How Intermittent Fasting Saved Me…while Slowly Killing Me

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Today’s post is brought to you by an amazing individual I know whose Paleo moniker is The Paleo Angel.  Outside of the Paleosphere she is just an incredibly cheerful and giving individual named Kaleigh.  Read below to understand her difficult journey and how she overcame it.  Thank you Kaleigh for being so brave to share this, I hope it helps many women or men struggling with the same issues.

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In January 2010, I had topped the scale at 163lbs. Up until that point in my life, I had never seen anything over 140. I made a common move of most women and joined Weight Watchers.  Through that, I lost 30lbs at the most, but started teetering around 135-138lbs.


I was not in shape, I was starving myself via calorie restriction, I was eating whatever my “points” allowed for, which was over-processed junk, I had insomnia and no energy. 


Fast forward to May, 2011: I discovered a CFL1 trainer who told me I should consider eating Paleo. He gave me a general idea of the lifestyle and left the additional research up to me. I was intrigued. I read up, I bought the books, I got a very full understanding of the diet. Within week one of Crossfitting and Paleo, I lost 7 pounds. A majority of that happened to fall off my waist. The workouts were tough, but I kept with them.


I grew to love Paleo eating even when my weight loss stopped. I slept amazing. My skin started to glow, my teeth were whiter, I was at peace and a happier person in general and I adopted a LOVE for Paleo cooking and discovering and creating great meals that were truly nutritious and delicious.


I loved that I never counted or weighed a thing. I loved that I ate main meals and snacks and “points” were a thing of my past that I’d never turn back to. Through Paleo, I became a better Crossfitter, a better sleeper, a better worker, a more positive, energetic person,


The Paleosphere is filled with information on intermittent fasting. I had come across so many articles praising it. I listened to people at my Crossfit Box talk about their success with some intermittent fasting, (all men). I thought to myself “no way, I love my breakfast…couldn’t skip that…and come to think of it, I like to eat every so many hours… I’m not sure how I would do this?!” So, for a while, I thought it was something I might re-visit at some later point, but I didn’t see how or why I would approach it.

Fast forward further to June 2012. I’m now a year into Paleo, a year into Crossfit. At this point, I’m eating very strictly Paleo and 21-Day-Sugar Detoxing and post 21-Day basically avoiding fruit (maybe a handful of berries once a week), honey or paleo-ized foods. Do I have a rocking six pack and a rock hard ass? No. Am I actively losing weight? No. Am I FEELING like some days my pants are a little snug and other days they’re a little lose? Yes… I consider talking to someone about nutrition. My pitch: “I eat Paleo. I eat very little sugar-including fruit or “paleo” sugars like honey or maple syrup. Love my meats-fatty cuts or lean, always eat my veggies…and bacon. Why do I feel like my body isn’t responding to this when I am Crossfitting 6 days a week?!” Let me stop here.

This is where my mental health took a turn for the worse.

Suddenly instead of being focused on my health and fitness goals (which were to be healthy, feel great via high energy, quality sleep, mental clarity and to get stronger and be a part of a program that will help me live a longer quality life),

I was focused on my body image.

I started digging for any program that would get me this “perfect body”. I wasn’t concerned with how I felt, my general health, etc, I was concerned with my looks. Apprehensively, Leangains was a program that was explained to me on a high level. Again, it was up to me to look into it if I was going to be serious about it…and I did… I obsessively researched it.

What is Leangains? Leangains is a program that requires a 16 hour fast daily with an 8 hour eating window. In that 8 hour window one has x amount of calories that must be tracked as well as x amount of macro nutrients that should be hit as strictly as possible. On a workout day this means lots of carbs, nearly no fat and moderate protein. To “cut” AKA lose weight, you eat only +10% your TDEE. On a rest day one would eat high fat, low carb and moderate protein and caloric intake is reduced 30%.


Every day you are calorically deprived.

                                 Every day you wait to break the fast.


Then you feast; large meals that feel like a huge, very uncomfortable binge. You are stuffing thousands of calories down your throat; 60-80% of calories were suggested in your FIRST meal alone. I did this. I thought there was no way this “binging” would help me get this perfect body….but after week one I went from 133lbs (which note: was a pre-menstrual weigh in) to 127.8lbs. Immediately, this fueled me to continue.  The first 2 weeks felt like I was binging daily and it was not fun. I continued to lose weight and inches and people started noticing. Someone actually said to me, “WOW! You look like you lost like…six pounds! You look amazing!” At that point, I had lost 7, she was dead-on and she was telling me I was looking fabulous. I wasn’t feeling the most fabulous.

