I’m deep into a trial of Intermittent Fasting. There are many variations, but the model I am testing is Time Restricted Eating. Here is a Coles notes summary.
What is it?
Time Restricted Eating is pretty simple. Eat an early supper, skip breakfast, and don’t snack in between. That’s it.
Breaking through the Lies
Marketing companies don’t always tell the truth. You can’t believe everything you read on the internet. Here are a few falsehoods that I had been accepting as truths.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Not true. This is a line started in the 19th century by John Harvey Kellogg to sell his newly invented boxed breakfast cereal.
When a person stops eating, the body goes into starvation mode and starts burning muscle. Also not true. Research now shows that when you stop eating, your body becomes much more efficient. You burn fat readily, not muscle. In fact, muscle breakdown doesn’t even begin until the second day of a full fast.
You can eat whatever you want when intermittent fasting. Not true. You still can’t eat crap. It can be easier to eat healthier though, when you are eating over a shorter time frame.
The purported benefits of Intermittent Fasting border on nothing short of miraculous. Studies on rats show incredible results, but obviously our physiologies are very different. Benefits include:
assists with optimal body composition
reduced inflammation throughout the body
increased mental acuity
reduced risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
reduced risk of cancer
Rats on a time restricted diet also lived significantly longer.
How it Works
When you stop eating over a period of time (approximately 10-12 hours), energy metabolism shifts, and begins depleting glycogen stores in your body. In other words, you start burning fat.
Is it a Fad?
If you listen to all of the “new” hype and research going into fasting, you might think it’s a fad. There are many variations: the 'Fast 5', '8 & 16', '2 On, 5 Off'. However, fasting has been around for a very long time. Many religions have fasting as part of their longest traditions. Some of the greatest minds through history espoused the values of fasting. Plato, for example, would only teach students who were fasting.
Personally – The two week trial
I first heard of Intermittent Fasting from GSP on a Joe Rogan podcast. It peaked my interest and sent me down a rabbit hole of Fasting YouTube tutorials. I’ve listed a couple of my favourites at the bottom of this article. Personally, I have goals to be strong, fast, and flexible. My training regime is fairly intense, fully excluding the classes I teach, So, what have I found.
Restricted Time Eating has changed my perspective on food. It brings into clarity the reasons I eat. Often I eat solely out of habit.
It is easier for me to eat healthy, avoid crap, and consume my protein target in a smaller eating window. The Fasting Window is the times I usually snack.
My energy level has remained high, and weight training is consistent. After the first week, there was no impact to my running times or plyo workouts.
I have cut weight, nearly 8 lbs in two weeks, despite eating like a horse during the eating window.
The first week was tough. I felt I was starving through most of the Fasting Window. By week 2, this was less. I’m now four weeks in, and the hunger cravings still hit me. This may be due to my only 4 days on program.
I only follow the program 4 days / week, with the other days enjoying evening meals with family and friends. Oh yes, I am looking forward to a Thanksgiving feast (or two)!
Why fasting bolsters brain power: Mark Mattson at TEDxJohnsHopkinsUniversity
Georges St-Pierre discussing Intermittent Fasting on Joe Rogan Experience.