In short: difficult, painful-at-first. Yet somehow – intuitively necessary. Am I subscribed to Intermittent Fasting? So far – yes. but not without bearing its costs.
Beginning from Christmas morning I’ve decided to put my overwhelming curiosity into fruition – the 16/8 intermittent fasting.
I wanted to see if I can really push myself to the limits. Sustaining myself never as an accomplished, labelled “lifter” or a “fitness enthusiast”. But really just as another resilient individual whose interests go beyond disproving our current distorted acceptances of what “Health” and/or “Fitness” constitutes. More towards resources preservation, restrictive overall footprint / calorie consumption and relentless curiosity upon all of our World’s Problems.
To coincide with the holiday period – this makes a perfect opportunity for assessing & determining this regiment’s sustainability early on. At least before another hectic year begins.
The protocol. Two Experimental Segments (Keto+IF and HC+IF). And my (2) differences.
My earliest reading & awareness on IF predates back since 2016 across reading various boards and social fitness channels/communities. However I have mentioned their brief concept/s and references several times during the early editions of Version 1.2 and Version 1.4 of my book. But never truly begun practising them until I took this (somewhat late) opportunity.
I have thus been lately reading Martin Berkhan’s original 16/8 protocol; alongside watching Dr Jason Fung’s interview on High Intensity Health . Amongst many, many others (1 , 2 , 3).
Current sentiments on IF are optimistic, convincing and seemingly immutable from any faults on search engine results. However to be fair on all sides…I have also seen and read many opposing concerns & thoughts. Both anecdotal and legitimate (1, 2 and 3 ).
Nevertheless my repository of opinions and thoughts began here as a summary of my 14-day trial from the start of Christmas morning and all the way to evening of 7th of January, 2018. For the first five days as first segment of this experiment – I shall conform entirely on a standard Ketogenic protocol (70F/25P/5C) during weekdays IF (let’s term this K+IF). For the following week – I will conform to higher carb, 40C/40P/20F ratio (let’s term this HC+IF).
Within I will assess my markers/levels of hunger, nutrient/digestion capacity, gut transit times / movement periods, fitness/training capacity and of course – budget and overall resources consumption versus preservation.
All within complying to as close to Martin Berkhan’s standard 16 hours fast, 8 hour feeding window. Yes, including weekends. My refeed-weekends will ALSO be willingly restricted to 8 hour windows.
I have to point out the biggest difference however; is to intake most (though not all) of micronutrients FIRST thing in the morning. As opposed to taking it together within the first large / feature meals.
The reason for this is for me to minimise any (or all) digestive upsets; when these micronutrients are taken alongside WITH HUGE food intakes. An approach which I do not think is pragmatically sensible. Considering that my regiment involves taking in (MSM; in this case for liver health) – I much rather swallow it straight without any other foods; especially if there’s fibre. MSM is bitter. Really bitter. Whilst others reportedly advocate on taking this with food. In my opinion this is not so tasty nor appetising to my senses.
There is a widely accepted notion that during fasting – all enzymatic functions are reduced or even eliminated down to a minimum. If there is insufficient enzymes present in the gut biome; digestivity aspects would be severely compromised if immediately introduced to LARGE solid matter + LARGE micronutrient supplementation intake all at once. Again, just one further reason why I believe in taking all my vitamins, fish oils and fat soluble vitamins; more sensibly in the morning. INSTEAD of taking ALL of them at feature meals to minimise chances of extreme upsets or any detrimental effects.
HOWEVER – I have also succumbed to few days without taking anything in the morning. This was especially apaprent during Week#2 / HC+IF; as I gradually accepted to proceed about my days with nothing else, apart from water.
Other difference/s & disclaimer
I am prepared to be flamed for I am not following the original gospel right down to the letter. That is – weekend refeed attempts as refeed calories (much higher intakes above maintenance attempt/s) but retaining more or less linear – caloric intake attempts on all weekdays of training. Training stays the same as four days per week, unless if I feel crazily compelled to do another depletion workout on a Saturday afternoon.
Thus, I am planning to keep my calorie intakes as consistent as possible as per what my own prior physiology dictates to me thus far. In other words, “see-how-I-go-overtime” approach. Hungry? I’ll raise calories. Not hungry? I’ll keep things moderate. Instead of adhering to the gospel’s recommended very high calories during training days but low on non-training days.
My first few mornings (at least during Keto+IF) were many filled with nervousness, and nutrient anxieties. Hence, I kept my CKD morning ritual the same temporarily (2 teaspoons of MSM) straight with water. But just without ALCAR, as that sadly runs out.
