There are a lot of nutritional strategies being popularized in the news and on social media these days: fasted cardio, macro tracking, elimination diets, keto, etc. It can be hard to make heads or tails as to whether these are legit or just some whacky protocol designed to sell you supplements and pipedreams of ripped abs. In this post we’re going to talk about one very legitimate strategy for fat loss, digestive health and improved energy that has been around for quite some time but may be misunderstood: Intermittent Fasting. The name can trigger some negative connotations and turn folks off. Full disclosure, it’s not for everyone. While the science is compelling and those who practice it consistently and correctly report great results, it doesn’t work for some folks (like me) simply because it doesn’t jive with their lifestyles. Curious how it works and if it’s right for you? Checkout this Q&A with my amazing colleague and fellow Trainer Michael Bonella.
Why did you start IF?
I started IF with my client Lisa. She wanted support so we could hold each other accountable. At first it’s not easy so we supported each other as our bodies adjusted. We would text “FORKS DOWN!” every night at 8pm as a reminder.
What is "fasting" and why does it work?
Fasting gives your body, liver and digestive track a 16-hour break from processing food. Insulin levels spike less frequently throughout the day thus helping to make you more insulin sensitive. The “feeding window” helped me understand when I was actually hungry and when I was being triggered for “mindless eating”.
What are the basic steps you follow for fasting?
My version of fasting is a little modified because I have a very demanding and physically taxing job. Absolutely nothing but water from 8pm-10am. I FINALLY get coffee at 10am and solid food from 12pm-7pm. First meal is always protein and fat based. Liquid protein shake some time between 7-8pm. If I plan to workout outside of my feeding window, BCAAs are used.
What have the results been?
I compared my DEXA scan before and after a 4-week IF protocol. I gained 2 lbs. of muscle and lost 5 lbs. of fat. My energy levels went through the roof. I have broken new PRs in almost every lift. I sleep better at night. My confidence obviously went up as a result.
What do you suggest folks do before they start their own fasting regime?
First step in starting an IF Protocol is to establish a baseline of measurements to compare your results to 6 weeks down the road. I used DEXA FIT (I was so impressed by them that I started working for them). I had a DEXA scan, BMR/RMR Test and VO2 Max test done. These tests gave me the data I needed to make the most out of my IF Protocol.
After establishing a baseline, start small. Create a 12-hour fasting window for three days to help you establish what times of day work best for you. After the first three days, increase to a 13-hour window. Every three days thereafter, change one more variable until you find the IF Protocol to be challenging but doable. After 6 weeks of executing your own modified protocol, reassess your baseline measurements to see if what you are doing has you trending in the direction that is right for you.
I would encourage anyone who saw promising results to try a stricter or more formal version of the protocol the following 6 weeks after your reassessment.