Intermittent fasting is quickly gaining in popularity. Many stars including Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, and Hugh Jackman swear by intermittent fasting. With so much fame behind this fad there may be something to it right?
So what is it? There are many methods some of which are described below, but in a nutshell, it is scheduling periods of eating normally and then periods of not eating at all. The spans of eating normally are what make this so attractive to so many, but don’t let the “no counting calories; no cutting carbs; no macros” tag-lines associated with it trick you into thinking it’s easy. In fact, this may be more difficult than anything else you have tried in the past. Intermittent fasting requires: purpose, planning, and discipline. Compared to other lifestyle changes this one is rated difficult. Hey, but you’re a marathon runner. Difficult is your middle name.
Methods of Intermittent Fasting
16:8 Method; Eat for 8 hours fast for 16
With this method you choose an 8 hour window for eating your meals each day. One example is eat from
Intermittent fasting diet
breakfast to mid-day; 7 am – 3 pm. Or, if you usually skip breakfast anyway, you may choose your meal hours from 1 pm – 9 pm.
If choosing this method when training for a marathon you will want to plan your meals with your training schedule. If you are a morning runner, then you will want to fuel up for your runs and plan your 8 hours of eating at a time that helps your running performance.
Personally, I having been trying this method for about 2 months. I started with an eating schedule of 1-9 and found that since I run in the morning, this did not work at all. Crash, boom, bang! I could hardly muster the energy to get around the block let alone get my long runs in. Switching to a 7:00-3:00 schedule I have found is better for my training schedule, but horrible for a social life. Meeting up for drinks after work, date night, and even enjoying popcorn with a late night movie are all out on this schedule. What I have found to be pros of this method are: evening snacking is eliminated and better discipline to food choices since I am putting more effort into the planning.
5:2 Method; Eat for 5 days and fast for 2
This method may be preferable for runners because chances are your running schedule is already 5 days on 2 non-consecutive days off. Your rest days would then also be your fasting days. Somewhat more extreme than the 16:8 Method because you have 2 complete days of fasting, but it does allow for less social life restrictions. Many plans do allow for some calorie intake on the fasting days. Typically around 500 calories which are divided into two small snacks of 250 calories each throughout the day.
I have tried this method in the past and have found it to be extremely difficult. You will be hungry. There will be temptation, but once again, it does allow you to maintain better balance with life and lifestyle. On your 5 eat days you can still enjoy date night and meeting up with friends after work.
Eat Stop Eat Method
The Eat Stop Eat Method involves eating a meal then not eating again until that same meal time the next day. An example would be eat a normal dinner Monday evening and then don’t eat again until dinner time Tuesday evening. If you are training in the morning, then you may prefer eat breakfast Monday morning and then don’t eat again until breakfast Tuesday morning.
I don’t have personal experience with this method, but based on the number of hours you are active with no meals, this may be quite difficult.
Benefits of intermittent fasting while marathon training
You cannot improve in one area of your life without improvements trickling into other areas of your life. By planning your meal periods, I have found that you plan the quality of the meals as well.
Reading the book, It Starts With Food before beginning the Whole30 is definitely the way to go. The authors give you everything you need to be successful.
Even tough love.
One struggle I had while reading it is that each chapter begins with a testimonial on how the program is “life changing”. Not to be cynical, but really, a 30 day meal plan life changing? How can eliminating certain foods from your diet for just 30 days be all that?
And then, at about day 15 it happened.
My husband and I were both feeling so good that we said “I am never going back”. What does that mean, never going back? We are not going to kid ourselves that we are going to be Whole30 all day every day, but we are going to do our best to be Whole30 80% of the time.
We feel that good.
Specifically, we both experienced these benefits:
Better sleep. This one matters most. It’s amazing how many other parts of your day are better when you get better sleep. Better sleep = better performance.
Wake up easier. Definitely a result of the first benefit, but it is important to point out.
Running and workouts became easier, Tiger blood is a real thing and we really experienced it. Once your body adjusts to burning fat instead of sugar – look out gym!
No afternoon slump.
Better looking skin. Smoother and brighter.
Weight loss. The incredible part about the weight loss is . . .
The dirty details, I lost 10 pounds and my husband lost 15. To be completely transparent, some of that was holiday excess and would have dropped off anyway. Or, maybe not.