Thus, the first five mornings starts off with micronutrients, magnesium, fish oils and vitamin D intake. As my days progresses – I willingly have tried lowering these overall intakes.
- A multivitamin. As I wrote earlier; it is imperative on finding a brand that doesn’t contain glucose.
- No more than three Vitamin D. Again, as I touched on this earlier; I am not entirely sold on megadosing Vitamin D; especially during summers. There are days whereby I do not even take it all. Vitamin D intakes without much needed co-factor Vitamin K2 may likely produce excess floating calcium in the blood anyway.
- A whole mag citrate nonahydrate. Or just half if I’m running low on supply.
- Perhaps the most important – 3x double strength fish oils. 360MG EPA and 240MG DHA each. Hence 1,080MG EPA and 720MG DHA and equates to 54 calories. However some days I am curiously met with minor bloating and upsets. Hence some days, I only take two or even just one.
Interestingly I feel much more compelled for taking in the above micronutrient intakes during the Keto+IF days. Where as during HC+IF – I felt less and lesser of such need; to the point whereby I simply proceed my mornings without anything at all except water.
No food! Just apple cider vinegars warmed with boiling water and sometimes I am pinching in either :
- Sprinkles of baking soda; this makes a somewhat strangely refreshing (and also warm) drink.
- Very tiny (knife edge amount) of Cream of Tartar.
- Tiny Pinch of himalayan salt.
- Lemon (now technically speaking; lemon is a caloric content) hence I seldom use this if at all.
During Keto+IF segments I am most likely would rely on combining #1, 2 and 3 in a tall glass.
…Then my entire bulk of the afternoon is just filled with up to two and half black coffees. Some left overs are also used as my preworkout regiment.
First meal / pre-workout – anywhere between 4 to 5 PM
My first two days of breaking the fast would have me trusted upon the idea of sipping a bone broth or a stock with apple cider vinegar. However, unfortunately, I am met with digestive upsets soon afterwards by second day of breaking my fast with this method. This is perhaps due to the inferior quality of chicken stocks I’m using.
Then as a preworkout meal – I’ve tried a choice inbetween an alkaline source (Pea proteins) as well as good old whey AND to add to my curiosity once again – BCAAs.
Some may be perplexed as to why I decided to try BCAAs once again even though I admittedly conclude they were (almost but not entirely) no good to me during my entire year of CKD regiment. However, throughout these two segments of IF; I realise they were indispensably important for me to still able to train without any prior food intakes.
Up until about Friday within Keto+IF (First week of experiment) – I have decided to forgo every solid ingredients, and simply opted for BCAAs alone. This I find much more tolerable and far less likely to induce stomach / overall discomforts.
Training & rest of feeding window 4PM to 1 am.
I still retain my exact unchanged 6×6 high volume limited rests regiment.
My solid meals pretty much commences as soon as I arrive home as usual; with protein fluffs (Keto+IF) and then my standard meals and any smaller meals before calling it a day. This can range anywhere between midnight to 1 AM depending on how late I broke my fasting window (which extends as late as 5PM depending how occupied I am during the day).
During HC+IF however, I began tinkering with higher protein intakes (2 scoops of whey) post training.
The above is what I’d perhaps shall admittedly and unfortunately disclose as a “flaw” – whereby that I did not do the same upon Keto+IF. But this is because my intuitive markers of hunger during Keto+IF – truly still did not prompted me the urge to consume many proteins at once. This does not mean that HC+IF produces no appetite blunting effects however; just only to somewhat a lesser degree.
…And My thoughts? Truly eye opening.
I was somewhat jittery during the very first day (being Keto+IF). But by second day already – this protocol gave me an eye opening view on how I perceive food beyond fulfilling satiety or maintaining energy-capital homeostasis. But more rather – as RESOURCES OF RESPECT. An ambivalent description, I know.
But “food” – is something that we all take for granted. We consume LOTS; yet rarely respect their intrinsic values beyond societal/Pedestrian-Normalcy adherence, and subscription to this fundamentally flawed system of consumptive economics. Intermittent Fasting provided me a much more emphatic understanding over what respectful consumption means; by reconciling and hardening my physiological and metabolic – disciplined homeostasis. All at an individualised level.
It felt as though that much more time is “available” for me to “strive” for a living. As well as greater understanding of priorities between striving and winding.