I started to notice zits popping up a little more often. After week 2 the “binge” feeling was gone, instead, I counted down the minutes until I could shove pounds of food down in one sitting. I started adding in foods I hadn’t eaten in a year: bread, oreos, ice cream, bagels… anything that I could “enjoy” on workout days because it fit my macros. During this time, I flaked as “The Paleo Angel”… I stopped blogging about my awesome meals, I started talking about my break up, my troubles and my readers probably wondered how a very positive, upbeat blog about Paleo eats became a blog about “Hi, I’m Kaleigh and this is everything shitty about my life”, or


“here is my defensive, ranting blog about insert excuse here as to why I’m totally ok wanting a 6-pack and going through crazy means to get it”


My blog was my Paleo baby. Something I just HAD to do because I felt Paleo changed my life and my health in so many ways and I wanted to share and HELP people. Instead I started polluting my blog with my obsessiveness over how starving myself for hours a day will get me lean and insisting everyone do it too. My defense: hey, Mark Sisson said it’s healthy! We all know Mark would not condone this sort of destructive behavior…

So I was already a damaged mind, in denial and alone. There were days I would eat off Leangains… these days included me raiding my refrigerator, going to dinner with friends and ordering apps, drinks, dessert and still wanting more.

My appetite could never be satisfied.

 I was suddenly experiencing anxiety.

I never slept.

Pre-intermittent fasting I was in bed by 9pm, sometimes 8pm- out cold, and up and refreshed by 545AM.  IFing I was laying in bed at midnight and tossing and turning for hours and going to work and doing a head-bob all morning because I couldn’t stay awake. I only did strength training and I did it alone.


I no longer had a group of Crossfitters cheering me on, experiencing my PRs, helping me through my weaknesses, motivating me in a POSITIVE direction.


Instead, anytime I didn’t get heavier on a lift, I’d leave the gym and my day would be ruined. I would cry many days. I still didn’t have abs. I was “plateauing” on losing anything, I was weighing myself twice a day,

I was obsessing over what I would eat next,

the next hour,

the next day,

the next week, the next month

and wondering how it would all work in achieving this “perfect” body.

By week 8, my chin was breaking out more. By week 9, more, by week 10, I had legitimate acne; large cist-like monsters just hanging out under my skin. A bumpy, unhealthy face, tired eyes, no energy, what my mom called a “depressed” state of mind. My hormones were ALL out of whack.

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While I am fighting to get to sleep on warm September night, I find myself thinking about my diet, my weight, my looks, this horrible acne… and it dawns on me… The cause is the effect of intermittent fasting. I quickly remember Stefani from Paleo For Women’s CONCERNING POST I read months before about the negative effects IF has on women. I grab my computer and re-read. I start balling my eyes out. Everything Stefani wrote was everything I had been experiencing. I had let my health go and let bad body image take over.


My desperateness for perfection led me to drastic intermittent fasting and my body was rejecting it.


It was begging for me to listen to it, feed it when it wants to be fed and not to “think” about it. A few paragraphs back, you might recall I was just a girl who had main meals and maybe some snacks. I didn’t think about it. I nourished myself properly. I listened to my body.

I decide I have to immediately share this with my facebook following so I post an update about my epiphany. My phone buzzes…it’s George, Civilized Caveman, a text pops up “I’m proud of you”. I knew George had read my update. I knew weeks ago, George called me out on being on a destructive path. I knew George was right.


 I made a decision that night that this was no longer my “dark secret”; these crazy thoughts of what I’m going to eat when and how much and how it’s going to make me fatter, thinner, stronger, weaker and how I can have very low body fat ASAP.


The next morning, the first thing I did was shop at Trader Joe’s. I got all my Paleo staple-favorites: bananas, berries, bacon, eggs, dark chocolate, chicken wings, a roast, steak, sweet potatoes…etc. I called my mom and invite her over for my favorite breakfast that I have been ignoring for 10 long weeks- bacon and eggs and tell her I need to talk. I ask my best friend if she can come later so I can “confess” to her too. This was no longer going to be my secret, I needed help before this spiraled into something far more dangerous. I was knee deep in quick sand down a path of an eating disorder and wrapped up in severe body image issues. I cry, again, and explain to my mom by simply stating, “I have very scary body image issues”… I tell her how I think and how food, weight, and need for perfection have consumed my life. My mom listens, tells me it has concerned her and she walked out of my place that morning, taking my scale with her. There is no scale in my house to obsess over. Feeling immediate relief just sharing my “secret” and my moment of clarity and out-cry for help, I instantly feel ready to tell my best friend.


