How Intermittent Fasting Saved Me…while Slowly Killing Me

 

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.

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,

A BETTER ME…

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.

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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236 Comments

  1. I’m sorry but this is ridiculous. Why didn’t you stick to Paleo during your IF, and why are you blaming IF, which helps women and men alike? As others have said, you were eating crazy bad food and wonder why you were breaking out and having problems?

    IF works for a LOT of people. It’s the only thing that has helped me personally lose weight effortlessly. Sure, I too struggled with overeating at first. It’s not supposed to be a free-for-all during those 8 hours – you eat healthy, nourishing food.

    Good luck.

  2. This is so amazingly accurate! As I sit here and read this I am experiencing some of the same issues from doing IF for years! Not only the hormone issues, I have even experienced heart issues, when before doing this I was so very healthy & happy. I run marathons, runners don’t have heart issues, I had to take a look at what was actually going on. I knew all along my body was starving and I paid no attention to it. Image had taken over for me also, but I also do modeling so I felt the IF would help me so much and it did, but I didn’t stop, kept going with it…. What I have found through my years worth of tragedy from this is we are far far from this image! We all are so much more and our body is precious to us, and it is our responsibility to nourish it when it is hungry….

  3. All of us are different and I a glad you recognized that IF wasn’t for you. I hope that your paleo lifestyle continues to keep you healthy and happy. To those of you who like IF I challenge you to advocate for what works for you in your own life while not attacking someone else. Each of us needs to find our own way of eating that keeps us physically and emotionally healthy. Peace!

  4. I’m not sure what this has to do with leangains. You were eating a way that worked well with clean unprocessed foods…

    then switched to oreos and leangains and you blame leangains for your mood and physical downfall? Not to mention some of the biggest proponents of leangains says women should NOT do 16 fasted/8 feeding

    Leangains or IF isn’t for everyone that’s for sure. You are blaming a feeding schedule when you should be blaming Mr. Christie and Sara Lee.

    1. ghost, the cravings for the crazy food didn’t start until after the second week of IF for her. Yes, it was a bad choice, but all the clean food she could eat during the feeding time wasn’t making her feel nourished.

      Instead of being a good eating pattern for her body, it was disordered and caused cravings/and or a mental state that encouraged bad choices. So, it really is all about her IF experience.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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”

    1. 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!

      1. If you do IF the right way, you’d have way better results. Stay paleo or go low carb. I have a big goal and it is helping me get there. I want 80lbs gone before I turn 35. I’ve been on IF for a little over a month and fat is being ripped off my body like you wouldn’t believe. The purpose is not to binge… The purpose of IF is to restrict your daily caloric intake without having to count calories or restric every meal. If you are disciplined enough, you won’t pig out like a freak. I only have one big-ass meal a day at 6pm and a lite snack around 8 or 9. My baseline is 2500 Kcal per day. I can’t cram that much food into my 4 hour feeding window no matter how hard I try (I eat quality low carb, paleo friendly foods). If you can, you should try an extended water fast of 36-48 hours. It let me get in touch with my true ‘need’ for food… Which is much less than most people think. IF is not only healthy, but can extend your lifespan through calorie reduction. Don’t blame a method for a personal failure… Plenty of people succeed doing IF without going into crazy eating disorder mode. It’s something called discipline.

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

    1. 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.

  14. 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 Leangains.com 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.

    1. 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. :)

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. > 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.

    1. 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.” (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/women-and-intermittent-fasting)

      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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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!

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

    -Wendy

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. here’s a related article
    http://realfitrx.com/category/figurebodybuilding/

    it can be tricky to sort out the differences between the sometimes unpleasant adaptation to something new and maladaptation to the new program. And couple that with our need to believe in what we are doing and our desire to succeed and we can be led astray for sure. There are many tales now of people discovering after several years that their diet makes them feel worse, but they persistted with it nontheless. (usually told as part of their conversian to whatever “great” program they are on now) And if the diet makes you feel great initially, it’s even more confusing. I’m glad you didn’t spend years doing iF before you figured it out. It’s great that you had a friend who could recognize the mental change and could give you the nudge you needed, instead of reinforcing it. It’s strange how we can ignore our own physiological responses, isn’t it? Or perhaps its not that we ignore them, but we can misinterpret them. I think much of the confusion comes from the negative effects on the brain that a diet can have, and of course that is something that can be very difficult to see it in ourselves. but watching for those hints of hormone disregulation such as acne, depression, crazy appetite are good places to start. thanks so much for posting, and reminding us that ultimately what matters is our own response to anything we try.

  31. Sorry to hear about your experience with IF. I’m on day 5 and I have to say I like it! I fast about 16-20 hours and than I get to stuff myself with a pound of meat or so and for me as always a bigger eater thats easy.. I had eating disorders before and I have a tendency to eat out of boredom especially at night. So by starting my meals at 5-6pm this is great and I noticed I don’t get that urge to eat more unless I really need to. I work out 5 days a week too. Thing is I’ve read Lean Gains and I’ve even paid to have Martin give me a program but his calories and types of macros don’t work for me and I think thats partially where she went wrong. Your already IFing and you like Paleo so don’t worry about the damn macros! I eat a bunch of protein and if I want extra fat I eat that or some extra carbs on workout days than yes I eat them especially if there healthy or “paleo” than I don’t see a problem with that. And my calories are about maintenance maybe less on some days but If I have to track them to make sure I’m eating an adequate number I will. And I’m always happy to realize I haven’t eaten enough :) because I will gladly eat more :) Anyways I’m only on day 5 but I could see myself going into this long term possibly with adjustments. I’m probably gonna start a blog or vlog because there is definitely little to no females doing this. Best of luck in whatever you do decide to do. Good on you for not letting this body image thing get out of control. The one thing I hate is seeing women obsessing about their bodies it saddens me especially when its in their heads. The media makes it hard enough on all of us!

  32. I have been IF since Dec 26. I have lost a total 20 lbs. At first when I started I did not realize that was what I was doing was IF because I was just eating one large meal a few hours after workout. Then I started having muscle fatigue because I was not consuming enough minerals and nutrients after workout so it led me to do research where I finally found Leangains. I felt it was the most common sense approach to the IF program out there, especially for women, though I have modified it for my needs.

    Due to a knee injury I am not doing a lot of strength training on my lower body yet, mostly cardio with added resistance (spinning and swimming, and upper body resistance on alternate days) so my eating plan is a bit higher in carbs due to the extra cardio. So I eat around 125 grams of protein and 80 grams of fat and I shoot under 100 carbs a day but I don’t freak out if I go over or under carbs by 20% because I haven’t noticed much of a difference in the over-all out come. I am making steady losses every week and increasing lean muscle tissue which is my goal.

    I IF every day except my rest day which is Sunday. Even then I normally don’t feel like eating until about 10 am. I fast from 8:30 pm to noon the next day and feed using two meals, one right after workout and one an hour before I am supposed to stop eating. I do have a protein shake (high protein low fat/carbs) right after workout to break my fast and then again at 8:30 pm to end my day.

    I really wanted to keep it completely Paleo but it was just too hard in my personal situation right now because I am not some where I can cook much so I depend on a lot on restaurant food. So I try to shoot for 80/20. I try to avoid process carbs, but if I get a piece of bread or a cup of white sushi rice in a day I don’t freak. I do avoid sugar and foods that upset my stomach like cheese and I do limit wheat consumption because I feel better than way.

    The only challenge I have is eating enough calories. My calories stay between 1600-2000 calories on workout days, and 1400 on rest days. Yes I cycle this and some days I eat little because I am just not hungry. I figure if starving was ok for my ancestors occasionally, it is ok for me occassionally. My appetite is literal nil other than right after workout and it is quickly sated with the level of fat and protein I eat so it is really hard at times to get in all the calories. I finally added some higher fat items like nuts and avocado, and yes I even do a little butter and mayo on certain days. When I have 600 calories left at the end of the day I don’t blink and I am perfectly free to eat a hamburger sans half the bun. As long as I don’t go to over 100 carbs a day I have next to no cravings. I attribute that to controlled blood sugar.

    I sleep well most days, I take all the supplements he recommends (did you?) and I feel wonderful except sometimes I am tired. That is not from IF but from excessive cardio, which under my circumstance I can not do much about right now until I have knee surgery.

    What I DON”T do is eat cookies, bagels and ice cream. I have NEVER seen that on Leangains protocol except on occasional cheat days and they are few and far between (holidays). Not sure where the author of this article ever thought that tossing out a foundation of Paleo foods and eating that way was Leangains. Almost every picture on his website is Paleo except for maybe the cheesecake.

    I appreciate her article but you can not blame Leangains, because you did not do Leangains.

