A.K.A. Intermittent Fasting
I don’t usually eat lunch either. It’s really no big deal.
I started eating this way this past summer when I decided to lose 22 lbs of fat in 10 weeks. I guess you could call it an experiment. My caloric intake was pretty low (BW x 10). Splitting this up into 4-6 meals per day leaves one hungry guy. I’m not one to enjoy being that hungry guy. That’s when I started reading up on Intermittent Fasting.
WIKIPEDIA DEFINITION: Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting (usually meaning consumption of water only) and non-fasting.
After further research, I came across Martin Berkhan’s Lean Gains method. His method involved decreasing your eating window to 8 hours per day, and only eating approximately 3 meals per day. For me, this meant larger meals on a low caloric intake. Score!
When I started IF, I noticed that I was getting (and staying) pretty lean. Now, before you go off and tell me that the reason I got lean was from the low caloric intake, I want to agree with you. You’re right. I admit it. Let’s move on.
Here’s the thing: once I increased my caloric intake, I stayed lean.
Just for the record, leanness means lower body fat and a higher percentage of muscle. Screw the idea that I will lose muscle from not eating for 16 hours! If this were the case, then everyone in the world would look like a skinny, long distance runner. Why? You can’t eat while you sleep.
Ok…so… Since I haven’t eaten for 16 hours, this means there’s not much (if any) food in my body to be broken down and used for fuel. I still have the same amount of muscle I had last night. That’s good. So what the heck is my body using for fuel?
The logic is that fatty acids are released for energy. It’s funny, because bodybuilders have known this for years. They’re the ones who wake up early every morning and do cardio on an empty stomach. Now, I’m not suggesting the same thing. I’m just making a point. Yet, it generally holds true that “if you want to learn about fat loss, talk to a bodybuilder” (Mike Boyle).
Starting in September, I’ve been using this method to gain muscle. So far, I’ve gained 29 lbs, and have stayed around or below 15% body fat. This translates to about 1.6 lbs gained per week. Not too shabby.
One awesomely unexpected outcome of IF is the detoxing of your body. You see, all my life I’ve had stomach problems (digestion problems). Eating healthy decreased these problems, yet they still occurred on a less than regular basis. Since starting fasting, I barely (if ever) have stomach problems. It rocks.
To further the detoxification process, I have a serving of Greens+ Daily Detox (or Pro Grade’s Greens Drink), and two capsules of a pro-biotic in the morning. It makes me feel like a million bucks.
Speaking of a million bucks, if you complain about these supplements (or eating healthy) as being expensive, then I would rebut that it’s more expensive to pay for healthcare. Just sayin’…
I’m way less stressed out this year. Why? I never worry about meal timing anymore. I used to be afraid that I’d lose muscle, or slow down my metabolism. IF has pretty much tied a noose around that theory and done you-know-what with it. Some days, I’ll eat 3 meals in a day, other days, I’ll eat 1. Some days I’ll break my fast at 4pm, other days, I’ll eat my first meal at 2pm. No big deal. Life happens. Less stress translates into a better sleep, a happier mood, and one lean dude.
Dopamine and Ghrelin
Ghrelin is a hunger hormone. It is released in your body to make you hungry before a usual feeding period. For example, if you usually eat at 2pm, ghrelin makes your body feel hungry around 2pm every day.
Research has shown that the release of ghrelin will actually amplify dopamine signalling. This means that the larger, protein rich meals you are eating will signal the release of more dopamine than you ever thought possible. In case you didn’t know, dopamine makes you feel good. Damn good.
Research also suggests that low dopamine levels are present in people with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and depression. My implied syllogism here is that fasting could help people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and depression.
I was debating on even including this, but I feel that it is very powerful. Once my body (ghrelin and leptin) adapted to not eating in the morning, I started noticing that I had laser sharp focus.
Last semester, I tested this theory with four of my classes. I always went to class fasted, and wrote all my midterms and exams on an empty stomach. The results were awesome. I spent less time studying (since I was able to pay more attention in class), and was still getting the same grades (if not improved grades) as I have in past years.
This is where people start to freak out. They think that it’s impossible to lift weights on an empty stomach. Here’s what I have noticed:
I’m stronger when I lift on an empty stomach. That’s right. It’s easier to break PR’s while fasted. Although, this may be completely individual, it is what I’ve discovered works best with my body.
Here’s the disadvantage: intervals, higher rep barbell complexes (8-12 reps), and density training are more difficult to perform while fasted. My only logical theory of why is that your body can only release fatty acids at a certain rate. After this rate is surpassed, then your body will need to use food as fuel.
In the end, it is obvious why I practice intermittent fasting. The question still remains: is it right for you? Give it a fair chance (2-4 weeks), and investigate the affects it will have on your leanness, digestion, stress, happiness, focus, and training. You may be surprised.
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