Author Topic: Intermittent Fasting  (Read 13485 times)

Offline Alissa J. Bratz

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #60 on: December 30, 2008, 09:27:48 PM »
Preface: I am not a medical professional.

I disagree, Chris. I see teenagers every single day and they are growing so much, and there is so much going on with them, they have to be fueling that. I would imagine a thoughtful, mindful, controlled fast isn't that big a deal once in a while (I think your once a month suggestion is a good one), but I would caution against fasting in general for adolescents. The only exception I can think of would be for, say, an adolescent who is nearing the end of his/her growth window. But even then, boys especially have been known to have a "second growth spurt" in their 20s, even after their growth has slowed and even stabilized at the end of their teens (I have heard this anecdotally only; there may be studies out there but I don't know).

The other exception for controlled fasting, more often than occasionally, would be if the teen was obese, but then only under the supervision of a doctor.

Seriously, they're like a plague of locusts between 12 & 18. If adults ate like they do, they'd be huge. The teens (generally) aren't, so that food has to be going somewhere. It's going towards growing.

Again this is all anecdotal from my observations of teens, and just me disagreeing with Chris. Your best bet is to discuss this question with your doctor. I'm not saying don't fast, I'm just saying continue to be smart about it (as evidenced by your posting the question in the first place). Sounds like your head is on straight in any case. :)
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Offline tombb

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #61 on: December 30, 2008, 09:42:31 PM »
For growing periods especially, you are really better off eating regularly and in a healthy way.
If you are afraid you might accidentally overeat and gain a few pounds, you can always lose it later.
But you can't recover so easily from stunted growth, and that does happen from eating poorly during developmental stages (puberty, infancy etc). For example, a newborn baby is much better off eating every few hours than doing fasting.

Remember, growth hormone etc are all secreted when you are eating well, fasting only has an effect on this because people can occasionally get offbalance from things like overeating and a fast is a nice way to reset your sensitivity to food in stimulating GH.  Your body definitely wouldn't want to make GH and try to grow if there was no food :P

Besides you often have different alternation of growth between upper and lower body and even sometimes between left and right, so going through periods of reduced nutrition and fasting during growth spurs is a possible recipe for getting your body grow more asymmetric than it should be.

Offline Chris Salvato

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #62 on: December 30, 2008, 09:46:43 PM »
Well I am a bit confused by your response.  All the data I have seen shows that it doesn't matter when you get your calories for growth -- just that you get them all.  The fasted state helped hormones and other factors.  If you get the same calories (in a really extreme case, 12000 calories in 9 hours or 12000 calories in 17 hours) it should be the same, if not more beneficial if youngsters get the same hormonal benefits as adults.

This makes the assumption that the hormonal response is favorable in adolescents as it is in adults.  Also, this assumes that it is actually possible to get all of your calories in a smaller eating window...not to mention telling a kid who is 12 years old to "not eat" at certain times of day which subjects them to a high level of social pressures from their peers (not to mention the stress associated with that).  This also assumes that there is nothing else unknown in the equation (which is probably a terrible assumption to make).

At this stage of the game, if you were my adolescent child, I would not encourage you to fast simply because I don't know the factors of fasting and how these factors effect your age-group.

I am open minded (and optimistic) that if fasting was presented to adolescents or animals/humans that are still developing there may be some really good benefits.  However, I don't think this data actually exists...and it would not be worth the risk at this level of my knowledge (or maybe this level of knowledge that the community has on fasting as a whole)

Offline Spencer B

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #63 on: December 30, 2008, 09:52:54 PM »
Hmm... Conflicting views from the people who's opinions hold the most clout... (And the most paragraphs  :P) Well yes, I do eat a lot, but I only need about 3000-ish calories a day, maybe around 4000, but no more than that. If it helps these are my current 'stats'

Male
15 1/2
161-ish #'s
5'11"
12% BF (Approx.)

I want to get down to about 9-10 percent bodyfat, but I can't change my diet because of some problems right now. This and I really like the prospect of hormonal control/regulation. (Angst SUCKS!!
« Last Edit: December 30, 2008, 09:54:39 PM by Spencer B. »
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Offline Chris Salvato

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #64 on: December 30, 2008, 09:57:26 PM »
Hmm... Conflicting views from the two people who's opinions hold the most clout... Well yes, I do eat a lot, but I only need about 3000-ish calories a day, maybe around 4000, but no more than that. If it helps these are my current 'stats'

Male
15 1/2
161-ish #'s
5'11"
12% BF (Approx.)

I want to get down to about 9-10 percent bodyfat, but I can't change my diet because of some problems right now. This and I really like the prospect of hormonal control/regulation. (Angst SUCKS!!

