Over the last couple of years, I have spent less time working out and more time working on trying to build the gym. Unfortunately, the way I was eating did not change. I am not a good dieter, and I have always been an athlete, even as an adult, from playing soccer at a collegiate level right into competitive CrossFit. As I have slowed down my training, my eating has not. I have never been worried about the food I was eating because my main goal was calorie consumption, well things have changed.
I needed something easy to follow but wouldn’t have me changing the way I eat too much, frankly, because I didn’t want to stop eating what I wanted. A friend of mine was doing intermittent fasting and loved it. He broke it down to me like this, “It does not have to change what you eat, but when you eat it.”
For years I have done six meals a day, and I teach people to eat the same way with an appropriate calorie goal. So the thought of changing to something where I spend the majority of my day not eating was a little scary.
I jumped right into fasting and tried it for about three days and quit. I am an avid breakfast eater, and I usually coach our 5 am classes, so I am up at 3:45, and for me to get a sixteen-hour fast, I couldn’t eat until noon. That was over eight hours awake without eating, and mentally I was not ready for that.
About a week later, I started again, but instead of 16 hours, I did a 12 hour fast. I simply skipped my usual two breakfasts, one at 4:00 am and the other at 7:00 am and ate at a big breakfast at 8:00 am. I was fasting from 8:00 pm to 8:00 am. It wasn’t bad, and after a week of that, I moved it up to fourteen hours, and a week later, from there was up to sixteen hours.
Since then, it hasn’t been hard to make it through a fast. I took a couple of extended breaks with a wedding in Mexico and the holidays but was able to start right back up with no problem. Recently I even started exercising inside the last hour or so of my fast, and I have seen some pretty excellent results not only aesthetically but physically. I PR’d my Fran time from June by twenty seconds with a time of 2:21.
On average, I usually weigh anywhere between 175 & 180 pounds. After a few weeks of fasting, I started averaging between 165 & 170, and my body aesthetically changed in a good way. I can always tell my leanness based on my vascularity, and right now, I am leaner than I have ever been and not losing anything performance-wise. Also, I have seen a difference in the quality of my sleep, as well as my ability to focus when at work. My knees and back hurt less even though I’m still training the same, and the best part about all of this is I still eat whatever I want.
I try and get enough protein throughout my day, and that is it. I eat all the carbs, good and bad, all the fat, and do not avoid alcohol. Genetics play a factor in this, of course, but I was doing the same thing and not fasting, and I was gaining weight in all the wrong places. I have become a believer in this for general health and general performance & aesthetics.
I hear a lot of people say, “I do intermittent fasting,” but really what they mean is, “I don’t eat breakfast, and I am losing weight.” I have geeked out pretty hard on this and found that there are a lot of intricacies to this. Yes, by skipping breakfast and not eating for 12-16 hours, you will lose weight, but most likely, you will also end up being a smaller version of a fatter you. For me, and probably for most reading this, the goal isn’t just to lose weight but to burn fat. We want to look lean and perform well in our workouts. Just skipping breakfast isn’t going to do that.
I am thinking about writing up a fasting meal plan and posting it on a blog. If that sounds like something, you would like to let me know in the comments on this page or the Facebook post.
Also, next Saturday, 1/25, at 10:30 am, I am going to do a clinic at the gym about what I have learned with intermittent fasting and answer any questions someone may have based on what I know. I am not a dietician and do not try to be one, but I can talk about my experiences with intermittent fasting and what I have learned through my trials with it. If you are interested in attending, please send me an email.