Why in the world would a triathlete fast for 18, 19, 20 hours every week?!?!? (updated 4/2/13 w/links)
That was the question I asked myself as I was training for the Ironman and got this idea in my head. I read a ton and enjoy the research behind different approaches to improving health. I bumped into some research from Tim Ferris (his book), then his SXSW YouTube video “hacking the human body” (while I was spinning on the trainer no less), and finally on this guy’s YouTube channel (Yuri Elkaim and video of interest). All raised points that I felt were valid, only I wondered … Could an Ironman in training fast? Since I didn’t know, I decided to put myself on a 5 week plan as follows:
Fast 1 day a week for 5 weeks and track my training performance, mental state, emotional state, and biomechanics during this period. Now I don’t have hard numbers to base this “study” on, but I am using soft metrics. I have faith in these metrics given the fixed training program I am following and the expected trajectory based on prior efforts. I am allowing water, coffee, and tea during these fasts.
I made it 19 hours. I started at 8pm Sunday night which allowed me to eat a good dinner and then sleep with food in the belly. The day went well, but I did feel “loopy” near the end, and noticed a reduction in physical strength at the end. I was able to easily handle a 90 minute hot yoga class 2 hours after finishing the fast, and a solid 3km swim in the morning. No negative effects. The positive was I did not constantly think about food all day – as a triathlete we think about food CONSTANTLY. Kinda refreshing to just forget about it completely.
A tip to success for this first effort – I planned work calls for 8 hours solid that day. This kept me focused not allowed for mental wandering that may weaken my disposition.
Week 2: (4/1/13)
Today I am trying to start the fast at 4pm! Which means I am going to bed with a little feeling of hunger. I plan to wake early 5:20 and have a yoga practice and then swim at lunch. This schedule has me wrapping up to eat lunch with a client, so fast/work balance!
Not thrilled about the going to bed hungry part thus far, but I’ll share my progress and feelings in morning…
[updated 4/2/13] Woke up around 4am a bit hungry, but easily back to sleep. Made it to hot yoga for 60 minutes at 5:30, and fully hydrated. Balance felt a bit off (this is around the 15 hour mark) on some poses. Easy turn at the shower and working with my black coffee. Feel much stronger (mentally) than I thought I would after the yoga.