Sounds just like what I’ve written over and over again before on “Ketosis”. Well, this protocol raises that experience even further. Immediately one can realise that beneath all the world’s errands, hassles, sticki notes, reminders and to-do lists; it becomes clearer for you to decide and to know what your true priorities are hidden beneath all of these obligations; from one hour to the next. From one day to the next. And Repeat.
But of course, none of this a magic bullet. Unfortunately not all this is without detrimental effects. Hence, I’ll split my thoughts here between the good and the bad.
The Good. What I’m (truly) convinced.
There is a reason why the word “Fast” is somehow relative and connected; with “Time”. The word “Fast-er” thus; qualitatively implies that one is more productive during whatever lengths of time exists. For however as long as I am preoccupied with something else – my mind and body seemingly adjusts to whatever is needed attending. Anything besides consuming food.
1/2 “Better Productivity” – my analogy.
I am somewhat hesitant in throwing this same term “Productivity” over and over again but rather I share with you an alternative analogy behind this feeling I get within Intermittent Fasting. It is somewhat akin to be momentary-occupations by intuitive, motivational/drive and intent. Accordingly to your capacitive consent.
Interestingly, I find that I arrive upon this state of mind somewhat faster during Keto+IF than during HC+IF segment.
I felt driven and channelled to whatever I feel compelled to do; with all this added time. NOTE: For as long as of course there are little to no further external or global-wide-structural factors of forced coercions. There is a world of difference between having an inner desire to scrub the bathroom floors, rearrange your living rooms, rearrange your desktop, etc, than being externally forced and coerced by outside voices, institutions and/or politics – to exactly do what is being told as accordingly TO THEIR INTENTS.
…But not accordingly to yours’ intent. Once again, a world of difference. Doing something within your consent versus being coerced to do something WITHOUT your consent.
This also incentivises you to leave yourself some things for later on; to further pass the time upon your next fast. Strange as it may sound, but it is a powerful remark and reminder over how much more aware you are to use with the time you have available. Numerous times I can recall whereby comes the evening; I truly smacked myself in the head and wondering – “why on earth didn’t I do that A,B,C,D’s….in the meantime while I’m fasted?” Whenever that happens, I accept it and just note it down anyway for my reminders /to do list on my OneNote.
2/2 Resource consumption? Reduced.
At times; I am amazed. Especially towards how much I have not consumed my previous calorie intakes during the Keto+IF segment. Now – I looked at my freezer and noted my last two weeks of cooked leftovers. At times wondering why they are still there.
Looking at all this resources saved, it is almost uncanny. Absurdly strange, even.
I am slowly becoming more able to foresee how much / what amounts is enough by looking at food labels, pricing and weights alone. To the point whereby my metabolic physiology can confidently say “yep, this much proteins/fats/vegs/carbs will do for me exactly three or four feature meals”.
The Bad ….(Somewhat really bad).
This may sound absurd. But my biggest concern with Intermittent Fasting thus far is its most praised benefit itself.
That is – time-restricted feeding equals much more digestive difficulties to meet maintenance (or even adequate) calories.
How can this be? Shouldn’t this be what I’m after all along? Getting full sooner with less resource intakes? This is where I’m truly at a dillemma. At least, the only “solution” thus far for me still relies upon digestive help support (betaine HCL+Pepsins) to address my incapacities from still experiencing detrimental effects. To name a few – overall eating hesitancies, heartburns, gas and some but thankfully infrequent – bloating.
1/4 (Almost) Impossibility to meet maintenance calories = sleep window disturbances.
There are some interesting vocal opinions; both for (anecdotally) and against a belief that all manner/s of fasting causes shrinkage of the stomach. A study (only on birds though) finds that intermittent starvation does shrinks many organs – the stomach, liver and pancreas.
This I’d also suspect – that due to smaller organ sizes – the thermic effect of uncoupling proteins to amino acids; would also likely be reduced comparatively against pre-fasting measurements.
IRRESPECTIVE of either the two macro regiment experiments (Keto+IF or HC+IF) – I find it almost next to impossible to meet daily maintenance calories goal (AT LEAST 2200 calories/subject to vary). Even if I (“wanted” to) stuff my face with mountains of my whey protein cheesecakes recipes. My digestive capacity and thus indirect – intuitive marker of hunger – would still at times NOT allow it.
Lack of hunger initiation = lack of betaine HCLs = much more risk of digestion difficulties = hence more convincing need to reduce feeding window. These I found much more prevalent during my Keto+IF segment as such – that for some days I was even compelled to reduce my feeding window to just seven hours. I know what many of you are thinking. “How trivial, it’s just one hour, big baby”.
