I'm currently experimenting with a Leangains-type intermittent fasting regimen in an attempt to lean out/cut some body fat. It's going well so far. I can manage the hunger for 16 hours no sweat, but I'm unsure on a few things:
Is it best to train fasted and just take some BCAA's before? I haven't attempted this yet since my workouts include a 5 mile run 2 or 3 days a week. I'm not sure if I can crank that out w/o eating for 16 hours. My other workout days (2 or 3 days a week) involve some light weights (I've just taken up weightlifting..), kettle bell swings/pushups/air squats with a little cardo at the end for 30 mins. I work out 5 days a week with 2 days off regardless of what I'm doing... I've only done the IF from 10pm to 2pm or so for a few days. I'm eating a small high protein meal/snack before I work out, since I'm pretty hungry by then. I work out at 6pm. It's the only time I can jam it in my day.
Also, during my fast, I have one or too coffees with a tablespoon or two of half and half (no sugar) in it around 10am, just to keep focused at work and because it's something I greatly enjoy. Is this blowing my fasted state out of the water? I'm reading conflicting things here and there, and wondering what your experiences are.
I'm looking to reduce body fat a bit and build strength. I don't want to lose weight, as I'm 5'5" and 115.
You're going to get a couple of different answers on this one as every body is different, as is every workout, every meal. My base understanding is you should have around 4-8 grams prior to your workout and 4-8 grams post workout. If you are taking a whey protein supplement that has the full range of essential amino acids you do not need the post workout BCAA. I think you can go up to 15g but am not positive. Also, I think that if you are utilizing whey, creatine, and a multivitamin.. and you've stalled.. then BCAA's are the next step.
Here is a Leangains thread that might be helpful re: your coffee/milk (excerpt): No calories are to be ingested during the fasted phase, though coffee, calorie free sweeteners, diet soda and sugar free gum are ok (even though they might contain trace amount of calories). A tiny splash of milk in your coffee won’t affect anything either (½-1 teaspoon of milk per cup at the most - use sparingly and sensibly if you drink a lot of coffee). Neither will sugar free gum in moderation (~20 g).
If it helps, I work out 4-5 days - CrossFit + heavy lifting. Without any supplementing and in less than a year I have built 12lbs+ of lean muscle and am strong and fast, muscles are still growing :) I had to cut out my 100+ miles a week cycling to get to that point as the cycling was counterintuitive of my weight gain. Cut down to 20+ miles a week and the muscle started to build. The only supps in my house: Iron/B12/Fish Oil/ZMA.
It took several months of tinkering with my food and now I go in fasted, have no problems with any of my workouts slowing down, food within 30 minutes to replenish. Protein, sweet potato, veg, fruit. I eat like a mofo so I'm about 4lbs of meat a week, 4-5lbs tubers + sweet potatoes, and then the rest is fruit, tons of leafy green veg, seasonal squash + other veg. Nuts have been temporarily eliminated. Dairy is in my 1 cup o joe a day + a sheep yogurt. If I'm feeling sassypants then a few bites of raw cheese will make it in. And yes.. tasty dark chocolate.
Nerd Stuff: Meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and some veg are naturally high in BCAA'S and glutamines if you want to test that route first. This is kind of cool: nutrition data tool, click Tools then Nutrient Search and you can get a list of what's highest in ______.
Note: 5'7, lean, and running about 123-125 right now.
First off, and this is conventional advice that is worth listening to, you need to decide if you are wanting to burn fat or build muscle. You can certainly do both, particularly if you're new to weight lifting, but as some point you'll have a question on a specific detail and the answer will depend on what your priority is.
There is plenty of evidence that training in a fasted state has advantages. Many take BCAA's because they are terrified of breaking down muscle, despite this being the whole reason they are lifting weights. If you can afford it, it probably won't do too much harm. On the other hand, it's not exactly paleo so the long term view may be that you should workout less if you can't manage without supplementation. With a bit of time though, you should be able to manage. In fact endurance events are arguably easier when you adjust. I can crank out a 5 mile run after not eating for days - particularly if I get to eat at the end of it! So I don't think there's any reason to be afraid of trying it. If you really have to stop short then just slowly build up to the distance you want.
The fasted state is really going to be more advantageous for the weight lifting/muscle building days, but you'll probably be gaining strength early on anyway so if it's impractical to maintain the fast for 20+ hours then I wouldn't worry about eating before the workout - if you're hungry, eat. If you're looking to build muscle the most important thing is to make sure you are sufficiently fed. If you're wanting to lose weight, you want to make sure you don't overdo it (and preferably cut back on training and food to a sustainable level). Or you can go harder one week and easier the next. Or try eating after a weight session until your next run, then fasting for 24 hours until your next weight session and so on. Whatever keeps you feeling good, strong, and sleeping well is going to be effective - and if it's only one day a week you may be surprised how much of a difference that can make.
Bottom line - really focus on the quality/type of food you're eating. Everything else should then fall into palce if you let it.
How does IF effect your sleep? 8 Answers
The case against Intermittent Fasting 3 Answers