She listens, she understands, she doesn’t judge me harshly; she confirms she is there for me, for anything and wants me to be healthy.


My struggles and my problems are no longer a secret. The horrific physical and mental repercussions intermittent fasting brought to the table 10 fold are now something I am both so thankful for and regretting. I am not proud I took this road, I realize I am light years away from the once healthy me I was just a year ago, I realize this is going to be a brand new journey in finding health, but I am excited to work on me, to look into therapy and to having a support system. I regret not listening to my body, not being patient, letting another woman’s “perfect body” make me feel less perfect, less beautiful and ultimately lead me down a dark road. I can only hope sharing my story will spark something in other women or men like myself and stopping the cycle.

I hope to bring my blog back to life, to start enjoying the Paleo lifestyle that once was the best thing that ever happened to me and most importantly to start accepting and loving myself.

Here is a picture of Kaleigh, 5 Days, after ending her fasting and eating properly again, Face = ALL CLEAR and she is Happy!!!!!!
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  1. Thank you so much for writing this post. It has really opened up my eyes and saved me from going too far down the same path. I’ve only started eating a paleo diet after being sure I had recovered from a five year struggle with bulimia. I wanted to feel healthier and ‘eating what I wanted” as a stage in recovery really involved me indulging in a sugar addiction. However, a month and a half into this new way of eating, although I felt better, I found myself eating a sugar laden meal and trying IF to help me reach my ‘ideal body’. Now, thanks to your article, I am reminded that this isn’t about the body, it is about FEELING healthy. About wanting to have energy and life and vitality and not obsess about the way that health looks. This is a lifestyle and not a ‘diet’ and I really cannot emphasise enough how much this article has saved me from that path.

  2. Hi Kaleigh,
    Thanks for sharing. I just finished doing IF for about 4 months. While I agree the bad diet didn’t help I agree with the poster who said that IF triggered the bad eating as I know I experienced the same issue despite following clean eating/modified paleo plan before. While I did lose weight initially despite the junk and made gains muscle wise I found myself getting bulky rather than toned. While I’m personally not a fan of Stephanie Ruper (too earth mother hippie chick for my liking) alot of her findings make sense. When I started bulking her comments about women becoming masculine and adrenal fautigue (which can produce masculinity) kept creeping into my head. Initially I was in denial about my bulking because I was still regular and didn’t have interrupted sleep patterns etc but after receiving a back handed compliment about weight gain (you’ve gained weight but you were a skinny *s* before) I decided to face the issue and reevaluate. I’m now back to my five clean/paleo modified meals. I’ve found that only after a few days I have lost bulk. I do wonder however if IF, it’s effects and the tendancy to binge is a female thing or if it can effect males too depending on their metabolic type. Would love to hear if males have experienced the same issues that are meant to be exclusive to females

  3. I’m so confused by this blog post… so, if I get this straight… you were eating paleo, loved it, switched to intermittent fasting, and then stopped eating paleo? Why not keep it as simple as possible, have your 8 hour feeding window each day, and eat healthy, clean foods? I’m confused as to why you started meeting your macros with junk… that’s why you were feeling like absolute poop… anyways, I may or my not be missing something… regardless, I do wish you the best with what’s working for you

    • I totally agree with the above response. Her blog is total BS. How in can you binge on junk food then blame IF for break outs and irregular sleeping patterns. I think she is not disciplined enough for the IF way of living.

      • I agree with the above response, I have done both Paleo and IF together, and it seems to be working good. I IF from 9 pm to 1 pm or even 2 pm then I eat my Paleo stuff with a small (maybe 100 cal snack). I do still count calories as not to go over my 1500.

        some people think that IF means they can eat anything they want as long as they are under their cal goal. While this is true for the most part you need to stick with protein high fiber foods, she said she ate ice cream, Oreos, bread, had drinks ect.. “all the enjoyment (junk) foods. Then she was having low energy, not sleeping, skin issues, ( all of that is because of the artificial stuff and sugar that is in those junk foods). This does not mean you cannot enjoy snacks on a Paleo diet.

        also it was said she was eating thousands of calories at one time feeling bloated. Well of course that’s a shock to your system let alone throw in junk food. IF are meant to be eaten over a period of time depending on wha works for you. For me 8 hour feast is just fine. i will eat 40% of my calories in the first eating including a snack, but a very small one like a bit size candy or a few crackers ect..

