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Gittit Shwartz
12-06-2007, 05:06 PM
I follow all the IF threads on this forum closely, and I noticed different people post very different experiences with fasting, in particular with regard to muscle loss. Some report no muscle loss at all or slight increase, and some a very sharp and dismaying drop in LBM.
I personally tinkered with 14-18 hr fasts for a couple of weeks. I lost a visible amount of muscle and some hard-earned strength quickly. I loved fasting though because of the energy and sharpness I gained: eating every 3 hours makes me groggy throughout the whole day. I'm really longing to leave the "Tupperware lifestyle" behind...but I don't feel like I can afford to lose strength!
So I've been thinking what may be the factors involved in muscle mass gains or losses on IF, and what could have been my mistakes:
(a) Sex - I'm female. I think more females as a % have reported muscle loss.
(b) Daily activity - I'm pretty active and training sessions are long: I do Capoeira or gymnastics 2-4 hours every evening, and usually some lighter skill work in the mornings (hand balancing and more).
(c) Weight training - I don't weight train regularly, but I do plenty of bodyweight stuff (gymnastics style).
(d) Macronutrient intake - I eat low carb paleo, with plain whey PWO and a carb-up of 100g carbs from fruit/sweet potato once every 5 days. At the time I was eating about 120g protein per day (at about 115lbs BW, somewhere between 15-17% bf I guess), 30-40g fat.
(e) "Easing in" - I sort of jumped into IF from a couple years of 6 meals a day.

I'd like to hear everybody's experiences, and any comments/additions you have to the list of factors I came up with.

...Because I really want to IF like all the cool guys...:)
- G

Mike ODonnell
12-06-2007, 06:56 PM
Simply...if you are losing muscle you are either:

A) Not eating enough protein for your activity level
B) Doing extended anaerobic training (over 45min) that eats away at muscle because you glycogen levels are too low and your cortisol is elevated.
C) Doing A or B

Easy thing....more protein...more BCAAs before training sessions...anything over 45 min is going to tear down muscles esp if you are not eating carbs. More carbs pwo if you are still losing muscle.

Remember the saying...if it aint working...fix it!

Greg Battaglia
12-06-2007, 08:20 PM
I agree with Mike. How many calories are you getting total? Macro breakdown, precisely? It sounds like you're training too much. There's no reason to workout for hours on end; as a mater of fact, it's detrimental. I don't know if you're familiar with Arthur Devany at all, but I would go to his site and type "intermittent fasting" into his search engine to get a really good description of what you should be doing. I sort, keep it random (you may be creating a chronic stress, rather than an acute one) and absolutely make certain that you're getting enough calories and protein

Gittit Shwartz
12-06-2007, 09:27 PM
Definitely familiar with Art De Vany. I know that my training is not "paleo" or healthy, but it's a given thing for at least the next few months. So I'm not sure if I can make it work with IF at all.
I hadn't thought of BCAA's though. So taking them does not "break the fast" , because they don't need to be processed by the body and elicit no hormonal response - am I getting this right?
Thanks for the helpful replies!
- G

Gittit Shwartz
12-06-2007, 09:38 PM
#Greg - macro breakdown: 120g P, 40 F, 50 C is what I was aiming for on average (1040 kCal), during my short IF experiment, trying to lose some fat.
I really do very badly with carbs. The only time I can tolerate them is after something like a sprint session or metcon. (I guess I'd do it if it's what I need though, so I won't complain).

Mike ODonnell
12-07-2007, 05:44 AM
1040 kCal is not alot considering your activity level.....best way is to up your fats during the day and perhaps a few more carbs pwo....you need more calories as you are cutting into muscle for glycogen production. BCAAs should be fine because you are not wanting muscle loss after all...the more free amino acids you have, the less your body will ravage for energy and the more your muscles can uptake for repair. Beneficial especially before and during (if you can) training.....as after 2-4 hours training the damage has been done. Trainng 2-4 hours is not a fat burning activity...but more a muscle destruction event, so make sure you are recovering. I mix some gatorade, water and scoop of whey when I do hockey for 2 hours...to help preserve muscle and keep energy levels high, just an idea. Or just eat protein/fat all day and pound down a higher carb meal with some protein and little to no fat after a workout...don't worry, your blood sugar levels will come crashing down 2 hours later just in time for sleep. Fish Oil can also help reduce overall cortisol levels and excessive muscle breakdown. Vit C prior to training and bed also can help reduce cortisol levels.