    1. Well said! I have been IF’ing for just over a year now, and have lost 20 pounds and kept it off for the last 4 months. I had a debilitating knee injury and my weight had begun to balloon due to inactivity and discovering Leangains saved me (physically and mentally). I generally eat 2x per day (sometimes 3) within about a 6 to 8 hour window and that makes my body the happiest and healthiest it has ever been. Paleo has not worked for me, perhaps because it is too strict of a protocol for me to keep in a house with 3 teens, but if I do not eat at least 2 or more fruits a day, I can forget my bowels working AT ALL, despite huge portions of veggies. Trial and error, and maybe our blood types have more to do with what nutritional eating plan is successful or not, but as long as we each listen to our bodies and find what works, that is the main thing. Cheers!

    2. I agree 110%!I am a Certified CrossFit Trainer. Paleo is a great way to eat but so is Lean Gains!! I have been doing IF for a short time now and love it!! I workout 5-7 Days a week also. I can already FEEL weight loss. I do not see it bc I have learned the hard way that a scale is your worst enemy. Im down the next to last notch in my belt. Im a Police Officer and have had to also tighten my gun belt down as well. IF works well for me also bc I don’t have time to cook a bunch of meals. I eat 2-3 big meals a day consisting of a meat, carb, and veggie. I also sometimes have a protein bar with the meal or a shake. I don’t eat after 8p and fast until 12p the following day. Drink lots of water. I will not starve myself!! I will eat in my feeding time and I will eat enough! I use to have a big sweet tooth but now the desire to eat a lot of sweets is fading away! I love this and feel great!!

  33. I came across this while looking up intermittent fasting.

    I think the whole paleo thing is really a little overblown. Human beings evolve even over a few thousand years — the vast majority of the human population used to be lactose intolerant until aurochs were domesticated in northern Africa. People have evolved with the food that has been consumed within the past ten thousand years.

    In addition, I think the males of the species are adapted for hunting n ways that the females of the species might not have. Given the difference in physiology, it seems silly to assume that what works for the males of the species will work just as well for the females of the species.

    What’s more, the variance between individuals can be quite pronounced. Human beings can be born with extra toes, extra thumbs, extra ribs (really… look it up) — is it so odd to think that a diet that works for some might not work for all?

    I have been overweight too — somewhere around 300 when I stopped to weigh myself and lived in denial as my waist continued to grow past 40. One day, I fond myself having difficulty going up the stairs at the train station and decided if I did not change that I would die an early death. I simply walked and did air squats,and ate meat, fruit, and vegetables, cut out all sugar and alcohol. By the end of a year I was down to 220. I added more exercises, mostly free weights, running the stairs in my apartment building, and *lots* of walking. Another six months, and I went to 195 — with a 30 inch waist. I never heard of crossfit or paleo, and I ate fruit without thinking — just not a lot of it.

    I was after more *life.* What I looked like was a desirable side effect, but not really the point. I wanted to live, and live well, for longer. That outlook worked out for me, and I hope it will work out for you.

    Best of luck.

    1. i don’t know who Drywall is, but he has identified himself as a white male, so I doubt they are the same person.

  34. IF has worked amazingly well for me coupled with cossfit- 65 lbs in just over 5 months! You still have to eat clean. ” I started eating Oreos and burgers” I would think is more of a reason for your skin breaking out.

  35. Thank you very much for sharing your story, I developed an ED a few years ago, and I’m going to be careful with IF now.
    I actually tried the “window” kind of fast weeks ago, and it seriously messed me up, I was thinking about eating ALL the time, was anxious, and had stomach problems.
    After a lot of research I found another kind of fast, which is exactly what I did my whole life without knowing it: Eat some days, skip others. I was always thin, and never had health problems, but I did it because I was constantly fighting with my mom, and when that happened, I lost my appetite.
    Then I was accepted in University, and I only went to please my family, so I began using food as an escape, before I knew it I was binging every day, the stress was killing me and I couldn’t stop thinking about the next meal.
    Now I’m switching to a different career, and I’m going back to my old eating style, in hopes I can get rid of the food anxiety.
    And I guess it may sound like a terrible idea, to fast when I have an ED, but it’s been a week, and I feel really good, I’m not bloated and I can be relaxed around junk food because I know I could eat it the next day if I wanted to. Of course, it’s only been a week, I don’t know if after a while I’m going to feel like binging again, but I’m going to have to give it time and be cautious.
    Take care and I hope you keep getting better.

  36. This is EXACTLY what i’ve been through the past year or so. Exactly… and today right now as I was googling articles on IF I was about to put myself through it again for the sake of the perfect body… slim thighs, slim waist etc. And guess what, I do believe that IF contributes greatly to hormonal imbalances. Whilst on my crazy IF and exercising phases my periods came on an average every 18 days or so. Absolutely terrible. Wow thank you for this post. I swear if I had not come across it I would have fasted till tomorrow morning and there I’d be off at it again. I thank you greatly for this post.

    1. my periods have become completely regular and predictable since I began IF”ing 13 months ago. I feel it has STABILIZED my hormones, not the opposite. :)

    2. What I don’t think the author made clear is like someone else wrote, the IF routine was her trigger for an eating disorder.

      Paleo philosophy can be boiled down to “Eat the majority of your food as close to it’s natural state as possible.” Fairly easy on the instructions.

      Since Lean gains (among many other diets don’t get me wrong) require you to put a bit more conscious thought into what you eat and when, it can be problematic for some people. Not to insinuate you’re dumb if you don’t like lean gains…all it means is that process doesn’t work for you. Maybe it needs you to tweak
      It or maybe it’s no good period. Just like there is more than one way to make money, there is more than one way to eat good food.

      The simple fact is that eating three meals or more at regularly spaced intervals is mostly a modern idea. On one hand, your body doesn’t work on removing toxins from itself if its working on digesting food, so limiting your meal windows has some merit.

      But there is a lot of merit to eating paleo and eating when you really need it. WHEN you really need to eat becomes easier to recognize over time as you eat “Paleo” and your blood sugar stabilizes.

      I’m sure most people can find a happy medium between the two since many people seem to have success with both approaches.

  37. I can’t believe so many people are coming to the defense of IF. If I read it right, IF is not the main point of the post…it’s your mindset and how you allowed something (IF) to lead down a dark path to a mental state of bad body image and obsessiveness. Perhaps you were saying IF was bad altogether, but in either case, it was YOUR experience with it and I appreciate you posting about it because I have struggled for a year now (ever since doing HCG diet, which was my first diet ever, and then switching to a Paleo lifestyle) to get my mental state back to a reasonable place with how I should look versus how I feel. This is SUCH a difficult thing for women and anyone and everyone out there who has never struggled with this should keep their opinions and responses to themselves because those of us who can relate to this need to read it and in that sense, it is beneficial. Thank you and God bless you as you heal :)

    Marynn

    1. Finally! I was starting to wonder if I misunderstood the entire post! I think the entire blog post is a beautiful reminder of how easy it is for some of us with unhealthy pasts and bad body image to fall off the wagon and revert back to our former selves.

  38. Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate it. I can fully understand how IF led you down a path to an ED, which is what it was. Women are expected to fit into certain boxes and sometimes we lose sight of our health in order to fit into it. I am so glad that you have come out aware and healthy, so much worse could have happened. Good luck and I will be following your blog now.

    1. Anybody can develop an ED, plenty of smart people with common sense fall down the trap of disordered eating and full-blown eating disorders all the time. While IF might work for some people, this article is a good word of caution for people who are predisposed to EDs. As someone who has recovered from an ED who was considering trying IF, I appreciated this article immensely.

  39. Thanks for sharing openly and honestly how “healthy” behavior can cross the line into “unhealthy!” This is an important message for many women and for the whole community — congratulations on taking care of yourself and sharing the journey for the benefit of others! This is a valuable gift you’re giving. All the best for your healing!

  40. Man om man… I really don’t understand people sometimes..! There are SOOO MANY different ways on how you could achieve your weight goals with OR without Intermittent Fasting. You can apply IF in all kinds of ways and that’s the REAL BEAUTY with IF. You don’t have to get all anal about it and get stressed about doing the same thing everyday, again and again. For people with emotional issues, this will only get things worse. BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THAT! You don’t have to get stressed out and IF is just one of those ways in which you don’t have to stress yourself out but you just need to apply it fittingly to WHAT WORKS FOR YOU! You can basically begin by skipping 1 meal or 12-12( 12 hours of fasting and 12 hours of feeding time) and just go from there. You don’t have to go to the extreme… This IF is GETTING PEOPLE RIPPED and that’s a fact whether people bash it or the so called science backs it up or not… It helps you achieve your goals and it’s something you can apply for the longterm as well, so the ”yoyo-effect” isn’t applicable to IF!