        also you never said how much water you are drinking, IF requires lots of fluid, i drink upwards to a gallon of water a day. This will curb your hunger and keep you energy up/

        long story short for a paleo and IF

        drink lots and lots of water ( a gallon)
        have 5-10% of your caloires in the form of snacks if needed.
        Eat lots of heavy low cal foods ( banana with Natural PB, Asparagus 1/2 cooked, artichoke, egg, cheese, whole grain bread, apples, pears ect.. If you do it right you eat until you feel full then stop. If you stick with high density foods that have complex carbs you will not be hungry. Start your fast 3 hours before you sleep and sleep for 8 hours, then you are already up to 11 hours after your last mean, by the time you take a shower, get ready and go its been 12-13 hours, for those last 3 hours keep drinking lots of liquids (water , coffee-black, Tea- plain)

        Green tea curbs hunger, if it comes in a package, box, premade, or has more than 4-5 stuff in it limit that to 5-10 % of your calories. For me that is 75-150 calories of a junk food spread out over 8 hours.

        Good luck.

  4. Kaleigh, thanks for speaking the truth. I have been a low carb eater for years and am a former psychologist. When I first heard about this, all I could think was, this is an ED person’s wet dream. And the same mainstream media that is making fun of paleo and low carb eating has lavished praises on this starve/binge diet. Meanwhile, people are engaging in all sorts of bizarre dietary behaviors under the guise of health, applying pretzel-twisting logic to their defenses. It seems like a body image obsession to me. Those in the low carb/paleo community who espouse this and blog about it seem to have had an issue with their paleo or low carb diets not resulting in weight loss or weight gain after a period of years. Some, fearing a risk to their reputation and income from low carb activities after gaining weight, have now taken to starving themselves, calling it intermittent fasting to make it seem OK. But going without food every other day and then comparing it to the natural sleep fast is seriously questionable. The real rationale behind this is about image, not health. And now we are starting to get the shoddy scientific studies showing things like cognitive improvement, much like the bogus low fat studies of decades ago.

    You are a brave young woman to have written this. It is akin to the boy exposing the Emperor’s lack of clothing. And thanks to the civilized caveman for putting your story out here. I wish you both the continuing best with your paleo lifestyle and crossfit, keeping you strong and healthy.

  5. HI

    So basically the IF protocol calls for 8 hours food window with 16 hour fast? So thats basically eat between 9-5 in the day? This seems like a really good way to eat, i think we would have eaten during daylight hours from an evolutionary perspective. Im gonna give this a shot see what happens.

  6. I am a 46 year old woman and have been doing IF for 2.5 years. I was never a breakfast person so being freed from “you HAVE to eat your breakfast” was the most liberating thing in the world for me. If I wake up occasionally and want breakfast, I eat it. If I don’t, I wait to eat until I am hungry. And then I eat healthy, nutritious foods.

    I have lost 68 pounds, I do resistance training 3X/week and take long walks daily. I am in the best shape of my life.

    IF is only about meal timing, it is not an excuse to eat junk. Properly followed, eating a couple less hours a day should cause few people any real issues. My father, very healthy at 77, also does IF naturally because he eats a very early dinner as his last meal…even though he eats breakfast, he has a shorter daily eating window. In earlier times, people ate their last meal before sundown, and went to bed after dark…they may or may not have eaten breakfast, but they certainly were eating in a shorter window. It really does not make sense to say, “if you eat all your meals in 8-10 hours instead of 12-14 hours, you are in big trouble”.

    For me, it was an easy way to create a calorie deficit…just eating when I am hungry and not letting the clock tell me it is time to eat.

  7. This article is nothing more than the diary of a person with eating disorders. Not one single issue was caused by IF. Each and every problem came from a position of low self esteem. Simple as IF is, one must only get on board to be successful. Lots of words can be summed up like this: ” I am blaming my problems on IF and the eight-hour diet, but in truth it is my fault totally”

    • Yes! The problem is not at all IF-which is very good for you, but the alarming amounts-and low quality foods you were consuming in the eating window. Clearly, the program that advocated this approach is completely wrong and unsafe. Ideally, if you are IFing, you should eat a very HEALTHY meal of reasonable calories that should resemble your regular Paleo meal-which is (hopefully) a little lean protein and a LOT of veggies. If you want to indulge in a little smth else, fine, but that’s it! Overeating on any plan will always land you in trouble. Use your common sense, friend!

