Seasonal Strategies – Winter Update

For those new to the site, I am currently testing a nutritional strategy that I call the seasonal approach. In the post Winter Strategies For Nutrition and Fitness, I outlined a list of goals I had for winter. This is a learning process for me. I’m not advising others to follow my lead. This is all an experiment. When the first year of the experiment is over, I plan to post what I learned.

A few weeks into winter I discovered that I was violating one of my core principles. I was changing too many things at once. This makes it impossible to determine the true cause and effect of changes. I’m all about gradually tweaking and measuring changes. If it works, keep it up. If it doesn’t, remove it. Others may chose to “go big or go home”, not me. I’m all about the Minimal Effort Approach.

Simplicity is the key to brilliance – Bruce Lee

I decided to keep my sugar and fruit intake as low as I did in the fall and not go lower. I also kept sleep the same. Testing daily intermittent fasts of 16 hours (the Leangains Method) was the most important item on the list. Since December 22nd, I have been extremely good following this method. Only 3 days have I fell short of a full 16 hours. There are three elements that I wanted to test.

  1. Hunger Comfort – Could daily 16 hour fasts be done without going crazy hungry? Yes. There is a 1-2 week adjustment period, but once you are past that it gets super easy. SUCCESS.
  2. Maintain Strength – The last time I did fasted workouts, I lost fat (cool) and strength (not cool). Leangains advises supplementing with BCAA, which I have been doing. I have not lost any strength this season, nor have I had any aches or pains. Even though I don’t have a lot of data, I am going to continue supplementing with BCAA for fasted weight training. I suspect it is doing its job in preventing muscle loss. Art De Vany is also a fan. SUCCESS.
  3. Fat LossI’m not going to comment on this until winter is over. I don’t want jinx anything, but let me just say that there was zero holiday weight gain for me. STAY TUNED.

As far as exercise goes, I have been lifting weights 1-2 times per week. I started Slow training on machines. Different HIT gurus advise different tempos. I’ve seen rep ranges from 3 seconds up, 3 seconds down to 10 seconds up, 10 seconds down. I’m experimenting with them all. Although I am not 100% sold on slow training, I am becoming more of a fan each week, especially slowing the negative portion of the lift.

So the grand experiment continues. Around March 20th, I will report back with a full seasonal update for winter as well as outline my spring strategy.


Add yours

  1. How do you fast 16 hours on a daily basis? You eat once a day or are you rotating on/off? That is confusing me.

  2. Stuart – check for more information. Most people eat their last meal of the day in the evening (say 8pm) and then don’t eat again until 16 hours later (ie, 2pm the next day). EDIT: Noon

    MAS – I’m on my 2nd week now of 16/8 IF and couldn’t be happier with the results. Just ordered a copy of the Primal Blueprint book you linked to in the comments section of your GCBC review.

  3. @Stuart – I condense all my eating between 2 PM and 10 PM. I do this every day. There is an article on Leangains about how doing this retrains ghrelin, which is a hunger hormone.

  4. Damn, can’t edit comment. The 16-hour window would end at 12pm the following day (not 2pm according to my typo). All eating would then be done between 12pm and 8pm, at which point another 16-hour fast would begin.

  5. @bgt – Glad to hear it is working for you. I started with the Eat Stop Eat method in 2008 and have been tweaking different approaches. So far I am really pleased with the Leangains method.

  6. I often eat only once a day. Try it because much of eating isn’t based on your actual hunger.

    If you eat foods that are protein rich you will not be as hungry had you eaten just carbs. Another good idea is to limit yourself to delicious food; this eliminates 80% of most dishes. Also it is important to only eat when you are actually hungry and stop once you are hunger is satiated. This significantly cuts down on the excesses of eating.

    Britney Spears had the greatest diet advice ever. Her trainer had told her to limit her calories to 1200 per day but only eat healthy foods. She said she can eat as much as she wants as long as she avoids unhealthy foods. Maybe this wouldn’t work for everyone, but her ability to bounce back physically is impressive.

  7. I have read a lot of these comments on a number of sites on nutrition and fitness and mostly I observe what is posted and by no means I am no authority but it seems to me people complicate matters on both subjects and maybe it’s not as simple as calories in calories out their has to be a positive but also a negative you can’t continue to overeat or under eat also rest and work Thanx Dan

  8. @Dan G – I agree that people tend to over complicate things, but also there is a lot of misinformation out there that is accepted as conventional wisdom (EX: eat whole grain and low fat, do cardio).

  9. Thanx for the reply Mas buy the way I myself have lived on the one meal a day for quite a few years and have had no adverse problems but the one thing I can say is I keep things at random eating or a workout and I do agree that exercise plays a very small part compared to how we eat and what we eat are ancestors had to go thru times of feast or famine truly not every day was a winning day in the field they had to eat whatever they could and when they could according to what was available or caught and I think most of the time nature won the battle take for instance the modern day hunter gather show survivor all that go thru the trials of the show lose tremendous amounts of weight from extream times without food and with extream amounts of work to survive we don’t eat to hunt we hunt to eat thanx again Mas. Dan G

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