Intermittent Fasting – Spontaneous and Random

Just two day ago I posted Intermittent Fasting 70 Day Review of the Leangains Method. In that post, I openly asked why the first month was so successful, but the gains stopped and reversed in the second month. A brief recap of the problems I experienced in the 2nd month of daily 16 hour fasts include:

  1. Fat loss stopped
  2. Lost muscle
  3. Weaker immune system
  4. Colder body temperature

Some ideas put forward to correct the stall included reducing caffeine, reducing sugar, increasing glucose carbohydrates and not doing the 16 hour fast on weight training days. Chuck from Escape The Herd, made a wise observation in his comment.

the term intermittent doesn’t seem to apply here. seems more like scheduled fasting.

This brings up the question on if there is an important distinction between long scheduled fasts and intermittent fasting. While I was pondering the question, I tuned into the latest Jimmy Moore podcast, which was an interview with Art De Vany. De Vany was the writer that first exposed me to the intermittent fasting concept back in December 2007. During the interview, Jimmy asked De Vany the very question I was pondering.

They were discussing metabolism and the topic shifted to the potential downside to doing 16 hour daily fasts.

Jimmy Moore : It sounds to me Art that [daily 16 hour fasts] would kind of – your body would get used to that. Because it would say “OK I’m not going to eat for 16 hours, I better hold onto the energy.” How does work exactly?

Art De Vany: Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. The genes are these amazing learners. “OK that is my last meal for the next umpteumph hours – I better do some things to conserve energy.” It has to be a surprise. That is why spontaneous and random – are big elements of my approach to exercise, everything.

The Leangains method is not spontaneous and random. It is scheduled. If De Vany’s understanding of genes and metabolism is right – and I suspect it is – then this could explain the problems I’ve had in the last month. I need to bring back spontaneity and randomness to my Intermittent Fasting. It also falls more in line with our evolutionary past. Nature is not scheduled.

Going forward I am ending the daily 16 hour fasts. I’m going to mix it up more. Maybe a few short fasts (12-16 hours), a longer fast (18-22 hours) and a few days where I feast. I’ll go back to listening to my body more and looking at the clock less.

Comments

  1. Kyle says

    I have noticed the same in my scheduled fasts. I too will be more spontaneous. Great blog!

  2. Geoff says

    Great post. Like you and Kyle I think my daily 16 hour fasts have become too predictable. Time to shake things up. Thanks for giving me the nudge to do so. “Eat when hungry,” is going to be the new rule for me. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

  3. chuck says

    thank you for the shout out. if you find something that helps hard gainers put on muscle that doesn’t involve drugs, let me know. i went through a year long period of lifting pretty hard and often at a power lifting gym. i did get stronger, not super strong, but didn’t gain much weight. i expressed my frustration to the owner of the gym who said i wasn’t blessed with those genes. he did mention some physical attributes i was blessed with that he wasn’t and i then realized my striving to be huge may never be.

    now i strive for relative strength, to be strong for my weight.

  4. says

    @Chuck – I made most of my gains between the age of 30 and 34. Now I realize the game is not about beating yourself up, but about triggering the right hormonal response and then resting. Most of my gains are probably behind me, but I’ll keep researching and tweaking.

  5. says

    @Chuck – Thanks for the tip. I am so far behind on my Podcasts. I did Latest In Paleo, because he makes paleo accessible and stresses simplicity.

  6. chuck says

    MAS:

    It really is a well done podcast. It is amazing the time people put into the things. I assume you listened to the last one right?

  7. says

    @Chuck – I’m listening now. I love his discussion of Orthorexia. It is rampant in the Paleo and WAPF communities. I suspect the stress of eating perfect is worse than the toxins being avoided.

  8. says

    @Chuck – You’d be surprised how little I exercise per week. Right now I am lifting every 5th day. During that day and the day after, I do not fast and I eat a higher level of carbs. All the carbs are coming from starchy veggies like yams, parsnips, etc. If I were doing CrossFit level volume, I would increase my carb level.

    thanks for sharing the link.

  9. Jennifer says

    Hi – I have been trying to go paleo .. and FYI – I am an outlier, being a 52 year old female, although I am an engineering technologist, ha ha.

    Sounds like you follow Body by Science? As well, you should check out “Eat Stop Eat” ..

    I’ve just found your your site .. awesome work!

  10. Chris says

    You mentioned that you lost muscle. Also you mentioned later on that you only weight train close to once a week.

    Most of the people who have had successes on the leangains program are weight training 3-4 days per week (sometimes more).

    Have you thought the correlation might be there instead?

    The main reasons for muscle loss are: 1) insufficient protein, 2) lack of stimulus.

    Those two reasons would cause any diet to fail in terms of muscle loss.

  11. says

    @Chris – During this period I trained using a High Intensity Protocol every 4 to 5 days. My body can not recover from 3-4 training days per week. Maybe if I were still in my 20s, I could pull it off. I also used a HIT plan after I ended the 16 hour fasts and gained all my strength back. So it wasn’t the training.

    I did not count protein and although it could have went down, I don’t think so. I still made the same meals and consumed the same quantities.

    It has been 3 months since this post. Since then, I have added random back and the results have been great. I like the Leangains method, I just think it may be more effective in the first 30 days and it may be better if the dieter adds 1-2 cheat days per week. At least for me.

  12. henry says

    “It has been 3 months since this post. Since then, I have added random back and the results have been great. I like the Leangains method, I just think it may be more effective in the first 30 days and it may be better if the dieter adds 1-2 cheat days per week. At least for me.”

    @ MAS

    When you say 1-2 cheat days per week, do you mean food quality/quantity-wise or hours of feeding?

    Thanks,

    Henry

  13. says

    @Henry – Hours of feeding. I should have been more clear. On those 1-2 days, wake up and have breakfast. Maybe add in a little more starchy carbs, depending upon your sensitivity.

  14. moraimag says

    Mas I just want to thank you for this blog is easy to read and very honest.
    im just surfing and trying to decide if IF will be good for me. I had great succes with the Body for Life approach in the late 90′s and early 2000 but then again i was still in my 20s and single :). anyways Ive been trying to follow the same plan for a while now and is not working at all! first because now i have 2 small children (i hear you Chuck!) and the other reason i think is that is still too much food for me, let me explain, I just turn 40, im only 5’0 tall with a very small frame and even though i try to go to the gym regularly my life schudule gets in the way and i end up skipping sessions so the 1200 calories recommended are even higher than my BMR.
    Well i guess that besides thanking you i wanted to ask your honest opinion about what y think is hindering my fat loss (im not to set on weight loss but i realy want to lower my fat ratio)
    thank again!!!

  15. says

    @Maraimag – There is no way for me to guess on why your fat loss has stalled. I don’t count calories or carbs. I just eat healthy foods and avoid the toxins (sugar, wheat, soy, veggie oils). That and patience seems to work.

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