  41. There are two types of people that do IF; idiots who do it strictly for weight loss (girl mentioned in article) and people who do it for health reasons. I’m sorry for being mean, but I can’t agree with someone bashing a lifestyle, simply because all they ate during feed times were bagels, oreos, donuts. If you’re thinking about trying IF, don’t throw common sense out the window, eat healthy complete meals. Don’t load up on junk food and assume IF doesn’t work, because it does and many people can attest to it. This article has little to do with IF, but rather it has everything to do with this girl’s insecurity and self image problems, and trust me.. no diet in this world, whether it be IF or paleo can help her if she can’t help herself. If you want to try IF, here are some things you should be aware of. DO NOT do IF low carb. I’ve never read leangains, but whoever wrote that book is a quack. Sure, you will lose a ton of weight doing low carb IF, you will also lose weight doing low carb without IF, both are unhealthy ways to lose weight. Our bodies, our brains utilize carbs first for energy, so make sure you include a good portion of it when you eat. Fasting has been practiced in numerous cultures for thousands and thousands of years, when you’re fasting your body detoxifies and cleans out your body. It helps your body produce more growth hormones to combat stress and aid recovery, boosts immune, restores digestive enzymes, makes your body insulin sensitive so that you can properly utilize carbs, proteins and fats that you eat. As with everything, don’t overdo it, everyone is different. For myself I fast for 16-18 hours max per day and I eat 3 meals during a 6-8 hour window. It has done wonders for me and my health and I hope it will benefit you as well.

    1. Okay… why is low carb an “..unhealthy way[s] to lose weight”?

      You don’t have anything to back that up, do you?

      Then why did you state it as some fact? It’s just one of those things that everyone knows, right?

      Now who’s the idiot? At least the girl mentioned in the article spoke from her own honest experience. No, I don’t agree with everything she said/did. But you’re just repeating crap the news told you! Weighing the two against each other, sorry, but you win the moron award, not her.

  42. You went through a terrible time. So happy you are feeling better now. As far as I understand it, Brad Pilon explains in his ‘Eat Stop Eat’ book the benefits of intermittent fasting and how it can be used to lose or maintain weight. He does NOT say you have to eat certain macros. It is NOT for every day and is NOT meant to make you binge when you do resume eating. It is simply a manner or method of controlling the number of calories that you take into you body. WHAT you choose to eat is up to you. So for example, you could still eat Paleo style foods that you enjoy, but also emply a leangains approach by eating 2 meals a day instead of 3, or cutting out snacking. All in an effort to simply cut calories because cutting calories will lead to fat loss. And you can choose to take one day at a time, if you are hungry early one day, then eat. If you can wait until noon or later another day, then fine. You do what feels right and healthy FOR YOU. It sounds like unfortunately you got involved in a leangains/fasting program that was far too restrictive with too many mandates.

  43. I Googled IF earlier today and this post was among the first ones to come up… I cried from start to finish. I am a recovering anorexic, but I still suffer from improper nutrition and body image issues. I am through obsessive training and obsessive non-eating, and I am just thinking about experimenting with IF, as I want to gain my weight back in muscles, not in dreaded fat… however, I am not so sure anymore that IF would be the right choice.
    Anywho, thanks for this post, it might prevents me from jumping headfirst into something not-so-great-as-I-thought :)

  44. Intermittent fasting if done right is very beneficial but like some other comments have stated its not for everyone. I thinks theres more to blame in your situation though. You went from a very strict and clean paleo diet to cramming all sorts of processed junk into your body….this explains the acne and why you felt like crap all the time. Another problem is the binge eating. Yea you can try to blame IF for making you that way but this just comes down to having self control. I myself have problems with binge eating so I know how you feel. I think that if you stuck to your clean paleo diet and just added more healthy carbs you would have been fine. Its very hard to over eat and binge when all your eating is clen food. Processed foods fuel the fire making us even more hungry and leading us to binge eat because we arent getting the proper nutrients our body needs.

    1. Yes, I too, am a bit confused as to why you would go from a clean, Paleo diet to a junkfood diet when you are doing the IF. My husband has started doing it and has never felt better! But he closely monitors his caloric intake and makes sure that he eating only healthy, clean food. If he does have any junk food, it is once on the weekend. He has jump started his weight loss, has a ton of energy, is working out with a renewed vigor and feels wonderful! I am into it by 3 days now and have noticed more energy and a nice, “clean” feeling. I work nights so my biggest hurdle is to try not to snack while at work. I keep a big glass of lemon ice water by my desk…that helps. I am sorry you had such a bad experience with IF but I really think you should have stuck with the Paleo diet…you might have had a completely different experience.

    2. Exactly. I do IF and have zero desire to ‘binge’ when I break my fast. I follow the Leangains approach and do 16-17 hour fasts followed by 3 or 4 healthy meals. I might have a bit of dark chocolate or some marshmallows in my diet here or there, but 95% of my food is whole, unprocessed and nutritious.

  45. I’ve been IF ing for years and I’ve never experienced any of this- I’m really sorry you did but I think the true issue here is disordered eating which is not unique to IF. Also all this stuff about it affecting women’s hormones is interesting but I’m not clear on how/why it does that, it sounds all just like anecdotal evidence from a bunch of women who have ED tendencies.

    1. agreed! I am on the female fitness competitor side of the spectrum, and I have noticed for years that even when I try not to IF, i still always return to it. Off season and in contest prep! Obviously the food choices are different but it is NOT a destructive lifestyle, I have so many progress pictures to show this as fact (and of course this is mixed with heavy weight lifting 6x a week). I also am a clinical obesity researcher as a 9-5, with intermittent fasting showing great promise in many facets of illness prevention. I know that when I have a contest and I am prepping, nothing tastes good and yes-it sucks I’m hungry-poor me I want more than a protein shake and some almonds, but my sport is a sacrifice and an extreme. I go back to being fat and happy when I get off of the stage, and to do this to one’s body with no intentions of a contest besides aesthetics is absurd.

  46. I find this post to be utterly ridiculous. I don’t understand why other readers are putting so much stock in this one experience; my guess is because it saves them the trouble of having to try something that is honestly too difficult for most people to handle. IF is not designed to be a road to either anorexia or binge eating, which is why people prone to such behaviours are strongly discouraged from attempting it. As mentioned by others, going from a Paleo diet to “shoving thousands of calories” worth of “Oreos, bagels” etc in one’s mouth will obviously throw the body out of whack. Just because you are fasting intermittently and are allowed to “eat whatever you want” during the feed window does not translate to “go attack a pizza.” Eat responsibly, get your nutrients, and carry on. There is no reason why you couldn’t have kept your Paleo shopping list intact during your fasting, which in my not-so-humble opinion completely discredits any arguments you have against IF. That said, I am a female on my fourth week of IF. I have lost 3.5 kilos, maintained my muscle mass, have loads of energy, and have had no difficulty at the gym. I do HIIT sprinting/jogging, and 1 hr of weights 3x per week. On my feed days, I make sure to eat plenty of protein and veggies, but of course have the occasional splurge. I do not, ever, “shove food” into my mouth. I eat normally. I urge others to share their experiences about the positive benefits of IF when done properly.

    1. I don’t normally respond to things like this but this has got me interested…

      Admittedly only fairly new to IF but have been doing it for 2 and a half months now with a weight loss of 5 kgs. I have not found I am swinging between bingeing and starving at all but am more so surprised at how easy a transition this has been for me considering my poor diet prior to IF. I began IF and clean eating lifestyle at the same time which was of course challenging but honestly much easier than I thought and self control has ust become a habit in a few short weeks. As a sufferer of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) where I experienced daily symptoms of bloating, gas, diorrheoa, reflux and constipation, lethargy etc. I have not had any of these symptoms since beginning IF and am feeling amazing for that fact. (I am not putting this down to IF of course but more so clean eating) I allow myself between 1-3 cheat meals a week and find this lifestyle maintainable. I have increased energy and no issues with sleeping or hunger pains while fasting. I have become much more interested and aware of nutrition and health issues and if I do start noticing a change for the worst in my health from IF will have no problem discontinuing with it but sticking to clean eating.

      I workout 3 times a week and have increased strength and energy while fasting. I walk my dog every other day. I eat lots of whole foods and proteins and never go feeling hungry (which was a problem before when I ate poorly) I have also intensely researched IF and no spurces I have found say it is OK to eat ‘whatever you want’

      Overall I feel healthy, happy, energetic and an all round improvement in general wellbeing. Until any of this changes I will be Team IF all the way

  47. Thanks so much for your story. I had a similar experience with IF. I had been paleo for a few month following the Whole 30 guidelines. When I read about IF in Leangains I too wanted quick weight loss and strength gains. Ar first I enjoyed having mornings to focus on my work instead of cooking breakfast but I quickly spiraled down into insomnia, lethargy, and anxiety, until I damaged my already overworked adrenals and lost most of my hair to hypothyroidism. I crashed hard. This was after about a month of IF, no junk food, just good paleo eating. The adrenal problems had been there under the surface for a while, but I had thick hair and no hypo signs before starting IF. It’s taken me most of this year and a lot of cash for doctor’s visits to get my health sorted out. I wish that I had understood that IF is no magic bullet, and stressing out my body in the name of abs is no way to live. I was too deranged to recognize what I was doing at the time, though now it seems perfectly clear. I hope that people realize that the body speaks loud and clear about what it needs to survive in its current health state, and that the best we can do is honor it and not ram a dieting method down our throats just because someone writes about its benefits in a blog. Self-awareness doesn’t always come easy. Hopefully it doesn’t have to come with as great of a cost for everyone.

