As an evidence-based PT and transformation specialist, if I haven’t lived through the process myself, then I won’t recommend it to my clients.
Which means that I am always reading new scientific literature, and using myself as a ‘guinea pig’ to test out the most up-to-date theories.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a technique I have spent a lot of time researching. I started fasting in 2013 and ever since then I've been trialing different variations, and have seen some outstanding.
I use this format with some of my clients too, but the variation will completely depend on their capabilities and lifestyle.
Although IF has been an integral part of my life for many years now, I've recently read some interesting studies on the health and wellness benefits (detailing the fat loss and brain optimisation benefits) of longer fasting windows, and wanted to test these out on myself. Especially since I've generally followed a more 8:16 structure of eating:fasting, or simply skipped a meal or two every now and again.
Specifically, I implemented a 2:22 eating:fasting ratio and I was specifically interested in not only how this would affect my body fat percentage, but my body-weight training performance too.
Here are the simple guidelines I followed:
1. I only train fasted- I did this by fasting towards the end of my window, in order to enhance the fat loss benefits of my fast.
2. I only ate once I’d trained - this again was to enhance the fat-loss benefits and to help with my body-weight training as I naturally felt lighter and more able.
3. I only use body weight training - since I specifically wanted to improve my body-weight movements, I decided to focus on that. Similarly, if you want to be a better swimmer, then you have to get into the pool and actually swim!
4. I gave myself a 2-hour eating window daily - a 2-hour eating window meant I had enough time to eat enough so that I was full and satisfied. Plus, since I'd previously tried the warrior diet (4:20), which not only worked well for me but which I was only doing it 2-days a week, I wanted to up the anti this time.
5. I didn't count macros or calories - I don't like calories counting as it is, and believed it was unnecessary. I did however focus on my protein intake, and even though I didn’t count my intake, I made sure I consumed high quality sources during my eating window.
7. I ate consciously - protein, carbs and fats were all on the menu, but as usual I favoured more fats and protein and I ate until I was satisfied, not stuffed.
8. What I drank- I generally stuck to water and black coffee (sometimes I added a small amount of milk) during my fasting window, and add an occasional diet coke or a glass of red wine with my meals (when appropriate).
These simple guidelines allowed me the freedom to eat without restriction during my 2-hour window, which not only made the experience much easier, but fun too.
Having used IF for years, not only did I already have the mindset to be able to jump straight into this strategy, but I was able to breaking my fast without binging on junk food. Something which some people tend to experience during the early days of their fasting journey.
My performance dropped at the beginning of the programme as my body adapted to fasted training, however, I significantly improved my maximum chin-ups by a score of 8 overall.
Once my energy and performance levels balanced out, I did see a huge improvement in my handstands and handstands walks, which I believe is the result of being both lighter and consistently practicing.
Below is my before and after pictures, I didn't weigh myself.
Even though this programme was set-up to require minimal effort, challenges remained.
My main battles came later in the programme as the 4th week approached. I simply felt like I couldn’t eat enough during my feeding window which then starting to weigh on my mental game. I’ve always enjoyed being “big and strong” but I started to feel as though I was losing too much size and, as the great British summer and the associated social calendar ramped-up, I began to also resent the impact the short eating window had on my social calendar.
Water and iced coffees helped keep hunger at bay, but as it got hotter, my appetite reduced, which meant it was also extremely tough to get enough calories post-workout. On other days, I had to fit in a workout a few hours before social commitments, which made it tough not to eat and wait around.
As with all programmes there are times where you simply unable to follow along, and need to re-evaluate to keep progressing. There were 4 events where I had to increase my eating as I had double booked myself with different social commitments where a few beers during my eating window turned into a few more once it had closed. However once these instances were over normal practice was resumed.
Fasting as a whole is amazing and the results speak for themselves but this length/type of fasting is definitely not for a beginner, or someone who struggles with 12:12 or 14:10. Some days I found myself drinking more coffee than usual (its a great hunger suppressant) which I’m fortunate enough to be able to handle as caffeine doesn’t affect me like it does some.
Would I recommend this to a client? Maybe, but only with the right client. This method did decrease the weeks needed to see results which I believe in the wrong hands could set them up to fail, much like those on their summer vacation following a crash diet.
I would however guide an experienced client who is looking to mix things up a little as the overall results speak for themselves and I believe that fasting for less overall (daily or weekly) over a longer period of time could yield the same results (and not to mentioned better mental strength and understanding of themselves).
I personally will use this method for 2-3 weeks every now and again to help increase my leanness, mental strength and health.
I'd love to know what you think, leave me a comment below.
Speak soon, JC.