An Experiment w/ Intermittent Fasting

This is the first note in a series of articles that are going to chronicle my journey through 120 days of intermittent fasting (I am now on day 60 give or take a few days)

What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?

The title is pretty self explanatory — you pick certain time periods and just don’t eat during those. The two main IF protocols are as follows: you can choose to fast for a 24 hour period once a week or you can fast for 16 hours a day and eat well for the other 8. I chose to do the latter.

This was mostly based on a conversation I had with one of clinical faculty in the Metabolism and Endocrinology dept. at UNC Medical School. The clinical community thinks that hormonal/sugar spikes (binges — eating/cheat days) as opposed to regular bad behavior (the occasional cookie) causes significantly worse effects. 

Maybe this is why your paleo diet with once a week cheat days is not delivering the results that you want…. 

Why Intermittent Fasting?

Here are 3 main benefits that have been published in the literature

1. Improved lipid metabolism (less surface fat and increased adiponectin levels)
2. Lower plasma glucose and insulin levels (positive changes in glucose)
3. Lower inflammatory responses.

I’m not going to bore you with the scientific details but if you are interested you can go read more here (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0104423013000213)  and here (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S095528630400261X

There is also evidence in animal models that show that it can increase life span… not sure there is really a way to test that on myself.  

Does it make sense with an active athletic lifestyle?

If you are doing CrossFit or any other type of training, you may be doing it for any of the following reasons:

* Increase athletic performance
* Drop weight and get in overall better shape (improve fitness)
* Prepare for competition
* Look better?

What am I going to measure?

1. Fasting and post meal glucose levels (this will give me a reflection of insulin responses which we all know has an impact on performance)
2. Lipid profile (once every 6 weeks) – HDL, LDL, Cholesterol etc…
3. Body composition and metrics:
body fat %
Blood Pressure
Resting HR
4. Performance as measured by Science Behind Sweat
1RM’s
work capacity and power output
All these measures will give me insight into the impact of IF on almost anything you may be interested in tracking as an athlete. 

What am I going to do?

1. I am NOT going to change my diet — this keeps this very unscientific experiment somewhat controlled. 
2. I will be training on an empty stomach with ~10g of BCAA’s @CrossFit Chapel Hill while following their basic programming (MWF; while on TuTh I will train in the evening. This is what my schedule allows for now). 
3. I will be tracking fasting, post meal and post workout blood glucose levels
4. I will get a lipid panel done before starting the program, 6 weeks in and 12 weeks into the IF program. 
5. I will also measure work done and power that I output for each workout. 

Baselines (established during the 1st week):

Glucose (3 measurements on different days):

  • Fasting = 84mg/dl (normal 70-99)
  • 2 hours after eating = 102mg/dl (normal <140 mg/dl)
  • Post workout = 76mg/dl (no necessary benchmark for this)

Resting HR (average of 7 measures) = 54bpm

Body Fat % = 15.9% (this was surprising since I thought I was much leaner — I’ll provide a picture in the next post)

Inflammation: 

Lab: *ESR (Sedimentation Rate)_25
Name   Value   Reference Range
WSR UPDATE 4-5-07   9   0-15 mm/hr

Lipid Profile ( I was blown away by this) 

Name   Value   Reference Range
CHOLESTEROL, TOTAL   293   100-199 MG/DL
TRIGLYCERIDES   48   0-149 MG/DL
HDL CHOLESTEROL   59   >39 MG/DL
VLDL CHOLESTEROL CAL   10   5-40 MG/DL
LDL CHOLESTEROL CALC   224   0-99 MG/DL

Holy crap — I did not expect that. I have been an athlete all my life and now I learn that I have ridiculously high total cholesterol and LDL’s (which in case you arent aware is the “bad” cholesterol). 

In my next post I will share how things have changed in 4 weeks from these measurements and also changes in athletic performance as measured by sciencebehindsweat.com

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