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Old 09-10-2008, 10:37 AM   #1
Daniel Olmstead
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Default My IF Experiment

Cross-posted at the CF boards.

Inspired by folks like Gant Grimes and Melissa Byers, I thought I'd tell you folks about my current experiment with Intermittent Fasting, and how it's going.

Goals & Plan
I'm coming off a bulking cycle where I gained about 13 pounds, most of which was fat. I was not happy with this cycle. As a tall skinny guy, I do not gain weight easily - those pounds were a battle. I told myself I'd turn around when my waist hit 34", as I don't like the pudgy feeling I get above that, and as a rock-climber I REALLY dislike hauling any unnecessary weight up the wall. It makes a huge difference.

So the goal: get back down to a 32" waist ASAP, so I can turn around and try the muscle thing again, hopefully more efficiently next time. Not sure what this amounts to in pounds, but I'd guess 10 or so.

The plan: Fast for 16 hours, 5 times a week. 8pm to noon the next day. Shoot for under 2500 kcal/day, eating more than 160g/protein a day (1g per pound LBM), but not more than 150g carbs (100g would be ideal). Make up the difference with fat. On fasting mornings, do a HIIT-style workout (usually burpees in sprint sets) followed by 30 minutes or so of easy cardio. This is in addition to regular CF WODs in the evenings 2-3 times a week, as well as climbing and some compound heavy lifting (ie, deadlifts/squats) to try and maintain muscle.

Week 1 results
Calories: 2,340
Fat: 131g (50%)
Carbs: 100g + 28g fiber (20%)
Protein: 175g (30%)

Weight: 183 (-5 lbs)
Waist: 33.25 (-0.75")
Bodyfat: 13.5% (-1.5%)
Percentage to goal: 38%

Thoughts and Observations
  • Really happy with the results so far.
  • Midway through the week, I noticed my weight had plummeted almost 9 pounds. I'm guessing this was water weight loss brought on by the shock of the lower carbs + IF. For the next few days, I was endlessly thirsty and drank copious amounts of water, and the weight went back up to a more reasonable level. I'm still more thirsty than usual, I'd say, so it's probably still correcting itself.
  • The fasting itself isn't particularly difficult. The hardest part has been trying to get accustomed to black coffee in the mornings.
  • On a few days I had to supplement my dinner with a protein shake in order to meet that day's protein requirements. I don't like to do this if I can avoid it.
  • As for energy, I wouldn't say it's "through the roof" but it's sufficient for the morning workouts. I never suffered lightheadedness during a workout, although I did feel a little nauseated rowing on Monday morning (Monday was rough - probably took on too much for the end of the workout week).
  • So I'm not exactly sure whether it was lipidolysis energy release or just plain ol' endorphins, but I noticed an elevation of my mood and a "second wind" about 5 minutes after the burpees one morning, doing some easy jogging on the treadmill. I kept an inner eye open for these types of mood swings, and noticed another one after about 15 minutes (the treadmill is deadly boring, so introspection of this type is not difficult). There were a couple minor ones every five minutes or so after that, but nothing as dramatic as the first two. It was an interesting feeling of minor elation and personal satisfaction, as well as strength. I wonder if that was the result of my body releasing energy to my muscles from the fat stores? At any rate, apart from the tedium of the treadmill, it felt good.
  • It is currently my intention to try and continue to IF when I turn this around to attempt weight gain. I figure I'll need to add about 1,000 calories and another 40-50g protein daily. Still not totally sure how I'll do this.
  • I hit PR's in both push-press and deadlifts last week, one of which (push-presses) was while in a fasted state.
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Old 09-17-2008, 11:13 AM   #2
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Week 2 sees far less dramatic effects than week 1 (to be expected), but still good news:

What went in (avg. daily):

Calories: 2,289
Fat: 127g (49%)
Carbs: 89g + 21g fiber (18%)
Protein: 167g (30%)

Results:

Weight: 181 (-2 lbs, 7lbs total)
Waist: 33 (-0.25", 1" total)
Bodyfat: 13% (-0.5%, 2% total)
Percentage to goal: 50%

Before last week, a quarter-inch off the waist was the most I'd lost in a week, so that was what I projected out. If I can maintain that pace, then I should be at goal in four more weeks.

This week saw more variation than the strict regimen of the first week. My fasts went from 16-20 hours, and I had my first cheat meal (dinner at a fancy restaurant - though I did skip dessert). On average, however, the numbers are very similar to last week.

I continue to feel good on this regimen - even better, in fact. I got a +37 point PR on Fight Gone Bad this weekend while fasted, and in general am feeling lean again (it's amazing how much difference an inch or two on the waist makes). My muscle recovery also feels faster - I generally only feel sore one day after a workout, and didn't feel much soreness at all from FGB.
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Old 09-17-2008, 01:17 PM   #3
Patrick Donnelly
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Quote:
as a rock-climber I REALLY dislike hauling any unnecessary weight up the wall. It makes a huge difference.
Another good thing for climbers is that if you're climbing prior to breaking your fast, you've got less food in your gut to carry up.

Interesting posts, nice detail. Keep us updated.
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Old 09-24-2008, 09:14 AM   #4
Daniel Olmstead
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Thanks Patrick.

Intermittent Fasting: Week 3
Interesting developments this week:

What went in (avg. daily):
Calories: 2,386
Fat: 133g (49%)
Carbs: 111g + 24g fiber (21%)
Protein: 175g (30%)

Results:
Weight: 181 (-0 lbs, 7lbs total)
Waist: 32.75 (-0.25", 1.25" total)
Bodyfat: 12.5% (-0.5%, 2.5% total)
Percentage to goal: 63%

Didn't lose any weight this week, which is fine as long as my waist keeps going down. In fact, I'm a bit puzzled at how I could stay the same weight and lose another quarter inch. Could be just flux within the measurements, could be I'm somehow managing to gain a little muscle along with losing fat, which would be something of a holy grail if true. All other body measurements are essentially the same.