Honestly lots of things to try...calories are the main issue....just start with one and see how your performance and lean body mass respond...try something else in a couple more weeks...you will eventually find something that works and have a better understanding of how your body reacts and recovers.

Allen Yeh
12-07-2007, 05:45 AM
#Greg - macro breakdown: 120g P, 40 F, 50 C is what I was aiming for on average (1040 kCal), during my short IF experiment, trying to lose some fat.
I really do very badly with carbs. The only time I can tolerate them is after something like a sprint session or metcon. (I guess I'd do it if it's what I need though, so I won't complain).

A quick observation, if you are doing 2-4 hours of capoiera and/or gymnastics a night then 1040 kCal is not enough per day IMHO. Up your fat and your protein in the feeding window.

Greg Battaglia
12-07-2007, 12:41 PM
You're cals are WAY too low for you're activity level. Also, your macros are in a dangerous ratio, in my opinion. Keep your protein and carb intakes static and increase clean fat intake. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much your energy and body comp. improves. Let us know what happens, I'm betting you'll be amazed.

Steve Liberati
12-07-2007, 12:56 PM
Parrot what others have said. Up the fats and green leafy veggies. Other than that, try replacing the shake with real food. I found the shakes to be nothing but a waste of liquid. As we know the carbs help shuttle the protein to the muscle cells after an intense workout to facilitate the recovery process and replenish glycogen levels. Maybe it was a dillusion, but I swear that process never took place when I was downing protein powder shakes. This was about 2 yrs ago when I completely eliminated shakes from my diet. Best move I ever made. Zero muscle loss while I continue to grow fitter and stronger everyday.

Greg Battaglia
12-07-2007, 06:46 PM
Steve, I couldn't agree more. I tried the whole PWO insulin spike act and it never did anything other than distort my body composition for the worse. I do much better with something like what Art D. recommends; waiting about an hour or so after training to eat.

Kim Dowse
12-07-2007, 09:37 PM
Gittit - from a female point of view. I concur with the posts in this thread:

Increase your protein
Increase your (good) fats
Increase your caloric intake.

You are losing muscle because you are overtraining and not taking in enough calories to sustain. I did the six small meals for years. Decided to try IF about seven months ago. I gained muscle, strength and stamina. I was fasting anywhere between 14 and 17 hours 4 days a week. I moved three months ago and my eating got a bit out of whack...was in temp housing for a month, remodeled the kitchen, yada, yada...more excuses.

Anyway, went back to eating small meals with lots of "convenience" foods as I travel for work...zone bars and protein shakes (yes, I know, horrible for ya - but did it, done, over). My performance suffered. I had a hard time squatting and running. I was always tired...yet did not sleep well...gained seven pounds and 1.5% bf.

Started back on IF'ing and WAM 10 days ago. PRs this week in deadlift, bench press and hand stand. Have lost 4 of the 7 pounds and 1% bf. My calories per day range between 1400 and 1800. I need to up my fat a bit more, but have been super hesitant...it's that female demon in the head. Also, if I plan for an IF day and I am starving I break the fast early. Otherwise, for me I become the tazmanian devil and eat everything in site. Play with your diet and figure out what works for you. Oh, and the week before my period I crave almond butter...I could eat the whole freakin' tub.

