Intermittent Fasting: A Female Perspective

Posted on by Ben Bruno

Yesterday I made a blog post sharing some of my thoughts about intermittent fasting and saying how I plan on giving it a try. I received a lot of great feedback from people who have done it or are currently doing it, and I am even more convinced than before that it’s worth a concerted try.

One thing I noticed, however, was that pretty much all of the feedback came from dudes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I thought it’d be cool from a dudet as well. With that in mind, I want to share a guest blog from my good friend Neghar Fonooni.

If you read my blog with any regularity then you already know Neghar because I regularly feature her videos and articles. Neghar is one of the strongest people I know. Note that I said “people” and not “chicks.” That was intentional because honestly, she puts most guys to shame.

Funny sidenote: Neghar was showing me how to do a bottoms-up kettlebell press one time with I think 16kg or 20kg and was just making it ridiculously easy. Since she weights about 120 pounds, I figured it must be a breeze, so I nonchalantly grabbed the kettlebell and tried to press it myself. Uh, not so much. Epic fail. I walked away with my tail between my legs and that was that. Neghar didn’t even seem phased, probably because she’s used to making guys feel like wusses.

Oh, and I forget to mention that she’s also a friggin’ knockout to boot.

Back to the point though, Neghar uses Intermittent Fasting herself, so I thought it’d be appropriate to share her thoughts. She originally wrote this for Strengthcoach.com, but it really applies to what I’ve been talking about, so I wanted to share it here too. I really like what she has to say, and she brings us things about Intermittent Fasting that I hadn’t even considered.

With that, I’ll turn it over to her. [Exits stage left]

[Neghar enters…]

Eat several times per day. Eat only small meals. Never go hungry. Keep your metabolism fueled. That is what I have been taught to think and what I have taught my clients for the past several years. That is how countless people have lost body fat (myself included) and created a new food paradigm. I was of the school of thought that fasting was “dangerous” for your metabolism and could slow or even halt your body’s ability to burn fat.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am in no way insinuating that eating this way is not a beneficial, safe and effective option. What I realized this year, however, is that there is another way (several, in fact) and that one method does not fit all, at all times in every circumstance. My preoccupation with food preparation, portioning and eating every few hours was starting to take its toll. I was food obsessed and it had to stop.

I had heard a lot about Intermittent Fasting through the community and always thought, “absolutely, no way, not for me, EVER.” It wasn’t until John Berardi of Precision Nutrition published a free e-book on his experiments with fasting, did I begin to give it any serious thought. I read the e-book and subsequently decided to self-experiment to see how my body and mind would react to fasting. I started with one 16 hour fast per week, and now I fast almost every day for 15-17 hours. I began by only fasting on my non-training days and now I train fasted almost exclusively. I have no way of knowing if this method of eating will work for me a year from now, but I am confident that it’s the best method for me NOW and here’s why:

1. I created a healthy relationship with food.

As long as I can remember I have been food obsessed. I would count down the hours, even minutes, until it was “time” for me to eat again. If I wanted to eat something outside of my schedule or my plan, I felt guilt and shame. This usually resulted in weekend binging on cookies and pizza only to start the same strict cycle again on Monday. I was tired of thinking about food, preparing so many meals and worst of all-watching the clock. Intermittent Fasting allows me to go about my day without the thought of eating. I typically eat my first meal between 1-2 and my last meal between 7-9. Most of the time I eat lots of protein, vegetables and healthy fats but every now and then I don’t. I also do not require myself to fast. Meaning, if I want to eat, I eat and if I want to fast I fast. This has rid me of the guilt and the unhealthy ties I have associated with eating. I think about food much less, and more importantly when I am thinking about it, I am most certainly not obsessing over it. I feel a mental and emotional freedom that I gained mostly as a result of my fasting experiment.

2. I eat more at once.

Although I have (mostly) shed the negative food relationships of my past, I still love eating. I love cooking, creating healthy recipes and most of all, I love enjoying food and feeling satiated. Fasting allows me to have bigger meals in a smaller feeding window instead of tiny meals all day long. At first, the small meals really worked for me. They held me accountable, kept me energized and controlled my caloric intake. After a while I began to feel deprived and wanted more. I had constant cravings and often overate as a coping mechanism. In one sitting I will often eat 3 eggs scrambled with veggies and cheese, ½ an avocado and 4 slices of nitrate free bacon. For a girl my size, that’s a lot of food-yet I maintain a very low body fat, a lean physique and I get to enjoy a larger meal.

