In the last 15 days everything I knew about nutrition and food went out of the window.
Things that I would try to follow diligently:
- Heavy breakfast, normal lunch and light food (salad) for dinner
- Avoid rice as much as possible
- Healthy snacking every 2-3 hours
- Banana before every run
- Milk every morning
This is what I had been trying to follow for the last few years.
And this what am doing right now :
- No breakfast, normal lunch and normal dinner
- Running on empty stomach. Except for very long runs (21km)
- Little or no snacking
- No food for 16 hours (from 9 pm to 1 pm)
- No milk
- Rice on most days
This is called Intermittent fasting, where you don’t eat anything for 16 hours and take all your calories in 8 hours. An IG handle started following me recently and since his posts are on fitness, I followed back. This guy who lives in Gurgaon talks about IF on IG stories and it got me interested. I had read this article on IF years back.
During the same time, Arun Chahal (TRX master trainer in India, owner of Chefingo and a fitness trainer) put up a post on facebook about his 4 weeks meal plan.
The last time I tried a “diet” from a nutritionist 2-3 years back at Fitness First, I swore at that lady and the gym and decided never to try such gimmicks again. Despite telling the nutritionist that I needed carbs in my diet since I run half marathons and don’t want to crash diet, she gave me a plan where I had to eat vegetables for breakfast. I tried it for 1 day, started to feel woozy and had a hearty, unhealthy breakfast. I ended up gaining weight during the period.
My expectations from Arun’s plan were low. But it wasn’t costing me too much money so I decided to try it. I gave my workout and training details and he suggested IF. I felt ready to try IF because skipping meals was something I do on many days when I eat a heavy meal. Example, lunch is heavy so skip dinner. Or if I don’t have time to cook breakfast (rare days), I may end up skipping it altogether. Working out in a fasted state is something I have been doing on and off. My short runs are on an empty stomach and so are the morning weight training sessions.
Despite a hectic week with long meetings in Gurgaon, I started the IF meal plan. I had decided to stop the plan if I felt any loss of energy or it affected my workout sessions.
This is what happened in the 10 days that I was on IF:
- I had to cook 1 meal less everyday. And conveniently, Arun’s meal has same food for lunch and dinner. I am perfectly ok with eating the same food everyday so this was very convenient. I had to cook ONLY 1 meal everyday and I was sorted.
- There was minimal snacking making it very convenient. Organizing meals everyday became easier.
- The plan had rice (white or brown) and veg gravy/chicken. No gimmicks. Simple food that is easy to cook or order in.
- Skipping 1 meal means 300-500 calories reduction everyday. I was struggling to eat within my calories and it was impossible most days if I was eating every 3 hours.
- My 1st short run was difficult and I felt out of energy but few days later the 15 km run in a fasted state was normal. The trick was to eat some carbs the day before or the night before
- I didn’t fast the day before my Sunday 21 km run. I had dinner at 9 pm and a banana at 6.30 am before the run.
I lost more than 1 kg of fat in less than 15 days which is excellent. I have been struggling to shed the fat and eat right. Of course, I was careful about sticking to the plan and avoided sugar, junk, desserts etc. And though I was supposed to consume same calories in 8 hours or 2-3 meals, I found it impossible. Earlier, I was eating 500 calories each in 3 meals and 200 calories total 3 snacks; now I was consuming 500 calories each in 2 meals and 100 calories in 1 snack. It was impossible for me to consume more than 500 calories in a meal. I had worry about not eating enough on somedays. Not because of the meal plan but because am not used to snacking after dinner. I still can’t do it.
I am not recommending IF. You have to change your workouts and food every few months to shake up your body and IF is doing that for me right now. But I have realized that we eat so much more than we need to. The less you eat, the lesser clutter in life. I don’t have to worry about food anymore. It’s one less thing to organize.
If you want to try IF, try it slowly. Can you workout in a fasted state? Skip breakfast on a day and see how it feels. Doesn’t feel good? Don’t do it.
In terms of science, IF works well because your body starts using fat reserves for energy after 12 hours of no food. That can’t happen if you eat every 3 hours. Ditto for workouts in fasted state.
I have 2 more weeks on Arun’s plan and I may or may not continue further but IF will stay for the next few months. Will update on social media in another 2 weeks.
If you have any questions, drop me a line on facebook/Twitter/Instagram or comment on this post.