So, how was Intermittent Fasting?
Straight talk – Intermittent Fasting was really easy for me. I spent much of my life skipping breakfast and lunch, then eating a big dinner. To be honest, eating 6 meals a day would be FAR more challenging for me than IF was.
I experimented with the Warrior Diet for a week, and then one 24-hour fast the following week.
Here’s how things went:
The Warrior Diet was easy-peasy. Historically (before derby), I just liked to eat this way. Maybe a snack around 4-5pm, dinner at 8-9pm, then bed at 11pm, and nothing to eat until those times the next day. This time around, I was really only hungry and headache-y the first day or so, and got into the rhythm pretty quickly. I didn’t find too much of a dip in my energy – though I generally train at around 6-7pm, and was able to refeed during my most insulin-sensitive window. Please keep in mind, I’m not currently bouting or skating derby practices – that makes a BIG difference (at least for me). I would caution not to overdo it on the refeed. A criticism of IF is that the period where you are allowed to eat can turn into a massive gorge-fest, and that because you are so hungry you might not make the best choices.
The 24-hour fasting window was more difficult. As suggested, I went from dinner one day to dinner the next. Around 5pm on the second day, I felt weirdly “airy” and energized, but had some trouble focusing. I didn’t have hunger pains, per se, but was very aware of not having eaten. When I got to my refeed, I felt like I ate a ton and was not eating as slowly or mindfully as I usually like to. That said, my caloric intake for the period was far less than it would have been with more meals, even with a large breaking of the fast.
No one way seemed better than the other, just physically different. Even dedicated fasters are divided on the best way to fast.
While the longer fast was more challenging and encouraged bingeing, it allowed me to eat normally for most of the days of the week. Negatives for a longer fast include a higher amount of stress on the body, and so may not be appropriate for someone with an active lifestyle, a high stress load, or with previously existing health concerns.
Shorter fasts help to encourage healthier choices and can cut down on the desire to snack and may be less stressful overall, but they are still likely inappropriate for folks with high activity demands – like derby skaters.
Both methods of fasting did make meal planning simpler by eliminating many of the meals, and both were straightforward to comply with. That said, I can’t in good conscience recommend this is a performance-enhancing dietary plan. The risks for many women – especially active ones – just aren’t worth the alleged gains.
How did I break my fast?
With a calorie-bomb smoothie, of course. A smoothie is a good re-introduction to food, and can serve as an appetizer when you’ve been fasting. It allows you to get back into the swing of eating, and gets you ready for your whole-food re-feed.
When planning your smoothie, make sure to have a protein and a fat source. For me, the following carrot cake themed smoothie fits the bill:
Ingredients: 1 banana (frozen or not, depending on how thick you like your smoothie), 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 cup carrot juice (or diced carrots), almond milk, greek yogurt (vanilla or plain), cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg. Toppings – diced carrots, walnuts or coconut.
Blend it all together, using as much or little liquid as you’d like. Top with yummy stuff – enjoy!
Of course, you could jump right into a well-balanced meal after your fast, but I preferred easing myself in with a smoothie that I could sip on near the end of my evening training session to give an energy boost.
Have you ever fasted? How did it go for you? Let us know!