How are our views conflicting?  Even though I still think fasting has promising potential to be beneficial, I do concede that i would not recommend it based on the lack of data/experimentation with that population (adolescents and youths) -- and it is a very hard demographic to quantify in studies with a small population...simply too much is going on in the developing body.

I also hate to disappoint you, but you are 15 years old.  Controlling your hormones is going to be pretty tough :P  Your body is pretty well wired to pump crazy amounts of hormones through your body well beyond your control.  Enjoy the ride and take advantage of it by staying active!  You can make some pretty ridiculous gains at this part of your life...I wish I had taken advantage of it. :)

Offline Alissa J. Bratz

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #65 on: December 30, 2008, 10:03:23 PM »
Actually, Chris, there should be some data on teens and fasting; if not hard medical/scientific data, then at least anecdotal data. Huge populations of people fast for religious reasons all over the world, teens included. Those people seem to do just fine, health and growth wise.

Spencer, the hormonal control you would get from fasting may or may not affect your emotions/moods (if I'm reading your post correctly). I don't know how all the biochemistry works but I'm sure it's complex enough that it wouldn't be a one-to-one thing. That said, I know from personal experience that a good, healthy diet can work wonders on chemical imbalances that affect mood/depression, etc. so if that's a concern of yours (I'm assuming some stuff from your post, my assumptions may not be accurate so take it FWIW), it could be worth looking into how to use diet to help with that too. As to how fasting affects things in that vein, I can't say except that for me personally (and my own body/brain chemistry), fasting is a BAAAD idea for my moods.

How did you arrive at your needed calorie intake? There are calculations you can do figure the exact amount you need. That said, looking at your stats, you are (IMO) actually underweight. And 12% BF is pretty good. I bet if you focused on gaining muscle weight, your BF% would go down naturally in the process, and the pounds you would put on (which you need, IMO, just looking at the numbers) would be muscle.

Any of the experts care to weigh in on that?

She followed slowly, taking a long time,
as though there were some obstacle in the way;
and yet: as though, once it was overcome,
she would be beyond all walking, and would fly.
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Offline Spencer B

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #66 on: December 30, 2008, 10:41:26 PM »
It's a general estimate, but thinking about it, just today I ate about 3550 clories, and I will probably have another meal of at least 500 calories by the end of tonight...

I didn't mean to say conflicting, at least not to be interpreted that way... Like you were sayings two things that seemed to be kind of at odds...

Muse, Before my first day of serious Parkour training/conditioning, I was out of shape not seriously, but on a potentially bad path (I would say I was at least 16% BF). I was 5' 6-8" and weighed in at 154. However since then, in my just over 6 months of training, I have gained well over twenty pounds of muscle (Stretch marks to prove it  ;D). Now calculating that would mean that your theory/idea is correct, otherwise 15 or so pounds disappear there. My problem is what happens after all that muscle is gained, and that excess fat doesn't want to budge. However reading these makes me think twice about dropping my BF%, at least until I get a little older.

I don't know if you can describe it as depression... Well maybe you can... Does frustration, endless wonderings/musings about life, purpose, and society that produce no answers + the sadness= Depression?

Also... You're saying I should gain weight?! If I gained weight I would either start looking like a bodybuilder, or my BF% would go up, which is exactly what I want to avoid... Or maybe I'm lacking muscle density...
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Offline Alec Furtado

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #67 on: December 30, 2008, 10:48:18 PM »
I don't know if you can describe it as depression... Well maybe you can... Does frustration, endless wonderings/musings about life, purpose, and society that produce no answers + the sadness= Depression?
If it does, then I would say I was depressed. I went through all that same stuff and it still comes up on me every once in a while (I'm 17 btw). I think it's just hormones and random crap that happens in life. I adopted the phrase "Shit happens" and began to stop worrying about the little things because they end up just running you in circles looking for purpose. Just live. Also, keep yourself occupied so that it's even harder for the thoughts to come up. This sounds more appropriate for a new thread though.

At least that's just my personal experience.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2008, 10:52:26 PM by Alec Furtado »
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Offline tombb

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #68 on: December 30, 2008, 10:51:25 PM »
Muse,
There isn't any controlled data on people doing fasting while young because you can't impose things like that just for the sake of experiments.  Imagine setting up two groups of teenagers normalized for everything else (already hard enough), then you make one group eat less, and find that they are all a bit less developed/shorter/etc than the other group, then all you can do is sit down and wait for the lawsuits.
For people doing it for religious reasons while teenagers as you mentioned what's missing is the corresponding control (a group equal in all other relevant respects except fasting during adolescence) to draw conclusions, basically those people might have gotten a little taller or more developed if they didn't fast during puberty but you don't have a baseline to compare. And with statistical studies after the fact you can't really separate coincidences based on other factors (genetics, other cultural activities, etc) from actual effects of fasting (plus the way people do it can vary a lot which makes it harder to draw conclusions). Still, even from those social-science-like studies you can see the impact of better nutrition in the on-average higher stature of kids compared to their parents.
You can do those more controlled tests with animal studies however, and that's one of the reasons we know that nutrition is critical at those stages, and if your body is already decided on growing it will take advantage of any extra nutrition and translate that into additional growth.
As far as the biochemistry of it, all those good hormones are again stimulated by the amount of nutrients available, and if you don't have enough good fat around for example your body will just stop making them and stunt you in many ways (look for example at the effects of eating disorders on teenage girls menstrual cycle, although that's obviously a more extreme case).


