Saturday, February 1, 2014

Intermittent Fasting, Self Experimentation

If you are familiar with the Paleo lifestyle, or weight lifting, or dieting... you may have heard about intermittent fasting (IF).  Perhaps you've heard about leangains and bullet-proof butter coffee IF, or that women shouldn't IF...or maybe they should.  For Christmas, Ryan received the book "Man 2.0, Engineering the Alpha," which encourages 16/8 IF.  Fast for 16 hours, with an eating window of 8 hours.  Since Ryan is trying it, I thought I'd give it a whirl.  I'm not discussing all the benefits of fasting, or the hormonal changes that happen in your body, you can read about that
Bye Bye Breakfast
here: Leangains top ten fasting myths
here: The IF Life 101
here: Precision Nutrition-IF experiments
also here: Mark's Daily Apple
here: Roman Fitness IF 101
and here for the ladies: Roman's wife Neghar Fonooni

Instead, this post is about my 1 wk experiment using 16/8 IF.  For 7 days, I simply skipped breakfast which I typically eat between 7 and 8:30 after working out.  Lunch came between 11 and 1pm and supper between 4-7pm.  It's hard to keep a eating schedule, when my work schedule changes almost every day, and I have to eat when I can.  My days looked something like this:

Morning Coffee at 6:30 with a little cream and 2-3 tsp MCT oil

Post workout: Water with 1.5g Glutamine

Lunch 11-1: Big salad with 1 can tuna or chicken + 1-2 Hard boiled eggs + Dressing + macadamia nuts

Snack 2-4pm: Protein shake made with 1/2 avocado (no fruit) or 1-2 1000 Hills Beef Sticks + Veggies + Hummus

Supper 4-7pm: 6oz Meat + Veggies + Fat, one night I had a Chipotle salad with guacamole.

Snack at 8:30-9pm: 1oz dark chocolate with a spoonful of almond butter OR, lowish carb Almond flour muffin with butter.

Some days were harder than others, and there were a few days where I felt really good, like my brain was on some sort of high.  After 7 days of skipping breakfast though, I was hungry, Carb Hungry!  By Friday I wanted to eat, to seriously eat.  To binge on pie and muffins, and fruit, and sweet potatoes.  So guess what I did on Saturday?  While I didn't binge, I definitely let myself eat those foods.

Coffee at 7am

Breakfast at 9am: 2 Deviled Eggs+ Banana

Lunch at 12:30: Big Salad + Chicken Breast + Dressing + 1 small sweet potato

Snack: Made Chunky Monkey muffins, licked the batter of the spatula, I think I also ate some PB protein balls and a beef stick.

Supper at 6pm: Giant piece of pork roast + 1/2-1 cup Winter squash + Roasted B-sprouts

Desert at 8pm: Small piece of GF pumpkin pie + 1/2 muffin

Brunch at 10am: 2-3 egg spinach frittata from the Lowry with some greasy hash-browns.

Mid-afternoon Snack: I don't remember... but probably a chunky monkey muffin or protein balls.

Supper at 6pm: Bowl of leftover Hot and Sour Chicken Soup

Desert: Small slice of GF pumpkin pie, maybe some chocolate.

I think the reason for these carb cravings is that even though I increased my lunch and supper protein/fat portions, my snacks remained about the same size.  So I was in a good 4-600 kcal deficit every day.  As someone who works out 5x week, that's a pretty big hit.  I also discovered that a protein shake didn't really cut it in the afternoon, I needed solid food to truly feel satisfied.

Here's the weird thing, during my week of IF, I actually gained 2#.  And then after my weekend of eating what and when I wanted, I lost it.  After a week of eating semi normal again I was back up 2#, and at the end of the week, down 2#.  Who knows... I'm not obsessive about weighing myself, I just wanted to see if it changed during this time.  Granted, I've been lifting heavy for the past 2-3 months and have already added 10# to my squats and normal.
dead-lift and increased my pull up by 1.  Like any good weight lifter, I'm hoping it's muscle.  I also felt a little constipated during that week.  (TMI?)  My guess is that without my usual 1-2 cups of veggies in the morning, my fiber/food intake went down enough to slow GI movement.  After my "eat everything in sight Saturday," things were back to

So what did I learn?
1. That if I don't eat I'm not going to DIE!  I can recognize hunger for what it is, and keep going.
2. Not making/eating breakfast means I have more time for other things in the morning, like cleaning or doing laundry, or making lunch.
3. I like to eat breakfast, and I think for the most part, I feel better when I eat it.
4. I had fewer chocolate cravings or chocolate thoughts.  I think it's because my body needed real food.
5. I'm ready to try a 24hr fast.  It's really not that crazy when you think of the number of Jr and Sr. high students who do the 30 hr famine.  Probably a good thing to do Monday after the Super Bowl.

Why will I continue to IF 1-3x week?  Because it reduces your risk of Alzheimer's/dementia and gives your body a chance to repair tissues (muscle) via increased growth hormone production, and increases cellular apoptosis (cell death) reducing your risk of cancer.  Sorry, there is no drug on the market that can do all that.  Also because I have a small lazy bone in my body; so it's nice not cleaning up breakfast dishes.

IF is not for everyone.  You can disagree with me, but I do not believe people with an active eating disorder should do it.  Pregnant women should probably not start experimenting with IF unless it was already part of their daily practice.  Just listen to your body moms-to-be.  If you are prone to anxiety and panic attacks, I wouldn't recommend it, especially if you have very unstable blood sugars.  People with DMT1 need to have a very good understanding of their blood sugars and insulin needs and always have supplies on hand to correct a low.  People with DMT2, who are not on insulin or medication which causes hypoglycemia (metformin doesn't count) would probably see good results with IF since it increases insulin sensitivity.

Just because you are IFing, does not give you license to eat a bunch of junk.  You still have to eat mostly real foods.  Who should IF?  Well.... If you are healthy, try it.  If you have weight to lose, try it.  If you travel frequently and hate crappy airplane food, try it.  If you hate breakfast and are not hungry till lunch, you're probably already IFing.  If you are a man, you should definitely try it!  If you are a woman who tries IF, and after a month or more notice more acne, irregular menstrual cycles, insomnia, anxiety, depression...STOP, and go eat breakfast.