30-Day Trial: Intermittent Fasting

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In my recent Nutrition post I mentioned LeanGains and Intermittent Fasting (IF). For some time now I’ve been noticing people all over the fitness industry talking about how IF has helped them lean down with more ease than traditional three square meals (or more) a day approaches. As I said in my post, I’ve adopted an IF-inspired approach where I simply try to push my first meal as late into the day as I can, consuming the bulk of my calories in the evening.

For a long time, this seemed to work well for me. Sure, eating in a calorie deficit always comes with its challenges, but I was able to keep my hunger in check, no sweat. Recently, however, I have been having more trouble. I find myself feeling hungrier and less satisfied with my meals, large though they may be. I’ve been finding it very tempting to consume a good deal of calories early in the day, leaving me with too little cushion in the evening, especially if a night out is involved.

I think this increased difficulty with maintaining a calorie deficit is likely due to two factors: 1) I’ve been dieting off and on (mostly on) now for more than a year, leaving me both physiologically and psychologically depleted, and 2) I am getting pretty lean, and thus more sensitive to deficits in terms of hunger, making it more challenging to keep losing fat.

Given my new situation, I’ve decided a new tactic is called for. I’m going to try IF for 30 days to see if I can adapt to it and if it has the benefits for me that it seems to have for almost everyone else. Men, especially, seem to have success with it. Some women do too, but among the guys it seems almost universally loved, especially for purposes of leaning down to low body fat levels.

Some of the benefits I have heard about and hope to experience are:

  • Increased alertness and morning productivity
  • Little to no hunger in the morning after an adjustment period
  • The ability to eat larger, more satisfying meals
  • Positive hormonal shifts promoting fat loss and muscle retention
  • More enjoyable dieting due to all of the above

I will start this 30-day challenge tomorrow morning. I normally rise at six, so I will be eating my first meal around noon. For this experiment, the goal will be to eat the first meal of the day anywhere from four to seven hours after rising, trying to hit six hours if it feels comfortable.

If Intermittent Fasting works as well for me as it has worked for so many others, this could be an extremely helpful tool to have in my toolbox as I continue working on my long-term fitness goals. Doing this challenge also gives me an opportunity to exercise some self-discipline, to do something difficult but potentially very rewarding, to overcome the hurdles faced in any new endeavor, and to reap the benefits of having done so.

Tomorrow I will talk a little about what my first day was like, and from there I will post weekly progress updates. I’ve never heard people speak much about what it’s like to go through the adjustment process and start IF regularly, so maybe by sharing my experiences I can help someone else make the transition. Or not. We’ll have to see what tomorrow holds.

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