    So yeah, thanks for your story. I don’t see it as IF bashing. You’re just sharing the reality of your experience. IF can really mess your mental, physical, and emotional health up if you’re not up for it. I get very frustrated when I hear some paleos of IF’ers laud their methods as though they are fool-proof–I’ve even seen some anger when people won’t swallow their “truth.” I never share my story with them because I can’t stand to get in an argument where people deny my experience for dogma. I appreciate that you had the guts to share yours. Fist bump.

  48. It seems so pointlessly anti–God and masochistic to live in subjection to any one thing, but be it sugar, fasting, exercise, etc. How about everything in moderation, and celebrate the unique benefits of it all? We are each so different, so beautifully created. The ideal diet is what you need, at that moment, to be your healthiest. I think God knows exactly when we need that cut of meat for the iron, and that Brazil nut for the selenium, and that orange for the zinc, and that grain for the energy. And that glass of wine for the antioxidant.

  49. I think the main problem with your IF regime was the fact that you broke your diet. If you want IF to be truly effective (and it really can be) you have to continue to eat clean during the non-fasting times; is there any surprise you felt ill after eating such awful food? What goes into your body is just as important as when you DO eat.

    “bread, oreos, ice cream, bagels” – I wonder why you didn’t feel good?

    1. I think your main problem is that you are trying to tell her she did IF the “wrong” way. I screwed my thyroid up doing IF and trying to stay low carb on the off-workout days. The simple fact is that IF either with paleo or without seems to mess women up after a certain amount of time, but men seem to do ok (although there are stories coming from men who did IF combined with low carb and now guess what? No lead in the pencil, pal). I loved the alertness in the morning but the fact of the matter is that counting macros and calories made me psycho and I was better off doing paleo/primal and not counting anything in terms of how I felt overall and also how my clothes fit. Yes you will feel crappy eating oreos and ice cream all of the time. But don’t be all paleo judgmental on her. Everyone has to find what works for them and in what combinations. Good for you, Paleo Angel, for getting off of the bad body image train to hell. You also have to see what these various diets do in the LONG term, and which are most sustainable for you.

      TrailGrrl

  50. I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for 12 weeks and I’ve never felt better! I’m losing fat and getting stronger, weight management has been so easy (and I’m an endomorph) it feels so good to go to an all you can eat buffet and not gain a single pound of fat (specially when you get fat just by looking at food). I had some acne in the first weeks but now is gone. I tend to cheat once or twice a week, if I really wanna eat something before I break my fast and if I really wanna eat something after I have eaten all my calories I do too. I let go sometimes it feels good. :)

  51. ” 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” Where did you get the idea that you can eat those things and somehow be ok? In any diet or healthy meal plan those foods are Terrible for you. No wonder you got all those Pimples you were loading up on sugars! and shame on you for blaming it on “if” Your post alone will repel so many people from such a wonderful way of Losing weight

  52. This is a very well written article. I have been doing leangains for over a year now with amazing results. I must admit that I experienced the same types of symptoms in the beginning because I was so obsessed with body image. I experienced amazing results in the beginning and then hit a slump and began to over eat. I still will experience the same side-effects only if I ingest highly refined carbs or sugars. Along the lines of what Gary Taubes nuances that these are highly addictive, we know they are destructive to the body! Sometimes you just have to enjoy the moment, and it can be easy to over do it.

    Now, whenever I see candy my stomach churns. Pastries in bakeries look fake to me covered in these shiny glazes.

    Candy in vending machines. crazy colored soft drinks. Eating paleo for the last 4 months has really altered my mind set and view of food. I dont know how Martin can eat a whole cheesecake! Although I’d be interested in my own version of Banana Pudding/Apple Pie mastery

    Good luck and happy eating

  53. Thanks for sharing this Kaleigh. I lasted 4 weeks on IF. Like you I did lots of research before trying but I didn’t do all the macro and counting calories like it said. I just started by skipping breakfast and trying to stop at the right time in the evening to give me 16 hours of fasting. In the beginning it was sorta “freeing” to not eat…. so stressful and my body image issues came back. And my first meal after the 16 hours started to feel like a binge. I became afraid to stop because I couldn’t afford to eat breakfast and then the big meal like I had grown accustomed to(i thought i would continue to eat like that)…but that wasn’t the case. I went right back to my normal eating (which is mostly paleo)-what felt right for my body. So nice to be back :) Looking forward to hearing more about your journey.

  54. I truly DO believe that intermittent fasting isn’t for everybody. With that being said, IF is NOT A DIET! I think People are getting the WRONG IDEA about intermittent fasting because of this particular experience of one individual and it would be totally UNGROUNDED, for sure.

    Kaleigh simply had to mix IF in with her paleo diet, if she really was comfortable wit that particular diet. No one said to her to get off of this diet and if they did, then they were wrong. So she just basically went wrong from the get go but please don’t blame it on IF…

    I really felt I needed to talk about this particular story and clear stuff up, on my personal blog. I really would encourage Kaleigh and others, to read my post on her issue and more, because I really think that people are missing out on 1 of the BEST way to burn fat and improve their physiques, FAST and LASTING, if they believe that IF isn’t the way to go! Read it, or not. You can do whatever…

  55. The only way IF will be successful is to stick to a paleo/low carb diet so your body has an abundant fuel source available: FAT. Not only will your body burn fat, but you won’t be hungry! I’ve been doing IF for a few months and it has been very beneficial and I haven’t had any of the symptoms mentioned in this article. If carbs are introduced while IFing your body will switch to burning sugar rather than fat. If your body is burning sugar as its source of energy, rather than fat you will need to supply it with a continuous source of glucose to keep the body from going into “starvation mode” since the body is not capable of storing glucose. Hence the cravings for high-sugar carbs and junk. “Skipping meals (when your body is in sugar-burning mode) will cause cortisol to rise, which will have additional deleterious effects. FURTHERMORE, an excess of glucose in the bloodstream is known to raise insulin and will predispose excess calories (from all sources) to be stored as fat. ” Mark Sisson has some good information about IF, but it’s important to take note of what he says about following the paleo/low-carb diet if you want to give IF a try. You can not successfully do IF on a high carb diet. You can read more here: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/a-metabolic-paradigm-shift-fat-carbs-human-body-metabolism/#ixzz2DiTF3Q4o

  56. I dig this. Thanks for posting. I’m considering doing something similar for my own blog. Maybe a 30-60 day run to see how it affects (effects?) my sleep/mood/health.

    I’m also a dude, which I think could make a big difference. I think a lot of people downplay the differences between the genders, but personally I think it could be a HUGE difference in outcome.

  57. Thank you for sharing this. What I got out of your story is I think a little different than what many of the other commenters got. This is not a story about the evils of IF. It’s a story about the destructive way women are taught to view their bodies in this culture. It’s a story about how easy it is to acquire an eating disorder. It’s heartbreaking. It’s not about Paleo, or WW, or going vegan, or about what is really the best way to lose weight. It’s about being willing to destroy your health in pursuit of looking the way we are told to. Fuck all that.

  58. I don’t believe your issues came from skipping night-time food and breakfast foods and only having some tea or black coffee in the morning then having clean sensible meals for lunch and dinner. There is nothing wrong with eating less, as most people thrive on reducing food overload- and many people are not hungry in the morning. Your issues seem to stem from the horrible food choices you make and “shoving food down your throat”.. . I don’t see how any female can think that binging on crap would lead to a lean, hot, healthy body.

