My Intermittent Fasting Journey, 35 Days In

So I’m 35 days into pursuing my goal of achieving six pack abs by my 40th birthday.  August 17th is rapidly approaching.  Today is July 13th.  That means there’s only 35 days left.  Here’s how things are going so far.

Bodyweight and Appearance

On June 3 I weighed in at 195 pounds.  As of this morning I was at 187.  That’s roughly 8 pounds over the course of 5 1/2 weeks.

My expectation when starting this particular regimen was to lose roughly 1 pound of body fat per week.  I’m doing this by cutting my calories on days I’m not working out to about 60% of my maintenance calorie intake.  On workout days I eat as close to maintenance as possible.

This boils down to 2700 calories on days I workout and 1700 calories on rest days.

1700 calories might not sound like a lot, but when combined with intermittent fasting (essentially you’re eating everything within an 8 hour window) it’s actually pretty satisfying.

Macronutrient Breakdown

On both work and rest days I eat well over 200 grams of protein.  This is done for 2 reasons.

  1. Protein is filling and slow digesting.  Thus less inclination to snack.
  2. On rest days I want to minimize cannibalization of body muscle tissue.

Carbs are high on work days and very low on rest days.  The reasoning behind the fluctuation in carbohydrate intake is twofold:

  1.  Maximize glycogen uptake by muscles post workout
  2. Minimize storage of carbs as fat.

After a workout your body will be looking to replenish glycogen stores.  To help facilitate this, insulin sensitivity increases for roughly 24hrs.  During this time your body is very efficient at converting carbs to glycogen and storing it in your muscles.  After that window closes there is an increased likelihood of your body storing carbs as fat.

As a result, my rest days include fewer carbs.  Lower carbs on rest days also has the added benefit of slightly decreasing glycogen stores before your next workout.  This creates a state of hyper sensitivity whereby uptake of glycogen from the carb-heavy post workout meal by muscle is as efficient as possible.

Fats are low on work days and higher on rest days.  More on the importance of fats for muscles building here.

Just as carbs are more likely to be stored as glycogen post-workout, dietary fat is more likely to be stored as fat.  This means minimizing fat intake on workout days.  But since fat is important to a whole host of bodily functions, including testosterone production, fat calories make up for some of the calories lost to reduced carb intake on rest days.

Here’s a link to my food tracking spreadsheet if you’re interested.  As you can see there are some days where I was just unable to fill out the necessary data.  But all in all it’s pretty complete.

My Fasting Schedule

It’s summertime and my eating schedule changes from day to day.  I try to eat my last meal sometime between 6PM and 9PM.  This means my first meal the following day is between 10AM and 1PM.  Basically my first meal is always 16 hours after I finished the last meal on the day before.

***If you’re looking to try this strategy yourself I would encourage you to try to stick to a more regimented schedule.  This is ESPECIALLY important in the beginning as you WILL get hungry in the morning.  Your willpower will thank you for it.***

Once you get used to skipping breakfast, you’ll barely notice that you haven’t eaten anything until lunchtime.  You’ll also enjoy a period of enhanced productivity in the morning as your body and mind are not focused on digestion for the first few hours of the day.

My day usually starts somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00AM .  Between waking up and my first meal I basically drink water and a couple cups of coffee.

A Word On Coffee and Fasting

Caffeine is a great appetite suppressant.  But it’s important to understand that you can’t go adding a ton of crap to your coffee in the morning and expect to remain in a fasted state.

I generally add about a half teaspoon or so of half and half to the first cup and then just add more coffee later.  Try to limit your total intake to less than 20 calories before your first meal.

DON’T add sugar to your coffee as it is straight up carbs and will knock you out of a fasted state.

Why Fasting is Such an Important Part of My Strategy

One of the biggest benefits of fasting in terms of fat loss is that it helps put your body into a state of ketosis.  This occurs when your body begins using stored fat for energy instead of glycogen.  The actual science behind what happens as your body transitions to using fat stores for energy is fairly complicated.  For now just imagine that for a few hours each day you’re specifically burning fat because you haven’t allowed your body to eat anything for 14-16 hours.

Go For Morning Walks

In addition to being a great way to wake up, walks are a low impact aerobic exercise that allow your body to mobilize fat stores for energy.  Light jogging is an option too.  Just don’t push yourself so hard that you end up utilizing glycogen instead of fat for energy.

The additional calories burned start to add up when you’re looking to lose weight too.

The Challenges

delicious marionberries make dieting difficult

While fasting feels quite natural after a few days, the other parts of this diet haven’t been without challenges.  As I mentioned in my first post about this particular goal, summertime in Oregon is full of TONS of my favorite fruits.  This includes marionberries, boysenberries, raspberries, peaches, and more.

While it’s easy to account for the fruit itself within the the calories I’ve allocated each day, the desserts made with these delicious little berries has been difficult to avoid.  In addition it’s Farmer’s Market season and that means lot’s of baked goods, free samples and other little treats that can be hard to pass up.

fresh fruit is tough to pass up
mmm… marionberries

This is especially trying on rest days when I’m specifically trying to limit carbohydrate intake.

Progress So Far

All in all I’d say I’ve made pretty good progress, but I’m sure I could be a bit further along if I’d had the willpower to abstain from some of these treats.

As I said from the get go, I want to make this a sustainable lifestyle. If that means indulging in a few treats along the way so be it.  Excluding yourself from every possible temptation just leads to misery and questioning your goal in the first place.

Your Thoughts

I’d love to hear your thoughts on my journey so far.  Please leave any questions or comments in the section below.

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