3.08.2012

My experience with IF

I want to preface this post with a few comments:
1) Intermittent Fasting (IF) is not for everyone
2) This is based on my own personal experience.  You and I are different.  Our chemistry, our eating habits, our diets, our lifestyle are all different... what works for me may not work for you and vice-versa.
3) I am not a dietary/digestion/biochem/etc. expert... but I do understand my body, how it feels and how to listen.  I was not always good at the latter, but have become much better in the past seven months.  Hospital stays will have that effect.
4) I have only become comfortable with the IF concept after completing two Whole30s and eating a 95/5 Paleo diet for the past seven months.  (95% strict Paleo/5% not-so-much)
5) I heard a fellow CrossFitter/Paleo woman say "We are our own little experiment"... this was just part of me testing something on me.

With that out of the way - let's talk Intermittent Fasting.

There are numerous pages documenting how to IF, when to IF, and the benefits of IF.  I'll post a few of those after I explain what I do, when I do it, and the benefits I've seen.

After my first (almost) Whole30, I really started to get a better sense of taste for good quality food.  I really became adept at focusing on food as fuel and the benefits it would provide my body.  Through the process, cravings for sweet went away and I seemed to have a much better perspective on when I was hungry.  Now that my body was speaking to me in an accurate way, with my hormones in better balance than they had been previously... I could legitimately "listen to my body."  I began to pay closer attention to when I was hungry and when I wasn't.

For a very long time, I always wondered "Why should I eat if I'm not hungry?"... I always believed that skipping breakfast was the worst thing a human could possibly do, next to wearing spandex and leg-warmers in public.  I also believed that I needed to continue eating throughout the day to keep my metabolism in check... "keep the fire burning!"  I may not have been hungry, but goshdarnit - the fire needed fuel, so I was going to feed it!  That system probably worked during the time of my life when I was working out three times a day... or when I was 20-something and always on the move... but it really hasn't worked for me in a very very long time.  At the end of January, when I had more confidence in the signals my gut was sending to my brain, I was ready to listen.

When I was hungry.  I would eat.  And I would eat slowly until I was full.  I started to notice after an incredible night of 9 - 10 hours of sleep, I wasn't hungry when I got out of bed.  In fact, I wasn't hungry until almost "lunchtime."  I chose to not eat until "lunchtime" and realized that it was becoming a pattern.  I would head to Murphy's in the late afternoon and get through a session of heavy lifting or a quick metcon and feel great.  I'd come home and eat a normal sized dinner (meat, veggies, and a yam), finishing my meal around 8.  The next morning - wasn't hungry.  And I usually stayed not hungry until almost noon.  How could I possibly be getting faster, stronger, and more comfortable in the gym if I was "skipping breakfast?"

When I first started following this pattern at the beginning of February, I didn't think much about the whole IF concept.  Then one day, mid-month, an article popped up on the Facebook about a body builder and her IF experience.  I read it and realized I was following a similar standard and that is when I started to do a little more reading around the topic.  And realized it is OKAY to fast.  If you're not hungry, don't eat!

So here's how it goes for me:
Wake up between 7 and 9 am.  Miscellaneous time wasting activity.  Eat between 11 - 2, depending on when I start to feel hungry.  This meal usually consists of a protein (ground beef most often), two eggs, and a cup to a cup and a half of veggies.  More miscellaneous time wasting activity.  Heavy lifting, metcon, and mobility from 5 - 6:30ish.  Dinner at 7:30ish.  Watch Netflixed Sopranos religiously.  In bed by 10 or 10:30.  Asleep by 11 the latest.  Add it up and the fasting starts around 8 pm and ends sometime between 11 and 2 the next day.  That's between 15 - 18 hours of fasting and 6 - 9 open hours of time for food consumption.

Waiting for me to drop something... which sadly won't happen for at least four more hours.

I never FORCE the fast.  If I am hungry.  I will eat.  If I wake up at 6 am and am ready to gnaw my arm off, I will make breakfast... like the morning after a FGB.  If I am hungry for breakfast and lunch, but not dinner... I will choose to not eat dinner.  (But more times than not, this has an emotional attachment.  Like I've said before, dinner is Me & Matt time and it is important for us to share that meal together.)  So what has it done for me?  Plenty.  I've PR-ed in the gym quite a bit this month.  I've broken some heavy lifting PR's, some metcon PR's, and I just feel good.  My body feels good.  I think above all - my mind and my heart feel good.  I'm not sure if it's the Whole30, the consistency with a Paleo diet, the fish oil, the IF or a combination of all of the above... but I have been able to really think a lot more clearly.  The "fog" has lifted and I am able to focus on projects and creative ideas and tasks that I've wanted to accomplish for a long time.  And for some of you, this will probably resonate more than the anything else I say in this post - I bought new jeans.  Two sizes smaller than my old jeans... the pair that always fall off when I walk.  And I will only attribute the new pants to a total combination of all of the above and not any individual component.

This is a lifestyle.  This is me, experimenting on me.  Will the chemistry change?  Certainly.  When?  I don't know.  And I will adjust my eating style as it becomes necessary.  But for now, I'm extremely content and comfortable and don't have any goals laid out, per se.  I just want to have a healthy relationship with my food and the schedule on which I eat it.
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And now the sciency stuff:
I referred to Mark Sisson's Mark's Daily Apple first.  The very first time I ever heard of IF was in his book The Primal Blueprint.

He explains that there is no one way to do IF.  When you DO eat, it should be healthy.  The choice must fit with you - your schedule, your lifestyle, your personality.  When you eat, you should not overeat to compensate for the lost calories.  Only eat enough to satisfy the hunger.  The goal of IF is episodic deprivation - taking the body off track and allowing the systems to reinvigorate and recalibrate.  

An IF can be any one of the following:
* A missed meal - either planned or unplanned
* A condensed eating window - somewhere between 4-7 hours
* 24 hour fast - from dinner to dinner the following day
* Any of the other options found HERE

For the benefits of IF, click HERE

Think you're ready to be your own experiment?  Mark recommends being on a strict Primal diet for at least 3 weeks in a row before attempting to incorporate Intermittent Fasting.  Want to see if you're ready?  Read HERE

Apparently today is the day for IF posts.  I just went to RobbWolf.com and discovered today's blog post is very similar to mine.  However, there is much more science included over there!  Worth the read, go check it out!

Whatever you decide... I wish you the best of luck!  I'm extremely happy with the road my journey is on right now and am glad I'm no longer distracted by having to stop five or six times a day for a snack.

2 comments:

  1. Yea for new jeans! Yes, that resonates more than anything :-)

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    1. I knew I'd strike a chord or two with that one. Someone mentioning smaller clothes certainly makes MY ears perk! :) Hope you're doing well, Susie!!

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