  8. Thank you for sharing this! Though I haven’t done IF, (I just can’t give up breakfast) I’ve been struggling especially lately about body image and it’s been a spillery slope! I’ve gain some pounds since being overseas and it has me freaking out, I went from 151 to now 165. I’ve been weighing myself like a mad woman working out like one too and eating paleo. I don’t get what is going on, but its beyond frustrating. Did something called the bodpod yesterday, and I did not like what the numbers said and of course I became obsessed about it and sadly still am. It’s not easy to admit when one has an issue especially a body one. It’s been a never ending battle and again, thank you for sharing!

  9. pseuperfly says:

    I totally applaud you for sharing this story; everyone’s experience has a place, and all can bring some value to the conversation.

    Having started IF about two weeks ago, I do feel like the way in which you proceeded was not in adherence to the general principles of IF as I understand it, or according to the sources I’ve read. I do not understand it to mean wild binge-ing and purging, nor do I see it as starvation followed by carte blanche gluttony.

    I’m an older horse, and was always an athlete. For whatever reason, I am very disciplined, but not by nature terribly compulsive. I notice that there are many, many people in the Paleo and CrossFit communities who seem almost religiously zealous about their fitness, nutrition and lifestyle and I just take it in stride. I follow a mostly Paleo eating plan, cook everything, and exercise daily almost without interruption except, well, when I feel like not doing it. In other words, on my trip to Paris, I ate croissants every damn day. Then, upon my return, went back to how I feel best. Rigidity in general ought to be a warning sign that you COULD go compulsive with certain “plans” or programs.

    I think this story is valid as a “what happened to me when my own nature collided with fasting,” but as an Intermittent Fasting anecdote, the waters are pretty muddy.

    My own program is as follows: every evening, I eat my last meal at around 6 or 7. I wake up around 6:30, have a “bulletproof coffee” (NOT with that one guy’s “upgraded” (read: superSUPERoverpriced) coffee, but with single-source high-elevation beans anyone can order from anywhere at a fair market price. That’s my only coffee for the day, because given women’s propensity for elevated cortisol with fasting, curbing coffee is a good idea.

    After the coffee, I work out, then eat my breakfast around 8am. I absolutely never feel hungry or deprived. In the few times I have exceeded a 14-hour fast, I have not felt terrific. I didn’t get to the point of extreme hunger or food-fantasizing, but I felt sluggish. The worst day I had was when I did an 18-hour fast. Fuck that—it’s not for me. Not at all. So I paid attention to that and drew the line at 14 hours. Everyone’s different, but that’s what works for me (and I’ve noticed many online articles positing that may be the sweet spot for some. Definitely yes, in my experience).

    These last two weeks I have felt so much leaner, so much more energized, and I feel myself snapping into the place my body knows and recognizes as its ideal place. If it did not feel right, even good–I would NOT do it and that should be everyone’s takeaway here. If it feels like shit and you’re going crazy, STOP.

    There are women who are not good candidates for IF. People who are obese, who get VERY hungry between meals, who have ANY history with eating disorders or compulsive food issues, who are extremely stressed or experiencing adrenal fatigue, and/or don’t get enough sleep or have other sleep disorders. I’d also add that if you are having anxieties or lots of tumult in your life, you might consider waiting until life has calmed down. Being in a relaxed place (to whatever degree that’s possible) is ideal. I say this as a full-time working single mother, though: stress will always be part of my picture.

    I am a huge fan of how IF has helped vault me past my plateau. I’m leaning way out right now and my hair and skin look great. I eat very well during the so-called “feeding window” and have no real desire to binge. The one day my fast went too long, though, I mawed down a bunch of potato salad and recognized that for what it was: a fast gone too long which resulted in a gross pig-out because I was carb-deprived and too hungry. If that were to happen again, I might try a bit of meditation for a few minutes to control my panic/stress created by the hunger. Good luck to this blogger, and to anyone else considering IF.

    • Thank you both for sharing your experience. I’ve been living a Paleo lifestyle and cross fitting for the past 5 months and I have felt wonderful doing it. I’ve had great success at becoming healthier, lost 35 lbs. Without really trying, great skin and positive attitude. However, in the paat month or so I’ve slowling been adding in non Paleo foods that were my go to “emotional eating” foods. I’d eat something grain or noodles at least once a day. Mentally at the time I was making the choice to eat that way, I would convince myself that it was ok because my size 6 pants fit comfortably. I haven’t noticed any weight gain with these habits, but my skin has broken out almost daily. My mental health has been impacted. I have a anxiety and depression, but was able to come off of one of my meds when I started Paleo. Since sneaking processed foods and grains back into my diet on occassion, I’ve restarted my medication because I was having panic attacks and was depressed.

