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Intermittent Fasting- Has it worked for you?



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JWOOLMAN
SparkPoints: (840)
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Posts: 187
7/8/13 11:58 A

Definitely listen to your body in figuring out the best eating pattern. People vary considerably.

But two things you said suggest to me that you might also look for exactly what foods make you feel tired after eating them even in small amounts. I had to avoid eating until my work was done before my food allergies were diagnosed, because I felt tired after eating. The problem became even worse when I accidentally started eating more of my major allergens in an attempt to deal with the fatigue with "more protein". You also mentioned getting headaches if you did a regular fast- I would get headaches and foggy if I skipped a meal because I had developed an "allergic addiction" to one of my allergens (dairy) and was eating it at every meal. Another allergic addiction was developed earlier to onions when I started eating them frequently (mom was allergic so we never had them at home)- I would have onions for breakfast but not in my bag lunch. I got a withdrawal symptom in the afternoon that puzzled my doctor, a weird feeling on one side that made me suspect an ulcer. Weird pain that would disappear when I ate an onion sandwich.... I cut out the onions as part of a prescribed bland diet and the problem vanished. But I still had headaches because I was still eating dairy, to which I had also developed an allergic addiction.

Anyway- food allergies can be hard to track down because symptoms can be varied and delayed but also because the symptoms can show up when deprived of the food in some cases (as in fasting). Once I stopped eating my allergens entirely, though, skipping a meal only made me hungry and eating never made me tired. I don't know if this is part of your pattern, but bear it in mind. A rotation diet can help ferret out such allergies and also manage them (many times we can tolerate foods better if we don't eat the same food all the time but separate their intake by a certain time interval). Some people with multiple allergies gravitate to an eating pattern with only two meals or even just one meal per day, so intake of food is more widely separated in time and the body gets a rest in between. Others can eat multiple meals but restrict the number of foods at a meal (eating larger portions of them) and spacing out repeats by a day or several days.



STARSHINEFL
SparkPoints: (1,072)
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Posts: 158
7/7/13 8:27 A

Same here... I'm 5'2" and get less hungry when I eat more substantial meals instead of grazing.



JENNILACEY
SparkPoints: (72,042)
Fitness Minutes: (54,199)
Posts: 2,482
7/7/13 7:52 A

N16351D- I don't think it has anything to do with size. I'm also 5'2 and reached my lowest weight of 107 lbs with Spark and the grazing thing never worked for me. I've weighed between 110 lbs-115 lbs most of my life (until my pregnancies in my late 20's) and have always eaten 2 large meals a day.



N16351D
Posts: 2,349
7/6/13 2:59 P

No,I do not fast longer than I have to. Every time I have tried for health or spiritual reasons, I get horrible headaches. As soon as I eat something, it is soon gone. I am 5'2" and weigh around 110 - 115 pounds most of the time. I can't help but wonder if my small size has something to do with having terrible experiences with fasting.

Instead, I graze. I eat small bits of foods, like snacks, all day long. I'll have 1/2 sandwich around noon, and the other half around 3 PM. Dinner will be small, with a part of it a few hours later. I rarely sit down and have a big meal, and feel awful whenever I do.

My body likes small amounts of food about every 2-3 hours. I do it, and it works. There are small snacks in my purse almost all the time.



DIETITIANBECKY
Posts: 26,387
7/6/13 2:37 P

Thanks for sharing more about your routine.
Basically you will have a 15 hour gap between your last meal of the evening and your first eating episode of the next day. This is really not that much longer than many people who eat their evening meal and then have a later breakfast the next day.

If you start to feel weak, light headed, dizzy, etc...then do eat something earlier than noon. It will probably depend on your morning routine, work schedule, etc.

While many members do have 5-6 eating episodes here at Sparkpeople; it is not a "mandatory" Sparkpeople weight loss strategy. You won't find articles stating that everyone should eat 5-6 times a daily. I think you will find that most articles encourage between 3-5 eating episodes daily and for each individual to discover the meal/snack routine that best supports their hunger, health, activity level, work schedule, etc.

Becky
SP Registered Dietitian



JENNILACEY
SparkPoints: (72,042)
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Posts: 2,482
7/6/13 10:59 A

BREWMASTERBILL- exactly. I won't be following Leangains to a T although Martin Berkhan is very flexible with it to begin with. Just listening to my body the best I can and throwing the bro-science out the window. ;)



BREWMASTERBILL
SparkPoints: (31,080)
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Posts: 4,110
7/6/13 10:56 A

You sound like a good candidate for fewer meals. Only thing left to do is try it. Don't get hung up on the precise protocol, just go in with the abstract idea of eating when you're hungry or when it's convenient for you to eat. Keep tracking though.



