Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting: What is It?

Intermittent Fasting. Have you heard of it? It’s a total buzz word in weight loss circles. Some people swear it to be an effective weight loss tool. Other people view the breaks in food consumption as totally unnecessary, and possibly even torture. Some people fast as a regular part of their religious practice (my hand is raised on this one). And some might read this and ask, “What the heck are you talking about?”.

As a nutritionist, it is out of my scope of practice to prescribe an intermittent fast. But I am allowed to teach you what intermittent fasting is and why it may be a beneficial approach for you. It is, then, up to you to decide if it is worth incorporating fasting into your lifestyle (or not). I’m going to do this in a small handful of installments, since there are various key points to discuss around intermittent fasting. Before I chat with you about the “how to” and “why or why not”, let’s talk about what it is.

What is Intermittent Fasting, Anyway?

Intermittent fasting is a nutritional approach which has you alternating between periods of eating and periods of not eating (fasting). When you are in an “eating window”, and shortly thereafter, you are in a fed state. The fasting state begins to occur several hours after your last food intake when nutrients are less available and your body must conserve energy and resources. Once you are in a fasted state, your cellular metabolism completely changes from when you were in a fed state. Your metabolism transitions from a carbohydrate burning state to a fat burning state.

Ketone

In a fed state, your body extracts the nutrients it needs for immediate energy and function. Anything leftover is either stored as fat or turns to waste. In a fasted state, carbohydrates from previous meals are utilized for energy first. After that, fat and other energy-storage compounds are broken down. The liver converts some of these fats into ketones, which are another fuel source for the brain and other tissues in the body. After enough time (well beyond twelve hours without food), the ketone levels rise and the body transitions into utilizing fat as it’s main energy source instead of carbs. Ever heard of ketosis? Well that is what this process leads to (but fasting isn’t the only way into ketosis). That’s a topic for another day.

There are no hard and fast rules about which foods you should eat during your feeding time period. But it’s always in your best interest to consume foods from whole food sources, first. (Foods containing minimal ingredients on its nutrition label, or more likely than not has no label at all. Think meats, fruits, veggies, dairy, whole grains, etc.). During a fast, you are restricting calories, so some people appreciate that they can consume a bit more (but not excessively more) in their feeding windows.

My Experience with Fasting

As I eluded to, above, fasting is included as part of my religious practices. I have practiced fasting since I was eight years old. The first Sunday of every month is referred to as “Fast Sunday” in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Our purpose for fasting includes both the not eating aspect, as well as spending the day praying in gratitude of His blessings, or praying for our own specific needs or the needs of others. We go without food and drink (even water) for a whole 24 hour window. We then donate the money we would have spent on food to bless the lives of those in need (this is known as a fast offering). This blog post teaches a little bit more about the religious aspect of fasting.

Beyond fasting for religious reasons, I find myself intermittent fasting an additional three to six times a month. I do it because it just makes me feel better. Plus, it brings me peace of mind knowing of the health benefits that come with intermittent fasting. In installment two of this intermittent fasting series, we’ll talk about the benefits of intermittent fasting. We’ll also talk about why it may not be for you.

Church of Jesus Christ

Besides Fast Sunday, I don’t have a set approach that I take on fasting. There are varying timing approaches that can be taken to intermittent fasting. We’ll talk more about that in installment three of this intermittent fasting series.

Talk to you soon!


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Weekly weigh in: End of week 1

Our newly formed BFF-ship is paying off (for me anyway)! It’s totally helping me stay focused knowing that my love handles are on display for the world to see. There’s no way in h@!* that I’m going to let these pictures of me be the last pictures you ever see of my midsection. I guess there really is something to having enough skin in the game. Pun totally intended!

Anyway, I’ve made it through my entire first week of this project! That feels like an accomplishment because there was some serious focused work involved, which wasn’t always easy. I’m trying to ignore the fact that I still likely have 3-4 months in front of me. But good things have happened this week, and I’m really happy with the end results. I’m also happy that I didn’t have any “oopsies” that I was going to be embarrassed about sharing with you! Before I get to the results, I want to tell you about just a few things that have helped me to stay the course.

Both diligence in measuring all of my food, and tracking it in the myfitnesspal app were key activities to knowing exactly where I ended up in my macronutrient and calorie target goals. I will say, I veered a bit from the meal plan that I posted here the other day (I never ended up making the turkey meatloaf), but I stayed where I intended to with my macronutrients, and I actually landed well below my intended daily calorie target of 2150 cal.

Here are the snap shots of each day’s actual food consumption with my nutrient and macros end results (Day 1 results are included directly below, for the remaining days, you can find them at the bottom of the post). Please note that each of the foods that I ate are listed with the amount that I consumed. I also did an intermittent fast on both New Years day, and on Sunday. I only hit the 1800 calorie target range twice throughout the week. The rest of the time I was between 1200 (those are the days I fasted) and 1852 calories. Except for when I was intentionally fasting, I was never left feeling deprived. I did feel hunger between meals, which is actually a good thing for me. Binge eater Amy rarely lets herself feel hungry before eating again. But this version of Amy is learning to utilize that tool in order to learn her body’s needs vs her emotional eating wants.