So, the bad news: first, I fell off the carb wagon a little bit. Had both pasta and cheesecake at a friend's birthday party, and >100g a couple other days. Not the end of the world, but off goal a little bit. Second, I sprained my ankle while climbing on Monday, which will have an effect on my workouts for the near future. It'll force me to miss two or three HIIT sessions (I'm going to try one-legged rowing tonight), and it has forced me to drop my daily burpees (not sure if that's good or bad news, actually). Without the HIIT, I would expect the rate of fat loss to diminish, so I may not get my .25" off this week. I may try and lower calories and prolong fasts a little to compensate.

But there is a bright side: I noticed a bit of ab definition reappearing in the mirror this week, which was a pleasant surprise. Still very slight, but I didn't expect to see ANY until 32.25" (the last time I saw it), so not sure what's happening there.

As far as the IF goes, it has become quite easy and habitual. Probably TOO habitual, as my fasting is following a predictable pattern based on my schedule, so I should probably be mixing it up more. It is difficult not to fast when the opportunity arises, as fasting days are easier than non-fasting ones.
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Old 09-25-2008, 08:35 AM
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Old 09-25-2008, 06:47 PM   #5
George Mounce
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Very interesting, looking forward to more. Have you stuck with the 16 hour fast consistently or have you changed it up any in the 3 weeks?
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Old 09-26-2008, 01:51 PM   #6
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It's usually 16 hours, but I sometimes push it to 17, 18, even as high as 21 once.

Tonight we're going to a party to watch the debates, where there will be pizza & cookies and all sorts of bad junk, so my intention is to get in all my calories beforehand and start my fast early. Tomorrow is FGB3 at my local affiliate, and I probably won't eat before 1 or 2. So that'll be ~20 hours with a Fight Gone Bad at the end of it...I'll be curious to see how that goes.
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Old 09-27-2008, 06:01 PM   #7
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Just a quick update - 21 hour fast and knocked out a 14-point PR in Fight Gone Bad this morning (while fasted). Never felt bonked (well, no more than usual for a FGB, anyway).
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Old 09-27-2008, 07:59 PM   #8
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Very cool on the FGB!
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Old 10-01-2008, 09:45 AM   #9
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Week 4:

What went in (avg. daily):
Calories: 2,340
Fat: 143g (53%)
Carbs: 86g + 23g fiber (17%)
Protein: 167g (29%)

Fasting days: 5/7 (avg. length: 17.6 hours)

Results:
Weight: 178 (-3 lbs, 10lbs total)
Waist: 32.5 (-0.25", 1.5" total)
Bodyfat: 12% (-0.5%, 3% total)
Percentage to goal: 75%

Thoughts:
Despite some changes in my routine this week, there's not a lot of change in the behavior of the numbers. I sprained my ankle early last week, which prevented me from doing my HIIT workouts on three days, and prevented me from doing ANY running. In an attempt to compensate, I added another fast day and tried to make my fasts a little longer. We got a fancy new scale to replace ol' unreliable, so although it says I lost three pounds in my results, I think I really only lost one, maybe two - the discrepancy is due to changing scales. All other measurements are within normal deviations - although it's notable that my arms appear to have grown a little.

We're now heading into stubborn fat territory - ie, trying to lose fat deposits I've had since...well, forever. The HIIT should become all the more critical for persuading these guys to let go, and I will probably not be able to maintain the 0.25"/week rate of waist-loss.

It was a difficult week for the diet. My interest in food has greatly diminished, and I get full fast (particularly with very large meals breaking my fast). Several times I've had to cram down food on a full stomach at the end of my eating window in order to meet my protein requirements. It is not comfortable, much less enjoyable. I'm torn about what, if anything, to do about this - part of me thinks that a couple days a week of steep caloric deficit (ie, <2k) might help with the last push for fat loss, the other part is worried about muscle and performance loss if my protein numbers go too low. I've ordered a pure, unflavored and unsweetened whey/casein mix from True Protein to hopefully give me an option to boost protein numbers without the sugar/sucralose of traditional protein powders. Hopefully that will help.
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Old 10-03-2008, 01:15 PM   #10
Patrick Haskell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Olmstead View Post
It was a difficult week for the diet. My interest in food has greatly diminished, and I get full fast (particularly with very large meals breaking my fast). Several times I've had to cram down food on a full stomach at the end of my eating window in order to meet my protein requirements. It is not comfortable, much less enjoyable. I'm torn about what, if anything, to do about this - part of me thinks that a couple days a week of steep caloric deficit (ie, <2k) might help with the last push for fat loss, the other part is worried about muscle and performance loss if my protein numbers go too low.
Daniel, I can't speak to the IF aspect of this, as I have had difficulty getting onto a suitable regimen, given my schedule. However, I would suggest that you probably did fine this week. When your fundamental diet is good, you should trust your appetite. Hunger is only loosely a response to an empty gut. It is primarily a hormonal response to caloric needs. If you sprained your ankle this week and haven't been able to do HIIT or run in the way you are accustomed, your body probably simply doesn't need as many calories. Don't change your fasting regime to compensate. Just let your body's natural functions guide you as to how much you need to eat. You just need to worry about the quality of what you eat and the balance of macronutrients, which look fine from your post. You are making fine progress. If your performance starts to slip or you become unhappy with your body composition over time, consider changing something. Otherwise, relax and enjoy the fact that you seem to have found something that is working for you. Good luck.
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