JENNILACEY
SparkPoints: (72,042)
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Posts: 2,482
7/6/13 10:46 A

Dietition Becky- I'm not doing it for quicker weight loss or anything like that. If anything recomposition but mostly because the whole 5-6 meals a day wasn't working for me and I finally realized it. Most of my life I have eaten this way (skip breakfast, have larger meals) and it wasn't until I joined Spark that I started the mini-meals style of eating. I just found myself having to choke down breakfast and never feeling satisfied after eating (despite adequate protein, fat and fiber), longing for my next meal. So this isn't about weight loss, it's a way I think I will be comfortable eating, a lifestyle. I am hoping that eventually (not any time soon) that while continuing to make healthy food choices (whole foods, balanced meals, etc) it will be an easy way to maintain my weight without having to count calories (as one of the PP's mentioned and many proponents experience). It's really hard to go over your calories (as long as you're continuing to choose whole, clean foods) to overeat in an 8 hour window. You're just too darn full. So more of a lifestyle style of eating, than weight loss.

I've learned the scale isn't important. I reached 107 lbs and was too skinny. Sure I had nice muscle tone from my strength training but I was not happy with my body, I didn't have enough fat (strange but true). I ate above my maintenance for the last 4 months and gained a little bit more muscle (and fat) and now I'm looking to slowly cut back some of the fat gained. I liked how I looked at 115 lbs, 120 lbs would be fine if more of it was muscle. But my goal weight is really inconsequential and not really my focus, body fat % is, recomp. My doctor has even told me 115 lbs would be ideal.


On a side note, it appears the name is quite misleading to a few people. They see "fasting" and are on it like a juicing thread. It just means I don't eat between 9pm (I eat a late dinner) until 12-1pm the next day. Which I don't see any different than any other person who eats 3 square meals, finishes dinner at 6pm and eats breakfast at 9-10am. I just happen to be more of dinner person, can't stomach a breakfast and prefer a fasted workout. I actually have no appetite at all until I finish my workout and all my chores. As soon as I eat, I get tired and my energy is depleted. When I did 5-6 meals I would eat at 8am, 11am, 3pm, 5-6pm, 8pm and occasionally 10pm. I was constantly prepping meals and could never have a good solid meal. More of my time was spent prepping meals, just to nibble on a few bites of food. I never felt full and constantly obsessed over food and my next meal. I never obsessed over food prior to losing weight and since returning to IF (which was how I ate before I lost weight, I only ate 2 large meals a day then but terrible food choices and was pretty inactive. Lately, I've been having 3). I've finally stopped obsessing over food and I feel full after I eat a meal. I push my plate away and I'm done and can move on rather than brooding over the 2-3 hours I have to wait for my next meal. Which I believe has been a big contributor to my binge eating as of late... obsessing over food and just wanting to feel full. I felt deprived on mini meals spread out over a 15-16 hour period.

There are of course other methods of IF like alternate day fasting but that would never be for me.

And STARSHINEFL totally hit the nail on head. ;) Thank you.

Edited by: JENNILACEY at: 7/6/2013 (11:09)


STARSHINEFL
SparkPoints: (1,072)
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Posts: 158
7/6/13 10:05 A

It seems like the OP isn't necessarily obsessed with trying to lose much more weight, but rather to maintain her progress so far, and is concerned about her tendency to binge late in the evening with the current "5-6 small meals" plan.

In that case, a 2-3 meal/day plan would probably work very well. The Leangains schedule is pretty similar to what works well for me.

Sparkpeople advocates a very middle-of-the-road long-term plan, moderation in everything, and I think that is exactly what they should do considering how many people with different needs, amounts of weight to lose, and medical conditions use this website.

But that doesn't work for everyone, and discussions like this are how we learn and find out what's right for us as individuals (Paleo, Primal, Atkins, calorie/carb cycling, IF, whatever). I read a lot of these threads and often find a suggestion that's useful for me, even though I may not follow the plan 100%.

Comments like "no one should ever eat late at night," or "you should never skip breakfast," or "fasting is horrible for your body," are untrue and unhelpful. It *IS* helpful to ask yourself the question, "Is this (method I'm considering) something I can do for life?"

Sometimes I feel like SP needs to divide up "Diet and Nutrition" into two forums: (1) The Sparkpeople Plan, and (2) Other Diet & Nutrition Discussions. That way people who have had success with following SP 100% wouldn't have to be offended by these "radical" suggestions, and people looking for other ideas could find them.

