Thursday, February 16, 2012

One Month IF Report

I just wrapped up 30 days on a style of Intermittent Fasting (IF).  The protocol I followed, allowed for me to eat during an 8 hour window.  I chose the hours of 9am - 5pm so that I could have meals with my family.  I didn't count calories, but ate a balanced, whole foods diet.  Here's how it turned out.

  • I had about a 75% adherence to the program.  Normally the wiggle room was on the weekends where we had popcorn after dinner with a movie.  Some days I was able to push my "break fast" until 10 or even 11am to extend the fasting window from the night before.
  • I lost 3.5 pounds.  My body fat scale showed "no change" but I'm not sure it's working properly.
  • I noticed a difference in the composition of my tummy and resurrected a shirt that was deemed "to clingy" before!
  • I found it much easier to wait to eat if I drank more water.
  • In the last 5 days I noticed a daily headache (though late in the day about 3pm) and a serious inability to recover from hard workouts.  After training, I just felt like it was a supreme effort to get through the day.

As you can see there is some good (hello Peach Colored "Clingy" Shirt!) and some bad (bad recovery).  I failed to realize, that this protocol was followed by body builders, and not endurance athletes.  Also, while I agree with at least one fasting workout per week to train the body to dip in to fat stores for fuel, I should have been smarter with my recovery fuel.  That's like trying to wear new kicks on a 20 mile run.  Doink.

Now for the really bad.

Since Sunday, I've felt really, really, REALLY tired.  I'm training for my first triathlon, I have 4 children, I home school, I own a home daycare, I am very active with our church.  "Tired" is not a foreign concept.  But THIS was debilitating.  It all came to a fine point yesterday when I was near comatose.  I was SO incredibly tired and I just couldn't take the fasting anymore.  I ate yesterday.  I didn't do much housework.  I snapped at my older kids.  I was not a happy little monkey.

With some clarity of mind after a feast of trail mix and buttery toast, I realized that I was probably allowing my body to eat my muscle tissue.  Not cool.  Like I said - some fasting workouts are good for you - but most current sports nutrition wisdom will tell you that you need a recovery snack within an hour after hard workouts.  Most days, my workouts end at 6:30am, so I would need something to eat by 7:30 to help my muscles recover (hello...your HEART is a muscle!).  I feel  really silly that I didn't take this in to consideration.  All I saw was NO calorie counting = LOSE weight.  Duh.

So - going forward, I think that IF is a great way to train yourself to eat less by really responding to hunger cues.  I also think that having a policy of not eating after supper is something I will stick with.  But, I think that I will begin to, once again, have breakfast when I come home from the gym - and maybe go back to having that half a banana and a swig of soy milk before my brick workouts.  I feel pretty stupid that I sacrificed my recovery like that.  I, long ago, stopped working out to "get thin."

But life is about learning and moving on.


  1. Very very interesting! =)
    On the subject of fasting, we fast once a month for 24 hours (no food, no liquid). We do it for spiritual reasons, but I believe there are physical benefits too. I think I would have a difficult time fasting more than once a month though. =)

  2. You know, it is good that you realized that this probably wasn't the best idea for your situation. I think sometimes it's dangerous to ignore our body's hunger cues for such a long period of time (a whole month in your situation). Some people would not have recognized the tiredness and irritability as a side-effect of hunger. You seem to know your body, so I think you will be able to recover just fine from now on. :-)

    And don't feel silly...most of us have chased skinny or losing weight at one point or another! :-)