Eva Claire Synkowski
12-08-2007, 09:09 AM
another vote for higher fat. my macros look similar to yours for P and C, but i have well over 100 g a fat a day.

i IF 5-7 d/wk with 15-17 hr fasts. with that IF schedule and the above mentioned macros - ive definitely increased strength and i think muscle mass (weigh the same, if not more, than before IF - but leaner). i realized im not doing quite the volume of activity you are (im doing CA wod or xf 5 d/wk).... but i think youll be successful with IF once you get enough P/F.

Gittit Shwartz
12-08-2007, 11:02 AM
Thanks all for your replies!
I'm going to give it a shot for a few weeks. Here is my plan:
- Fast 15-18 hrs, 4-5 days a week.
- Up the fats (is 60g a reasonable amount? I am trying to lose bodyfat and I take an additional 8-10g fish oil a day.) I don't think I need more than 120g protein with less than 100lbs LBM. For carbs I'll stay with green leafy vegetables on most days. That puts me at about 1330 kCal a day, 36% Protein, 47% Fat, 15% Carb.
- Add a carb-up with 100g C from sweet potatoes/berries once every 5-7 days, depending on how I feel.
- I'll keep the whey protein for use during long workouts and otherwise stick to whole foods.
- I'll report my results - hoping to see some improvement in body comp and recovery.
Does this sound like a good plan?
Again, I really appreciate the input from everyone!

Mike ODonnell
12-08-2007, 02:59 PM
Cortisol sounds like your main enemy here from hours of training....that and lack of total calories (which also elevates cortisol)

Greg Battaglia
12-09-2007, 04:00 PM
Personally, I'd go with a 55/25/20 (F/P/C). Protein shouldn't go above 30% IMHO.

Gittit Shwartz
12-09-2007, 05:01 PM
Greg, why shouldn't it? What's the rationale behind these ratios? Not challenging, just curious.

Greg Battaglia
12-09-2007, 08:53 PM
As protein % begins to exceed 30% of daily calories you;re putting yourself at risk for "protein toxicity". Basically you're body breaks excess protein down into nitrogenous substances, which are toxic. The result is an added strain on your kidneys to filter the excess. That's the very basic answer.

-Ross Hunt
12-10-2007, 09:19 AM
Greg,

Have you found any research to substantiate that claim?

As far as I know, the only peer-reviewed study that found that high protein intake damaged kidneys was a study whose participants consisted entirely of elderly people whose kidneys were already screwed up to begin with.

Greg Battaglia
12-10-2007, 05:53 PM
Ross, you're right. I apologize for my mistake. I meant to say ammonia toxicity. I think I said nitrogen because proteins contain nitrogen. Sorry about that, I've been staying up late studying for finals and I typed that post very quickly. Anyway, I think 36% protein is a bit too high, relatively speaking. We know that over 40% rabbit starvation can occur (ala Cordain, I don't remember the exact study, but I'll dig it up if your wish), so why risk it by going so close? If you want to try it, and it works, then I say keep it. Can't argue with the black box. However, I personally think it's best to be safe and go with 25% and replace the lost 11% with good fats. In my experience, anything over 30% produces adverse side effects, like fatigue, dehydration despite plenty of water, loss of concentration, headache, and heart palpitations. Black box it, I doubt any harm will be done short-term, just make adjustments if things start to go wrong.

-Ross Hunt
12-10-2007, 08:32 PM
Good enough. With plenty of tasty fruits and vegetables out there, and lots of good fats, I definitely don't see going higher than that as necessary.

I have only anecdotal evidence to back this up, but I suspect that rapid changes in protein intake--in either direction--have an awful lot to do with bad effects. It's definitely possible to overdo it on protein intake--I've been there, too, and it isn't pretty.

Tony Ferous
12-10-2007, 11:07 PM
Yes, i read that 'protein toxicity' % ceiling by in Cordains book too.
How does that work though?
If i ONLY ate 200g of protein per day, that would be 100% of my calories and apparently toxic.
If i added 100g of fat or 200g of carbs to the protein, how is that less toxic?
Maybe it is less toxic, i just dont know how...

