Motivation Monday: Intermittent Fasting

I have this feeling many people are thinking the way I used to think when I started to read up on fitness and nutrition;

fasting is unhealthy and will break down muscle tissue after just a couple of hours.

This thinking is just factually wrong. Though, it might not be for everyone, there are several health benefits to intermittent fasting, and I’m about to tell you some.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is when you eat your daily intake within a certain amounts of hours. The time you give yourself to eat is called your ‘eating window’. As humans we naturally have fasting periods. We don’t eat when we sleep, meaning one’s fasting period will be the hours we sleep, and the hours before and after sleep we stop or start eating. Most people who don’t use IF mostly stick to something similar to a 12:12 fast, meaning they fast (sleep and don’t eat) for 12 hours and consume their daily intake withing the 12 remaining hours of the day. This way of eating might leave 2-4 hours between each meal.

IF means you decrease the amount of hours in your eating window and increase your fasting time. The most common one is 16:8 where you don’t eat for 16 hours (6-10 of these you sleep) and eat your daily intake during the remaining 8 hours. Many use this eating pattern as a way to lose weight since eating your daily intake within 8 hours can make it seem like more, than spreading it across 12 hours. But it also has several health benefits for those just looking to get healthier, or it might just work better for your lifestyle in general – the best way of eating is the one you can stick to for it to become a daily routine, while enjoyable.

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How I use intermittent fasting and why?

I first started IF during my last year of school before the navy, at the age of 18. I’d never been big on breakfast and would always feel nauseous after eating ‘too early’. Since I didn’t feel hungry in the morning naturally I had no issues waiting until around 12-13 in the day to start eating. After a while I could feel my concentration get stronger in the mornings before eating and I stopped snacking as much as I used to because I could eat bigger meals during the day and therefore not feel hungry, especially during the evenings.

During my time in the navy I mostly did shift work so it would be natural to wait to eat until later in the day when my shifts spanned from 11 pm to 8 am.

Today I follow the 16:8 IF, having my first meal at 12-13 and stop eating at 20-21. Usually I will drink black coffee and water during the fast as I’m not at the level of needing supplements during my fast (BCAA and others) at the moment.

What does the science say?

  • IF might fight against chronic disease: Many studies suggest IF can trigger an increased production of growth hormones and neurogenesis in the brain it might help fight against chronic illnesses and aging.
  • Increased concentration: The increased neurogenesis in the brain might also boost your concentration levels.
  • It might keep you fuller, longer: A lot of people think smaller, more frequent meals will keep you fuller through the day. Some never studies has shown that 3 meals a day vs. 6 meals a day can lead to a greater feeling of fullness. One of the reasons for this is because of the higher levels of protein each meal would have if you eat 3 times a day vs. 6 times a day, and protein makes one feel fuller, longer.
  • Possible weight loss: When you are giving your body constant nutrition it can use that nutrition as fuel through the day. If you’re going many hours of the day fasting there is a potential your body will need to use your fat stores as energy until you have your feeding window. With the chance of increased feeling of fullness a calorie deficit might be easier to stick to, which will then result in a weight loss. IF is not a diet and will not result in weight loss unless you are in a calorie deficit.
  • It might turn on fat-burning genes: Some studies show that IF potentially can increase the activity of genes that increase fat oxidation; burning of fat. This can put you in a greater deficit despite not increasing your food intake or increasing your energy usage.
  • Might aid against emotional eating: Since you can feel fuller, longer IF might help aid against emotional eating or boredom snacking.

There is a lot of good reasons to try out IF, but you also have to make sure you reach your daily calorie intake that you need. Some might misuse it as a way to under eat, which will have very negative effects on the body during the long-run.

The most important thing to take into consideration is if it’s something you could do in the long term and would still enjoy. Some people like to have several meals, or just a few but with several hours between them – and if that works for you, then you should continue to do so!

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Motivation Monday: Why I Love Hill Sprints

When I was at my fittest, 1 year to 6 months before joining the navy (yes I was fitter before the navy than when in the navy) I had one ‘trick’ that increased my overall fitness several levels higher with only a couple of rounds a week: Hill Sprints.

I know, I know. Hill sprints can seem like a scary thing. Not only does it involve sprinting, but also hills. But trust me, this is a secret weapon I wish more people tried out.

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How I use hill sprints

I got my eyes on hill sprints when I was about 17-18 years old. I was training for my first (and so far only) half marathon and my recruitment in the navy. At the time I would easily get bored with longer runs and couldn’t always find the motivation. After stumbling over an article about hill sprints I decided that I should give it a go.  After the first session I was hooked. As I got closer and closer to my half marathon I was doing 2-3 sessions of hill sprints with 1-2 days in-between, 1 3-5km trail run and one longer run from 8-15 km long. My times improved every week without having to run miles after miles to get ready.

If you are working out for fat-loss (let’s be real, a lot of us do) I can also confirm that my baby abs started to show after a couple of weeks too.

Incorporating hill sprints into my routine gave me more time for other things since I wasn’t spending 1h+ on longer runs during the week and after a while I was craving the feeling of giving my all in a short session – knowing it would end soon.

When the day finally came I finished my 21km half marathon in about 2 hours and 15 minutes – which I am well proud of since I’m not the kind of person ‘made’ for long distance.

What does the science say?

  • Reduced risk of repetitive stress: Hill sprints shouldn’t take long and you don’t need many sessions a week to see results if you keep a high intensity. Steady-state cardio like running can in some cases cause injuries in form of repetitive stress – shin splints are a common sign of repetitive stress.
  • Hill sprints are anabolic: Anabolic exercises build muscle and hill sprints require you to use a lot of strength both in your lower body to get yourself up the hill, but also your core to keep you stable and upright, and arms to pump. Steady-state cardio increases your levels of cortisol because you need to do it longer. Increased levels of cortisol puts stress on your body which decreases your insulin sensitivity. Excessive cardio also makes the body lose body weight (both muscle and fat) to continue the cardio easier.
  • It’s a form of HIIT: Hill sprints are a great way of getting in your weekly High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is entirely individual which means you’ll get results no matter what your ‘high intensity’ is. As long as you’re making sure you do it at such a hard level where you cannot keep a conversation you will see results in your anaerobic and aerobic levels.
  • It takes less time: If you’re the type who cannot find the motivation to do 30-60 min of cardio during your weekly cardio sessions you might want to look into hill sprints. Hill sprints can give you similar results in less time if you remember to keep the intensity high.

If you are trying to increase your general fitness level, become faster and/or lose fat I highly recommend you try a couple of hill sprints before you decide to incorporate it into your schedule or not.

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Have you tried hill sprints – love it, hate it or neutral?

 

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