Jan
31
2013

Intermittent Fasting

I do all kinds of wacky things and only one of them is CrossFit. I also do intermittent fasting. For a long time I was an alternate day intermittent faster, meaning every other day I would fast 20 hours from around 10:00PM to 6:00PM the following day. This schedule was okay except that if I worked out on a fast day I might have to do “Murph” in a fasted state, which is not ideal, and then I wouldn’t have a recovery meal which is insane. Even though my workouts didn’t suffer, I got too lean on this fast schedule and I convinced myself that I was losing muscle, so I stopped doing it.

Lately I’ve been trying an 18 hour fast every day. My feeding window is from 2:00PM to 8:00PM. This schedule is much better for me because I can eat before working out in the afternoon, and then I can eat a recovery meal. Usually I eat another couple of meals when I get home.

If you’re a rat, intermittent fasting has well documented health benefits. But what about us humans? In a world of caloric abundance why would any normal person voluntarily turn his or her back on food? For a long time I couldn’t answer this question. I started doing it out of curiosity and much to my surprise found that fasting “works” for me without being able to articulate why.

But I think I get it now. When I’m fasting my life doesn’t revolve around food, and I love it. This is wholly unique in modern American experience. Think about it: if you’re like most people, your daily existence is punctuated by multiple emotional confrontations with food.

Isn’t it time to eat? What should I eat? How about a donut? No, that’s not paleo. Maybe just this once. Why did I do that? I’ll eat salad for lunch to make up for it. 

And so on.

When I’m fasting food is not a part of my life; I don’ t have to make any emotionally draining choices, which means I have room in my life for other things. I can focus for longer periods. I have fewer distractions. I notice more. I’m more productive and creative. I’m not as crabby or impatient. My signal-to-noise ratio goes through the roof.

That all sounds pretty good, and you might be wondering if intermittent fasting is right for you.  I used to think I had all the answers but lately I’ve backed off my former position about IF. Maybe you’re in a deadly embrace with food; if intermittent fasting can free you, who am I to get in the way?

But for people considering intermittent fasting, I maintain that while being lean is a valid goal, you can get lean any variety of ways and intermittent fasting is an extreme measure.

  Posted In blog

    6 Comments

    1. On February 1, 2013 Amanda Redepenning said

      I love having a relationship with food! So many amazing flavors and textures. So many outstanding chefs in Minneapolis! A life where food is NOT a good portion of my day is a sad day.

    2. On February 1, 2013 Joshua Reese Clarin said

      Do you ever deviate from the current your current schedule like a cheat day for Paleo?

    3. On February 1, 2013 Shawn Kinzel said

      yes, been hibernating and cheating on paleo

    4. On February 2, 2013 Clint Carlson said

      I've been doing this and I've been thinking about asking my trainer about it. My brain is so much sharper all day when I don't eat in the AM. My main issue is coming into Crossfit famished, but that's due to my fasting schedule. Thanks for posting this info Teddy!

    5. On February 3, 2013 Craig Nelson said

      I don't cheat at all, Josh, but my fasting regimen is a daily 7-hour fast, from midnight to 7 am. So, it's not that tough.

    6. On February 4, 2013 Teddy Kim said

      Saturday I don't bother because I take care of my son all day and it's more convenient to just eat whenever he eats.

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