Anyways, I concur with Chris we are not giving conflicting opinions, because as they say the devil is in the details, we are simply pointing out potential advantages in normal situations (e.g., well-controlled fasting that is done for good reasons and with a plan) and risks in more specific situations (depriving yourself of potentially healthy nutrients when it's not even called for and where it -could- have long-term, irreparable effects), and then saying whether we think it's worth it in a specific situation.
In the case of growing periods we are just being a lot more cautious because, well, you don't get two shots at puberty, you mess it up and you don't get a chance to do it over.  So then while I might normally say "you're not going to die or anything from just skipping meals", in this situation I would ask "can you be sure that this is not going to impair your growth in some way, especially when you are not doing frequent tests to make sure you are not going overboard in any one direction?" And more importantly, is it worth it taking that potential risk in your case?

Which brings me to my view of the specifics:

Spencer,
In your case I think you are looking at this as a quick patch which is not even really needed rather than focusing first on things that are more important. First off you mentioned you don't have much control on your nutrition and that's why you are considering this.  I think you should focus on getting a bit more control of that and eating as healthy as you can first instead.  Second, as Chris said, you shouldn't worry about trying to control your hormones. Chances are, even if you had ways to control them you are more likely to mess things up in major ways.
And third, 12% bodyfat is not a bad thing for your situation, you should focus on other goals and let your already low teenager bodyfat% fluctuate accordingly to help you grow well and remain healthy.
If you are eating well, training well and developing well it will go to its ideal level on its own.

-And-, if you are using things like emotions and body image rather than planning, knowledge and logic to choose your diet, you are going down a much more dangerous path, because those things tend to get more and more distorted rather than remaining impartial and based on solid results and physiology.

Offline Spencer B

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #69 on: December 30, 2008, 11:16:11 PM »
Tombb body image wasn't the big reason I wanted to try this. I'm more than fine with my body image, however It felt like the fat was slowing my progress, and both my parents have quite a large amount of bodyfat. I don't know if they're obese, but they're probably borderline. (But they also smoke and are in generally horrible all around shape)

Emotion as an indicator... Well, I guess you could say I was using it like that, but that's not to say there's no tact involved. Everything I do, I think it out very clearly in advance.

My diet isn't too horrible, it's just that I can't really change it at the moment. It's mostly milk right now, really, I drank a half a gallon today.


Alec

In a weird, twisted way, I kinda' like it. It puts everything into perspective for me and lets me explore who I am as a person. Of course that doesn't mean I like it all the time...
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Offline Alissa J. Bratz

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #70 on: December 30, 2008, 11:42:59 PM »
Tom, I agree it couldn't be done with humans because of the lawsuits ("We're going to starve these teenagers and see what happens!" I can see the picket lines now). I was just saying that you can look at millions of teens who fast for religious reasons and not see any specific pattern of detriment. Granted, there are so many other factors there that could muddle the data as you said. However what's significant about that data isn't that they necessarily show that controlled fasting is necessarily good for teens. What those data potentially show is that controlled fasting is not necessarily detrimental for teens. It's likely not ideal, sure; but there are a million degrees of separation between "ideal" and "detrimental."

But that is neither here nor there.

Spencer, depression is more than just feeling sad and confused, frustrated, wondering what it all means. It is those things, for sure; but the issue is that it's when those things interfere with your ability to live your life--like if you were missing work or school because of it, or if it was negatively impacting your personal relationships. Those feelings you describe are normal for *every* teenager; they will probably fluctuate like that until your early to mid-20s at best (and they may crop up throughout your life as you experience life changes). It's normal and healthy for you to reflect on those feelings and how you relate to them and how you are going to address them. It's when it becomes an interference with your participation in your own life that it becomes something that may require a doctor and/or therapists' help, or, barring that, an awareness of it coupled with some sincere and disciplined lifestyle changes to regulate your brain chemistry.

However a good healthy diet and regular exercise will help with these things whether they are just the normal teen blues or whether they are indicative of "clinical" depression.

Like Tom said, and like I said in my earlier post, if you focus on getting strong, the BF% will take care of itself. It takes a LOT of work to "look like a bodybuilder." Unless you are working out for hours a day and eating bajillions of calories in protein, and basically making it your full-time job, you won't look like a bodybuilder. You will get muscles, for sure, and you will look strong and you may get bigger and "beefier" looking, but there is a huge difference between this and this.

