I received the following email from Xuan Mai who works out at Crossfit NYC. She emailed me a few months ago asking a few questions pertaining to paleo eating and intermittent fasting. Here is what Xuan Mai had to say:
I thought I would give you an update after my first month of Intermittent Fasting especially after the article by you that I read recently on Art Devany’s blog.
The first week of IF’ing was difficult but it has gotten better. My fasts are typically between 16-19 hours and I am consuming a predominantly Paleo diet (no grains, no dairy but I do drink caffeinated tea and the once a week espresso). My activity consists of 4 Crossfit workouts per week. I’ve been at the Crossfit here in NYC since the first week of July 2007. When I started Crossfit, I had no push ups and no pull ups. Also, I could barely squat the 45 lb bar. I typically Crossfit at 7:00 am during my fast. I also study martial arts twice a week. Other than that, I work as an IT professional.
On to my results:
Weight is down to 126-128 lbs.
I got my first pull up last week and have since been able to bang out 15 singles over the course of the day. I can now do two in a row as well.
I increased the number of reps of full push ups I can do from 2 in a row to 5 in a row.
My body seems to have shrunk significantly in size even though I only dropped 5 lbs.
I tend to run a bit cold when I am at the end of the fast.
I seem to be more alert during my fast now that I have gotten used to fasting.
A few things that I noticed during all this:
I’m better off breaking my fast with low-glycemic vegetables, protein and fat then with a higher-glycemic fruits, protein and fat. A couple of days, I broke my fast with protein, fat, an apple and dates. This was a recipe for disaster because I ended up feeling very, very sleepy afterwards. Also, breaking the fast with a smaller meal tends to be better than breaking the fast with a larger meal.
I feel great working out in the middle of my fast. I don’t feel great working out after I’ve broken my fast.
I did perform a roughly 9-10 day experiment in the middle of all this. I decided to try to incorporate the Zone blocks in with the IF timing with Paleo foods. I calculated that I need 11 blocks and just broke up the the macro-nutrient ratios accordingly.
This move ended up being a disaster. I did lose additional weight (went down to 123 lbs), however, I was completely miserable measuring food, entering it into an online nutritional calculator, was hungry all the time and had fuzzy and muddled thinking. I also ended up cheating more and fantasizing about food like pizza that on a typical calorically unrestricted Paleo diet, I would have no cravings for. I went back to IF with a calorically unrestricted Paleo diet today and immediately felt better.
I really like IF/Paleo. It feels natural to me now. Actually, I feel very free with food and feel that I have tons of time. I no longer obsess about food all day like I used to (recording food intake really messes with me).
Anyway, thanks for the great information on the PM forums. I’m glued to them!
One final observation on restricting calories using the 11 Zone blocks:
I am still trying to shake the sense of deprivation that occurred when trying to uber-control macro-nutrients and calories. There really is just something natural and pleasurable about eating in the Paleo fashion.
I really appreciate the reader feedback about tinkering with paleo/lowcarb/intermittent fasting. If folks are willing to give it a shot they usually like the results.
I think it is also worth pointing out that we have seen the food freak-out Xuan Mai described when we push a weighed/measured Zone diet on folks. A few disciplined and motivated people really like the precision the Zone offers. For other folks it can dredge up or initiate some wacky and compulsive eating. I think for many people the Zone is too many carbs too often. Obviously many top level Crossfiters use the weighed/measured Zone successfully. It’s good to have options and the Zone is not the only kid on the block.
Reading Good Calories, Bad Calories has been a good slap to the noggin for me because we have observed folks changing food composition to paleo, eating to satiety, and experiencing no hunger or neurosis. Does a calorie restricted paleo/Zone work better than ad-libitum paleo eating for shedding fat? Yes, if you can keep people on it. If we cut the carbs in half (possibly more, and sub those calories with fat) then folks do not experience the hunger and lightheadedness common with the Zone.