It’s been about 4 months since integrating the principles of Intermittent Mini Fasts (IMF) into my fitness plan. With such a flood of inquiries regarding “how’s it going?” via emails, forum postings, and conversations, I thought it would be a worthwhile project for me to sit down and document my experiences and thoughts.
It will allow me to chronicle – in retrospect – the experience, the benefits (of which I have come to experience and believe there are many), and a few of the specific details about implementation and results. And I hope it is of benefit to other women who are exploring this avenue as a way to increase their health and fitness as well as improve their body composition.
How It All Came About
I’ve previously written about my discovery and investigation of Mini-Fasts, which you can find at my blog entry here:“5 Reasons To Try Mini Fasts”. A read of that article provides some background. But there have been four months of water under the bridge since then. Let’s take a look…
What My Mini-Fast Schedule Looks Like
I devoured not only the read but the audios that came with Brad Pilon’s ebook, Eat Stop Eat. This spurred me to read even more, including investigation into professional journals regarding recent work regarding fasting. A review of the literature, as well as Brad’s down-to-earth, body and mind friendly approach, inspired me to try the mini-fast schedule as Brad outlines in his book. This means 2, 24-hour fasts during the course of each week.
The beauty of this approach…
You never have a day without eating. In other words, your 24 hour fast window can be from dinner to dinner (my choice), lunch to lunch, or any other similar profile. The idea is to create a 24 hour window so that you create the desired hormonal profile, among other things.
In my experience, sometimes it was 24 hours, sometimes it was 21 or 22 – and in the beginning stages, I did work my way up to the longer time periods. I was entirely comfortable with this somewhat loose arrangement, having cleaned my OCD (obsessive compulsive dieting) skeletons out of the closet some 10 years ago. It was wonderful to be relaxed and have a fresh approach to the whole process.
Also, there is not a laundry list of what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, what to eat when you break a fast, blahblahblah. Brad’s text and attitude are wonderfully liberating in that regard, which is one of the reasons I so highly recomment his work.
I selected Mondays and Thursdays as my fast days. For the past four months, this schedule has worked beautifully for me. There have been several occasions when, due to an event or schedule conflict, I needed to shift this schedule out by a day or 2 in either direction. It has been completely doable and caused me no conflict or consternation in the process.
The Benefits I Am Experiencing
Though it can be difficult and almost impossible to isolate one variable from others (one of the boondoggles of human subject research!), these are the benefits and changes I have noticed since the beginning of the 4 months.
1) Though not overweight and maintaining a size close to my ideal following my 50 lb weight loss over 10 years ago, I found that I dropped about 1/2 inch in my waist and belly during this time, and it was easier than ever to maintain. Of course, there were other factors to consider, most notably that at about the same time, I started lifting heavier weights as part of my fitness routine in an effort to grow my strength. Thus, my weight stayed about the same (within 2-3 lbs) but my bodyfat obviously diminished. This I could tell by visual check as well as decreased measurements in areas that are more prone to be deposit spots for bodyfat: waist and belly.
2) My fasting triglyceride count, though quite favorable prior to the 4 month timespan, dropped another 15 points.
3) My sleep patterns improved, meaning that I perceived more consistent better rest and deeper sleep.
4) Appetite in general showed moderation. This surprised me in that I had anticipated I might quite possibly become excessively hungry and have “make up eating” on non-fast days. This did not happen. I also noticed that my dinners on fasting days were fairly, consistently normal. I was not able to overeat nor was I compelled to do so.
5) Energy on fasting days is excellent, another surprise. Often, I will even do workouts on fast days and it is no different than “eating” days. As a matter of fact, in some ways it is better – and perhaps it is because my energy is not diverted to digestion – ?
6) Meals are even more enjoyable than before – dinners on fast days are extraordinarily delicious, a feature I fully enjoy.
7) Overall, I have detected an improvement in digestive patterns. Perhaps this is because the digestive system is given a good rest regularly?
As you can see, this is all experiential – with the exception of the triglyceride reading, which of course could have been a normal fluctuation.
Yet for me, the experience has been completely and totally positive. I intend to continue with the Intermittent Mini Fasting schedule, though may well consider switching it to one day a week as that is recommended in Eat Stop Eat for “maintenance” when considering weight/fat loss, and I may not want to lose any more. Yet the other benefits of this schedule are so enjoyable to me, I may find my way through that and just see how it goes!
From my experience, which includes apparent improved body composition profile (loss of bodyfat) without “dietary backlash” as reported above,
I can’t help but think that the “starvation metabolism” that we’ve been cautioned about in the fitness industry for years may be a myth worth debunking when it comes to intermittent mini fasts. The research literature that I have been investigating bears this out – the concern is only elevated with long term fasts, and by that I mean days and days, and weeks.
The “metabolic slowdown” (in terms of muscle mass energy demand) occurs with loss of muscle mass, and muscle mass is protected by sufficient challenge to the muscles as well as sufficient nutrition. A few hours of no nutrition coming in a couple of times a week, when the overall drop in caloric intake is not drastic over the course of the week or month, apparently does not do the damage that we have been led to believe. I am currently reviewing the literature myself and will report in right here in the future.
Perhaps you’ve tried an approach other than that in Eat Stop Eat. Perhaps the fasting process itself is not for everyone. Yet in my experiences with clients who have opted to try this schedule, I have found their experiences brilliantly beneficial.
I’d love to hear about YOUR experiences with IMF – please share in replies below.