  59. Hi Kaleigh,
    I really enjoyed your story about your experience with IF via the Leangains approach. Although I understand that you have a lot of experience with the paleo diet I feel like you missed out on some of the more nuanced points of the Leangains protocol. My understanding is that first off: this approach is meant only as guidelines. Although I have no professional or personal relationship with Martin Berkhan he makes it fairly clear that his clients get a personalized approach to his diet and workout approach. Everyone is different and he takes this into account. This mirrors the advice of several other commenters that you should seek out the advice of a professional before attempting this protocol.
    2: the protocol DOES NOT call for junk food binges. He emphasizes smart choices in line with paleo diet concepts including “safe starches”.
    3: The approach he recommends for women is a 14 hour fast including sleep.
    4: (you may have done this but I find it to be very important with patients that I work with) you need to keep a regular schedule. Switching deeply ingrained timing habits can certainly adversely alter your circadian rhythm which would explain your trouble sleeping.
    5: His approach to workouts is 2-3 heavy-lifting workouts per week. Crossfit workouts may not have been a great fit for this eating style because of the metabolic demands.
    6: It is my professional opinion that occasional fasting SHOULD BE well tolerated by people who are metabolically healthy. This does not mean that everyone should be able to go without eating for 16 hours a day, every day with a heavy workout schedule 4+ days a week, but men and women should be able to skip a meal (or two, or three) everyone once in a while without feeling like they are going to die. If a person gets a severe reaction to a mild fasting session it is usually a sign that something else is amiss and should be sorted out before attempting any type of fasting.
    7: the entire point of fasting, especially the Leangains approach, is to untether yourself from a strict eating protocol and obsession over food. He states multiple times that if you are obsessed or counting down the seconds to breaking your fast, you’re doing it wrong. The point is NOT to suffer.

    I hope this gives you a more nuanced look at this approach. Just like with any diet or exercise method there are correct ways and wrong ways to do it – the devil is in the details. I am really glad to hear that you’ve found an approach to diet and exercise that emphasizes wellness over just appearance. Keep up the great work and I’m looking forward to reading/listening to more posts.

  60. After reading this I definitely believe that IF, just like any other lifestyle change, might or might not work with some people. Although I sympathize with some of your internal struggles about body image I’ve been IFing for quite a while now and I have not experienced any of your symptoms. I usually feel quite the opposite, free, happy, in control with my life, wants and needs, and overall healthy. I guess it varies depending on people and it’s good to know experiences like yours so people know that they’re not alone and that there are other ways to carry on a healthy lifestyle. :)

  61. Kaleigh,

    First let me thank you for sharing your story. I have searched for years and years looking for the answers to my health, nutrition, and fitness questions/obsession. I have always been on the hunt for that “Perfect Male Body”, the “Golden Ratio”, the secret to what I thought was happiness ever since shedding my teenage body (245 pounds in collage down to a trim 156 at present). Reading your story enlightens me that there are others out there who struggle on a daily basis with body-image issues like myself. I struggle on a daily bases to get those abs and look like Matthew Mcconaghey, but in the end, I only worry the ones I love, stress myself out, and feel miserable. The first step to recovery is admitting it’s a problem. Thank you for sharing and I hope your journey continues in a good direction. You have inspired some self relection in me. Thank you!

    Chris

  62. Blaming it on the intermittent fasting? Nothing to do with the toxic overload of meat and dairy on your binge days? I swear you will never fully thrive on the Paleo Diet. The best advice you will EVER get from anyone is to look up the 80/10/10 by Dr Graham or the starch diet by Dr. Mc Dougall. High carb, low fat vegan is our ideal diet for us to thrive on.

    Goodluck.

    1. I disagree. Maybe everyone is built differently, but I feel awful on a high carb low fat diet – sleepless, constantly craving an elusive something, and I start gaining weight. I feel best on a low carb, high fat, high protein diet. I recommend “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes.

  63. First, let me start by saying that your story is something that i can relate to. There is an stigma in our culture that demands that we look a certain way. I am sold on this stigma as much as the next guy, which is why I have been under 10% bodyfat for the last 5 years, after an arduous journey from borderline obesity. In 2010, I got my NASM training cert, continued on to develop crossfit and WOD protocols, and got on stage and competed as a natural bodybuilder. What I’m about to write here is in no way an attempt at devaluing your experience. Indeed, I believe that any diet regimen that makes you emotionally happier and physically stronger is one that is wroth adhering too, no matter what the science may say. And I am truly happy that you have found your better state through the Paleo lifestyle.

    That being said, there are a few things I must comment on. As someone who was 168 pounds, and decided to something about it, I find the most remarkable part of this story to be that you lost 30 pounds on WW. The point system is basically an allowance that fits within the boundaries of your nutrient deficit. Achieving deficit reduces weight, and therefore, it is no wonder such a drastic change came in your first year. At 30 pounds, you were losing under 1 pound per week, 52 two weeks (a very, VERY healthy progression).

    Then the story takes a turn I have seen much too often. You talked to a CF trainer (these guys are the equivalent of cult leaders). As having worked in the industry, I understood immediately what the next part of the story would be. He got you into Paleo (I’m guilty of doing this to my previous clients as well). The remarkable thing is that the coupling of Paleo and CF only netted you a loss of 5 pounds over the next entire year…which is puzzling to say the least. Why abandon a regimen that helped you lose 30 pounds. Just because CF is bundled ever so tightly with Paleo? What if you had done CF for an entire more year on WW? I would have to imagine that you would have still felt great, and lost even more weight..the best of both worlds. Here is what I will say about the Trinity that has become Paleo+CF+IF. It gives you a chance to bond, feel welcome when you step in the CF course, feel encouraged by your PRs, and that in turn really, really gives you an emotional boost. If you are eating oreos and milkshakes on IF, and your friends at the CF place are rejecting that logic, you may have felt left out.

    On your suppositions of what IF has done in the interlude, I can fully believe that this happened to you. Because I’ve seen this happen with all sorts of diets with many clients. Keto, South Beach, Atkins (same thing really) and the form of Paleo you are on (no-sugar), and IF. What you suffered was a reaction to an emotional stress. When you submit yourself to a sudden and complete change in diet, the body is confused. When you do it so absolutely (as I can clearly see you studied the protocol), it sends mixed messages to your brain. What you described are symptoms of slight exterior factor depression. But it goes away. The body is a marvelous tool of adaptation, and shocks are soon taken on as “normal”. If indeed it was the fault of the IF protocol, you must first say that when you were 168 and eating unhealthy that you had similar symptoms (you were eating the same foods back then, just more!).

    I understand what this story’s message is and love it. That the exterior indicators of your health were misaligned with the interior. That your priorities were mixed up and you felt outside of your normal, healthy, happy self. But this has nothing to do with Paleo or IF or Oreos. It has everything to do with your environment, your perception, and your concept of self worth. I hope that you continue to show progress in your training. However, I must say, if you want to progress further, it will take a meditated amount of work. It will involve counting calories (paleo or not), balancing macros to compensate for energy so that you can hit PRs, and continuing to fluidly adjust these variables.

  64. I’m having the exact reaction to IF. I’ve been doing it for 3 weeks and the acne is out of control. The worst in 10 years. I had 2 anxiety attacks last week alone. I’m also coming from a food obsessed mind set and like some of the people have said here, maybe it’s not good for some personalities. My body looks great for the most part, but I feel depressed, tired, nervous. As you left that lifestyle, what foods did you eat to restore your skin?

    1. Hi Kellie! I simply went back to my Paleo way of life. The thing for me was I only went off Paleo briefly with IF. I went back on and continued doing Leangains and I continued to have severe cystic acne on my chin (all hormonal). Clearly this lifestyle was messing with my hormones. I continue to eat normally now (no fasting), and I try to eat lots of veggies and little sugar (and by “sugar” i mean too much fruit, honey, or anything like that). I like to try eat as if I’m whole30ing. I also began an apple cider vinegar regimen to help speed up my skin recovery. I am sure to have my fish oil and for healing purposes, i take a zinc supplement. If your gut is healthy, your skin will be as well. Treat your gut kindly. I personally have a difficult time handling a very high fat diet, which typically paleo tends to come with. I do NOT avoid fatty meats, I just dont “fat overload”. i find when my belly and systems are happy so is my skin. Aside from your hormones going a lil nutty during your period, clear skin will be obtained through a paleo diet. Stick with it. I found once I had the acne it was EXTREMELY difficult to rid of 100%. The damage you can do in a matter of weeks might take a matter of months to reverse… just focus on your health and your skin will follow suit.

  65. Hi Ladies and gents

    So I have been doing intermittent fasting on and off – although I follow the Eat stop Eat method – where I fast twice a week for 24 hours and I must say it has worked really great for me in the past and still does. I have never experienced any negative side effects – in fact I feel better overall on my fasting days.

    Like the saying goes … different strokes for different folks.

  66. Thanks for such a helpful comment Corinna. I started doing IF a couple weeks ago and was surprised by the positive changes in my health. I was slightly scared and discouraged after reading this post but thanks to your comment I feel more confident.

    I wouldn’t say I’m losing weight effortlessly but it sure feels a lot better now that I’m not worrying about every single thing I eat and feel hungry the whole time.

    I definitely don’t recommend this for everyone since its true that IF may be more difficult for women but that’s no reason to completely blame everything on it since it does work for some of us!

