My Experience After 2+ Years of Intermittent Fasting

My Experience After 2+ Years of Intermittent Fasting

 

I made a video in the past talking about intermittent fasting(before this one).

It was about a year ago, which was a little more than a year into my journey. In that video, I talked about my experiences and why I thought it would be beneficial for most people to engage in a regular fast. Since then…. It’s come to my attention that a lot of my followers have questions about fasting. 

At this point, I've been doing intermittent fasting pretty much daily for 2 years and a couple of months....... give or take. Zach O'Malley vegan bodybuilder

questions about intermittent fasting

How can I schedule it into my life? What will it make me feel? Will I get tired? Will I get hungry? What can I consume that won’t take me out of the “fasted” state? 


Well my friends…. All of these questions and more will be answered in just a brief moment. 

I’m going to try and make this article a nicely well rounded explanation of intermittent fasting from a scientific standpoint, as well as my own personal experience. 


  • We’re going to be focusing on a variant of fast that is considered “time restricted eating.” There are a million different kinds of fasts. You have things like 5 days fed, 2 days fasted. This is essentially where you eat normally for 5 days, and go with only water for 2 days. Some people argue that you can also eat 500-600 calories during these “fast” days. You also have the “day on-day off” method. This is quite simply: one day fed, one day fasted.

I have a lot of issues with these kinds of methods, which I will explain in a way that’s brief, but hopefully helps you understand better why I utilize the method that I do, and why I think you should too. 

Firstly, keep your fast...... an actual fast. If you’re going to try to leverage the benefits of a fasted state, don’t fuck it up by drinking BCAA’s or vanilla frappe’s. There is a lot of argument as to whether things like Coffee, Tea, or nutrient waters will take you out of a fasted state. There are people that say that they’re fasting but eat fruit or a protein shake outside of their feeding window. 


From my experience, things like coffee or tea that basically have no nutritional value or substance aren’t going to mess up your fast. IF your body doesn’t need to do anything to process it, you’re in the clear. 

So think about actual substantial food that’s providing you nutrients. You need to switch on your metabolism in order to process these foods, and thus you’re going to leave your fasted state. 

My advice? Don’t do it. Go vegan and be healthy

That leads us into the topic of consistency….. Which is the backbone for just about every single lifestyle hack that you can utilize. Things like 5/2 or 1/1 day fasted splits are just too hard to maintain. Your body is going to experience serious energy fluctuations, and that’s hard to operate with. Perhaps it would be easier to maintain if you’re still eating a little bit on your “fasted fays”.... But then they’re not really fasted days are they? 

You’re not going to garner the same results as someone who is fasting regularly… like every single day. Just being real with ya. 

I think the 16:8 is the way to go. Consistency is going to allow you to generate results and not have to worry about some 48 hour time period of lethargy. I personally have done periodic fasts of up to 72 hours, and I’ll tell you what….. You don’t want to be driving or claim responsibility for anything important on those days. 

Fuck that. 16:8 is the way to go! 


And it’s as simple as that. 16 hours fasted…. 8 hour feeding window. Every. Single. Day. 

Intermittent fasting time restricted eating clock

I sometimes shrink the window…. But it’s not hard at all if you think about it. You’re probably asleep between 7-9 of those fasted hours. That leaves only 6 hours or so that you need to fast while you’re awake. It’s easy as hell people. I typically wait until about 2pm to break my fast, and then stop eating around 8. I’ll allow myself until 10, but I find that it’s tougher for me to sleep with food in my stomach. 


We’ll come back to managing an effective fasting schedule later on, but for now I want to tackle the science. The WHY. The SUPERPOWERS! 


For Fat Loss


Fasting is going to put your body into a state of autophagy. Autophagy literally means “to eat thy self.” Your cells will begin to enter this state of autophagy, which means they’re breaking down parts that are unnecessary, and recycling them to build new cells.

Jason Fung

This article by Dr. Jason Fung is a great read to help you understand autophagy, and it's role in fasting. Check it out: https://www.dietdoctor.com/renew-body-fasting-autophagy


Forcing your body into a fasted state is also creating massive hormonal changes.....  

