Nutrition Advice for Females
This is another in a series of guest blog posts from our StrengthCoach.com series on changes over the past year. This one comes to us from Neghar Fonooni a performance training specialist, athlete, nutrition enthusiast, mother and veteran.
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 awhile 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 1130 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.
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. For more quantitative data on the subject, I highly recommend reading the free PN e-book on Intermittent Fasting experiments.
Neghar Fonooni www.negharfonooni.com
This entry was posted on January 24, 2012 at 6:27 am and is filed under Fat Loss, Guest Authors, Media, Nutrition, Random Thoughts, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training, Training Females with tags Intermittent Fasting, Neghar Fonooni, Nutrition for female athletes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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