Think about it. This decision itself which I have no choice but (still to this day) to face at times is a dilemma. Either I have to stay up (late-r) during wee-early hours of morning; in the hope for extending my sleep/wake circadian rhythm to compensate enough extra time for digestion before sleeping…. Or forfeit further calorie intakes altogether; thereby compromising training recovery as I will have to fast for another 16 hours immediately from that point onward.
That, if you haven’t noticed – also affects and possibly disturbs – my usual sleeping windows and patterns.
…As you can see, all of a sudden – eating food – now requires one to think, and plan very, very carefully.
And more often than not – there is no one “wiser” choice than something else within you willingly enough to compensate. That is – either to stay up longer in the night and sacrifice sleep quality….Or sleep sooner yet forfeit your window for the day altogether for a steeper deficit which may affect overall training performance.
2/4 More severe mineral depletion symptoms (Keto + IF) / importance of water
Even after having had two years+ of maintaining the SKD regiment, I am still not immune from mineral deficiencies. Now combine that with some very STEEP CALORIC DEFICITS; enough to pose reasonable concerns.
Whilst my preferred SKD mineral intervention still remain in practise (apple cider vinegar + bicarb soda + cream of tartar (potassium hack) + himalayan salt) – some symptoms of lightheadedness still somewhat persisted. But nonetheless, for as long as I enforce this ritual more often than usual – I believe I can cope with this more or less acceptably tolerant.
It goes without saying regardless – that water is your saving grace. It is absolutely that important, far more than what I’ve learned from all my years of SKD (and CKD) combined. If there is one immediate advice I could offer right now to anybody irrespective if they are fasting or not – is to simply drink more water. More than what you perceive beyond mere thirst.
3/4 Weight Loss = Do not overdo it. Keto + IF may not be ideal very long term.
If you are somewhat of an endomorphic physiological / metabolic profile this may not be much of concern should weight loss is your empirical goal.
Those who are inherently lean and are resistance trained may otherwise consider and think long and hard before partaking on the Keto+IF regiment very long term. I will have to agree with Lyle McDonald once again. Higher calorie refeeds are inevitable. But what makes this even more difficult – is the constrained eating window of eight hours which again challenges the digestive capacity to do so.
Sometimes, our obsession becomes blindingly compulsive. Again, my self-conviction of “I am ending this year of 2017 the way I NEED IT TO.” compounds this as further placebo. I get so fixated with this, having shredded up to six pounds of weight loss within just five days straight; AND THEN decidedly followed this up by doing another depletion training on Saturday afternoon – does feel incredibly good. Through this I can self-authenticate what I further can or cannot – do.
From 67.5kg by Monday then all the way down to 64.5kg by Friday. Between Wednesdays to Fridays; I even felt compelled to drive my intakes even lower than my own BMR as I calculated officially on paper (1638 cals). Followed by another crazily depletion / fasted-BCAAs training on Saturday afternoons.
BMR is your absolute minimal life support calorie intake. My lesson learned? Enjoy witnessing your resilience and do it anyway. But do not overstay your welcome.
4/4 Sluggish and longer transition time to be “in the zone” (HC+IF)
My “ideal” fasted state of physiology (both body and mind) is one that allows me to feel resilient, focused and receptive upon each and everything I do from one hour to the next. This is the “zone” I’m trying to reach within each and every fasting window.
The first segment / Keto+IF = I felt this was easier and faster to transition towards this zone. Where as the high carbohydrate experimental segment (Day 7-14) – was somewhat slower and more sluggish to transition.
Admittedly, I am also consuming at times – high fibre foods inbetween the HC+IF periods. These could also be a confounder to how fast / soon the fatty acids are released for energy at the plasma level. The more fibre there is the longer the time for me to “get there”; I thus speculate.
So which is better? Keto+IF vs HC+IF?
The more we compare any so called “qualitative” aspects of life’s from one to another; it all always comes down to this = everything is both rationalised and neutralised by – contexts.
The word/realm “Competitions” assume that you wish to deviate away from any current Life’s (or in this case – Societal) “Composition”. If you’re happy being either obese or anorexic, then I cannot change your mind. Until you do; moving your-self away from your current societally subscribed, “Composition”. All your-self.
Donkeys and turtles have their contextual virtues against horses and cheetahs. They all “finish” or “die” – upon Life’s many “races” at different rates.
