So this post was promised quite a while ago. But then I have been suffering from a severe bout of laziness and basically haven’t been writing or doing anything much except watching the new episodes of Sherlock, Doctor Who and Merlin and basically flexing my anglophile muscles. Yes I am in fact a huge geek and very proud of it. I have proudly converted my sister and brother to Whovians. But that’s not why you are here (but do go explore BBC and become obsessed with these shows), you are here to find out more about fitness.
If you follow me on instagram you may have caught that a little while ago I did a N1 (self) experiment with intermittent fasting. I had a couple of reasons for this (1) I had been eating a lot at night and naturally was drifting away from eating as much in the morning (2) it seemed like a good cutting tool and I wanted to do a “dry run” before actual cutting season to see if it suited me.
Before I get in to how the week went, here are some resources if you are thinking about giving it a try yourself.
Based on the reading I had done, intermittent fasting (IF) seems to work better for men than it does for women for a few different reasons. But most of the problems seem to come from extended fasting windows. So I chose to only do 15-16 hour fasts.
There are different ways of structuring your days on IF. Ideally, I would have worked out toward the end of my fasting window and then ate the biggest meal right after that. But I work and stuff haha, so that was not really an option. Instead I tried to stop eating between 8-9 pm and then just had coffee in the morning (more on that later) until 12ish. I would eat based on my macro and calorie goals during the 8 hour window. I worked out after work 3 of those days and in one case it was a late workout and I did not eat after… the horror!
Because I`m a huge nerd (as well as the aforementioned geek) I actually took notes on how I felt and what happened each day so I could take you through it.
This was not too hard of a day. I had lots of distractions at work until 12 when I broke my fast with a large meal including a fair amount of carbs. I did limit my total calorie intake this day to about 1500 as I had over eaten the day before. I found that my brain was not quite as quick as it normally is, especially throughout the morning. I don’t think it got the signal to “wake up” and things were just a little harder to process than normal. After work I went to the gym and had a good workout, not my best, but I definitely didn’t feel that I had less energy or anything. I had a meal after I worked out and stopped eating around 8 PM.
Overall this was a good day and I felt good for the majority of it.
I woke up and was not particularly hungry but was feeling very fuzzy headed. I tried to make do with a cup or 2 of coffee with some 10% cream (which should not affect your fasted state), but I was still really struggling to think straight. Again, I broke my fast around 12, a little after 12 as I was in a meeting and had a large meal with some carbs. I had about 1800 cals today, but even with the increase food my brain felt a little lethargic. My boyfriend and I planned to go to Muay Thai this evening which is from 8 – 9:30 so I decided to not eat afterwards to keep my eating window consistent. I was surprised that I did not feel particularly hungry afterwards and went to bed no problem on an empty stomach. This is NOT ideal and I would recommend trying to avoid this if you want to retain as much muscle as possible.
This day was significantly harder.
In order to combat the “fuzzy brain” feeling of the past 2 days I had a bulletproof coffee (really just coconut oil and coffee and noticed an immediate improvement. I also noticed that I was even less hungry through the morning. I would HIGHLY recommend using this if you plan on trying IF. I did not work out today, but instead saw my family. I was able to eat a bigger meal as you are fitting all of your calories into a smaller time frame. So it was nice to be able to eat a sizable portion with family.
This was the easiest day so far, but as there was no workout, it was hard to tell what my energy levels would have been.
I again had a bulletproof coffee and felt amazing all day. I had about 2000 calories as I had lost about 1.5 pounds at this point and did not want to continue losing… it is the building season after all! I did a leg workout after work and wasn’t really feeling it, but more likely from lack of sleep that a disruption in my normal eating habits. I did find today a little hard to fast until 12 and because I got home later my eating didn’t end until around 9. I still consider that a successful day.
This day was about on part with Wednesday, thought the morning was a bit harder.
The final day of my little experiment. My boyfriend and I had to drive to Ottawa that night which made the evening a little difficult, but nothing too bad. I just made sure to pack food for the road and stop eating at 8. I also made sure not to eat anything once I got to our destination which is a bad habit of mine. The morning of this day was the easiest by far. I had another bulletproof coffee and loved it, and had lots of energy. I think my body had started to adapt at this point and expect that food was coming, just not yet.
In total I think it was a very successful experiment. I feel that with more consistency, my body would get used to that eating schedule and it would not be a mental struggle. But the first 2-3 days were quite difficult. It would definitely be a good cutting strategy as it’s a lot easier to avoid overeating with a shortened eating period. I have not decided if it’s a tool I will be using, but it’s nice to have in the arsenal.
An added perk was that I could sleep in because I didn’t have to worry about breakfast in the morning… which is very appealing to me!
Overall, it’s NOT something I would recommend to someone who just wants to lose a few pounds or shift to a healthier lifestyle. This is really something I would recommend to a person who wants increased control and is already well educated about diet and exercise and how those things affect their own body. I think you need to have an awareness of your own needs first so that you can evaluate whether this is helping you reach your goals WHILE having a happy life. No one wants to say “Oh I can’t eat right now, it’s not my eating window”.