    Every morning and night, I feel glad that I don’t have to think about food the whole day. It’s so relaxing haha. I never knew how much time I had spent thinking about what to eat every day up to now. I just eat when i have to and dont freak out when my stomach is empty for a few hours. It feels good to be free :)

    1. It needs to be said that I dont “think” about food. I was thinking way more about food with IF than with jsut being Paleo and I missed my freedom of my 3 meal routine, eating whatever i wanted and not being concerned or OBSESSED with macro nutrients which leangains focuses on. For me, it was all wrong. It seems like a choice that is good not only for your personality, but your health. I by no means make mention of IF being unacceptable for women. It was just unacceptable for me. Doing what brings you better health is always the best way, if for you that is IF- awesome! Carry on…

  67. Hi – I’m a nutritional therapist in the UK and the description of your experience is very interesting and I’d like to offer some balanced thoughts to you and anyone reading this post and interested in fasting. Fasting (intermittent or otherwise) should never be undertaken without expert guidance and a full health check first. The reason is that if you are nutrient-deficient (which is possible even if you think you have a healthy lifestyle because it’s not what you eat, it’s what you have absorbed) then fasting is at best an exercise in futility and at worst can be extremely dangerous as you have unfortunately found out. If you do have a good nutrient status, then supervised fasting may in some cases be beneficial.

    A word of advice about Paleo too from someone who has studied biochemistry and nutrition for 5 years: please remember that our Paleolithic ancestors did not eat meat, fish and eggs daily, in fact, they were ironically more likely to be intermittent fasters due to difficulty in obtaining regular food (hence why a healthy body responds well to fasting – we are designed to cope for short periods without food if everything else is ok). So whilst the modern Paleo diet is certainly one of the better ways to go, if you overdo the animal products and eat them at most meals, you will be consuming far too much protein than is necessary.

    I wish you all the luck in the world on your path to health and if you are still concerned about how to eat healthily then I urge you to consult a nutrition professional such as a Nutritional Therapist in the UK or a Naturopathic Doctor if you’re based in the States. Always check the professional register in those locations for registered practitioners.

    Take care and good health,
    C

    1. Apparently you didnt read carefully. I ate “crap” for a week and continued on Paleo. I 100% blame IF. It affected me negatively no matter what i was eating. Appreciate it for what it is Occams… MY story, MY account , MY reactions. There are many people who find success with IF, I wasnt one. There are so many women out there who have similar stories that we felt it was important to share a real story of the ugly side of IFing.

      1. In fairness to Occams – I read it the same way. I didn’t see you mention that you only ate like that for a week.

        I have to also agree with Corinna that the Paleo diet is extremely unhealthy longterm as well. Overdoing lean, animal proteins can really set havoc on your system. As a biochemistry graduate and now working at a cancer institute I can tell you that too much protein in the diet is a bad thing and we’re finding many links between that and many cancers. I AM NOT SAYING protein = cancer but we tend to think IF (when eating a BALANCED and ORGANIC diet) is the best thing someone can do for their bodies.

        I would try the 5:2. 5 days of eating normally and 2 days of either 18 hour or 24 hour fasting.

  68. Hi Kaleigh,

    It is funny how we can really be our worst enemies. I am glad that you have found what works for you. I also, applaud you for getting rid of the nasty scale. I started Crossfit and Paleo over a year ago, I have lost around 60 pounds and feel great overall. However, my body image is horrible and I am obsessed with what the scale has to say. I have cut calories drastically from my diet about 500 a day, fasted and whatever wacky way to lose more weight. Needless to say I feel like crap when I do it to myself. Then i get upset when i can’t do my 300lb deadlift. It has been one of the hardest things to deal with. When I go shopping for clothes I began at the sizes 16-18 (where I use to be) instead of the 8-10’s. Self-love is one of the hardest things to learn because we are all searching for that perfect number and perfect figure, when all we need to be focused on is being healthy.

    Thank you for sharing your story. It takes a lot of guts to come out and tell everyone. You look great! Keep doing what you are doing because it works.

    Many blessings,

    Christina

    1. Christina, thanks so much for your sweet words. It sounds to me like you’re on a similar journey to health. I encourage you to always remember that its exactly that: HEALTH. not perfection, not “skinny”, not any wild idea that we form in our heads of some amazing body we wish we had. We are our own worst critics. You seem to have made some amazing strides. Focus on that and move forward on the same path–that path works! The path that leads to feeling like crap? Doesnt work so well ;) When you get down on yourself, remind yourself of where you were, the gains you’ve made and how you’ll only get more awesome in time.

  69. Kaleigh,
    I felt like I was ready my own autobiography of the last 5 months, it was a little scary. I too did all the research, and gave IF a try in hopes of losing that last 5 lbs and having the stomach I have always strived for. I gave up IF for the exact same reasons about two weeks ago. The binges on sugar were horrific and left me buried alive with guilt. I haven’t had acne since I was 15, and once I started IF it was out of control. Thankfully its clearing up now. I too am enjoying things like breakfast with family and of course fruit. Thanks so much for reaffirming my decision to focus on my health and happiness rather than my image.

  70. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was doing IF for nearly 7 months. I, too, was chasing the dream body and was ready to do almost anything to get it. I didn’t realise that I was hurting myself in the process. I’ve ended up with adrenal fatigue, impaired liver and kidney functions, poor sleep, bad skin, hormonal imbalances stopping my cycle for over 6 months. I wish someone had told me sooner about the risks. I’m a week into healing now and I look forward to reading more about your journey. Let’s both take care and learn to listen to our bodies.

  71. Thank you for this! I started out in bodybuilding and of course became obsessed with food, etc. Last winter during my “off season” I decided to give the IF a try. It went okay for about 2 weeks….then I fell into the same cycle as you, I obsessed about my next meal…and I thought I was obsessed before! I was starving all the time, and I think I actually looked my worst during that time.

    I am not on a Paleo diet, but honestly….this gal needs food, and I enjoy my breakfast. Maybe Paleo is next for me, I don’t know, but I know I am sick of the body image issues and feeling like I am hungry all the time.

  72. I did a similar binge-type diet by following The 4-Hour Body. I put on weight that I couldn’t shake. It was awful. I felt sick and grumpy all the time. I’m glad you made it back. So did I, btw :)

  73. Wow, that was a huge post. Talk about a failed experiment. The bottom line is that is must be a huge relief to be back to something that brings harmony to your system.
    Buuuut, I would not get too down on IF/Leangains. It didn’t work for you and I think that women should be very cautious with it. Probably it should be done with the hands-on guidance of a coach experienced in IF/Leangains and women. I tried doing it myself and failed. I then hired a Leangains coach and it is working great. Disclaimer: I am a guy. So there’s that. The point is, it is a tool, designed to be used in a very specific way. This works for some personalities, genders, and metabolisms and it won’t work for others, just like anything else. The reason it is on fire right now is because, done correctly, it can produce some fantastic results.

    At least you had the guts to try it and the sense to quit when it became too much.

      1. Hey, think of it this way: what if you never came across Paleo in the first place and you had to go from Weight Watchers to IF and all you had to go back to was more Weight Watchers? Ugh. Thank goodness you had Paleo to return to. Now, you can experiment with any “diet” you want to and if it doesn’t fit…it’s back to bacon!

    1. Yup I agree. I’m a girl and I’ve been doing IF for some time and I haven’t had any issues yet.
      Skipping breakfast seems to work perfectly for me. I work out(HIIT) in the morning but I don’t feel hungry. Depending on how I feel, I either have a light snack and then have a pretty big meal(I’m estimating about 600kcals?) a few hours later. I stop eating around 7-8pm but strangely enough, I don’t have cravings until the next day. Although on the days that I don’t work out, I do end up eating more than usual so I try to squeeze in even 20-30 mins of light exercise like yoga or something)
      So yeah I definitely think it depends on the person. For me, working out seems to be the key since it suppresses my appetite for hours.

      Nonetheless, reading your post made me realize that I probably need to more careful so I don’t fall into that dangerous zone. so thank you for sharing.

      1. sounds like youre on a good healthy path. I’m not sure I could do early AM workouts between my schedule and my attitude LOL but i know when i workout saturday mornings “fasted” i typically dont go home starving, so that does make sense! I encourage people to eat when they’re hungry. I never force feed myself anymore or eat until my belly hurts. I like to always have protein and lots of veggies… starches for workout recovery.

  74. Kaleigh: thank you so much for sharing. I have a history of an eating disorder (binge-purge by overexercise, pre-paleo) I’ve been eating paleo for 3 months now. I first heard of IF maybe 1 month ago, and balked at the idea, because I knew I’d be triggered by it, and I (as a medical student) can’t afford to have my brain not work because I’m hypoglycemic. I now “IF” using Bulletproof coffee, and that seems to work for me– but I’m also not trying to lose weight, because if I know I focus on it, I’ll want to count calories and obsess again… and I don’t want to go there. Since I’ve started eating Paleo, I haven’t counted calories. That’s three months– the longest I’ve ever gone without counting since 2005!
    I’d love to hear more about how you (and others) have re-built your healthy relationship with your body and food post struggle.
    Love & laughter,
    Emma

    1. Hey there! Thanks so much :) I plan to do a follow up post about how i’ve been… I’m about 4 weeks into healing now… I’ll save the deets for my follow up! Hope you like it, I think you will!

