It has been three months since my Leangains review. Before I go into my latest strategy, I want to address some questions I got regarding my mixed review of the 16 hour daily fasts promoted by Leangains. For a quick recap, earlier this year I did 70 consecutive days of 16 hour daily fasts. The first month went extremely well and the second month didn’t.
Here were the downsides I experienced in the second month.
- When I eventually did eat at 2 PM, I got majorly tired. This never happened to me in my prior IF experiences. I sort of solved this problem, by moving my last espresso to after the 2 PM meal and drinking tea in the afternoon.
- The second problem I experienced was I frequently felt cold, especially in my fingers. I have experience with cold weather exposure, so the fact my body wasnt throwing off heat like before was concerning. This month was the first month in 3 years where the cold was bothering me.
- Muscle loss. The BCAA appeared to stop working. This one really bothers me.
- Lowered Immune System. Although I fought off a cold in late January, one nailed me in February. Im very in tune with how my body responds to viral threats and during this month that response was sluggish.
I want to remind others that we all are at different points in our health journey. This is just what I experienced. I’m sure there are many cases of dieters that had excellent results beyond the first month. What I did was just describe the symptoms that I experienced as a possible warning on what to look for should you results stall. N=1 means that my results are just mine.
For me the duration of the 16 hour fasts were perfect, but I actually got greater benefits when I didn’t adhere to the 7 days a week protocol. I’m just speculating, but you may be able to achieve the better results by interjecting some randomness into your Intermittent Fasting plan. That might mean taking 1-2 days off each week or taking a full week off when progress stalls. If your progress never stalls, then don’t stop what is working.
The Last 3 Months
Since ending the daily 16 hour fasts, I have regained my strength and am now at the leanest point of my life. When I scaled back from daily fasts to 2-3 times per week, my metabolism kicked into gear and I started progressing again. Since my plan all along was to reduce fasting as we head into the longer days of summer, I have since scaled my fasts down to a single 16-18 hour fast every 5th day and I never fast on days when I lift weights.
What works best for me may not work best for you. Do your own experiments and dial in your own ideal plan. Three years later and I continue to tweak my IF schedule.
Jun 19, 2011 — 4:16 am
In the ancestral environment full fasts were probably very rare. There was usually something to munch on, even if it was highly fibrous. A few bugs and a small rodent or two, perhaps a lizard, probably really hit the spot!
I’m sure our ancestors in the wild (not in Ireland in the 18th century…) had days of slim pickings, but they were able to pass on their genes to us precisely because they were crafty and industrious. They usually found something to eat when they were awake…
The ancstral line of crappy hunter-gatherers died out many thousands of years ago…
Jun 19, 2011 — 7:41 am
@GWhitney – I think these modern fasting protocols are designed to directly trigger specific hormonal responses and still work within a schedule. Today the lizard is a stop at McDonalds.
Jun 21, 2011 — 6:03 am
Thank you for posting on this. I just started the 16/8 program. It helps to know what might lay ahead.
Jul 5, 2011 — 8:34 pm
It’s interesting how the first month went well, but not the second month. I can’t help but think of Art Devany’s recommendations on IF. He has noted that a daily IF regiment is not as effective because it becomes no longer unpredictable, sporadic, or intermittent. In other words, the body will adapt.
Jul 5, 2011 — 9:24 pm
@Henry – Yep, that is what I discovered.
Intermittent Fasting – Spontaneous and Random
Jul 5, 2011 — 9:30 pm
Also, Devany also recommends taking time off from supplements.
Jul 8, 2011 — 9:26 am
I am also following Martin’s method right now, and have been doing so for 3 months with consistent results. I can’t help but think you may have missed an important aspect of the method, which would be that your food intake must be centred around your training. So your 8 hours of eating should include one smallish pre-workout meal (including BCAA supplementation), and then the majority of your calories in the post-workout window. This should ensure that you don’t lose lean mass like you did in the second month.
Also, if your fat loss stalled, it could be that your leptin levels were too low. You could have tried incorporating carb refeeds on lifting/HIIT training days.
Jul 8, 2011 — 9:38 am
@Ed – I followed the protocol strictly. I do spike my carbs on the days I lift. When I abandoned Leangains for a more random approach, I got better results. Congrats on doing it successfully for 3 months. I think we all are at different points in our fitness journey and how we response will vary.
Jul 14, 2011 — 1:29 am
Martin Berkhan has said that it is better for ectomorphs not to do IF as often as others do: “for a true ectomorph I would rather focus on components separately, i.e alternating gain/cut per monthly or bi-weekly basis (rather than a traditional recomp setup with alternating days). It seems to work better that way.”
Jul 14, 2011 — 6:09 am
@Tauno – Excellent find. I did not see that comment before. His observation matches completely with what I experienced.
Jul 14, 2011 — 7:57 pm
I’m really curious how Berkhan would tackle “alternating gain/cut permonthly or biw-weekly basis”. Anyone have any ideas?
Jul 14, 2011 — 8:28 pm
@Henry – My guess is his advice mirrors my findings. Do 2 weeks of 16 hours and then take 2 weeks off to focus on mass. I can see that being more effective.
I do find it curious that the ectomorph comment was written in June 2008. The guide that I followed for this experiment was written in April 2010 and made no reference or recommendation specific to ectomorphs. Probably just an oversight.
Jul 16, 2011 — 9:32 am
Been reading the Martin’s answers to questions in his April 2010 post.
“Martin Berkhan said…
“when i wake up till the post workout i’m dizzy-fuzzy, i’feel weak and have a very low body temperature, i feel cold.”
Usually in these cases it suggests that your overall calorie intake is too low.
August 14, 2010 12:53 AM”
Jul 16, 2011 — 10:29 am
@Henry – Good to know. Thanks for finding that. I plan to do another 30 Day Leangains protocol in the depths of winter. I really like the idea of burning fat during the hibernation months.
Jul 19, 2011 — 12:20 am
No problem. I feel more comfortable with the risk of putting on weight in the winter. I also feel more energetic to get out and be active. I guess that’s just my climate preference, since I tolerate the heat much more than the cold