JENNILACEY, you've already been really successful with weight loss and exercise - I think now you are listening to your body and learning what is going to work for you long term, and that's awesome! emoticon





ANARIE
Posts: 12,325
7/5/13 3:51 P

I think it's just a really bad name. The concept is no big deal; it's just a way to control calories. It's a schedule, not a fast. If they called it "the breakfast-skipping method," a lot of us would stop fussing.

"Everyone agrees that eating after dinner is a bad idea though." Um, no, everyone doesn't agree on ANYTHING, not even on something this simple. I'm starting to suspect the exact opposite is true, in fact. I know quite a few people who have gone from obese to a healthy weight and maintained it for several years, and one thing they all have in common is that they have a "bedtime snack." One woman actually has her snack IN bed! Now, it's entirely possible that I happen to know a bunch of strange people who are outliers. What I've seen doesn't mean that evening eating is right for everyone. But it does mean that eating after dinner does not doom weight loss.

I'm another breakfast-skipper. I just don't want to eat before lunch, so I don't. I did try forcing myself to eat breakfast, and it usually ended up that those were extra calories added into my total. I would still be just as hungry-- or maybe even hungrier-- later in the day. Again, I would NEVER recommend that to anyone else. If you like eating breakfast, do NOT skip it! But if breakfast is a struggle, be aware that there are some people who are able to control their weight without it.



IAMLOVEDBYYOU
Posts: 369
7/5/13 2:36 P

I eat two meals a day. I was eating small meals, but it just didn't work for me. I made the choice based on lifestyle as much as I made it on personal preferences.

I don't consider it Intermittent fasting, though. I have coffee when I wake up, eat one meal around 11 am, have a glass of milk or a smoothie (100 calories) around 2, and eat my second meal at 5:00. Sometimes I have a glass of milk before bed.

It works for me. But it's not a big deal. I'm never starving when I eat in the morning, and I'm never starving in the evening.



MANDIETERRIER1
Posts: 13,503
7/5/13 2:28 P

Everyone is different. This style of eating may work just fine for you.

Personally it didn't work for me. Fasting makes me binge at the end of the fast



BREWMASTERBILL
SparkPoints: (31,080)
Fitness Minutes: (12,713)
Posts: 4,110
7/5/13 12:43 P

"It still matter how many calories you eat over a 24 hour period. If you eat more calories after starving yourself for 16 hours, then it doesn't help at all. "

No one is disputing this. IF is not magic, it's simply another way for (some) people to manage intake a lot better.



RUSSELL_40
Posts: 16,756
7/5/13 12:39 P

It still matter how many calories you eat over a 24 hour period. If you eat more calories after starving yourself for 16 hours, then it doesn't help at all.

Have you considered the possibility that 120 is your ideal weight, and maybe the focus should be on toning, instead of weight loss? One of my friends is 5'4", 105, and has belly fat. Skinny, but she eats poorly, and never exercises.

It isn't always about the # on the scale. I eat two main meals a day. Usually a breakfast at 8-9 a.m, and a supper at 8-10 p.m. and if I get hungry a fiber bar. Limiting your eating to a narrow range is not something that will affect your weight loss. Nothing wrong with a midnight meal. I am pretty sure that a meat and vegetable last meal of the day will be better than a " dessert meal " though.



WADINGMOOSE
Posts: 1,044
7/5/13 11:51 A

I've read a lot of good things about intermittent fasting and a former coworker seemed to be doing well on it - although he was REALLY hungry by the time he could eat on his schedule.

I regularly work out on an empty stomach because like others if I eat too close to a workout, I get cramps and it's really just uncomfortable for me. However, I don't do IF because if I work out at 7am, I'm not waiting until noon to eat - that's a recipe for disaster.

If you find a schedule that works for you - take advantage of it :)





BREWMASTERBILL
SparkPoints: (31,080)
Fitness Minutes: (12,713)
Posts: 4,110
7/5/13 9:58 A

Depends highly on the length of the fast. In this case we're talking about hours, not days. So in this context, no, this is not hard on your body.



MOTHERBOARDER
Posts: 5,306
7/5/13 9:50 A

fasting is HARD on your body



DIETITIANBECKY
Posts: 26,387
7/5/13 9:22 A

I see from the information you have shared that you:
are 5'2"
have lost 58 pounds
are currently 120#
and wanting to weight 115#
and you are already at a healthy body weight and % body fat.