If you've read the sticky articles in here, about starting strength, and how to construct your workout, etc; and you follow those, you will be fine. Trust me.

I can see that you have your parents as an example of what not to do, if they're heavier and they smoke. You are at the perfect point in your life to turn that around and lay down awesome habits for a healthy life.

I think your real issue here is that you're at the mercy of your parents' grocery shopping. It may be helpful (in another thread, perhaps, since we're getting off-topic here) to post what kinds of foods are normally in your house and available (and also what kinds of foods are offered in your school's lunch program), and let us take a look and see where you can maximize what foods are available to you.

:)

« Last Edit: December 30, 2008, 11:46:31 PM by Muse_of_Fire »
She followed slowly, taking a long time,
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and yet: as though, once it was overcome,
she would be beyond all walking, and would fly.
--excerpt from Going Blind, Rainer Maria Rilke

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Offline Chris Salvato

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #71 on: December 31, 2008, 08:22:27 AM »
One thing I want to address is that fasting is **not** starving yourself.  It is reducing your eating window down so that your body is "fasted" and you see hormonal benefits.  Some people mix this with caloric restriction because it is easier and you are not feeling so hungry all the time -- just feeling hungry while you are fasting.  There are plenty of people (like me) who fast a few days a week with a restricted eating window but still try to get the same caloric intake in that shorter period of time.

Fasting is *not* in-and-of-itself a calorically restricted diet.

The reason I am opposed to it in children/adolescents, at this stage, is because evolutionarily it doesn't make sense.  Most male children, throughout history, stood with their mothers until they were 15-18.  Most female children *and* adults, throughout history, may have never even left their camp (which is the theory as to why females do not benefit from fasting as much as males.) Does this mean that fasting does not work for young males?  No, it may very well work.  But we KNOW you can develop normally without fasting and we don't know what may or may not happen with someone who is that age if they do decide to fast...its an equation I would rather not think about, either, because there are just so many variables.

As far as advice for you, spencer, I would say that Muse and Tom are right for *everyone* on this board, not just adolescents.  Focus on improving your performance and putting a TON of effort into your workouts.  If you do this, then you will not only get the body you want but you will be ungodly strong which both will build confidence and your adolescent musings won't be as...depressing.

As far as your mood, it is something most people go through (thus the incredibly high rate of teenage suicide).  Its 10% what happens/what you are thinking and 90% how you react to it.

Offline Spencer B

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #72 on: December 31, 2008, 03:59:03 PM »
Well, more great advice from great people. I get it. It's too much of a gamble to recommend for my age group. I will just eat and train normally.

Also, Muse, I already kinda look like the guy in the first picture, only my L-sits aren't that good, and my forearms are larger. I really think I'm just lacking muscle density... It's probably in my legs, cause I can barely squat 10#'s more than my bodyweight, and I only recently fixed my deadlift form, but, I can get at least my bodyweight.

Thanks for the advice everybody, I really feel like I've learned some things here.
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Offline jgoldsney

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #73 on: January 28, 2009, 08:29:24 AM »
Well even though this is my first post I am not a Shill or some spam bot trying to flog something.

I was looking at a body weight exersize site which had a parkour section which lead to youtube and then to this site.

Was reading through the threads and spotted this one and had to chime in. I skimmed this thread and didn't see anyone else mention this but if it is a repeat of information sorry. First off I say hats off to everyone for discussing this even if you didn't agree with it. I mentioned this on a fitness board not too long ago and was promptly banned with no warning because I was promoting something "unhealthy" ::)

There is a really excellent e-book on intermitant fasting called Eat Stop Eat. The author recomends fasting for a 24 hr period twice or three times a week. Now I am not a Doctor or health guru but it seemed to me that the information was logical and he backs his thoughts up with good sources. Google it and I am sure you will be able to find a download somewhere. ;D

I was on this routine for 3 weeks or so but came down with a wicked cold (gotta love having toddlers in the house...they are like germ cruse missles) I stopped following the system to recover but I will be going back on it starting this sunday.

The biggest "duh" moment for me was when I realized that the 24 hr period can be adjusted to what ever works for you. Personaly I would fast Sunday lunch to Monday lunch and Thursday supper to Friday supper. I usually have a large Sunday dinner so was well fueled and it was easy to go to lunch on Monday. Usually have friends over or go out for supper on Friday so I have something to focus on to get me through that period. All in all I felt better when I was doing my fasting.

Just some food for thought....(no pun intended)  :D
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Offline Chris Salvato

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Re: Intermittent Fasting
« Reply #74 on: January 28, 2009, 03:10:54 PM »
I haven't read Eat Stop Eat yet...but I hear it is very good.

I think you just convinced me to read it :P