3. I spend less money and time on food.

Although my caloric intake is probably about the same, I actually buy less food because eating less often allows me to buy fewer varieties of food. Since I only eat 2-3 times per day, I don’t mind eating the same thing every day for a week. I buy less, waste less and prepare less. Now I spend a fraction the money I used to on weekly groceries and have much more time to write, train and study without having to plan, prepare and pack so many meals. I’m more productive and I have more money in my pocket!

4. I have better training sessions.

Initially, I doubted my ability to train in a fasted state. In the past I have felt shaky and weak if I hadn’t eaten for a few hours and my training would suffer. I felt instant anxiety at the thought of training fasted, until I realized that there was a method, not an accidental starvation period. When I adhered to the method, I discovered that not only could I train fasted, I liked it. I had a greater mental clarity and focus, and felt much more alert and energized. Typically I eat at 8 or 9 the night before, train at 11:30 or 12 with a BCAA and beta-alanine supplement and then eat a large, clean meal around 2. My lifts have not suffered at all. In fact, I have hit several PRs, including a 20kg strict pullup and 72kg single leg deadlifts. I will say, however, that sprints or other intense conditioning work at the tail end of a fasted training session have proved more difficult, especially if I haven’t taken the supplements.

Editors Note: I think she’s sandbagging us a little here. From the looks of things, she is still busting out some pretty crazy conditioning work that would leave most of us gassed.

Ultimately, I don’t call myself an intermittent faster and I subscribe to no dogma. This is part of my journey towards a healthy nutrition paradigm. But, Intermittent Fasting is something that has given me new insight to my body and my relationship with food, as well as helped me develop a more open mind to concepts outside of my comfort zone.

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To find more from Neghar, you can go to her website at http://www.negharfonooni.com/.

Also be sure to join her Facebook page called Eat, Lift, and Be Happy and also subscribe to her awesome You Tube channel.

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Don’t forget, if you want to learn more about Intermittent Fasting, John Romaniello just released a great new comprehensive guide that also includes a full training program to go along with it. The program is on sale right now for more than half off, but the sale doesn’t last long. There are also some big bonuses if you act quickly, so now is the time to buy. You can check it out HERE.

Have a great day!

  • Chad

    The best and one of the original resources on IF can be found here: http://www.leangains.com/

    • negf03

      Absolutely, Chad! I refer people to that website ALL the time!

      • Andrew Firth

        Marianne from myomytv steered me in the direction of the leangains site and after reading the information thought like yourself it was worth a try as up till then I was consuming 6 – 8 small meals a day. Let’s just say I now consum 2 meals, i am leaner now and haven’t lost a pick of muscle mass.

        I love it and recommend to all my clients.

        Good luck

        Andrew

  • http://twitter.com/SarahLaur Sarah

    Great post. I too have experimented with IF from 16 hour fasting periods to 24 hour periods as outlined by the Warrior Diet. I love the way I feel now, but before I started making changes, I often felt weak during my workouts – mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t eating anything during the day (I usually train in the evening after work). My main issue was that I couldn’t manage to stuff down enough calories during my one meal, and my weight started to drop below what I felt was an appropriate standard (I’m 5’7 and was 120 lbs). I started following Pat Flynn’s concentrated carb dosing regimen, eating 30 or so grams of carbs before and post workout and have since noticed a significant improvement. I also shortened my fasting time to about 16 hours, so that I can still eat enough calories to perform at the level I like. Still though, it seems to be a theme of “whatever works best for you.” Just wanted to say thanks for some info from a female perspective!

    • Ben Bruno

      It’s great that you’ve been able to experiment and find a system that works well for you. Good tips to know! Thanks!

  • Rick Kaselj

    Hi Ben,

    Great points all through! Thanks for sharing :)

    Over the last year, I learnt to have ignored a BIG thing – nutrition and the mental side and as I started to focus a little more on these topics I learnt a lot about IF & more as I spoke to Dan Go – The Fat loss Ninja!