While I can't see you physically, it sounds like weight maintenance should be your focus. However, a few more pounds lost does not put you in a danger category. What have you done to lose the other 58 pounds? Perhaps you just need to continue and realize it is going to be much slower for weight loss now. Or is there a training goal, or body composition goal that you are wanting to achieve. Ultimately you want an eating and work-out plan that meets your needs for the rest of your life, that you can sustain and works with your lifestyle.

I'm not sure IF is the answer.

Becky
SP Registered Dietitian

Edited by: DIETITIANBECKY at: 7/5/2013 (13:12)


JUSTEATREALFOOD
Posts: 1,002
7/5/13 8:34 A

I drink coffee with heavy cream when I get up but I don't eat a meal for 3-4 hours after rising. I am not hungry first thing, trying to eat first thing makes me nauseous and I too cannot work out after eating, it gives me stitches and saps energy.

I usually eat all my meals between 10am - 7pm. I don't count calories, I just eat real foods I make myself at home, avoiding grains and legumes. I eat when I'm hungry and I don't eat when I'm not hungry. On the days when I have run the numbers I eat around 2000 calories with more than 60% of my calories from fat. At 5'4" I would be happy at 125 but right now I'm at 121 without actively trying to lose, just by eating healthy.

I don't focus on cardio. I mostly lift heavy as well. Right now I'm lifting 2x a week, pistol squats, deadlifts, bulgarian split squats, pull ups, trx rows and chin ups. I've just added wall handstands as well. I play soccer once a week. I also like to ride my bike 1-2 times a week and I will go for a couple of walks a week.

I fasted for 2 whole days before to help my gut heal from a trauma and it worked beautifully for the problem. I don't do it on a regular basis though.

Edited by: JUSTEATREALFOOD at: 7/5/2013 (09:06)


BREWMASTERBILL
SparkPoints: (31,080)
Fitness Minutes: (12,713)
Posts: 4,110
7/5/13 8:21 A

I attribute much of my maintenance success and body recomposition to intermittent fasting.

"Everyone agrees that eating after dinner is a bad idea though."

Strongly disagree. The bulk of my calories come in the evening, right before bed.

The key to success is trying new things and finding out what works for you. IF works great for me because I like to skip breakfast and eat a ton post workout (which happens to be late in the evening). Eating breakfast seems to make it harder to hit my calorie goals. Breakfast makes me hungrier all day.

The trick is not to get caught up in the minutiae and labels. Experiment, log and figure out what worked and what didn't. LG is a decent program, I borrowed heavily from it, but do not follow it to the letter. I adapted it for me and my schedule and I also borrowed from some other places which contained methods that worked for me.

You also need to consider the source. SP is a community that is big on 5-6 meals and cardio. So asking for feedback on a subject that involves skipping breakfast, working out fasted and doing so with heavy weights isn't probably going to get you a lot of supporters here.



WATERDIAMONDS
Posts: 14,308
7/5/13 8:11 A

i define success as keeping off the weight I lose. I always regained whatever I had lost by fasting, so no, it has never worked for me.



JENNILACEY
SparkPoints: (72,042)
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Posts: 2,482
7/4/13 7:04 P

That's the name of it. I didn't coin it.

There are a few variations of IF. I'm doing the Leangains method, like I said. Where you eat all your calories in an 8 hour window. There's one where it's a 24 hour period, "eat stop eat". You eat one day, you fast the next. There's also a 20 hour fast period... I'm not too familiar with that one but I think it's the one the PP is doing.

This is the one I'm doing as it best fits my natural style of eating: http://www.leangains.com/2010/04/leangains
-guide.html

Like I said, I can't stomach a breakfast (even a small one) before I workout. I've tried for almost a year. I am weaker when I lift and I have more energy in a fasted state when I do cardio. Wouldn't that mean I'm working *harder* and therefore, burning more calories? I am so sluggish even after 150-200 cals. I also suffer runner's stitches when I do HIIT if I eat before. It doesn't matter what I eat. Most studies suggest you burn more fat on an empty stomach:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/articl
e-2267548/Why-exercise-BEFORE-breakfas
t--youll-burn-20-cent-body-fat.html

You do have whey powder before and after your workout, 10g.

Eating breakfast does not help you lose more weight or faster. Studies have suggested people who eat breakfast are more likely to keep weight off because they're less likely to go for quick vending machine foods/poor food choices later on when early morning cravings hit. But I pre-plan my meals in advance and am a SAHM (so no vending machines/fast food. Made from scratch meals only). Eating breakfast also does not improve your metabolism:

http://weightloss.about.com/od/nutrition
/a/Myths-About-Eating-Breakfast.htm

I don't really put much emphasis on cardio anyways. I'm more of a lifter. I do HIIT and calisthenics for cardio and the majority of my workout consists of strength training. From what I've read the Leangains method is optimal for those trying to build muscle and lose fat at the same time.

