Last week I touched on the reflection point I have reached so far this year. In which I contemplated my health and some of my more strongly rooted reasons for seeking great health.
My mother being a constant source of inspiration for me, drives me to think about my health and do my best not to take it for granted. One of the things I use as a measure of this is a DEXA scan, which shows your bone density as well as overall body composition.
My latest scan, in mid April, showed a slight drop in body fat and a lean muscle increase of over 2kg since my previous scan in early January. So some questions come to mind-
- How do I do that?
- How can I keep a very low body fat, even dropping total fat, and still increase lean mass?
- Where did that muscle go on?
- What kind of training did I do?
- What tricks did my diet contain?
Well, I have the answers to these questions and more. Over the next two weeks I will take you through a summary of the last 14 weeks. What I did, ate, didn’t do and didn’t eat. A summary…
First off it pays to know what my goals were. I had some general goals;
- Increasing my lean mass
- Maintaining a body fat percentage of below 9%
- Increasing strength
- Remaining healthy and free from unnecessary stress
Did I achieve these things? Well, as already laid out, I managed the body fat and lean gains. If you’ve been watching some of my video posts and updates on my squat and dead lift you’ll know that my strength is steadily going up in those lifts. When it comes to upper body lifts, they are moving, but a nagging shoulder injury held me back for a while there. I’ll get into that a bit more next week.
As for health and stress, I would say I’m doing pretty well. I’m a pretty chilled guy and like to think of myself as such, but get my work done when I need to- I’ve managed to put 17 weeks of blog posts together right? As well as run a successful training business and deal with a demanding and high maintenance girlfriend. One of those last two is a (lame) joke.
So, what did I do? I’ve previously explained how I eat- clean and simple. Whole foods, plenty of meat, vegetables, nuts, berries and other fruits in moderation, the right supplementation for me and I drink plenty of water, white and green tea and a coffee a day. I make healthy and clean choices when I buy food, I prepare food in the right ways, use the right fats to cook and dress foods, and I keep pretty damn consistent with this. I’m no freak, I just take an active role in my nutrition and look after myself.
I have, however, tried one main experiment this year in terms of my diet and that is something called Intermittent Fasting (IF). This may instantly sound like a strange and drastic ploy to lose weight, and to the uneducated and unhealthy it is. For someone like me who follows the aforementioned guidelines, this can be a great addition to a healthy diet.
So what is IF? There are many different protocols for IF and the one that I followed was a weekly 24 hour fast. I started with a trial fast of one day and went from there. I didn’t do it every week, but when it suited my week depending on what I had on (but kept pretty close to each week).
Now the first thing to note is that we all fast, to some degree. It’s called eating your last meal at night, going to sleep then breaking that fast in the morning with breakfast. The clue is in the title there…
I would generally eat my last meal around 7/8pm, then the next day not eat again until somewhere between 5 and 8pm the next day. I found that 21-22 hours worked for me if that’s what suited.
What we’re looking for here is a calorie free day. I would start my day with a greens drink (Super greens or Vital greens) and over the course of the day consume green tea, white tea (this is an actual type of tea, not black tea with milk), black coffee on occasion and always have roughly 2 servings of 10g Branch Chain Amino Acids around my workout.
The absolute keys with IF and must be ticked off before undertaking is this:
- You MUST eat a clean and healthy diet to begin with
- You MUST have a history of tracking your diet and nutrition and have an awareness of what you eat and when you eat it
- You MUST use this in conjunction with a normal, healthy & clean diet (fresh, unprocessed and nutrient dense food), regular & quality sleep and appropriate training
- You have a lifestyle that will allow this kind of diet (i.e. married with 4 kids and a full time office job probably won’t allow this. But if you meet the criteria above by all means give it a crack).
If you don’t already have these things in your life then IF is some way off for you. If you do, or are interested in learning more, then check out this fantastic resource on IF by Dr John Berardi:
He outlines all the different protocols very well, as well as giving a solid base of understanding about IF’s benefit, risks and guidelines.
For me, this is something I wanted to investigate myself and experiment with before I commented on it let alone recommend it to any clients and readers. I can say that I found this relatively easy to include into my week once I got going. Before that I had scoffed at the notion initially when a friend was doing it. I said I couldn’t go that long without eating and why bother?
After having given it a consistent crack I can say that it has taught me the difference between head hunger and body hunger, not to be too concerned at times if I haven’t eaten and learn more about my body and how it reacts to food and hunger.
So that’s what happened– I used a 24 hour fast once a week (for the most part), and outside of that I maintained my healthy and nutritious diet. I did alter things for me as I progressed and found little things that helped me. Such as, I would often eat a small meal to break my fast followed by a much larger one a couple of hours later. As I also had a goal to increase lean mass, my training had to play a part in this but so did the rest of my diet, so I generally just increased the amount of food I ate throughout the week to ensure I ingested enough calories to support this. Special note here is that I increased these good calories (as above) not just ate high caloric junk.
It is especially important to note that this is not an easy way of just missing meals, and effectively slumping into some of the more common eating disorders. This is a calculated way of gaining a better understanding of hunger and your own body, reaping the certain health benefits that can come from IF in conjunction with a top notch overall diet and lifestyle and as seen in my case lose or maintain lean body fat levels while also increasing lean muscle mass.
This leads me into what else I did during this 14 week period. We all know I’ve tried a bunch of different meats and been highly entertained by these exploits of course… but my training followed certain protocols and guidelines and created some very interesting results, given what was done.
I’ll follow up next week with the specifics of this. Until then, if you have any questions about IF then comment below and I’ll get back to you. If you have any of your own experiences with IF then please share them below, or on my facebook page.
As you’ll note, I’m now posting these blogs split up into my weekly meat exploits and lifestyle, nutrition and training coaching tips as well as general guidelines for a healthy life. After all, that’s clearly what Mike Campbell is all about!
Keep an eye out for the week by week list of how these meats have progressed.
Until next time,
just wondering about IF, did you feel any loss of energy when you first did it (I assume you were working out on fasting days aswell??) or did your calorie and nutrient intake building into the fasting day just carry you through??
Cheers for the question, a good one too.
There is some solid science behind IF and what it does to the body and how it works. My first recommendation would again be to read the ebook by Dr John Berardi I mentioned above. It covers things nicely.
Also this chapter specifically:
But in short you body will start using stored body fat as fuel on a fast, which will do just that- fuel you. There are other mechanisms at play, such as increased growth hormone production and metabolic rate.
So, does intake leading up ‘get me through’? Well yes and no. My weekly nutrition before and after play a part, but other things happen in the body during the fast to ‘keep you going’. That make sense?
In terms of how’d I go initially- the first ‘trial’ fast was a learning curve, like I mentioned. Is your body actually hungry or do you just think you are and want food. That is something you’ll go through and hopefully learn. But the keys, for me, was slowly sipping on my greens drink in the morning and then the right supplements through the day, i.e. the BCAAs and I also used some glutamine with this too, especially after my workout.
So I did’t necessarily feel energy loss, but found the supps crucial to my day and hunger.
From what you’d also told me about your diet of late, I’d say give it a go, but do your reading first. Pick a day that you think it will fit and pay close attention to what happens and how you feel.
Quick note to close: Going for periods without food is something we evolved doing, and I think this has great merit for how our body works and likes to work.
Let me know how you go! Cheers for the link too!
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