Intermittent Fasting – Can Fasting Fuel Performance?
Own Your Eating coach, Jen Charlesworth has recently been experimenting with intermittent fasting. Truth is, she’s been loosely fasting for some time unintentionally, but after consulting our eBook to intermittent fasting, she decided to implement more of structure and pay attention to the results of differences she experienced during this time.
This process all started because of my hatred for breakfast! That’s it. Since beginning consistent fasts, I have done more research on its health benefits but I was simply trying to weasel my way out of feeling like I had to force food in before training in the morning. People love to preach that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but I was struggling to see the benefits of stuffing food in to my food, rushing out the door and feeling like I might throw up at the gym.
I tend to get up in the morning at the last minute (my husband hates it) and rushing to prepare food was just getting in the way of my morning routine! I have always been a natural faster and prefer to eat later in the day and into the evenings instead of waking up and worrying about a meal. So at the end of the day it comes down to practicality. I find fasting to be a convenient way to eat during the times that work for me.
To start, I downloaded an app called Zero that keeps track of the length of my fasts. My goal for the first week was 14 hours of fasting, 10 hours of eating. When I stop eating at night, I click “Start Fast” and when I eat the next day I click “Stop Fast” and it logs the exact time of the fast. I wanted to have some consistency and trackable data to look back on.
In addition to tracking the length of my fasts, I’m also tracking my macros relatively accurately. Eating in the 10-hour window is much easier than I anticipated and I have found that the meal that breaks my fast has to be a larger one than I’m generally used to. A “rule” that I gave myself before starting this process was to avoid binging on anything that sounded good to break the fast. This means I have food prepped in order to avoid binging on snacks. I’ve gone as far as not even having potential snacks in the house to binge on!
My focus is on eating real/whole foods. Because I’m only eating in a 10-hour window, my meals are closer together. I found that I’m rarely full off any one meal and I’m always ready to eat the next one! By the time my eating window closes and I’ve consumed all of my food for the day, I feel pretty satisfied and don’t have the urge to go over my macros.
Because I train in the mornings, I always thought it was best for me to eat before…until I started this process! My normal training time is roughly 12-13 hours into my 14-hour fast. My biggest fear about training fasted was that I would feel drained or my performance in workouts would suffer. So far, it is the complete opposite. I have more energy and feel better in my workouts than I did having consumed breakfast before. I even PRd my Isabel time at 2:01 13 hours into a fast! My recovery time post workout has decreased dramatically and although I only do one workout a day, I feel as though I could do more at intensity.
I live my life by the 80/20 rule! I’m on with my macros 80% of the time and don’t fear going out to eat or enjoying fun nights with friends and going over a bit. Because of this 80/20 life, my body weight sits around 132 pounds. If I REALLY dial in my macros for several weeks, my “extra lean” weight is around 128 pounds. Since I’ve begun fasting, I’ve maintained 128-129 pounds COMFORTABLY and still live in 80/20 world while hitting the same numbers. With all that being said, I’m less concerned about my body weight and most concerned about my performance in the gym and my energy levels throughout the day. I find my mental clarity for getting work done is best around 12 hours into the fast and dips right before the 14-hour mark. I’m looking forward to seeing if that changes at all as the process continues!
I plan to continue with 14-hour fasts on training days and push the boundaries a bit to 16+ hours on rest days. I didn’t notice much change in hunger or energy levels between the 14 and 16-hour mark. Overall, this process has been more about convenience for my schedule versus health benefits and I’ve enjoyed the learning process of trying something that I haven’t done before. I feel less “chained down” by having to eat a meal every 4-6 hours and enjoy the structure of eating in a certain window that works for me. Prepping is critical to my success or else I run the risk of eating anything and everything in sight!
If you have any questions about fasting you can send me a message on Instagram! @jen.charlesworth
Jen Charlesworth is one of our awesome coaches and all round bad-ass! Find out more about Jen on Our Team page or check out our podcast episode 46 all about Jen here. If you’re interested in working with coach Jen then check our Lifestyle Memberships. Jen will help you develop a nutrition plan that’s convenient and fits your lifestyle!