    IF indeed creates many of the same benefits as intense exercise on weight loss!

    I always look forward to reading through your blog post, keep’em coming!

    - Rick Kaselj
    Exercises For Injuries

    • Ben Bruno

      Thanks Rick, and thanks for chiming in! Hope all is well!

  • Vanessa Smoley

    Thank you for this article! It was exactly what I needed right now. I think sometimes we feel “broken” if what we did before isn’t working now. That part of this article really hit me! I have been a successful figure bodybuilder since 2004. However, my life has taken some shifts and thrown me some curve balls and eating like a typical bodybuilder became obsessive compulsive and on top of that emotional eating kicked in due to some recent losses in my family. Anyway, through the Good Lord I have prayed and feel that He has lead me to the right resources at the perfect times…this article being one of them!
    Day 1 of intermittent fasting complete! Yeah Buddy!

    Ps. You should know that I have been following Brad Pilon and John Barban for two years now. Read his Eat – Stop – Eat book. Loved it! Highly recommend it!
    But clearly this article was perfect timing and perfectly worded to really hit home for me and get me moving in the right direction. Thanks a million!

    • http://refusingtotiptoe.com/ Cristal @ Refusing to Tiptoe

      Vanessa — I was also led to fasting after much prayer. I think sometimes I need to go back to the basics and simplify. If God instituted fasting thousands of years ago, I’d say it’s wise for us to consider this. I’m pretty sure God was on to something when He came up with fasting. :)

  • Judy C.

    I started IF daily about a month ago, each fast usually lasting about 16-18 hours, on rare occasions, as short as 12 hours if I was really hungry. I’ve tried counting calories, watching intake/portions, long brutal workouts…but none of that really worked for me.

    Now, just I eat when I’m hungry, and don’t really work out nearly as much as I used to – maybe 5 minutes of short 60% sprints with my dog every other day when we’re out on a walk (no time for much more than that, since I’m back to school full-time). In this last month, I have gone from 133 to 127 (I’m 5′-4″) after being stuck in the 133-136 range for the 10+ years I’ve been out of college, even during periods when I was working out hard/running 6+ days a week training for half marathons.

    I have more energy and mental clarity than I’ve ever had, and though I LOVE food and cooking, I no longer obsess about the next meal I’m going to cook, the next recipe I want to try, or how long until snack time.

    Best of all, I’m only 7lbs from my high school weight!

  • Andrea Groves

    Holy cow woman, you work yourself hard! I’ve done IF some weeks on and weeks off- I too am a little addicted to eating, so IF really is great for me – both mentally and physically. Need to get back to it!

  • Jenn Diamond

    Great post. Neghar is awesome. As a female IFer, I am striving to achieve her level of fitness someday…BTW, We have more than 1400 female-only IFers on my Facebook group – Fierce. Fit. Fearless. https://www.facebook.com/groups/fiercefitfearless/ Women only though, Bruno, so you can’t actually see what we’re talking about. It was inspired in large part by my journey with Leangains as mentioned in your comments above. Definitely give IF a shot! IF for life!

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  • libtechie

    i’ve been reading about this for a few weeks now. but what would you recommend to someone trying to just get healthy and lose the weight. i have no desire to look all chiseled. as much as i would love to look hot like that, i don’t have the desire to work out doing those crazy workouts. i’m more of a yoga, hiking, dance kinda gal. i like to have fun and those types of workouts are not for me as i don’t have fun doing them. any advice for someone like me?

    thx in advanced everyone!

  • Trama1queen

    I agree with Neghar. I have been trying multiple different diets only to fail because of the lack of time I have to prep my food. I felt like I was failing at everything. I am about 30 lbs over weight and we will see how IF works. I figured Im hungry all the time when I diet Ill just cut the food out and see how it goes. I just started IF and feel very liberated. My first fast was for 15 hrs and I will fast for 12 today. My goal is 20 every tue and thurs. I hope this helps get more of the fat off and helps me decrease my obsession with food;)

    • theonetheycallme

      How are things going with the diet. I just started.

  • Jeanine

    I’d like to hear from any WOMEN going thru menopause and doing the intermittent fasting. I’m starting TODAY! I’m desperate!

  • http://steffturner.wordpress.com/ steffturner

    great info! Thank you