Thursday, April 2, 2009

My First Intermittent Fast

Today I experimented with my first Intermittent Fast.

After some discussions on the AKC Forum regarding nutrition and being familiar with Adam Steer's use of Intermittent Fasting (IF) I decided to download myself a copy of Brad Pilon's Eat Stop Eat to see if IF was everything I've heard it to be.

I read the ebook very quickly. It is an easy read and flows very well. It is chock full of references to scientific studies regarding nutrition and fasting and their effects on the human body. I have read various articles in the past years regarding the health benefits of fasting, but never considered it for myself because I have always been a 'grazer', eating regularly every few hours. I thought that fasting would inhibit my performance in the gym or with the bells. In his ebook, Brad makes some pretty strong arguments for the benefits of IF and how they can actually enhance performance in the long run.

The Eat Stop Eat method of IF, is a very simple one. Once or twice a week, stop eating for a 24-hour period. That's it. Simple. But not necessarily easy. There are other IF methods out there. The others that I am familiar with try to use a daily eating window strategy which has you fast for the majority of each day while you consume your calories within a few hour window. Given my work schedule and family responsibilities, these eating window methods did not appeal to me. They would require more work for me than not trying them and I honestly am not looking to complicate my life any more than it already is!

Therefore I was immediately intrigued by the Eat Stop Eat program and the day after finishing the book, I started my first IF.

This was last night at about 8:00pm. I got home from work a bit late, around 7:30pm, I ate dinner quickly, put my son to bed and that was when the clock started. My goal was to fast until the following night's dinner.

I have to admit I was a bit scared to take this plunge. I have never attempted anything like this and it goes against everything I ever thought was the "right" way to do things. I went to sleep last night and dreamt about the fast. I recall dreaming that I had inadvertently ingested something with calories and then was torn whether to abort the fast or continue it. I didn't have a restful night last night.

But the morning came and I went off to work with only a travel mug full of black coffee. During the day I drank water, tea and black coffee. Around 1:00pm I treated myself to a stick of Trident sugarless gum. There were three instances during the day that I felt a bit 'out of it'. But these only lasted a few minutes and weren't too bad. I felt like I could use a power nap, but was able to hold up without one. A few times my stomach started growling but that stopped pretty quickly too. Most importantly, I lasted until dinner this evening at about 6:15pm!

Therefore my first IF lasted just over 22 hours. And now that it's behind me I can honestly say, it wasn't all that bad. I ate dinner this evening and didn't gorge myself. I ate a usual sized portion and did not feel especially hungry either. And now I go back to my normal routine. Until my next IF. =)

I'm going to keep track of these fasts in my training journal. I also plan to jot down my weight, body fat percentage and other stats that my Tanita Innerscale provide. I intend to try one fast per week for a little while and see how things progress. I am due in July to have my annual physical. I'm interested to see how this might affect my numbers.

So there you have it. IF, take one... success!


Franklin said...

Congratulations for getting through your first almost entire day fast. Very cool! "IF" runs counter to the Precision Nutrition grazing type diet that I've been following for almost a year now.

On the other hand, Marty Gallagher recommends cycling every three months between the grazing type diets and the
warrior/fasting types.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this works out for you.

Howie Brewer said...

Thanks Franklin. This should be an interesting experiment.

Does Marty discuss cycling in his "Purposefully Primitive" book? I still need to order my copy.

Franklin said...

Yes. Nearly one-fifth of "Purposefully Primitive" is devoted to nutrition where he discussed both types of programs. He then goes on to suggest cycling between them.