So i am starting this blog post at 12:00 p.m. and i have yet to eat my first meal. As i have mentioned before in previous posts i have been incorporating Intermittent Fasting (IF) into my bikini prep. I thought this would be a good time to tell you a little bit more about what it is and my experience with it.
Let me preface this post by saying that IF is not something i have always done. I used to be that person who HAD to eat the first thing in the morning. I always started my day with my breakfast. Now, that is not the case. Now, i start my day with lots of fluids and hot beverages.. coffee is a lifesaver. IF does take some getting used to but eventually your body will adapt to it. I promise it’s not as scary as it sounds haha.
First off, WHAT IS IT? “Intermittent Fasting is a style of dieting that alternates between a fed and a fasting state.” Let me start off by explaining the differences that occur in your body when you are in a “fed” vs. “fasting” state. A “fed” state is when you have eaten recently (obviously). The digestion and absorption process requires about 3-5 hours and as a result of eating those carbohydrates, fats, and protein your insulin levels are raised. This can make it difficult to tap into fat stores and burn fat. A “fasted” state is what happens ≈12 hours after the absorption/digestion process. From lack of carbohydrates in the body, insulin levels are low which helps make it a prime fat burning mode. Most people do not enter this “prime fat burning mode” or “fasting” state on a normal basis.
So, there are many different approaches to IF but either way, there is a “eating window” period and a “fasting” period. The “lean gains” approach to IF (i.e. losing fat and maintaining lean body mass) is an 8 hour eating window and a 16 hour fast. Some other approaches have shorter eating windows that are about 4-6 hours. During the fasting period, you do not eat or drink anything that has calories (the idea is to keep insulin levels low) and during the eating window you EAT….duh lol. With IF, you are NOT manipulating your macros. You are still eating the same amount of calories you normally would…just in a shorter time frame. The time at which you decide to use as your “8 hour eating window” is entirely up to you. You simply choose the time that works best for your life/lifestyle and your schedule.
EFFECTIVENESS? Now, what is the effectiveness of IF when it comes to fat loss and maintaining lean muscle? The research that has been done on this topic has been done with obese individuals as opposed to the general, healthy population so more research needs to be done. I do want to point out that IF is not a short cut to weight loss.. It is not magic. Weight loss occurs when your Energy In < Energy Out… I.E. burning more calories than you consume. If you are eating more than you are burning, yet practicing IF, you will still gain weight.
WHAT I DO. My approach to IF is less about the strict 8/16 hour windows and more about simply putting off eating my first meal.
If i have class, my routine is as follows: 730/8-wake up, go to class, commute home, 1230/1 pm: eat my first meal before the gym, go to the gym, and 9/930 eat my last meal. On days like this i do eat before i workout. This is because i am up for a longer period of time before i train and typically by this point my stomach is growling and i know that will distract me at the gym.
If i don’t have class, my routine is as follows: 9/930-wake up, 11/1130- go to the gym, 1:30- eat my first meal, 9/930- eat my last meal of the day after i get off work. On these days i do not eat before i train.
DOES IF IMPACT MY PERFORMANCE IN THE GYM? I personally, do not notice that much of difference between days that i train fasted vs. eating beforehand. There is no clear proof that “training low” enhances performance in the gym and a lot more research needs to be done in this area. Some may find that it may interfere with intensity and training volume. Personally, i know that if i am going to be training AND doing cardio, i will eat something small beforehand. Otherwise, for me, i don’t mind doing JUST cardio or JUST weightlifting without eating first. Personal preference. If i am training fasted, I will use a pre workout or drink coffee as my pre workout and i will drink BCAA’s during my workout. Some say that drinking branch chain amino acids (the building blocks of protein that help with recovery and protein synthesis) is “breaking” your fast… I still do it… i’ve seen different opinions on whether or not it is or isn’t “breaking” your fast.. but as i said before, personal preference.
So WHY DO I DO IF? There are several reasons why i like intermittent fasting, especially on a bikini prep. On prep, the amount of food you are eating can be low..hello poverty macros. IF helps me out when it comes to dieting and here’s why i like it:
- Larger meals —–> Feel fuller longer. I eat 4 larger meals as opposed to 6 or 7 of what feels like “snacks” . As a result, i feel more satisfied.
- Don’t have to spread my food out as much when i have poverty macros.
- Reduce stress by not having to prep and pack so many meals.
- More time for other things. I don’t have to spend as much time cooking, prepping, and eating. I can focus my time on other things i have to do like class, blogging, and other responsibilities.
So i hope this gives you a little insight into Intermittent Fasting, what it is, and how i incorporate it into my bikini prep. If you have any more questions, please feel free to leave them below. Also comment with any other topics you would like to see in future blog posts, hit that “like” button, and subscribe if you aren’t already.
Keep checking back for more,