Greg Battaglia
12-11-2007, 08:55 AM
Tony,
It's not a matter of quantity (although excessive calories will indeed damage your health) for the purposes of protein becoming toxic. Macro ratios greatly influence metabolic processes. So, for instance, say theoretically you eat 75% of your calories from protein alone. In order for you to stay alive you're body is going to be required to break that protein down into glucose to be used as energy (or stored as fat in the case of caloric surplus). Unfortunately, since the amount of protein that would be required to be broken down into glucose is so large, and ammonia is a by product of that process, you're going to have excessive levels of ammonia, which is toxic to humans. Now, say you eat a good Zone ratio. In this case you're already eating enough concentrated fat and carbohydrate that there is no metabolic need for protein to be broken down into glucose in any significant amount. Some may use this to argue against ketogenic diets, but again, if ample fat is supplied along with protein there is no need for significant gluconeogensis, as ketones will provide the main source of fuel. So it's hugely dependent on ratios, not overall intake. Nevertheless, I would assume that at some intake, even when ratios are proper, protein would become damaging. But then again, excess calories in general are damaging. Hence, the logic of the Zone: proper ratios, proper sources, and proper caloric intake. It's a good formula.

Heidi Anschultz
12-12-2007, 08:56 PM
I tend to disagree with what everyone says that you are in a calorie deficit.* Most likely, you are not doing resistance exercise enough on the muscles that you are losing muscle from.* Intermittent fasting requires you to actually work for your muscle; the payoff is lean muscle gain without fat gain.I speak from experience; I lost a lof of strength and muscle from IFing and gained muscle back from adding resistance exercise into my life.* Greg, what about the pillars of health?* Exercise, sleep, and food, is that everything?And I'd drop the low carb take if I were you.* You need carbohydrates for your liver to function properly, not just any carbs, you need a variety of different carbohydrates including starches, and simple sugars only after you workout.Hope that is of some help to you.

Gittit Shwartz
12-13-2007, 04:19 AM
Heidi, from your posts it looks like you had some dismaying results with IF starting out, and it was mostly your experience that got me thinking about the different factors that may affect different people's results. I don't presume to know what caused the problem in your first attempt, but I doubt if MY problem was lack of resistance training. I don't think there's any magic in iron per se. What counts is the stimulus your body feels. After all, paleolithic man didn't have kettlebells... But he did plenty of climbing, sprinting, jumping, throwing and heavy object lifting and dragging. So I think I'm doing well with bodyweight exercises. Try hill sprinting, hand balancing, muscle-up training on gymnastics rings... I personally don't need to grow more than I do on this stuff!

The carb question - I really don't have enough scientific background to feel confident discussing it (and it's been discussed to death anyway). I just know FOR ME eating carbs just doesn't feel right, in the short term - I eat an apple or a few bell peppers and after a short while I just feel the energy and focus draining out of me... I rarely have carb cravings and staying low carb has always been the easiest thing for me, so that tells me it's right for me. I haven't tried the PWO glycogen replenishment route, I guess I'll black box it sometime just to see what happens, but it doesn't make sense to me from an evolutionary point of view - which is always my reference.

I really think my problem the last time was the protein:fat ratio. I'm doing great so far with more good fats - higher energy levels and focus sustained throughout the day. So I think I will stick with this for a while. Thanks everybody for the advice.

Jordan Glasser
12-13-2007, 01:38 PM
but it doesn't make sense to me from an evolutionary point of view - which is always my reference.


There is an argument to that statement.

We can match our diets, to that of our ancient past and expect similar results. However, if we change our activity level, and types of activities, can we expect the same old diet to work? For health, perharps, but performance I believe suffers.

The small little change is PWO carbs, IMO. Unless of course we emulated how our caveman expended energy. By the impressive list of what keeps you fit, I truly believe that PWO carbs would be your answer.