There was only one negative to this program, and no it wasn’t going without our wine for 30 days. If you go pastured, organic, grass fed, all natural, etc.
This is what writer Eric Gillin had to say about that in Epicurious
IT HELPS TO HAVE TONS OF MONEY AND FANCY GROCERY STORES When did tree nuts and almond butter start to cost as much as uncut cocaine?
Our tips for your success:
Do it with a partner. It’s so much easier when you’re not the only one passing on dessert.
Cook once and eat many times. Making things like a beef brisket made meal planning for an entire week much easier.
Learn to love eggs.
Journal what you eat and how you slept. This will give you small celebrations throughout the 30 days.
Don’t give up on yourself – you can do this. Our mantra was . . .”It’s only 30 days”
They call this stage of the Whole30 Tiger Blood and I know why. For two weeks I went to spin class and felt a diabolical force resisting the movement of my legs and feet. The harder I tried to pedal the more resistance there seemed to be. Like I was getting sucked in by quicksand. I’ve gone to class after, well, let’s just say more than a few glasses of wine and done better, felt better, rode better. This week; I owned it. There was no quick sand holding my legs down. In fact, it felt like there was no gravity. Like I was spinning on the moon and could spin forever. It was awesome!
We are in this very strange place in the Whole30 process. We count down every day like it’s a victory. Day 11 – defeated. Day 12 – defeated. Day 15 – we are 1/2 way there. And at the same time, we keep telling each other I’m never going back. I feel too good. I like how I feel. I want to feel like this every single day. Sure, I’ll have ice cream and treats and wine, of course we’ll have wine, but I’m never going back.
Last night we cooked cilantro lime shrimp. I would say this was my favorite meal of our Whole30 journey, but OMG – it did not compare to the leftover shrimp and spinach omelet I had for breakfast today. I felt like I was having breakfast at a Ritz Carlton in someplace very exotic (1/2 of that was how good the shrimp was 1/2 was the Michigan winter blues). When you make this recipe be sure to make enough for your omelet the next day.
Days 10 and 11 are the biggest quit days for people on the Whole30. We are on day 10 and are feeling too good to consider quitting.
My husband had a business introduction meeting this week. I thought for sure he would cheat. No way was he going to be introduced to new business contacts at a restaurant and tell them about the plan. He surprised me. He had no problem telling them about the plan, in fact, it was a great icebreaker. Ordering compliant from the Italian restaurant they were at was no problem too. The server was more than ready to help. Awesome!
It’s funny, but not surprising, that our keys to success with this plan are pretty much keys to success for anything:
Open communication – tell people your needs and vision and they will help get you there.
Look for ways to make it work – sure you can find a million reasons why you can’t, but focus on why you can.
80% planning 20% execution – don’t get caught unprepared. Plan!
Try new things – if you keep doing what you’ve always done you will get what you’ve always got
We are doing the Whole30 as part of the 68 Day Challenge. Join thousands of people looking to make 2016 their best year yet 68 Day Challenge.
The authors of the Whole30 say that most people give up on days 10 and 11. The novelty has wore off, food fatigue, temptation. A whole lot of reasons. Being on Day 9 it doesn’t feel like I’m ready to quit tomorrow or the next day.
How are you doing on your 2016 goals? Need some motivation? ET always does it for me. Check out this video
Making the Whole30 fun by being able to be creative has been our focus. By just focusing on making it through each day until you get to 30, I could see how you might give up. If you focus on trying new things and being creative then you look forward to each new experience and don’t even count the day you’re on.
I’ve never even eaten a chicken burger before. That didn’t stop us for cooking them up for today’s brown bag lunch.
Many homemade mayonnaise recipes require power tools and face it, many kitchens do not have them. I love this recipe because it doesn’t require any tools except good old arm power and it doesn’t make too much. This is a concern because homemade mayo doesn’t have a long shelf life. You need to use it up quickly.
1 egg yolk (reserve the white and add to an omelet, scrambled eggs or a frittata)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp ground mustard
dash white pepper
3/4 c avocado oil
whisk the egg yolk and spices
very slowly – painfully slow – add the avocado oil and continue whisking
continue whisking until thick
*by painfully I mean “how long could this possibly take” not “oh my gosh, this is killing my arm”