If weight loss is an empirical goal then either KETO+IF or HC+IF will get anyone there. But only at best – at different rates. Getting there “slower” or “faster” is extremely subjective. Because it is only relative to one’s own interpretive physiology and metabolism. My own dictates thus far that Keto+IF is much faster for losses to happen, but at a far more detrimental effects to mitigate than HC+IF.
Stop asking me which “one” (1) is better over “many” (majority) others. That just assumes only “one” is egoistically better than “many”.
The more you are spoon-fed, the more confused you’ll become, as your choices are driven by someone else’s physiology. Not yours.
If resilience-at-any-cost is “everything”, go with Keto+IF.
The amount of cognitive resilience Intermittent Fasting gives me nevertheless remains indisputably real; especially within Keto+IF. Yet also its detrimental effects upon nutrient digestion do impose many concerns regardless which cannot be ignored also.
If one is imposed within a socio-structural/financial limitation – once again, Keto+IF on a very restrictive food budget WHILST emphasizing overall food quality – remains uncannily possible to any everyday fitness enthusiast.
Provided first however, that I would advise he/she to self-accomodate every patience, understanding and awareness; over what a state of Ketosis really is. It is neither a state of paradise nor it is an episodal detriment. This can take anywhere between a month to several months persisting within the Standard Ketogenic Regiment until you’ve understood every of its dietary effects and implications to your every day living, sustaining and training. You must also take into account of resource consumption, gathering and calorie tracking each and every day.
Under my metabolic and physiological conditioning? Keto + IF may not be ideal for very long term, even despite my prior familiarity within the SKD regiment. Keto+IF however – remains an extremely convincing eating strategy as a cutting-phase regiment perhaps periodized ideally no more than perhaps one full calendar month at a time. For as long as one is prepared willingly to endure the week in and out steep deficits (as low as 30% off your maintenance), still embracing 6×6 volume depletion trainings, with diligent enzymeatic digestive supplementations (Betaine HCL+Pepsins) – I can see Keto + IF to be magnificent for overall weight loss.
Keto+IF will literallly – brainwash you. It is truly that strong and convincing of an eating protocol. Yet it’s not for the weak minded. Proceed with every wisdom you collect and prior mindful self-awareness of eating, lifestyle habits and fitness training capacity; at the ready.
For overall lean mass preservation despite sluggishness? Go with HC+IF.
So this leaves us with standard HC+IF variant. Is this something that everyone can do? In my mind, I believe so more realistically.
Because within presence of carbohydrates and thus insulin secretion left to function accordingly to their own responsibility and purpose – you are far more insured against any excess loss of minerals and micronutrients. More importantly, I find that retention of overall lean muscle mass is more convincing to me than during Keto+IF. Of course this is entirely subjective. As one could theoretically retain muscle mass JUST AS well on the Keto+IF; but for as long as protein intakes are more than sufficient.
Nevertheless, one thing is certain that both regiment shares; both as rule and expectation. Stop demonising Insulin. Get over it. This “demon”, or this “bastard”, “fat-clogging” hormone INSULIN – after all is responsible beyond what our coffee table magazines and “Low-Carb-Taliban”-Keto-zealots curse every minute. Insulin is responsible for storage of minerals and micronutrients; to ensure everything – from tryptophan pathways to brain neurotransmitter levels are at their most baseline levels. Not deprived. It even ensures that during SKD or LCHF – your blood Ketones are LOW enough to ensure it doesn’t go overboard; to the point where such it may in fact, could kill you.
If there is still one persistent issue I have surrounding HC+IF regiment (as per my experiences within an entirety of one year practise of CKD suggests); would be to still remain cautious with fruit intakes.
Even after only a few bananas / apples one refeed night would likely result a somewhat drowsy, sluggish and laggy-at-the-gut episodes in the very next morning. I suspect these to be entirely due to the Liver glycogen in the process yet to be utilised; a process that takes time well before any trace of Ketosis were to happen.
HC+IF Still nevertheless retain some merits I feel that Keto+IF have, but just less of overall sharpness and intensity within such state of resilience. Keto + IF on the other hand requires a lot more sacrifice and is not for the faint hearted. If one is willingly thick skinned, you will be rewarded with cognitive senses far difficult than (my own linguistics and words) may ever describe.
So what are your opinions?
Obviously this so far is only my early thoughts across fourteen days of experimentations. Already, I have felt and learned significantly new each and every passing day – over determining what my body can or cannot do.
Is Intermittent Fasting for me? So far, I am convincingly subscribed. But determining how I am best to proceed or when to alternate between Keto+IF and HC+IF for my current needs and context/s are still in its infancy.