 

 

 

A decrease in insulin levels 

 Insulin is a hormone that regulates how much glucose is in your blood. Insulin increases when we eat. When we fast, insulin decreases dramatically. Lower levels of insulin facilitate fat burning. 


Norepinephrine (noradrenaline): Norepinephrine is a chemical that exists within the body as a neurotransmitter. It’s engaged when the body enters states similar to what might be considered “fight or flight.” Fasting is one such state. When your brain sends norepinephrine to your fat cells, the chemical is breaking down fat into free-to-use fatty acids that can be burned for energy. This is similar to the process of autophagy.


I have to wonder how this process might be hindered by consistent fasting. Wouldn’t the body get used to the regularity of your fasting, and no longer enter a “fight or flight mode?”

I can only speculate. 

 

It’s easier to restrict calories

This is an aspect that on the surface to me sounds dangerous. I’ve never been a big fan of the IDEA of caloric restriction, but I’ve never been someone trying to lose a lot of weight. At the end of the day, if you wanna lose weight you need to be in a caloric deficit


I will concede that if done correctly, it can be safe and it can be healthy. Intermittent fasting is a great way to do that. You’ll be able to get a much better idea of how much you’re eating, and if you want to go all the way and count your calories(which if you’re serious about transforming your body, you should do!), now you have a short cut and can batch this task SO much easier! 


Another added bonus is that you can be healthier…. Easier! Since your meal time is much more focused and for a shorter period, hopefully you can be more mindful of every aspect of the practice. Everyone who follows my content regularly knows I am a HUGE proponent of mindfulness. 


A shorter eating window gives you more insight into how healthy your food choices are! 

__________________________________________________________________________

Muscle Gain

muscle vegan fasting intermittent fasting

My original reason for starting intermittent fasting was because I’d heard that it was effective for muscle building. I was pretty regularly watching Jon Venus on YouTube, and he was a regular practitioner of time restricted eating, and other fasting practices.

That….. And I’d heard Arnold talk about the practice. And everyone knows… when Arnold speaks? You better listen. 

Your body is regularly producing a substance called HGH, or human growth hormone. When you enter a fasted state, the amount of HGH being produced in your body skyrockets. I’m not exactly sure of the relationship between time fasted>HGH production, but there certainly is correlation. 

Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC329619/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1548337

_____________________________________________________________________

Dialing it in

So how can you take advantage of intermittent fasting to reach your goals?

Over the last few days, I’ve been asking my social media followers about their experiences and questions regarding regular fasting. For the most part, I’ve been met with the same question over and over:

How can I incorporate this into my schedule?


Guys, this really comes down to scheduling. Healthy fasting is, in my opinion, another step up in difficulty(and likewise, reward) on one’s health and fitness journey. 

I don’t say this to dissuade you from trying! Simply, I want you to realize that for me intermittent fasting wasn’t hard. It was actually an all around win. 

I was already used to planning out meals. I was eating 6-8 times a day on average. Each meal would be 500-700 calories, and I’d eat every few hours. If I was smart, I would be meal prepping twice a week and packing food for the day. If I was stupid(the usual case… like 85% of the time ya feel me), I was frantically making and eating food wherever I could find time during the day. This was stressing me out, wasting my time, and killing my gains. 

YEA............. OK


I was still 3x as strong and aesthetic as the average joe, but average isn’t a great thing to compare yourself too. I wasn’t where I KNEW I COULD BE. That was a constant weight on my metaphorical shoulders.

vegan bodybuilder

Fast forward to the discovery of intermittent fasting. I still should eat the same amount of calories. I’m still trying to gain size and strength right? But now…. I don’t have to time anything throughout the day. I don’t have to worry about finding time at work, or rush to eat food if I wake up late. 


Some people might think it’s going to require you to cram a bunch of food down your throat in a short period of time…. But come on people! You have 8 hours! That’s not exactly a speed date with the dinner plate.


