IF not enough.

Health and nutrition blog post March 2022.

Another rude shock.

Blog post : well what a day !, as i write this post it’s actually mid February and where we live it’s been blowing about 80 mph in the gusts and some reports have given gusts of over 120 mph – our greenhouse is slowly coming apart so this afternoon iv’e spent a while just clearing up broken glass from that and started stripping the surviving glass off before the whole thing flies apart.

This should be the last post in my health and nutrition thread until much later in the year as i go back into boatbuilding mode and, i guess, greenhouse rebuilding mode too. In a couple of my recent posts i might have given the impression that i felt that i know enough to get on with my health reset although in fact there was already one new practical subject that i was going to discuss here simply because i didn’t get the idea of what was intended : then by coincidence i happened to watch a video which is related and, i’m glad to say, has also changed my thinking about IF (Intermittent fasting).

At the start of my health reset attempt this year i had a very rude shock when i couldn’t get on the floor and immediately crank out a set of ten press ups – well, today’s rude shock came when i thought to do a pull up every time i walked past the pull up bar out on the back deck that i use as my outdoor gym. On the first attempt i got about halfway up the pull and only once – even when i used my ‘strongest’ technique, which is to do a bicep dominated pull : it doesn’t seen so long ago that i could get five clean pull ups in a set and twenty in an exercise session.

The connection between the various threads here is that i was always a bit concerned about one of the potential side effects of fasting and intermittent fasting, plus my age, which is loss of muscle mass – just to say that i’m coming up to 64 this month and muscle loss is really something that i have to keep at bay for as long as i can. For those that don’t know this , muscle mass in men is usually at a peak in their late teens/early twenties and is then said to gradually reduce by about 1% a year. I’m probably lucky in that my past lifestyle has included rock climbing and sailing which both have a demand on upper body strength and for climbing particularly i used to do a fair amount of body weight exercise and then ten years ago i trained seriously with free weights for a couple of years. I’m thinking now that possibly fasting isn’t such a smart idea and/or i really need to combine fasting with strength training and maybe alter my fasting to a fasting mimicking diet on my usual fast days – my other thought alongside that is to adopt a more exercise based nutrition discipline in that of feeding after an exercise session when any insulin resistance would be at it’s lowest and what muscle i still have would be most receptive to recovery feeding.

In my blog iv’e written several times about my exploration and experiments with fasting and for a good while now held that my practice of intermittent fasting maybe had a single ‘one factor’ effect on my weight and health. Now…..i’m not so sure after watching a recent video by Dr Peter Attia in which he discussed a genuine trial which seems to have honestly looked at the single effect of IF against a control group that just ate at will and with no time restriction : just to say though that it’s not clear whether there were any other health changes/benefits as there should be from the same practice.

Iv’e added a link to Dr Attia’s quick video clip below and for any of my blog followers that take an interest in the subject i’ll also lay out some of his main points as well.

Link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyNII5_TRYc

  • 1. That when tested against a control group Intermittent Fasting conferred no benefit in weight loss
  • 2. In his own clinical practice of working with patients long periods of IF seem to have created or allowed a situation of muscle loss and fat gain.
  • 3. That a valuable way of thinking about modifiable factors in nutrition is that we can ‘pull on any of 3 levers – what we eat, how much we eat and when we eat…..thus qualitative change of dietary choices, caloric restriction and time restricted eating.
  • As a side note….that human nutrition and fasting doesn’t equate well with other experimental animal models – for example in mice ( a mouse dies at around 48 hours without food).
  • Effective fasting might only become so after a longer period (greater than 20 hours) but might still carry the risk of muscle loss.

I have only been following Dr Attia’s work for about a year now as a result of my own interest in fasting and in the value of exercise during a change in diet – Attia covers the subject of exercise while fasting in several video’s and in discussion with other presenter/clinicians. In his view it is essential to perform 2 very different exercise strategies during fasting – those being , firstly strength/weight training and secondly low order aerobic training, for example brisk walking. Apart from the time immediately before and after my knee surgery iv’e always walked a lot, usually a combination of road, path and off trail ; i have at times done some amount of free weight and bodyweight training…..less so last year.

I’m wondering now whether i’m just not doing enough on the strength training side given my two recent shocks of struggling with basic press ups and even more so this week with pull ups – i may also be at an age disadvantage and it’s possible that i’m not eating in the best way to minimise muscle loss after exercise. Today i’m kind-of thinking out loud as i work on a new strategy and a plan for March, what i’m heading towards i think is a return to structured strength training several times a week and in eating my main meal after exercise or at least giving myself some nutritional input, especially amino acids, after an exercise routine.

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