  75. You are SO right – that the poster kids for IF are all men. I see it work much less often in females. We are just wired differently. I tried the leangains approach in the past with zero success. I’ve now been successfully IFing with the Renegade Diet method, and this is much better for me as the focus is on *health* not the chance to eat a whole cheesecake – which, tbh is the main reason that the 16/8 method appeals so much to me.

    Thank you for sharing this! There needs to be more talk about the dark side of IF.

  76. Thanks so much for sharing this story. I have a history of eating disorders, and IF sent me on a pretty bad spiral as well. I got to what I perceived as a perfect body, but I was a girl obsessed, counting every carb going for longer and longer fasts (2+ days), and feeling like an utter failure whenever I gave into hunger and ate, usually massive amounts. Letting go of that control and power you feel from IF is so difficult.

  77. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this with everyone. I personally have had my first binge purge session in over 5 years, after just a little IF ing. That was just last weekend. I needed this post. It helped me realize I got control before and I will again. This time after only one session and not 6 years of insanity. Your strength is to be admired and I appreciate you sharing your struggles with everyone.

  78. Wow. I don’t think I would ever be able to do all the counting and obsessing involved in any “diet plan.” I am a bit *ahem* older and have always been conscious of eating well—the trouble was that my habits were based on mainstream understanding of what I now call “The American Diet.” Now that I know how–let’s be nice and call it “incomplete”–that information has been, I am trying to learn what foods are really good and how to eat them. Thank you for the information about this approach.

  79. Thank you for writing this. I remember during the early days of my involvement in the paleo community, I mentioned that IF did not work well for me. Many were sharply critical, and made some really offensive comments. IF has become the poster child of bad bro-science. The men who demand that this technique work for all really need to take a look at how they are being in the community and learn to modify their behavior.
    I have read other comments about your post here, and they seem to be very critical of your behavior, suggesting that your behavior on the diet was suggestive of your underlying mental state and not from the diet itself. I do not agree with that position.

  80. Wiw! What a great and timely post! I was a former amateur bodybuilder, and from that developed some incredible body image issues, as well as neurotic weighing of not only my foods, but myself as well. I started Paleo about a year ago, and lost a bit if weight, but nothing outstanding.

    I then started Leangains and even joined a Facebook group for women IF’ers. Most of these women were young and very lean. I was middle aged with a spotty weight and exercise history. There were some middle aged women there, but they were definitely the outliers. I too noticed that IF appeals to mainly the young, lean and metabolically healthy crowd.

    I had some early success with LG, but was not sleeping, also had breakouts and experienced abnormal menses. I became even more neurotic about my foods.

    I totally agree. It’s back to “Paleo a la Robb Wolf” for me.

  81. Have you read Jack Kruse? I really like his stuff. Tons of blogs on tons of different topics.

    http://jackkruse.com/brain-gut-12-dare-to-disagree/
    http://jackkruse.com/brain-gut-6-epi-paleo-rx/

    I highly recommend the whole thing…some parts are a bit hard to understand but its interesting.
    1-5, 13, 14, 16 would be a good start.

    Body by Science seemed pretty good as well as The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living/Performance

    Just mentioning those as they were recent reads.

  82. If I’m not reading wrong did you say you were fasting every day? If that’s the case I thought even Mark Sisson said once a week. I was doing it and felt pretty good and have been told by a personal holistic dr. friend that a once a week 16 hr fast is good for the body. Maybe every other week. I’ve always had an awful time with fruit and just plain sugar. I even made a comment to George post on a cookie that had chocolate chips in a recipe that I try not to even buy them cause I’ll eat the whole bag. lol
    Good luck on your journey!

  83. Thanks for this post! I thought I was the only one that IF didn’t work for (yes, I read ALL the blogs of successful MEN IFing). IF was horrid for me and didn’t produce anything but a whacked out adrenal system. Still trying to heal from that. I eat no fruits, grains, wheat, sugar and very minimal sugar and have gained 20 pounds from my last HCG round (another thing that whacked me out!)

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Kaleigh! I’m in recovery from binge eating disorder (pre-paleo) and the few bouts I have tried of intermittent fasting have been disastrous. I’m so glad to see that you are back on track for what makes you feel good and healthy!

  84. I’m so glad you wrote this article! I recently hit a plateau in my weight loss after 1 yr of Paleo and 24 lbs lost. I started to think more of body image and cut carbs to the extreme with no avail. I tried IF and carb-backloading but my sleep became really messed up, I got searing headaches, and had zero desire to workout. After 1 week I knew it wasn’t for me. After reading an article from the Healthy Home Economist, I added more coconut oil to my diet and let myself eat more carbs after reading a Paleo For Women article. My sleep returned to normal, my skin looked better, and my moods stabilized. It’s stressful to think about which macronutrient I should eat when…now I just get my spoon of coconut oil with my meals and let the macros fall where I feel comfortable. After 2 days of adding coconut oil, I lost 3 lbs effortlessly. I think the stress of “needing to lose weight!” drives us further from our goals.

    1. Cassandra- you’re right! I havent thought about my weight now for a little over a week. I thought this week would be a struggle and I would be missing my scale that was taken from me. I dont. I dont miss living by some # and letting it effect my mood, my day… if something is a lil snug… i put on something else! Honestly, since just going back to eating when i wanted, more regularly i havent “felt” like ive gained weight at all… i actually feel really good. learning to love myself and appreciate my health has been great

      1. I’m glad that you have detached yourself from the scale…we are more than the number it shows us! I have to remind myself that, as a woman, my weight (especially due to water) fluctuates over the month and that is totally normal. Women come in different shapes and sizes…super thin to super curvy…and all can be healthy. We need to be our biggest advocates for respecting those differences. I have come to respect my hips and thighs because I know that the extra fat there can help me have healthy babies someday, so with that regard I am perfectly healthy and that makes me happy! When I think about health from that standpoint, six packs seems less important.

  85. Sounds like you made it important, and worried about it. When we go to extremes, we get the balance that comes with it: misery. I just got off ZC/Carnivore + Leangains, and that was a hot mess. Not much energy to do things other than work out and watch TV. Remember, it’s all an experiment and it’s about understanding the resistance and forms we get day to day, without turning the desired result into a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: rather than ego tripping on the goals, we can travel disidentified with an interesting AIM. You can have your 6 pack abs and eat them, too. Just continue to observe, discover (creatively comprehend) the relationships between food, rest, activity and fat burning, and you’ll get there. In other words, learn how lipolysis works, and see if it’s worth the effort. The trick is making it effortless. ;)

  86. thank you for havuing the courage to speak out about your condiiton! i truly feel that this will be an enormous help to so many! btw, YOU LOOK AMAZING and don’t ever let anyone make you feel different!! :) <3

  87. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your experience AND your epiphanies. I completely understand how an attempt to be “healthy” can start to conflate itself with “thin/fit/ripped/etc.” Even without an eating disorder, a person can start to internalize disordered thoughts and behaviors…and once they creep in, they can open the door for more and more destructive thinking and actions.

    I myself started the Paleo thing thinking that I needed to change the way my body looked…and I was fortunate to realize that, while I wasn’t getting more ripped or losing weight or whatever, I was feeling better and healthier than I ever had in my life–and that, for the first time since I became an anorexic 11 years ago, I felt truly full.

    Your story is incredibly inspirational, and I hope that other women (and men!) who read it see the value in what you’ve shared: admitting to yourself that your lifestyle has become unmanageable and then REACHING OUT FOR HELP is so difficult, and so beyond necessary…I’ve been working on using my own blog to build a network for others who struggle with disordered thinking about body image and food, but obviously it’s not possible to reach everybody in the world…it’s just a matter of being the resource for the people who want to be reached.

    Thank you, again, for showing others that it’s possible to be healthy without giving in to destructive thinking.

    Best,

    Kaila

  88. Kaleigh —

    Thank you SO much for sharing this. This is EXACTLY what happened to me. I started IF’ing and soon my body image was number one priority — I had extreme body dysmorphia and a nagging voice inside me was telling me I was ugly and fat even when I got in size 0 jeans. My hair started falling out, I was weak and miserable. Plus, I felt the need to control EVERYTHING. I would eat breakfast and a light dinner, usually about 1200 calories/day. I was lean and thin and thought I should be happy, and then I lost control. Soon, I was binging once/week, then it was every other day. Soon, it was every day. The sugar and gluten demons attacked, and I lost the paleo lifestyle that I had once thrived on.

    I’m trying to get back on track now — killing the carb/sugar cravings — by eating lots of fat, meat and veggies. It’s been a struggle so far though, and I’ve gained a lot of weight back, so there is the nagging voice still telling me I need to restrict/fast etc. to lose the weight again.

