Monday, June 06, 2011

The Next Level - A Intermittent Fasting Experiment.

Since I am in between races with my next scheduled event being the Riverport road race on June 19 I have decided to self experiment in regards to intermittent fasting. To date my fasting regimen has been once or twice a week of varying durations based loosely upon when I get hungry but with a minimum fast of 16 hours.

The premise of this experiment will be to do a fasting regimen of at least 16 hours every day this week commencing June 5 for five consecutive days ending on the 10th. I will record my fasting weight each morning to track body weight changes and also note my non caloric fluid intake while fasting. My "eat" window will be between the 16 - 24 hours but(generally) no food later than 9PM.

The purpose of this experiment is two fold; to see if consecutive intermittent fast days will break my body weight plateau(best to date 190.4 lbs) and the short term affect of consecutive fasts upon my current fitness level.Weather permitting June 11 will be the evaluation day utilizing the Saturday morning club ride to determine how I feel on the bike in terms of endurance and power.I am considering racing Riverport in the Cat B pack but acknowledge that my current fitness level is suspect at best to remain competitive within the B group. Can a week(or two) of IFing result in weight loss while maintaining and/or improving my fitness, specifically in regards to hill climbing?

Experiment began at 9PM June 5 and will run till at least 1 PM June 10.

Day One - Monday June 6.

Waking weight(5:30 AM) - 195.4
Fasted till 4pm = 19 hour fast.
Exceptions -  I did add about four tablespoons of coconut milk and 2 tablespoons of 10% cream to two cups of coffee* today but otherwise was calorie free.
Non caloric fluids - During fast I consumed 6 cups of (lemon) water, two coffees(AM)* and two teas(Rooibos and black).
Fasted training consisted of a 10km bike commute to/from work via the hills of Fairview/Clayton Park.
Fast ended at 4PM. Bulk of my daily calories consumed between 4PM - 6PM.

Day Two - Tuesday June 7.

Waking weight(5:45AM) - 193.8
Fasted till 1:30 PM = 16.5 hour fast.
Exceptions - two tablespoons of coconut milk in morning coffee*
Non caloric fluids - I consumed 4 cups of (lemon) water,  one cup coffee with coconut milk*,one cup black coffee, one cup Rooibos tea and one cup black tea.
Fasted training - 5 km bike commute to work.
Non fasted training - 5 km commute to home,45 minutes of core strength(Swiss/Medicine ball.Chinups and pushups)
Fast ended at 1:30 PM. Bulk of calories consumed between 1:30 - 2PM and 5 - 6PM.

Day Three - Wednesday June 8.

Waking Weight(5:40AM) - 193
Fasted till 8PM = 23 hour fast*
Exceptions - four tablespoons(total) of coconut milk in coffee(5:30AM and 4PM)
Non caloric fluids - three coffees, one Rooibos tea, one black tea and five cups of (lemon) water.
Fasted Training - 10 km commute to/from work, 38 km hill climbing(Purcells Cove/Fairview).*

* Tonight I am going to cycle the Purcell's Cove Road before officially ending my fast with food. I have ingested 40 grams of whey protein powder at 4PM along with a coffee and two tablespoons of coconut milk.According to the Leangains model 10 grams of BCAA(or 40 grams of whey protein as an alternative) before a fasted workout actually facilitates the "stimulatory effect on protein synthesis and metabolism and is a crucial compromise to optimize results". I'm not sure what effect the caffeine and coconut fat will add to the equation?Does it still qualify as fasted training?

Update - 38 fasted kilometers of hill climbing went surprisingly well. On the way out I pushed hard, legs felt light but strong and hunger was not an issue. Not even an inkling of the "bonk".The return was at a slower social pace but I felt fine and capable of pushing the pace. To echo the findings of others while doing fasted training I concur that the body felt "light" and lack of power/strength was not a concern. Maybe there is definitely something too this fasted training regimen although one training session hardly qualifies as fact. I can say that tonight was one of my best efforts to date on the hills of Purcell's Cove road. BTW - I weighed myself after my ride and came in at 189.3. After taking food tonight it will be interesting to see where I am in the morning.