The bottom line is a good plan. No matter who you are or where you are on the scale of newb to elite iron-pumper….. A strong schedule will benefit you tremendously. This is something I’ve been getting better and better at, so let me share my insight with you fine folk. 


This is gunna be cut and dry. I’ll try to create a more fleshed out strategy for meal prep/planning in the future. Let me know in the comments if that’s something you’d like to see!


  1. The recipe list. 

You need to know what you’re going to eat before you eat it. If you’re a regular human being, you’ve got things going on in your day-to-day experience. One of the best ways to prepare for failure is to prepare nothing at all. 


“Oh hey it’s time to eat! Let me go in the kitchen and see what I have.” 


Maybe you have literally nothing to do all day, and you can impromptu just walk in the kitchen and take 45 minutes to make something and then eat it. Nice! Too bad that’s not me or 99% of Earth. 


I recommend you figure out what you like to eat on a regular basis…. And what kinds of healthy meals you’d be willing to eat a few days a week. Compile this list, and then google some recipes. 


Try and find recipes that are low in salt and sugar. This is a good rule of thumb for healthy eating. Want access to tons of tasty recipes? Check out my recipes HERE


  1. The Grocery List. 

Now that you know what you’ll be eating every week, you can break down the recipes into ingredient lists. Compile those ingredients, and now you have your weekly grocery list. 

Recommendation: Eat before you hit the store so you don’t impulse buy. Eating to meet fitness goals can get expensive, so don’t make it worse by buying dumb shit. 


  1. The Execution

I think even with an eating window of 6-8 hours, you should still prepare food ahead of time. Schedule out 3 times throughout your week when you can take 45 minutes to an hour to make food in bulk. You should then ration out food into containers based on meal/day. I try to have 3 big containers of food for each day, not including fruits/veggies which I eat in the raw form…. Meaning not chopped up into a salad. 


This step is going to vary in difficulty/execution from person to person. Again…. Some people have the time to make food on the spot. Personally, I don’t. Most likely, neither do you. What you need to do is figure out what your goals are… how much you need to eat(calories/macros/etc.) and then plan accordingly. 

If you’d like help with this, please feel free to contact me and we can make a plan together! 


 

My Results: 


Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the results I’ve personally seen: 

-Much leaner. My bodyfat percentage stays low at all times. I have a strong diet a fitness regimen that’s pretty much always kept me this way…. But sometimes it falters and you gain some fat. Doesn’t happen if I’m fasting. I could eat pretty horribly one day, and as long as I maintain a daily fast for the next couple days, I’m not going to see my abs start disappearing. 

-More muscle. I really need to be better about explaining how these things are happening from a scientific standpoint, but as of now I approach things more from the position of feeling. I feel like when I wait to eat, and shirnk my eating window overall, my body is using the nutrients I consume more effectively, and thus I’m making gains more effectively. It feels like it’s working…. It looks like it’s working….. The scale says it’s working(getting heavier)...... my lifts say it’s working(weights are increasing). 

Survey says…. It’s working :)

-It feels better physically. I generally feel more energy. I feel “cleaner” if that makes sense. Less stinky after more time…. Less greasy… etc. 

-My thoughts are clearer. You could say my energy is clearer as well, though I know that doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. I don’t have brain fog as much, or as heavily as I did before I was fasting regularly. This makes it easier for me to set intentions, to stay focused, and to get things done. I’m less distracted. For those of you working on spiritual practices, this is one of the best ways to get in touch with your energy and find the states of being you’re looking for. 

There are in fact many studies that prove not just clearer thought process as a benefit of regular fasting, but a decrease in the potential of debilitating illness such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. 

Here's a link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29307281

 

Friends, I hope this has been helpful for you. If you're interested in intermittent fasting and would like to take the next step in making it work for you in your life, let's get in touch! You can work with me 1-on-1 to reach whatever fitness and lifestyle goals you're creating for yourself. 

work with me fitness vegan fasting

 

Questions? Comments? Drop em below, or send me a DM on instagram!


Leave a comment