As many of you know, I’m an ultra-runner. As many of you know also, I’m an ultra-runner especially for the mental benefits I get from this activity: concentration, resilience and focus (among many others).
But since we’re still made of flesh and bones, a big part of my ultra-running activity revolves around nutrition. I want to pause now and give you a full disclaimer: I’m not a qualified nutritionist and every piece of information you will get from this article comes from my own experimentation. Your results with the same process can be drastically different. Needless to say, before starting any change in your diet, you should consult a qualified nutritionist.
With that being said, let me share what I’ve observed during the last 7 days, since I started to experiment with intermittent fasting.
What Is Intermitted Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not a diet, it’s an eating pattern. Briefly put, intermittent fasting means you’re grouping your meals in a certain interval and stick with that routine. It doesn’t interfere with what you eat, but with how often you eat.
There are many intermittent fasting patters, daily, weekly or monthly. For the daily patterns, usually you go with a 16/8 pattern, which means you fast for 16 hours and then eat for the rest of the 8 hours. For the weekly patterns, you may pick one day of the week and fast for 24 hours. Same thing for monthly patterns.
What I tried during the last 7 days was a daily pattern with a 16/8 ratio, where I have my first meal at 10 AM and the last meal at 6 PM.
How Intermittent Fasting Works?
Eating burns calories. It also puts calories in the system but it does that by consuming some first. If you mix your calorie intake and calorie burning processes in a continuous way, the body will eventually reach a point where it will become inefficient. It will have a hard time understanding how much to burn for calorie intake, how much to burn from the calorie intake and how much to store. Also, the insulin level during the day will impact this process. There’s a lot more to say about this, but as I already made it clear, I’m not a doctor and although I do my best to get my information from the most reputable sources, I prefer to keep it simple and easy to understand when I write abut it.
For the sake of this introductory article, let’s stick with the fact that mixing calorie intake and calorie burning from various stores will have, sometimes, less desirable effects.
Intermittent fasting separates these two processes in clear time frames. For the entire duration of the eating window, let’s say, 8 hours, your body will be in fed state, it will burn calories for calories intake. For the rest of the time, the 16 hours window, it will just burn calories from its various stores (usually, fat).
My Personal Observations
For the last 7 days I kept the process smooth with only two exceptions: one evening I got really hungry and I ate a bit around 9PM, and one evening I came after a long run and ate in the following half an hour (this shouldn’t really impact the process, since eating in the first hour after a workout will get burned immediately).
I clearly observed that I started to lose weight. Because of really bad weather, I didn’t run during the last 3 weeks. I didn’t do any other type of cross-training either and it started to show. But since I started to do intermittent fasting, I observed a clear reduction in the fat layer around my belly.
I also observed an increase in the quality of my sleep and decrease in the total time dedicated to sleep. In simpler words, I sleep less and I sleep better.
During the day I also seem to concentrate better, but I wouldn’t be so fast in making a connection between intermittent fasting and this. It may be just the fact that I’m rearranging a lot of stuff in my daily activities and I need to pay more attention.
All in all, I find intermittent fasting an interesting experiment. I find it working quite well with my training approach (the Maffetone Method) as in both are putting an emphasis on burning fat for energy.
I’ll keep you posted with any other new developments on this experiment.