Fast ended at 8PM. Bulk of calories consumed between 8 -9PM.

Day Four -Thursday June 8

Waking weight(5:45AM) - 191.4.
Fasted till 12:30PM = 15.5 hour fast
Exceptions - two tablespoons of coconut milk and two tablespoons of 10% cream in coffee(6AM and 10AM).
Non caloric fluids - two coffees, one Rooibos tea, one Morrocan Mint tea.Six cups of (lemon) water.
Fasted Training - 5 km commute to work.
Non fasted training - 5 km commute home, 90 minutes of ball hockey goaltending
Fast ended at 12:30PM. Bulk of calories consumed between 12:30-1PM,4 - 4:30PM,8 - 9PM.

Update - I certainly felt the effects of Wednesday's fasted training today. I ended today's fast early as I was feeling hungry by 11AM.While I know it is possible to train fasted at a high level of effort I am not sure it is something one should do on back to back fasting days.There definitely appears to be benefits to adding some level of fasted training to your endurance training in terms of improved performance.

 The bike ride home was fine and ball hockey went well with no lack of  energy after consuming some food at 1:30 and 4PM. Post hockey I am not hungry at all but will take some food before 9AM to replenish glycogen for tomorrow. Made an interesting connection today that involves my ongoing paleo/primal/intermittent fasting journey applying the concept of Metabolic Flexibility.Definitely requires a separate post.

Day Five - June 10

Waking weight (6AM) - 191.4
Update - Today was a write off day. I was travelling to Bridgewater to  scrape my mother's house prior to painting this summer.Enroute I had some chocolate(yeah...I know) so my fast ended quite early in the AM. That said the work was quite intense and I had nothing else till 12:30 but ended up eating some wrong stuff; biscuits and peanuts.Cream in a coffee. The only redeeming foods were fresh strawberries, some walnuts and a few prunes. It did the trick though and I had no further calories till 7:30 PM. The plan has changed somewhat as a result. After some red wine, steak, sweet potato and sauteed spinach tonight I plan on doing the club ride Saturday morning in a fasted state to once again test the concept of fasted training. The glycogen stores should be full so I will attempt riding the 70kms without any pre ride calories.

Day Six - June 11
Waking weight(7:30AM) - 191
Fasted till 12:30PM = 15.5 hour fast.
Exceptions - 3 tablespoons of coconut milk(in coffee).40 grams of whey protein powder.
Non Caloric Fluids - 2 coffees, 2 cups water.
Fasted Training - 68 km training ride with a 31.2 kph average speed.*
Fast ended at 12:30PM(to facilitate replenishment of glycogen within the 30 minute window)

* - Today was the litmus test of how well I could perform on a competitive training ride with a distance around the 70km mark while fasting.My last calories were consumed last night before 8PM with the exception of those noted above. The legs felt strong but light today without the usual heaviness especially in the solo 10 kms to the bike shop. I rode with the faster groups today at race pace for the bulk of the ride. Not only were the legs feeling good but overall my comfort on the bike was excellent. I threw in some attacks and sprints to challenge myself along with the usual assortment of hills to climb. The solo 10km ride home was surprisingly easy after about a 45 minute coffee break (post ride) without the usual stiffness. In fact my average speed at the conclusion of the ride was 31.7kph and, after the ride home, it dropped somewhat to 31.2kph. Fasted training is not only do-able but can be completed at a high level without any drops in performance. In fact my performance seems to be better after completing Purcell's Cove on Wednesday and todays club ride while fasting.

After a week of Intermittent Fasting complete with some fasted training I feel good, have trimmed off some weight(4.4 pounds) but was able to train(compete) at a higher level. At least over the short term I seem to exercise better in a fasted state. It will definitely become part of my exercise/training regimen. I may actually opt to remain in Cat C for the Riverport road race(84 kms) next weekend but will race it fasted.That should be a nice challenge.

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