A few notes:

  • The foods listed on my myfitnesspal app log may not have been consumed in the exact order they were listed. I also added back in my veggie smoothie because I’ve found that to be the most simple and quick way for me to get all my veggies in.
  • I don’t track my water consumption because I’m already well in the habit of drinking 1 gallon of water a day. I buy a gallon of spring water at the grocery store, about once a month, and simply refill it every day. Wherever I am in the house or in the car, my gallon of water is there with me (kind of like the old My Buddy and Kid Sister commercials. Anyone remember those?!).
  • I’ve been working really hard to remember to take a multivitamin supplement and an iron supplement. If you look at the food log pictures from myfitnesspal, you’ll notice that almost every day, I didn’t meet my iron needs through just my food consumption.

End of week 1 before and after pictures:

(Why can’t the loss of almost 4 (3.8) lbs. look more obvious!?!? It’s going to be so awesome when we can visibly see the changes occur!)

Week 1 bioelectrical impedence assessment results:

Breaking my total body weight down into different categories of body composition:

My total body weight: 139.3 lbs (That’s 3.6 lbs down from last week!!! This quick drop happens, sometimes, in the first couple weeks. But I guarantee this will slow down as the weeks progress).

  • Total Body water: 78.5 lbs. (This actually increased by .2 from my first weigh in. I wasn’t expecting that! I actually thought It would be water weight that would be first to go. But I guess I didn’t drop my carb intake very low, so the water weight will likely decrease later on.)
  • Dry lean mass: 29.1 lbs. (Same as first weigh in)
  • Body fat mass: 31.7 lbs. (3.8 lbs less than first weigh in! Notice that I lost 3.6 lbs total, but I lost 3.8 lbs of fat. That means I built some muscle to replace the fat! Boom!) 
  • Skeletal muscle mass: 60.4 lbs. (+.4 lbs from last week. Check this out, I lost 3.8 lbs of fat and gained .6 lbs of muscle!)
  • BMI: 23.9 (This decreased by .6!)
  • Body fat percentage: 22.8% (This dropped by a whopping 2%!).
  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): 1423 calories. (This stayed the same)
  • Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE): 2199 calories.  (I didn’t workout as much as I originally intended to, so I’ve decreased this from 2454 to 2199. Remember that this is the daily calorie target that I should consume if I want to maintain exactly where I am right now.)
  • Calorie target range for weight loss: 1800 calories. (I decided that since I only hit this number twice, last week, this is a good top amount of calories to consume each day (unless there’s a day that I’m extra active or even extra hungry).  

Week 1 measuring tape results:

  • Right calf (measured at widest part): 14 5/8 inches (-1/8 inch from first measurement)
  • Right thigh (measured at widest part): 22 7/8 inches (-1/8 inch from first measurement)
  • Hips (measured at widest part): 39 7/8 inches (-3 1/8 inches from first measurement. You guys, I re-measured this -no joke-7 times to make sure I had it right, and that I wasn’t seeing things wrong. I honestly don’t know if this is typical. Perhaps I was carrying the whole -3.8 lbs of fat right here? Or maybe I measured wrong at my very first measurement. At this point, I won’t know if that was a typo from my first measurement, or not. So we’ll continue to watch this area and see what happens in future weeks. From all of my training, the idea of “spot reduction” is a flawed idea, because the body burns fat from everywhere at once. It doesn’t pick and choose which spot it wants to reduce first. If you are reading this and you understand this process better than me, please feel free to educate the rest of us in the comments. Moving forward, I’m going to make sure I have a second pair of eyes to help make sure that I’m avoiding any mis-measurements or typos).
  • Butt (measured at widest part): 38 1/2 inches (-7/8 inches from first measurement. So I mean, almost an inch off here. Maybe the above scenario is real and believable?)
  • Right below my muffin top: 35 3/4 inches (-1/8 inch from first measurement)
  • Waistline (measured across belly button): 34 3/4 inches (-1/2 inch from first measurement)
  • Chest (measured at widest part): 37 ¾ inches (no change here from first measurement)
  • Shoulders (measured at widest part): 40 ½ inches (no change here from first measurement)
  • Biceps: (measured at widest part): 11 1/2 inches (this is my first bicep measurement since I forgot last week).

Look at these things that I chose not to eat. They’ve managed to last on the counter all week long because I didn’t even have a lick (you’re welcome family)!

Progeny #1 (12 years old) decided to bake chocolate cookies just for fun, and Progeny #3 turned 3 years old on Wednesday and he wanted cupcakes with sprinkles!

What my workouts were really like:

Do you remember, in my very first post, where I told myself that I was going to workout for 90 minutes for 6 days a week? Ha! There were a couple days that I came close to that, but that was it. There were a few days where I did two workouts in one day because my gym is on a reservation system which only allows 55 minute sessions (dang covid, insert fist shake here! But I’m so thankful they are open, since that doubles as my place of employment!). But most of the week’s workouts were way shorter, and guess what? They were completely enough! Here are the snapshots from my ‘myzone’ heart rate monitor belt readings from each of my workouts:

That’s it for week one. I’m feeling empowered to stay on the course! I can’t even tell you how much I want to win at this experiment! Yes, it is a ton of work, and requiring some major focus on all the tiny elements that make weight loss successful, but I know it’ll be worth it!

Talk to you soon!

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If you really care to look, here are the rest of the logs from my daily food consumption.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Monday, January 4, 2021

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Friday, January 8, 2021