      Basically, I was doing well with sticking to Paleo and doing everything else you’re suppose to do to be healthy. As so as I started to dip back into my old unhealthy ways, my body let me know. The reason I even came across this post was because I thought my problem was something that required a little more focus and dedicartion like IF. It wasn’t until reading this article that I’ve realized that what I need to do is get back to basics and focus on what was working for me. At this point, with all the “cheating” I’ve been doing, IF would really get me into eating bad foods just to increase calorie intake in the eating window.

      Thank you for helping bring this into peerspective before I ended up down the same path.

  10. I realise that this is an old post, but I had to comment because it’s such a perfect example of someone blaming their mental problems w food on a diet that is in no way to blame! You definitely did not do IF right! I wouldn’t even call what you were doing IF; that was simply bulimia. Don’t blame IF for what happened to you. Maybe you should have read the blog before attempting to do intermittent fasting in the most incredibly wrong way possible. You were supposed to be eating healthy and staying within a normal caloric intake, just consolidated into an 8 hour feeding window. Wow! I just don’t feel much sympathy for your situation because you went into it so ignorantly. I’m glad you’re over the disordered eating, but next time do a little more research before attempting any new diet/lifestyle change. IF is NOT recommended for someone w a history of eating disorders.

    • LOL well said! I agree with you. I’m a 16 year old female athlete and IF is working beautifully for me. I’m getting stronger with my weightlifting and I’m dropping body fat wheel retaining muscle. :)

  11. Courtney Bilbao says:

    This is a wonderful and inspiring article! I have been paleo since last October, and fell in love instantaneously. I lost the remainder of my weight through eating paleo. Its amazing! I can understand your struggles almost spot on. This past spring I had drastically steered away from paleo and gained almost twenty pounds back. I’m happy to say I’m back all paleo and it feels so good! Not to mention weight training on top of that! I have more energy, clear skin, and strong nails! Not to mention a flat tummy and pants that sent tight! Congrats again I loved reading your article! Keep up the awesome work!

  12. 1st thank you for being brave and posting your story and thoughts.
    2nd now… I just want to clarify that science is science and biology is biology. Meaning healthy food makes us healthier and junk food makes us unhealthy. So, that being said IF has tons of benefits, but has to be done with basic health principles. IF didnt cause body dismorphia(body image) poor eating habits did.
    3rd keep up the good work. This is how science is found. As intelligent beings, we were designed to have problems and solve them, and we cannot solve them with out trial and error.

    Thank you and good luck!

  13. Eat thousands of calories in one sitting? Binging? This is not IF, it’s stupid eating habits and very unhealthy. Oreos? Come on. You did so well switching to a healthy eating regime (Paleo) then start IF, undo the good work, and blame it on IF?

    Lean gains is the easiest of the IF methods and you will never have to binge with an 8 hour eating window. If your calorie requirements to lose weight are 1500 for example (probably less), that’s just 3×500 calorie meals. How on earth did you binge? If you just ate ONE meal a day of 1200, that’s a big meal, but it sounds as if you were eating 1500-2000 calorie meals on a regular basis. You messed this up and you’re giving IF a bad name. Blame yourself and your silly eating habits and not IF.

  14. > I started adding in foods I hadn’t eaten in a year: bread, oreos, ice cream, bagels… anything that I could “enjoy” on workout days because it fit my macros

    How is this IFs fault?

    She could’ve done paleo IF.

    Way to throw the baby out with the bathwater, lady.

    • Actually, it sounds like she initially tried Paleo IF but that eventually she was throwing in all the non-paleo food.

      Also, Mark Sisson has changed his stance on IF for women and in particular pre-menapausal women because, it turns out, women have a very different hormonal reaction to fasting. It can trigger dramatic hippocampal and general brain chemistry changes in women that is not found in men. In other words, women are more stressed from IF than men are. His stance now is,

      “Most of all, though, I’d simply suggest that women interested in fasting be cautious, be self-aware, and only do so if it comes naturally. It shouldn’t be a struggle (for anyone, really). It shouldn’t stop your cycle or make it harder for you to get pregnant. It should improve your life, not make it worse. If you find that fasting has those negative effects, stop doing it. It should happen WHEN (When Hunger Ensues Naturally), if it happens at all.” (

      Kaleigh says, “The first 2 weeks felt like I was binging daily and it was not fun.” That’s a huge sign that IF, or at least this particular version of IF was not for her. She also says, “After week 2 the “binge” feeling was gone, instead, I counted down the minutes until I could shove pounds of food down in one sitting.” That’s a prescription for disordered eating. It was only then, she says, that she started adding in the non-paleo junk food.

