We all want to know what we can do to achieve our goals in the fastest, safest way. As a nutrition coach and a strength coach I have a lot of tools in my tool belt to help people. Intermittent Fasting is another tool that may be beneficial to you, depending on your goals, medical history and more than anything, your doctor’s approval.
What you are about to read is my own personal experience with intermittent fasting (IF). If you are interested in trying IF , please consult your doctor or a Registered Dietician. I would recommend an RD due to the fact their focus is nutrition or medical nutrition therapy. Doctors receive less nutrition education and may not be up to date on the current research.
My Original Thoughts on IF
I had heard of IF before but I was not interested in trying it because of what I know about myself. I have always been the person that gets “hangry” when I haven’t eaten in a while and it takes me a lot of effort to gain mass. In my mind, if I skip an entire day of eating, I would wither away into an angry, hungry, skinny mess. I could just picture my body eating away my muscle mass and I would be left with my 6th grade self, 5’8” and 105lbs.
I do try to keep an open mind. Being a nutrition coach at Northglenn Health and Fitness, I must be open to new ways of thinking and trying anything I might suggest to our clients. I read a book called “Eat, Stop, Eat”, by Brad Pilon. “Eat, Stop, Eat”, had lots of good, i.e. peer reviewed, research in it. So I figured I’d give it a shot.
What is IF in the first place?
Intermittent fasting is a time restricted diet. Many people do a 16:8 fast, meaning that they fast for 16 hours of a day and eat in the 8 hour window that is left. There are many other variations of IF with each having their own positives and negatives.
What does IF do for you?
Benefits of IF include calorie restriction, increased autophagy (cell repairing), cognitive improvements, blood sugar control and many others.
Why is IF so popular right now?
IF is popular right now for two main reasons: one is that there is more and more positive research coming out about the health outcomes of people that do IF, and two, it’s an easier way of restricting your caloric consumption without having to eat salads all day.
How did I feel while fasting?
Contrary to how I thought I would feel, I never felt “hangry”, or got light headed or dizzy. My hunger was never an issue. I drank a lot of water; adding salt to every other bottle of water to prevent my electrolytes from getting out of balance. I ate a large breakfast on Sunday morning and then wouldn’t eat again until I came home from coaching on Monday morning. I didn’t even drink coffee on Monday’s before class due to my coffee containing collagen and MCT oil. Besides that, I honestly didn’t feel like I needed it.
My energy level was still high and my classes went as smooth as usual. I picked Sundays to be my fasting day because it’s the one day out of the week that I don’t workout. I did all of my house cleaning, yard work and errands on Sunday to keep busy. Then I’d try to find something to do that is not very demanding energy wise, but that would keep me entertained for a few hours. Father’s Day was the only day that was harder for me due to neighbors cooking out and I could smell it throughout my house. Otherwise, I had no side effects or negative outcomes from fasting.
What were my goals with IF?
Like I said earlier, I do struggle with putting on mass so I wanted to prove that you can do IF without losing muscle mass. I also wanted to lose body fat because, well, who doesn’t want to lose body fat?
How did I measure my results?
I did an In-Body scan in late May at Northglenn Health and Fitness. This scan is something we use with all of our members to track body composition. It measures muscle mass, fat mass, body fat percentage, and weight. On Yesterday, 6/29/2020, I did another In-Body scan to compare the results.
The results were shocking!
I started with 10.7% body fat and my weight was 199.1lbs. How much could I possibly lose, when the only change in my diet was fasting for 4 Sundays, especially considering I was starting off with only 10.7% body fat. I dropped to 194.9lbs and 7.9% body fat. That’s almost 3% in 4 weeks and my muscle mass actually went up! My skeletal muscle mass went from 103.2lbs to 104.5lbs. Not only did I not lose any muscle mass – remember my fear? – I actually gained over a pound of muscle! I kept my diet consistent and didn’t add any extra exercise or activity and I wasn’t afraid to go out to eat. All I did was skip eating for 24 hours once a week for 4 weeks.
With me skipping eating for a day, I was skipping out on roughly 3000 calories. Admittedly, I did have a larger breakfast than usual on Monday, but it was only by a couple hundred calories. The rest of the day I ate like any other day.
My plan for fasting going forward
Do I have a long term plan with Intermittent Fasting? I think so. To me, the health benefits are worth the effort. I will probably switch to an every other week fast, just for the sake of not losing too much weight. I had a great experience with IF and I look forward to doing a blood draw to see how my numbers change.
If you found this helpful and you’d like to learn about other tools in my toolbelt as a nutrition coach, please set up an appointment to meet with me asap. Summer is here!