Intermittent fasting; this has been a bit of a buzz word/phrase for the last couple years. I’ve always kind of shy’d at the thought of depriving my body of food for an extended period of time. Especially with my work out routine I always kind of told myself that I should make sure my body has fuel to burn.
This is still true obviously as you need nutrients to function but a month ago I decided to look more seriously at this. Why? I wound up with a bulged disk in my back that essentially brought my work out routine to a pretty grinding halt. It’s hard to run and lift weights if you are only able to stand, stiff as a board or lay flat on your back.
Now, I looked into two things with this predicament…
- How long should this healing process take?
- What can I do in the mean time to prevent weight gain?
There is a general consensus that it can take up to 6 weeks for a bulged disk to properly heal (Thankfully it didn’t take that long). Oh my god, 6 weeks is a lifetime! So, I looked at some options and fell on intermittent fasting after some discussions amongst friends. There are 3 generally accepted types of intermittent fasting that I will go over.
- 16:8 – This is where you would fast for 16 hours (Not including black coffee or tea), and eat for 8 hours.
- Alternate days – This is where fast for 24 hours on alternating days.
- 5:2 – This is where you fast for 24 hours 2 days a week, or limit your calorie intake to just 500 – 700 calories a day.
Medical professionals also don’t recommend going more than a day or two without eating. At that point your body will go into starvation mode and that is very much…. Not healthy.
I need to eat every day so I decided that a 16:8 schedule would work well for me.
So, here we are about 30 days into this. I’ve really just started seeing results in the last two weeks or so, so it does take some time. Here is what I personally have noticed. Probably the biggest thing, was that I managed to maintain my weight through this injury. Part of that can also be attributed to maintaining a proper diet but this has helped me not to put weight on when I go into the weekend… Because life is too short to just eat carrots all week. So that was goal number one. Right on, I met that goal.
There is a few other benefits that I have noticed as well. I started to go for runs in the time before I ate my first meal of the day. Doing this has actually helped to increase the distance that I am able to run. I am not weighed down by the days meals. It seems counter intuitive and I didn’t think that would be the case at all but it has really helped my performance. If you feel light headed, stop your workout routine, however.
I also have lost a lot of water weight, or could you say, water… swelling? I haven’t lost weight as this wasn’t really the goal but I have trimmed up. I also don’t feel as sluggish during the day. I don’t get that mid day crash that I used to get.
It’s not something that is going to work for everyone and I would recommend to discuss any diet changes with your doctor if you are concerned. But I have had some good results on it and it it something that is said to continue to be beneficial in the long term if done properly.
I think this is a good time for a note and disclaimer.
**I am not a doctor or medical professional and unfortunately, there is not a lot of clinical research outside of testing on animals for intermittent fasting. And it may not be right for everyone so speak to your doctor if you are wondering about it.** It is not recommended to fast if you are diabetic, insulin resistant, or if you have a history of eating disorders.
If you would like more information, here is the Wikipedia article on this.