January 13, 2014: Holiday eating had come to an end (burp). My workouts were strong and I felt great, but I hit a plateau and looked bloated.
March 3, 2014: These are the results after 8 weeks of intermittent fasting, coupled with short Tabata workouts for cardio and lifting heavier during strength training.
I shed 5 pounds that were previously stuck in cement and would not budge for months. I built muscle and saw abs progress. You would think that a greedy chick like me who, in the last 8 weeks, has gnawed on pizza every weekend, multiple Cinnabons (damn, they were good), birthday cake, pastries, food from ‘da hood, Alfredo pasta, ice cream, and carbtastic dinner rolls at every weekend restaurant outing — shouldn’t I be tipping the scales right now?
Nope. Not with intermittent fasting.
That right there paints a wonderfully tasty picture of what Intermittent Fasting is NOT:
- It is not starving yourself.
- It is not deprivation.
- It’s not even reducing your daily caloric intake (if it was sensible to begin with)
- It is not the elimination the treat meals. Hell naw!
Yep. You are fasting, yet still taking in the same amount of calories you normally would as if you weren’t fasting. If this sounds as frivolous as those mysterious dog turds that appeared in my front yard recently, then do not fret. I’ll break it all down for ya.
WHAT IS INTERMITTMENT FASTING?
Intermittent Fasting (or “IF” for short) is deliciously inhaling your normal allotment of food/calories for the day within a specified “eating-window” instead of spreading your meals throughout the entire day. Each day, you have an eating window and a fasting phase.
During the fasting phase, your body taps into fat stores for energy, opposed to utilizing food for energy that’s fed on around the clock. That’s the basic, simple principle of it.
There are 3 standard methods of IF:
- Method #1. Eat Stop Eat: Fasting for 24 hours straight, once or twice per week. This method does not interest me. Abstaining for that long will make your breath stink. Don’t ask me how I know.
- Method #2. Warrior Diet: The gist of this is eating very light throughout the day, then having a HUGE meal at night within a 4 hour time frame, while also avoiding certain foods like meat, dairy and bread and sweet stuff . This method is pretty rigid and I personally would never do it because I’m all about eating freedom when I fro-down. Too many rules to this method.
- Method #3. Leangains: Fasting for a straight 14-20 hours (you pick how long), then gnawing only during your eating window.
Method #3 is what I have done 5-6 times per week consistently over the last 8 weeks (and will continue to do). On the 1 or 2 days that I’m not fasting I tend to stick to the “5-6 small meals per day” rule of thumb. My non-fasting days are when I treat myself to the good stuff (helloooo pancakes!!!)
“…but, Josie, what about catabolism? If I don’t refuel after my workouts, surely I will starve, have zero energy, and my muscles will waste away, so please shut up about this fasting nonsense.”
When I first began fasting, I kicked around the idea of supplementing with BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids) due to fears of catabolism, the loss of muscle mass. After doing a ton of research, I embraced BCAAs, not for unfounded fears of muscle wasting, but because they have proven to fuel my workouts wonderfully, provide for excellent muscle recovery, and aid in muscle building — all without costing me any calories to consume it.
Thanks to science we know that catabolism does not begin to happen until about 48-hours of going without food. Delaying your meal by much less time for the sake of intermittent fasting is not detrimental to your muscles. But note, when you do eat, it’s important to feed your body the proper protein-rich foods that do build muscle.
MY PERSONAL INTERMITTENT FASTING SCHEDULE
- 18 hours of fasting + 6 hours of eating = 24 hours
I stop eating at 8pm and don’t eat again until 2pm of the following day. That’s 18 hours of fasting (drinking only water, tea and my BCAAs). I workout at about 6am each morning, so I don’t get my “breakfast” until 8 hours later when 2pm rolls around. If this specific plan scares the hell outta you, alternatively, you can structure your eating & fasting phases so that your fasting period ends soon after your workout is over, or simply shorten your fasting phase and give yourself a longer eating window.
As a precursor to the grand start of my Intermittent Fasting journey, I slowly began reducing my morning eating over a period of a few weeks (breakfast was typically carrots, almonds and tea). I also reduced nighttime grazing as a precursor, which honestly needed to happen anyway.
BUT WON’T I GET HUNGRY WHILE FASTING?
Yes. At first you might feel ravenous. It may require a small bit of mental fortitude in the beginning, but eventually those ferocious feelings of hunger will fade away until it’s only an occasional, small belly grumble that doesn’t have the power to interrupt your day. The more you practice fasting, the less hunger is an issue. Follow the fasting precursor tips in the previous section if you want to gear up for success.
UNEXPECTED RESULTS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING
- Victory Over Food. We — you and me — possess the full power to control bad eating habits. Intermittment Fasting puts you in the hot seat to gain that control. Fasting has reinforced that fact that my day does not have to revolve around food.
- Less Cravings: Cravings still happen, but on a much smaller scale. When they do rear their ugly head, it’s very easy to squash it and move on. Cravings no longer have a real say in my life.
- More Treats: Yep. I’m finding that my treat meals can be more luxuriously indulgent without fear of weight gain. The treats during the eating phase of my fasting days are limited to a small square of milk chocolate, a bowl of crappy cereal or my lovely Eggo smathered in honey, or sometimes, an ice cream sammich. I’m able to have more treats on non-fasting days than I ever could under the “5-6 small meals everyday” rule of thumb. This is living, baby!
- No More Bloat: Even when I do have an indulgent treat meal, bloat is a non-factor. My scientific explanation for this is that I enter back into the fasting phase so quickly that my body doesn’t have a chance to get stuck working overtime on digestion around the clock. I fart less, too. Just sayin’.
- Overeating is VERY Hard To Do: All in all, I just can’t stuff myself the way I used to. Even when indulging, my body somehow manages my portions more effectively — I get full quicker and the urge to overeat switches off. Overeating to the point of discomfort and regret happened only one time in my 8 weeks of fasting. That right there is a remarkable anomaly.
I began Intermittent Fasting as an experiment. I was super skeptical and concerned I would feel starved while getting no results. I thought all the wonderful progress other IF’ers had couldn’t possibly happen to me. Never did I think it would become a lifestyle, but it’s become a sustainable way of approaching my diet. This is not a fad diet.
Fasting phases during the week while having a fro-down on the weekend, control over cravings, better digestion, no bloat AND losing more weight faster??? …yep. I’m glad I signed up for that.
Related YUM: Branched Chain Amino Acids for Intermittent Fasting
Are you intrigued? Want your own Intermittent Fasting results? Then go for it! Be sure to leave your questions for me in the comments! Even if doing IF long term isn’t your cup of tea, it can be downright effective for things like: preparing for an upcoming vacation, getting ready for a wedding, blasting out of a plateau, making your ex-boyfriend jealous (hehe), etc etc and so on….
Oh… I’ve also been eating grilled cheese and bacon slices. Forgot about that. ((winks))