It has been a little over 3 years since I started the practice of Intermittent Fasting. On the list of positive steps I’ve taken to improve my health, only removing wheat has yielded greater benefits. As great as things have been, I have made a few mistakes. Let me share my errors, so you don’t need to repeat them.
#1 Fasting While Sick With a Cold
Don’t do it. In 2009, I decided to see if fasting would have any impact on my health when I got a cold. From the post Intermittent Fasting – The Common Cold:
Doing an Intermittent Fast while I had a cold did not work for me. I am a huge proponent of IF, but I do not think it is wise to do if you have the common cold. I started thinking about this from an evolutionary perspective and it made sense. If a member of the tribe was sick, they wouldn’t be invited on the hunt (or gather). Instead, they would be treated back to health so they could participate in future food gathering for the benefit of the group.
My current belief is if you catch a cold, you should rest and load up on foods that support strong immunity such as bone broths. Fasting does put a stress on the body and probably should be avoided when the body is dealing with the stress of fighting off the common cold.
#2 Excessive Fasting While Weight Training
This may just apply to ectomorphs, but I what I discovered in 2009 was that fasted weight training not only resulted in fat loss, but without a post-workout meal I started to lose strength.
From a paleo perspective this makes sense. I was hungry and went on a hunt. At the hunt I engaged in a battle. For me that was lifting weights at the gym. A successful hunt would have resulted in a kill and a meal. After a few months, I kept returning from the hunt in a hungry state. From the standpoint of nature, I was being every bit as energy foolish as the cardio junkies. That behavior gets punished if it happens repeatedly.
#3 Not Eating Enough After the Fast is Over
When I did 70 days of 16 hour fasts, I began to have issues in the second month. I detail my experience in the post Intermittent Fasting – 70 Day Review of the Leangains Method. I was getting tired, my body felt cold and my immune system was weaker. I got a few comments stating that I probably wasn’t eating enough. At the time I felt I was eating enough and that I could make the protocol more effective by adding more randomness and taking periodic breaks. Now I am thinking the truth is somewhere in between.
The more I read about metabolism, the more it makes sense that extended periods of fasting would result in a slower metabolism and reduced body temperature. Appetite is reduced. Nature is energy efficient. For a daily protocol to work, I would need to force myself to eat more until the sluggishness goes away and body temperature increases. If that isn’t enough then a break is necessary.
So the take away lesson I learned is to increase calories after your fast if you feel your metabolism slowing down. Override your reduced appetite. Failing that, take a few days or a week off from any fasting until you are back to baseline.
#4 Eating Too Much After the Fast Ends
This is common when you first start fasting. It happened with me in the first month or so and it happens with others. The good news is it tends to be self correcting. As you gain comfort with the practice of Intermittent Fasting, your post-fast meals will stop be gorge fests.
How about you? Do you have any lessons you’ve learned with Intermittent Fasting? Please share them in the comments.