting. A big measure of health is regular managed bowel movements. The American toilet style is not natural, people know this now. But it is a great symbol of where and how America went wrong: their toilet training. A person is not supposed to be at the whims of his bowels, as in sitting around on the toilet waiting for a "movement" to "happen". What kind of stupid animal does not anticipate and learn to deal more effectively with that stuff. Presumably this is a topic that does not need to be taught in school, but perhaps it does.

But obviously that is the other end to fasting. Stop eating until after the tracts have cleared out, every morning. Coffee and if necessary an apple in the morning. This topic is one to have a laugh at, but it can be considered serious as well, when placed alongside the epidemic of colon cancer. There has to be a correlation there, with constipation.

Pangur said...

I am currently doing IF 3 days a week: Tuesday and Thursdays (off days) and Saturdays. I do a 16 hour window, usually from 8PM to 12PM. The first week was tough but after that the fasting was easier. I get hungry in the mornings, but stave it off with green tea or a cup of coffee.

My main concern is that I be able to add some muscle, which seems tougher with a restricted eating window. My plan is to simply try to eat enough to gain muscle in the window, and see if this works.

prcd said...

why are you guys doing this? if your ancestors ate 'paleo' and fasted voluntarily, you wouldn't be here. our genomes co-evolved with agriculture.

guy said...

I doubt my ancestors from millenia ago ate sugar wafers every meal and had unlimited access to food. The modern diet is unprecedented in human history.

I cant speak for anyone else, but the reason I do it is to live longer and reduce my risk of diabetes. Eating lots of breads and pastas will eventually lead to insulin tolerance and diabetes for most people. Fasting is another way to reduce insulin tolerance.

neonshadows said...

I fast the stations (Wednesday and Friday), by not eating until night. I did a couple weeks of completely fasting those days but I was getting quite unfriendly as the night went on, and I have church obligations on those nights, so I scaled it back.

I started doing this during Lent this year so I can't really isolate any health benefits as I abstained the whole of Lent. I'm doing it for religious reasons, though, not health, so I haven't really even being paying attention.

Puzzle Pirate said...

"I had some headaches at night. I messaged Mangan. He said he did not have those. Might have just been me, maybe a carb deficit. Maybe just dehydration as I drank more water after messaging him, and they went away. Not bad in total."

I sometimes get hunger headaches. I always thought it was a sugar thing. Turns out it was salt & sodium I was missing.

Try drinking a cup or two of chicken or beef broth and see if that fixes things.