It's also been nice for once not obsessing over food all day and longing for my next meal as soon as I finish eating, stealing nibbles from my children's leftovers like a sneaky mouse. ;)

Currently, my biggest hurdle right now is that since I reached maintenance I have developed a nasty habit of evening binge eating which has of course, caused me to gain weight back expotentially. Now I'm back to weight loss mode but have been struggling for the last 2 months to even create a weekly deficit again. Which was so easy for me the first time I lost 58 lbs, now seems like asking me to move a mountain. So I'm hoping this strategy will help nip some of my bad habits in the bud, particularly the habit of night time eating I've developed and stop obsessing over my next meal by finally consuming enough calories to feel full during the time of day I am most hungry.

The other thing I read that makes sense is that eventually, you shouldn't have to calorie count. If you're eating whole, clean foods and balanced 90% of the time it's very difficult to over consume calories in an 8 hour window. You're just too darn full. Let's face it, calorie counting is a drag. Not that I plan on stopping any time soon but it would be a future goal.

Edited by: JENNILACEY at: 7/4/2013 (20:00)


EMAVERICK
Posts: 7,229
7/4/13 6:10 P

I don't really think you are talking about fasting here. I think of fasting as not eating when one is hungry, like dawn 'til dusk Ramadan, or some other religous/purification fast.

I know a man who eats only one meal a day, is a bicyclist and a successful businessman, too, and doesn't seem to suffer from it. However, he isn't trying to lose weight.

The thing about breakfast is that the metabolism gets going with the meal, and we start burning calories faster--it is more of a way to lose weight faster than a necessity for health. So the same amount of calories eaten, starting earlier in the day, will burn more calories over-all if we start at breakfast, instead of starting at lunch.

Everyone agrees that eating after dinner is a bad idea though. I think you are on the right track there. I had it explained to me this way by a dietitian. Why would you want to eat more calories when you aren't about to use them?

Maybe you just haven't found the right thing for you for breakfast yet. Perhaps a protein bar after your workout? Don't fret about the number of meals in the day, but do consider trying to find a way to start earlier, if you are trying to burn more calories and lose weight still. Looks like you are doing pretty well!





SUMMERSHORTS
Posts: 200
7/4/13 6:09 P

This week I started experimenting with IF, too. I have also tried eating little and often, didn't suit me either. I have always been a big believer in starting the day with a good breakfast so it is breaking out of my normal habits to do IF. The fast days were not easy (500 calories), I was hungry - but, hey, it's not going to kill me. My understanding of IF is that you will eat the same number of calories over the week, they will just be spread out differently?



JENNILACEY
SparkPoints: (72,042)
Fitness Minutes: (54,199)
Posts: 2,482
7/4/13 2:41 P

I've become interested in IF, specifically the Leangains method. It sounds sooo perfect for me. I naturally always ate two meals a day and could never stomach breakfast. I had always thought of it as unhealthy. I started doing the whole 5-6 meals a day thing because that's what bro-science led me to when I started losing weight.

It has been torture for a long... I never really adjusted. I workout in the AM and eating before I work out gives me runner's stitches and digestion zaps my energy, severely impacting my workouts. Eating directly after does not interest me either. That's when I have the most energy and feel like cleaning my house and doing stuff, no appetite. I've struggled to stick with the 5-6 meals a day because I *thought* it was working fine but lately I've fallen back into my old habits of waiting until after noon to consume my calories. For the first time in a year, I've stopped obsessing over food!! I finally feel full and content.

I've been still eating 5 meals a day between 12-1pm and 10pm. I've been binge eating in the evening. A light bulb went off in my head this morning after a massive binge last night. The binge eating seems to have started when I introduced a "dessert" meal after dinner. It seems to have opened the door for mindless evening snacking. Ok, ok... I probably just didn't want to admit that could be contributing to it. So I decided it's time to let it go and make one of my goals to not consume any calories after dinner. My theory is that if I don't open that door, I won't continually walk through it. Going to try to finish off the day with some protein and veg instead of rewarding my end of the day with a treat. I had heard about IF here and there and thought it sounded similar to my goals so I decided to do a bit of research. It seems I'm naturally geared toward the Leangains method.

So I will be eating all my calories between noon and 8pm and see if this helps with my late night binges and helps me get back to maintenance. I'm going to try reducing my 5-6 mini meals to 3 square meals.

Anyone else successful with this style of eating?

Edited by: JENNILACEY at: 7/4/2013 (14:54)


 
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