      So, in Kaleigh’s case, I’d say, the Leangain’s program was inappropriate for her.

  15. PaleoMom3 says:

    First, I must applaud Kaleigh for being brave enough to share “Her Personal” story, with risk of taking on such harsh criticisms from those like the commenters above. Who are we to say thay her experience with IF wasn’t exactly as she sated. I sit here now…having fasted all day, unable to think of anything outside of what I will eat next.

    I am starting to feel that this is not the path for me, and will soon resume my normal Paleo regime. But I am one who really hates judgement of others. We all make decisions and choices that we feel are rightfor us, only to find out that it doesn’t quite work out.

    So, why don’t we be slow to judge, and quick to support.

  16. Michelle says:

    I am a 36 year old female who weighs 145 pounds. I have 14% body fat. 1 year today I have been IF-ing. I only eat once a day in the evening, my body adjusted to the hunger after the first month. I eat a clean & healthy high protien, high fat, low carb meal, around 900 calories. This is more than enough for me. I also eat one piece of small dark chocolate. I lost all my excess weight and my body stabilised at my perfect weight. I also run 10kms 3 times a week. I have never been in such great health. I will never stop Intermittent fasting.

  17. It’s obvious that Kaleigh, as sweet as she may be, is an extremist.

    IF and the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) principle is not an open door to cram everything you want down your throat within your feeding window. After all it’s still your body and it still needs proper nutrition. If you weren’t eating that way when you were Paleo what would make you want to eat that way while Intermittent Fasting?

    IF is not Rocket Science, it’s not even an eating plan – it’s just timing. That along with Leangains’ calorie partitioning (higher carbs on training days, lower carb on rest days) to me is the perfect compromise.

    There may be hormonal issues with women that I do not understand, so I wont pretend to, but I do know women that have gotten into the best shape of their lives with leangains – happily so.

    I just really don’t like the blame game. It’s IF’s fault, It’s Paleo’s, Atkins,….’s fault. All these plans work if you apply them. The biggest decision each person has to make is which one of these lifestyles you will be able to maintain for the long-term. For some it’s Paleo, for me it’s Intermittent Fasting. Maybe for no other reason then sometimes I want a piece of damn bread, or a real cake or _______ (insert your favorite food that you know you love) and I know on my workout days I can have them.

    I’m an extremist as well and right now I’m extremely IF’ing and loving it.

  18. Michelle says:

    I completely agree that IF causes different things for women as opposed to men. As a young woman (20) that has been IFing for over a year, I’ve had great results gaining muscle while losing fat, but I definetely had to tweak it to fit my lifestyle and make it bearable! Trial and error showed me I do much better once I found the “sweet spot” of the fast, somewhere between 12-14 hours as opposed to the 16.

    When I did the full 16, I had similar problems as you such as restlessness and never being satisified after meals, letting the food timing control my life and becoming obsessive, not to exclude the feeling of being unbearably cold during the end of the fast. When I do 12-14 hour fasts I feel as though I get the benefits without feeling the need to binge on huge meals. I just eat normally, without having to pay attention to macros or carb count etc..I just stick to paleo and center carbs around my workout, I’ve never deprived myself when I was hungry..the only difference is it’s delayed until later in the day when I find I’m naturally hungry anyway!

    Which is what eating should be right?! When hunger naturally ensues, nothing stressful! To each his (or her) own with IF and just do what works best for you! Even if that includes breakfast:) Thanks for sharing your story.

  19. Madeleine says:

    I have been IF-ing for almost a year now, and have started to develop a lot of similar issues. At first it was great. But now I don’t get my period, I feel stressed beyond control, often experience insomnia, generally have low energy…and in the last month or so have fallen off the paleo wagon and have begun binging on junk. Also recently I have been experiencing the same thing Kaleigh mentioned about never being satisfied even after a huge meal–I think my leptin signaling is compromised. I have been obsessing both about food and my body image (which, obviously, has slowly been getting worse, causing a downward spiral.

