I wrote a post on intermittent fasting (IF) back in May (check it out here) and thought I would provide a bit of an “update” on my current state of thought regarding IF. For more “nitty gritty” details click on the above link and read my previous post as I don’t want to repeat ALL of the information I wrote about before.
The older I get the more of a science nerd I become. I spend ridiculous amounts of time on PubMed (an online database for scientific research), read books by various experts, listen to podcasts by credentialed professionals and, of course, plenty of self-experimentation in my own “n=1” projects.
Intermittent fasting means going extended periods of time without food with the hopes of improving current state of health, body composition, improving lab markers, preventing chronic disease, regenerating cells while slowing down aging and extending life. In a nutshell, the science seems to suggest that IF does most if not all of these things.
So, here’s where I’m at with my own personal intermittent fasting practice. *As a disclaimer, I am not suggesting anyone just go out and mimic exactly what I’m doing in regards to IF—I’m simply sharing my experience*. I’ve been practicing IF for at least a year-and-a-half now. I’ve experimented with different approaches to find out what works best for me (what works for me may not work best for you). Initially I tried the 16:8 approach, simply, fasting for 16 hours and having an 8 hour eating window. If this sounds cruel and unusual, it really wasn’t that bad. I would finish eating for the day by 7 pm and would not eat again until 11 am. Then 11 am to 7 pm would be my “eating window”. On the weekends I would typically not fast that long and usually would eat a healthy breakfast. The reason I fast is for health and longevity purposes and to maintain a healthy body composition. My goal is to put in the least effort possible for maximum results. I don’t want to have to be dependent on doing ridiculous amounts of exercise in order to maintain a certain body composition—this is completely ineffective anyways as evidenced by all those joggers and treadmill junkies who never look any different (and might be doing more harm than good) despite hours of exercise a week.
Now, I am about 162 lbs and <10% body-fat so weight loss is not something I’m desiring. The 16:8 approach was almost too effective as I had a hard time maintaining weight and even would lose weight if I wasn’t careful. In addition, I found myself a bit lacking on energy for some of my resistance training workouts. I decided to try and up my food intake which is difficult to do in a 7 hour eating window so I simply shortened my fasts to 12-14 hours most days. I typically am done eating by 6-7 pm and usually don’t eat breakfast until at least 7 am the next day. This is helping me maintain my current body composition and also provides me plenty of energy for my workouts (which I typically do in the afternoon following work). Once a week or so I will do a longer fast of 16-20 hours just to keep my body guessing. Despite what popular opinion dictates, I believe in being RANDOM in our approach to life. Our modern life is dictated by schedules but our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived day-to-day and there were periods of prolonged fasting and periods of plenty (probably more fasting than plenty) so our genes are programmed for randomness. I am learning NOT to be overly dogmatic and to live more by instinct. If I wake up hungry then I will eat breakfast about the 12 hour mark. If I am not hungry I might extend the fast, especially if I’m not planning on strength training later that day. If we are up in Chicago and go out for deep dish pizza, I will follow that with a 16-20 hour fast which acts as a “reset” for my body after indulging in food I don’t normally eat.
I love intermittent fasting. After figuring out what approach works best it is an easy way to help achieve and maintain great heath. It helps me maintain <10% body-fat with minimal effort (of course I eat well and get my strength training in but this does not require much time). It is a wonderful thing to be able to go extended periods of time without food. If you get “hangry” after going a couple hours without food you likely are glucose or “carb” dependent. Our genes are not designed for this. We are genetically designed to go extended periods of time without food and science backs up the positive results of this!
If you are wanting to try intermittent fasting and don’t know where to start, contact me and we can discuss your particular situation. I will sit down with you for a consultation and we can discuss a plan to get you going on a path to better or improved health. Following that consultation, I will support you for a month to get you going on intermittent fasting. If you are used to eating all day and snacking then jumping right into IF may not be ideal. I have some tips to help transition into an IF routine.
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