My Experience with Intermittent Fasting

The last month has been a bit busy - being filled with quick weekend trips to Western Mass and Lake Placid, NY for my brother's wedding, apartment searching, and juggling my clients' changing summer schedules. During the month of June, I decided to try something new. And as the title gives it away above, I tried intermittent fasting...
What is Intermittent Fasting?
It is time-restricted eating, as the name implies, you fast or abstain from all food for a number of hours each day. There are a few different set ups for fasting, the most common being a 16:8 — 16 hour fast with an 8 hour eating window. Some people do 14:10, 18:6, etc. People have done 24 hour fasts and longer. The set up you choose is whatever works best for you.
I chose my eating window to be from 12pm until 8pm every day. Once 8pm hits, no more food, it’s time to brush your teeth and go to bed. During the waking hours of the fasting window,  all I took in was water and coffee.

A few reasons why people fast…

  • Religious reasons — such as Ramadan, fasting from sunrise to sunset
  • Protests — most well known was Gandhi, who did so on 14 different occasions and had gone for 21+ days
  • Health promotion — weight loss, blood sugar control, & many more
My Reason to Fast

My life has been revolving around dieting for over a year now and I felt that I was developing an unhealthy relationship with food. I started to feel like I was always meal planning, obsessing over food, seeing where I could add something in here or there, counting down the minutes until my next meal, and so on… It was time to take a much needed break from the diet grind that I had become so accustomed to.

Intermittent fasting became an interest to me when a friend mentioned that it is their primary ‘diet’ and 2 of my clients mentioned that they had experimented with it prior to going on a cruise. After picking their brains and doing my research on the eating style, I made the choice to give it a try for 30 days.

Initial Concerns
Going into the 30 days, I had a few concerns.

  • I work early mornings…I’m usually rolling out of bed around 4:30am😳. Due to the early mornings, I thought I’d have a lack of energy during my morning training sessions with clients and totally whipped out by the time I got to my own workout. 
  • I thought my mind would still be on food & my next meal, all the time.
  • I expected to be very hungry throughout the 4:30am-12pm fasting time

What the 30 Days did for Me

It changed my mindset…after working out, I ALWAYS had a meal following at least within the hour because #gains, and I didn’t want to be missing out. But guess what! Not eating immediately after my sweat session had ZERO negative effect on my strength/size gains nor did I die of hunger . Being in the bodybuilding world, everyone always worries about falling into a catabolic state and their hard earned muscle disappearing in and hour of not eating…I promise you, it doesn’t happen that fast.   

I realized that I was not bound to my food. I could go more than 2 hours without a meal. I could get through multiple training sessions, plus my own training without eating. Water and coffee were enough to power me through a good chunk of my day. And I even found that some days I could push to 1 or 2pm without even thinking about it and have absolutely no issue.

I gained freedom…from Tupperware. As y’all know, Sundays are my meal prep day. In the past it would take me pretty much all day to prep all the meals. My fridge would be stacked with containers for the week (about 20-25 meals). Now I have 3 meals a day with maybe a small snack if I need to fill in my macros. This past Sunday I cooked everything in 2 hours. HUGE difference. And it is so much less for me to remember to grab in the morning when I’m running out the door to get to work. 

Thoughts on IF

Many think IF is only meant for weight loss or that you can eat as much of and whatever you want as long as it’s within the 8 hour window. I didn’t go into IF with any plan as far as weight loss, it wasn’t my goal. As I mentioned above my goal was just to get in a better spot mentally. But over the 30 days, I did see the number on the scale go up by about 3lbs, but looking at my body I didn’t see any changes…although people at the gym said that I looked like I had added some mass 🤔 I’ll take it!

Fasting from 4:30/5am until noon was a lot easier than I thought it would be. When I woke up I would be a little hungry, but it wasn’t horrible and it was never to the point that I couldn’t push through it. Once I had coffee and started into my gallon of water, I was fine. Being busy at work helped too.🤓

Thanks to my work schedule, I typically train myself mid-morning (I never thought I would enjoy training at any time other than early AM, again I was wrong). By the time I end my workout it’s time to eat — so it works out perfectly. 1 day a week, I do train at 5am and don’t eat until noon…I really thought that this would be an issue, but like all other days I just load up with water + BCAAs, coffee, more water. Getting to 12pm is not a problem. 

I was surprised with the amount of energy I had while fasting, even during my workouts. There was only 1 or 2 days that I was fatigued and just didn’t have the motivation, but other than that all was good!

What I Liked:
  1. Energy/Focus — during my fasting hours, I was a hell of a lot more productive. Since they were in the morning, on days that I didn’t have to be at work early / on weekends, I used the AM hours to get shit done! Weekends I would enjoy my coffee and read a bit, clean my house, work on client programs, etc. all before noon.
  2. Freedom — no longer eating 5-6 meals  day = didn’t have to eat every 3 hours. I don’t have to remember to bring 5+ meals with me everywhere I go. Also, not eating 1st thing in the morning allowed me to use the time that I usually take to cook to do other things instead as I mentioned above. I really enjoyed the slow start to my mornings when I had them, enjoying coffee and reading/writing and just focusing on what I wanted to. I didn’t feel rushed to get my day started, didn’t feel the need to get into the gym ASAP.
  3. Less planning — I spend less time planning my meals each week since now I am only eating about 3 or 4 meals each day during the 8 hour window. 
  4. Money + time saving — I don’t buy as much food, and none of it goes to waste anymore. AND my Sundays are back…not spending all day cooking, which is SO DAMN NICE.

At the end of the 1st week I traveled to my parents and for a race in NY that my brother does. I maintained the fasting the entire weekend. I figured it would be a bit hard since I’d be sitting around more than usual, but it was actually kind of nice. I didn’t have to worry about food like I normally do when I visit my parents or really when I travel anywhere.

What I had Issues With:

Initially I had a really hard time getting all the calories in. I was only getting in around 1,400-1,500 depending on the day and my goal was to be taking in around 1,800. & some days I did hit that goal and more…because I would binge eat when I got home from work. 

Image result for binge eating memeWhen I started intermittent fasting, my hope was to end my nighttime binge eating. Majority of the time, I was good, but there were a few times that I indulged.

One particular night, I met up with a friend for dinner at Hop + Grind, then we proceeded to have Oreo’s, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and some La Festa pizza in like a 6 hour time frame. It was so good, but so disgusting at the same time.

Prior to this crazy binge, I decided to test out a 24 hour fast. I fasted from 6:30pm on Friday until 6:30pm on Saturday. I had SO much energy on Saturday! I caught up on some much needed sleep, had a slow start to my morning by enjoying some coffee and reading. Then hit the gym, went grocery shopping, and I think I Netflix’d a bit until it was time to go to dinner. I wouldn’t really recommend doing a 24-hour fast all the time but I can definitely see how one can benefit from it. During my research on IF, there was a schedule that people follow of doing 16:8 and two 24 hour fasts each week. I don’t think I’d fall into that schedule of eating just because of how my life is.

Overall, I really enjoyed testing out intermittent fasting. I liked it so much that I decided to continue on with the eating style. I have found that it works great with my work schedule and mentally, it has been a huge relief. I have finally gotten myself up to the 1,800 calories mark, while hitting my macros and consuming 3 large meals a day. So much simpler.

If you have questions about my experience, about intermittent fasting in general or anything else, please feel free to shoot me an email!

Articles I read for more information on IF and fitness:

Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting – James Clear
Intermittent Fasting Interview – Leigh Peele

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