    Some of the previous comments say that it’s not the IF that is the problem but her unhealthy binges–but for me I think IF-ing CAUSED the binge habit, because first of all, I am often so hungry that I crave anything and everything, and second, because it caused me to develop a mindset that it was okay to consume huge quantities of anything I wanted during that meal because it was my only meal that day, and the “magic” of IF would counteract my binge. (This mindset and subsequent habits all developed very gradually.) Of course I know that’s not true, but in the moment of hunger and a long anticipated meal it would often be enough justification.

    It’s possible IF is not to blame; maybe the cause is my stress/anxiety (which is cause and which is effect??) I don’t know if stopping an IF schedule will help me, but after reading this article and a few others, I’m willing to give it a try. Thanks Kaleigh for sharing!

  20. Oh yes, it’s all her own fault, she didn’t do it right, let’s all blaim her, how could she be soooo stupid!

    Well let me tell you this: just because it works for you, doesn’t mean,it works for everybody!!! IF CAN THROW YOUR HORMONES OUT,OF WHACK! Even if uou stick to paleo foods only. It happened to me too. When I do IF, although eating a 100% perfect paleo diet I become unhappy, stressed out and I gain weight. When I go very low carb the same happens. It doesn’t work for me. I’m glad one day I found Stephani Rupers blog post about IF for women, because it made s much sense. I was unhappy and depressed, I was feeling cold ALL THE TIME and couldn’t understand why! I stopped IF-ing and upped my carbs (with 100% paleo foods) and immediately started feeling better.

    Kaleigh, thanks for sharing your story!

  21. I use IF for almost a year, have no such problems.

  22. Michel says:

    Hi Kaleigh,

    I wanted to say thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate that you shared the hard parts, where no one wants to go, and that you were willing to own up to the ones who love you best to begin dealing with the situation. Body image is the toughest thing we face – doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, we all have things to overcome in how we look to others and how we look and feel about ourselves. I’m proud of you for making some awesome choices, and was glad to hear your story.

  23. Yes, I advocate for therapy. It’s a psychiatric issue. When things get stressful often times the first thing to get manipulated is our food intake. Unless the issues are addressed it is highly likely they will show up again down the road in another form. This story is very common. Nothing abnormal about it. Thank you for telling it. Many are suffering in silence. All the best. Good luck on whatever journey you choose. Thank you for the link Trina.


  24. Chaosbutterfly says:

    I feel bad that when went through that and am happy that she’s doing better, but her experience has nothing to do with IF and everything to do with her own issues.
    You can and definitely should IF while eating nutritious and complete meals. You can lose weight on IF by eating junk, but obviously, that’s your choice. The technique can’t be blamed for what you chose to put into your mouth. If it says to hit x amount of carbs in the day, obviously, you would hit those carbs with things like sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, sprouted bread, etc. Things that will nourish your body. You don’t hit your carbs with french fries and oreos. You’d think that would be common sense.
    It sounds to me like even though she was on paleo and doing well with that, she still had some unresolved food and body issues, hence the choosing to binge on junk. Those things were there before IF, IF didn’t cause them. Maybe her stint with IF allowed her to work through her problems, and I’m glad she had that opportunity.
    But it sucks that she’s now perpetuating something that isn’t true about a program that can and does work for women.

    I’m a woman and lost 42 pounds through IF. I was heavy my whole life and never thought I could lose weight until I started fasting. Today, my body is healthy and my skin looks good. I sleep well and feel great overall. My nutrition is on point and I still get to have fun with friends and eat out every once in a while. I’m happy.
    I still have 43 pounds to lose, but I know that if I keep up my fasting schedule one day at a time, I will get there.

    Her experience is not at all indicative of IF. She just did it wrong.

  25. Matt Six pack says:

    Yes, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell this women that the reason she wasn’t losing fat on paleo was because of her caloric intake being too high usually resulting from eat too much fat. And her short run with IF didn’t last because she decided to malnourished herself with Oreos and restraunt food. One day this young will have to understand that getting a six pack means you are going I need to give something up. Calories or or the junk. Wahh lahh. Damn I’m gooood.

  26. While I’m definitely no expert, and it could be that IF doesn’t provide an optimal hormonal environment for women, it doesn’t quite add up. It sounds like she went from a crappy diet to a healthier diet (Paleo) and then back to a crap diet…and back again. It doesn’t sound like IF had much to do with it. Because she thought fitting crap into her macros would have no negative consequences she started eating Oreos, bread, bagels, stuff that did not treat her body so well, again. IIFYM and IF aren’t the same. IF should has no bearing on body image issues. It’s good to hear that she got back to her normal healthy self and away from all the junk.

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