The simple things will take you far.
One of those basics is reducing inflammation, improving cellular repair, and increasing the hormones of youth.
That sounds like a tall order. At best, one that might require an expensive trip to a center that isn’t covered by insurance, at worst, buying some very questionable supplements.
But, there is a simple tool that you can use that doesn’t cost anything, doesn’t require downloading an app to your phone or anything like that.
It’s called Intermittent Fasting.
I’ve known about IF for years and have kind of (but not really) done it for a few stretches, but never really stuck with it.
I have a number of coaches and experts who I trust and over the years they’ve talked about the benefits of Intermittent Fasting. But, because I wanted to put on muscle and because I was scared to lose any more weight, I never gave it a proper go.
This time is different. I follow a number of athletes on social media and seeing their results and hearing their stories convinced me to go all in.
Two of those athletes are Josh Bridges and Rich Froning. Both of them are top level CrossFit athletes. Both put in hours per day of training. I usually train hard for one hour per day. So if these guys can train while fasting for 16 hours out of the day with their set of demands, I can certainly do it.
The thing that convinced me to go all in was the results on their blood work. Josh mentioned that he was on the low end of normal for his testosterone. He was in the high 300’s/low 400’s. At the end of 30 days of Intermittent Fasting he was in the high 700’s. Rich Froning had similar results. You can check out their stories below.
I already know that I’m probably on the low end of normal, plus I’m not getting any younger, so those results caught my attention.
Now for those out there who want to talk about “the wisdom of aging” and how it’s just the way of things, and gosh I should let those halcyon days of having testosterone, growth hormone, and the other hormones of youth go quietly into the night, I have this to say from a clinical perspective: low testosterone increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, weight gain, metabolic syndrome, decreased muscle mass, fatigue, and a host of other issues.
Like I said, in the past I tried to make my mornings easier by adding butter and coconut oil to my coffee (AKA Bulletproof). This time I’m sticking with regular, black coffee. Nothing added. I was letting fear and an addiction to comfort hold me back.
Now I follow a strict fast. No calories for 16 hours. Like Josh and Rich, I fast from 8 or 9 pm until noon or 1 pm the next day. So far it’s been easy, even in the first two weeks which are supposed to be the most difficult, and I’m noticing a difference in terms of energy.
Side note: men tend to have an easier time on longer fasts (IE 16 hours), women tend to do better on slightly shorter fasts (14 hours).
As for body composition, you still need to eat and ideally hit certain numbers (IE 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, and roughly a 30/30/40 split on calories from protein, fat, and carbohydrate respectively). Full disclosure: I don’t measure my food, I just read a few labels and eyeball it most of the time. If things aren’t going the right way, then dial it in with more focus.
Generally it’s not a mystery that multiple adult beverages and ice cream don’t help with body composition. Fix the obvious problems first.
If you want to lose fat, you need to maintain a caloric deficit, and if you want to gain muscle, then you need to be in a surplus.
I’m stoked to pursue some goals around strength and gaining muscle while staying lean as well as simply having more energy and focus for everyday life.
Intermittent Fasting isn’t for everyone. If you have a history of disordered eating or if you’ve got thyroid issues, this probably isn’t a good strategy.
For more of the science behind Intermittent Fasting, Doctor Valter Longo delivered a great TED Talk on the subject.
I don’t know about you, but I intend to play the long game. And that means doing the simple, repeatable things that are going to stack the odds in my favor. This isn’t a call to go full-on David Goggins intense, but putting aside some comfort might not be a bad idea.
Charlie Levine, Owner 513FIT
“While hard work does do things, intelligent work does superior things.”
– Percy Cerutty