IF -aka intermittent fasting- has been gaining a lot of attention lately. It's not a new dieting/lifestyle concept but seems to have definitely been spreading like wildfire. I read somewhere someone compared it to the cult that is known as crossfitters (no offense to crossfitters I have many that are dear friends) and I can certainly see why they made the comparison.
I read about IF sometime ago from Sohee Lee, I knew it was something she followed but really didn't delve much into it. When I stumbled upon it again on another fitness page I decided to research it. What I found struck a chord so deep in me it was almost like the stars exploded and planets aligned.
Ok ok maybe it wasn't that dramatic! It did however just feel right. You see, I have never been a breakfast eater, I much prefer having a cup or two of coffee in the am and then beginning my eating phase after noon. It's how I operated, breakfast, or really any food before noon, would make me nauseous and lethargic. And then I entered the world of fitness and the clean eating lifestyle. Everything I read and was told was to eat 5-6 meals a day, breakfast is the most important meal, blah blah metabolism blah. So when I signed on with my first coach that is exactly the kind of meal plan I was given and followed.
I hated it. I remember complaining on many a biweeklies how hard it was to eat my breakfast, it was too much food, it made me feel icky. I never received a response to those complaints from my then coach. Eventually though my body did adjust to having those 5 meals per day and I started to feel as if I *needed* my breakfast. I would become Madame Crankypants without my eggs and oats first thing in the morning! I got results (not exactly the amazing results I was expecting, but results none the less) following this method so obviously it works right? Right. But is it the only way to "diet"? Is it the only way to have a healthy metabolism and live a healthy lifestyle?
In a word, no. And this was mind blowing to me! You mean to tell me I can go back to my normal daily fluxes and still maintain a healthy metabolism and lead a healthy lifestyle? Bananas! But that is exactly what this thing called IF claimed. It's not really about skipping breakfast, that's not what I want you to take from this. It's more about following your bodies own natural rhythms, or at least it is for me, and getting results and feeling fantastic!
Now, I really read a ton on the internet before I dove into this. There are after all several different styles of IFing and I wanted to follow the style that fit my personality and my lifestyle. I discovered www.leangains.com and Martin's method of IF. This was the one that felt right. Fast for 14-16 hours, feed for 8-10 hours. After deciding on what would be my fasting and feeding times I set out to make up a meal plan guideline of sorts just so I knew how much I needed to eat at each meal. I have since found it's much easier for me to wing it and eyeball my food than to weigh and measure and plug in info into a food calculator.
When I began IF I was sitting at about 128lbs, some I had gained almost immediately after my last comp when I went a little fast and free with the crap food, some I gained following a typical 6 meal a day building plan, I was eating about 2300-2500c cal a day and struggling. Switching to IF I had bumped my cal intake to 2700 and in the first week dropped 4lbs. Oops, that was not what I meant to do! I was able to increase my calories to 3000 holy cow! I gained back what I lost and have been holding steady at 130. I am rather shocked at just how much food I can eat with IF and not gain weight, which of course means another calorie increase ;)
One of the things I enjoy most about IF is the flexibility, if I am hungry a little earlier than my normal feed window it's ok I can go ahead and eat, not hungry or busy running around town? I can prolong my fasting window and IT'S OK! I don't feel tied down to tupperware and the clock anymore, I don't feel obsessed with food. If I have a craving I can indulge it without guilt. I eat 95% clean with a little bit of not so clean in my post workout meal and it's working for me. I have more energy during the day, I don't feel so brain foggy, and I am not constantly starving or the other end of the spectrum of being constantly full, a feeling that I had been dealing with for sometime even when my meal frequency and calories dropped during contest prep. I am loving the IF lifestyle and while I don't discount the 5-6 meal a day way of thinking, it wasn't natural for me, IF is.