Greg Battaglia
12-13-2007, 06:46 PM
I tend to disagree with what everyone says that you are in a calorie deficit.*


Heidi, Gittit is clearly eating fewer calories than what would sustain her. All the symptoms point ot this, not to mention that she suspected this herself, noted the inadequacy of her caloric intake, and then saw improvements with an increase in fat intake.

And I'd drop the low carb take if I were you.* You need carbohydrates for your liver to function properly, not just any carbs, you need a variety of different carbohydrates including starches, and simple sugars only after you workout.

There is absolutely NO, I repeat NO, scientific evidence that carbohydrates are required by homo sapiens for energy, health, or survival. As a matter of fact, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary, both scientifically and anecdotally. If you can provide me with one scientific study that shows that carbohydrate intake, in the presence of adequate fat intake, is necessary to health, longevity, or liver function (where did you hear this???) I will "drop the low carb take".

I don't mean to single you out or personally attack you, but if you're going to make comments on this forum, especially in a rude and authoritative manner, I would first do your homework. You obviously haven't.

Jordan, I can understand your argument. I agree with it actually. A strict Paleo diet is not conducive to elite athletic performance. Adding in some starches in addition to a Paleo base does, however, in my opinion. For longevity, strict Paleo is optimal IMHO.

Jordan Glasser
12-13-2007, 07:52 PM
Jordan, I can understand your argument. I agree with it actually. A strict Paleo diet is not conducive to elite athletic performance. Adding in some starches in addition to a Paleo base does, however, in my opinion. For longevity, strict Paleo is optimal IMHO.

Agreed

Gittit Shwartz
12-14-2007, 02:41 AM
Just a small point - people argue endlessly about which is the "best" approach or are overwhelmed by the variety of options that seem equally legitimate. Often they are forgetting to use the goal as point of reference. Different approaches are optimal for different goals.

Steve Liberati
12-14-2007, 05:26 AM
Just a small point - people argue endlessly about which is the "best" approach or are overwhelmed by the variety of options that seem equally legitimate. Often they are forgetting to use the goal as point of reference. Different approaches are optimal for different goals.

Right on. There is no single best way for humans to eat, because there is no single best way for humans to live. The Ihalmiut Eskimos of the Great Barrens of Canada thrived on a diet that consisted of virtually nothing but the meat of the deer that migrated through their homeland above the Arctic circle (where NO vegetables edible by humans grow). You and I would probably be unable to survive on such a diet, but the bodies of the Ihalmiut had adapted to it over countless generations. Have we adapted to the highly processed crap we call food today? No, I highly doubt it. For that we have much to learn from the Paleolithic diet, but your right....the bottom line is this: There is not one right way to eat. To think otherwise would be absurd.

Ari Kestler
12-14-2007, 07:26 AM
Personally, I'd go with a 55/25/20 (F/P/C). Protein shouldn't go above 30% IMHO.

Is this pretty standard? With my recent foray into IF and it being winter, I find myself, rough estimate using fitday, at 65-70/25-30/5 (F/P/C). Is this unwise? If I don't eat fruit during the day and just eat spinach/broccoli my carb intake is under 20g...

Edit: Every few days though I find myself breaking paleo by eating sushi or having a ton of fruit...maybe some form of subconscious carb cycling?

Mike ODonnell
12-14-2007, 09:22 AM
the bottom line is this: There is not one right way to eat. To think otherwise would be absurd.

So true...that and if it aint working (aka your health and performance are going down) change something up! Yes calories are the issue...get those up and you may just notice you feel better, your immune system improves, etc....doesn't have to be 5000cal a day...but keep upping or have a day every 2-3 days in which you eat anything you want....I add those in when I feel like crap and it's amazing how much your body is looking for those calories! Cycling lower days and refeed days will get a greater positive response than just the same amount of calories per day....you body responds better to variety not routine.

Greg Battaglia
12-14-2007, 02:30 PM
I wasn't arguing for any type of diet. I was simply stating the facts and rebutting Heidi's unfounded statements. Surely, goals should be considered when formulating any diet.