Does intermittent fasting really work? This is something I stumbled upon a little haphazardly. I am no stranger to cheat foods but as a men’s physique competitor many of my peers seemed to suffer a bit more when they had some of these same foods, whether they were preparing for a competition or not. While I thought there could be something to my metabolism, I wondered if it was something more. So I decided to pay closer attention to these cheat foods, when I ate them and what the effect, if any, was on my body.
Quickly after beginning my observational self-experiment, I realized when I had these foods, I often looked better a day or two afterwards. It is important to note that while I would cheat with foods such as chocolate covered almonds, frozen yogurt, and even donuts, I was eating very healthy the rest of the day. My diet consisted of homemade shakes of fruits, vegetables, and whey protein, with meals of chicken, fish, or bison with brown rice or salad. I would cheat an average of 3 times per week. I was also working out an average of 6 days a week.
What I observed was, I cheated on nights when I knew I had nothing to do in the morning. I would go to a movie or watch one at home and sleep in. After sleeping in, when I woke up, I would get caught up in emails and of course Twitter and Facebook before heading to the kitchen to make my first meal of the day. When I began to count the hours, I realized it would be 12 hours or more before I had eaten after cheating. This was quite a revelation – I realized it was quite possible I had been engaging in an ad hoc form of intermittent fasting.
What is intermittent fasting? Just as the name suggests it’s a cycle of eating then fasting on a regular basis. Studies have shown the benefits of intermittent fasting include improvements in glucose and insulin levels, as well as insulin sensitivity, weight loss, cancer prevention, and improvements in the decline in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
There are several different types of intermittent fasting which vary the intervals of feeding and fasting. It is definitely important for anyone who considers such a program to explore the different options for intermittent fasting and consult with their doctor about any medical concerns in doing so. However, I have found incorporating intermittent fasting in my overall program has not only improved the way I feel and my body’s appearance, it has allowed me to enjoy food even when dieting strictly for competition and at the end of the day being healthy AND happy should be the goal of any training or dieting program.