    I would love to hear your advice on how you get back on track and over the hump of cravings, carb flu, bad body image, etc. Thank you for sharing this. I’m glad I’m not alone.

    1. The funny thing about me too is that I’m in a size 0 as well… i was “proud” when my size 0’s felt loose… sad. Honestly, I have done so well just letting go of this because I know how much I just miss things like: sleep, happiness, mental clarity, clear skin. To me it was reason enough to get back on track and over the hump. I somehow have gotten in a GREAT mindset where I really am listening to my body. I KNOW when i am satisfied, and I dont need more food… I eat breakfast daily, I feel like it starts me off on the right start (no mid-morning starvation)… I like a couple eggs and bacon…sometimes with a side of some full fat greek yogurt with 1/2 handful of fruit. Learn when you’re “bored” vs actually being hungry. I just had dinner (steak and brussel sprouts with bacon)… i felt like I wanted a “treat” so…i broke off a square of dark choc and let it melt in my mouth. It was perfect. Just enough to satisfy my lil craving. So dont ignore your cravings! If you want sweet… go for a banana…an apple…berries, dark chocolate… etc.

  89. I appreciate this post so much as I’m currently going through the same issues. Going paleo has definitely helped with digestive issues I’ve had and helped me stay leaner, but I’ve always wanted to lose just 5 more pounds (I’m vain, what can I say). I first started just trying to restrict myself, a habit I had adopted from my early college “1000 calories a day diet”. That didn’t work, as I’m too much of a foodie. Then I tried Zoning to help control my portions but I became obsessed with measuring my food. Then came IFing. Worst thing to ever happen to me. It seemed okay at first but then turned into an obsession as I anticipated my next meal. To mask my food issues to family and friends, I have always said my dietary habits are my way of experimenting with different ways I can eat healthy when in reality, I have the most unhealthy relationship with food. IFing became a punishment, something I had to do so I wouldn’t gain weight. Really, it was a way to starve myself and occasionally binge but call it ‘healthy’.

    IFing may be great for some people. I’ve read about some amazing girls who do it on the reg and have great experiences with it, so I thought I was just being a pansy. Your post really resonated with me as I’m still struggling to find my healthy relationship with food. For now I’ll just stick with paleo and try to listen to my body rather than my vanity.

  90. It’s wonderful that you were able to tune in and know what your body was telling you. I wish mine would talk to me. After gaining 20 pounds on low carb/primal/paleo, I’ve given up and just about resigned myself to the fact that nothing is going to work and I’m just going to be fat. I eat only when hungry, and that’s gotten to be about a half a meal a day. That’s the only way I can keep from gaining. Maybe I’ll try Whole30 sometime, see if that works.

  91. I’m glad you are back on track and healthier. That “IF” you did sounds nothing like what I have been doing since February 2012. The program described in this article would make me uncomfortable.

    1 or 2 days a week, (I decide), I go from, dinner on, say a Monday evening until dinner Tuesday evening without eating. Only water, plain hot or cold teas or coffee. I do not eat grains, and don’t consider myself “Paleo” or anything else. I eat what I want when I eat. I choose to eat lots of fresh food and buy organic when I can. I don’t have an eating window, I just don’t care for processed food. My last doctor’s appointment (September 10th) was stellar. I am 49 years old. According to my doctor: My blood pressure is perfect, my “bad” cholesterol is dropping every visit, while my “good” rises. My A1C for blood sugar, “could not be better.” Her words. I train high intensity, short duration with 80% body weight exercises with training programs that I write myself. This is just my version of fasting. YMMV.

  92. Great story.

    My question to you: Why wouldn’t you continue to eat Paleo, while doing IF?

    I predict that your altered hormones and acne were a result of “stuffing your face with oreos” or “eating anything that would fit your macros”… and not specifically due to your 16 hour fasts and 8 hour eating window.

    I definitely agree that IF is not for everyone, but perhaps you should have tried IF on a Paleo diet?

    1. Exactly my thoughts.
      Why would create a metabolic nightmare for yourself doing IF with crap nutrition. Go Back on IF with a Paleo approach, I bet youll feel great.

      1. Of course it’s important to eat clean while IFing, but here we talk about food obsession. I’m on Paleo (it was Whole 30 first and I’m generally eat the same way now) and Leangains for already 9 weeks and experienced absolutely the same!
        I’m couting minutes till my first meal of the day and after I eat it I count at what time I’ll have the next one. Or sit and think about what I will eat… I don’t weigh myself but I am very very disappointed with the way I look, hate what I see in the mirror. So I had to stop looking at myself in the mirror because whatever I would never be happy what I see…. It’ terrible, this mess in my head and I just don’t know what shall I do.
        I’m very happy for you, Kaleigh, that you managed to find your way from it. But as for me I just really don’t know where shall I start. Half of me understands that this is unhealthy, this obsession about body image and foods, and wants to change something. I’ve missed my period which means that hormones in my body are totally imbalansed!=(
        But another part speaks for Leangains as it works for so many. (But these are mostly man!)
        Please, I need an advice. Really lost and don’t know what to do….

    2. I answered this previously and will again… i only did that shit for about a week… then i went Paleo with my IF as i DID first blame the food…but NOPE even Paleo, I was BAD. EVERYTHING was bad. I am happier now NOT doing that.

  93. Wow! What a crazy experience, but glad you got it straightened out.
    I love IF as a whole, but the Lean Gains protocol of eating the ginormous post workout and breaking your fast made me into an absolute slug. My energy was great from skipping breakfast, but I wanted to sleep after gorging on a few lbs of food.I felt like a puffer fish the rest of the day and was forcing myself to eat, but I was eating a clean plan.
    I then started reading Jason Ferruggia’s Renegade Diet of combining a Paleo approach with probiotics, intermittent fasting, and back loading your carbs. Post workout was basically a small meal with maybe a banana, low carb the rest of the day with smaller meals, then feast at night with almost all of my carbs. My sleep was better, workouts improved, etc.
    I’m about to start Keifer’s Carb Backloading program which is similar to Renegade, but pushes a very high glycemic carb load (several hundred grams worth) post workout ideally around 6PM and lasting for a few hours. Julia Ladewski from Girls Gone Strong had an article discussing her success with CBL.
    It seems females have a harder time with IF, but it also seems to benefit those with those who focus more on strength workouts rather than endurance (including CF).
    Whatever works!

    1. i did all strength while doing leangains… I really missed CF, though. I’m happier just to be back with my CF gang and getting back to what works for me…which really isnt searching for some program to make me thinner, toner, etc…

  94. I’m so sorry that you had to go through this. I’ve got a rocky history with food and disordered eating. I have LOVED Primal because of the 80/20 rule. It allows me to do my best, but not beat myself up for the times when I eat something that’s not optimal. I think I’m the nicest to myself, now, than I ever have been and I love that.
    I tried the IF stuff a bit, and found that it was NOT for me. I seem to sail through 50-100g of carbs a day, but if I skip breakfast and only have lunch, I’m an emotional mess by early evening. I’m not hungry at all, but I am depressed and anxious and just awful to be around. Yuck. I don’t even know if it was having any positive impact on my weight, but I can definitely say that it was having a negative impact on my moods. Sorry, but it’s not for me. Good mental health trumps ripped abs every single day. Period.
    Good luck to you on your recovery.

  95. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I have been contemplating fasting so I can try and achieve a better body and because of your honesty, Kaleigh, I see that this is no road to travel and that I myself may have some body issues as well. I think we all do to a degree. So proud of you. You are beautiful and so brave!

  96. Kaleigh,
    I’m glad your figuring out that a “prescription” doesn’t always work for everyone. I too get frustrated when I follow a program to the T and it doesn’t give me the results I was looking for. You know the Paleo guidelines, follow it to how your body feels, and forget about everything else. By the way, it always blows me away when I see good looking people that have image issues, but it seems that it happens more often than people think. I’m married, but not blind, let me tell you “YOU”RE HOT!!!” Don’t ever think otherwise.

  97. I appreciate your story, I tried IF a few years ago and it DID NOT work. I fell into this whole too but Im blessed that I somehow got myself out of it, I took a lot of thinking and journalism for me to come to that realization.

  98. What a phenomenal post. Thank you for sharing and articulating this all too common situation so beautifully. I battled an eating disorder for five years and have been in recovery a full year and just recently discovered paleo. I feel a whole new level of food freedom I never knew existed. Many people assume that “eating paleo” is a “diet” and therefore totally unsuitable for someone like me with ED history, but I’ve never been mentally healthier.

  99. I had a similar experience with IF years ago, eating whatever I wanted as long as it was within my eating window, mostly macaroni and icecream! lol. Like you, I become very obsessive and felt horrible every day. Recently though, I got back into IF combined with paleo and I feel amazing. I hate having to make and eat breakfast and lunch during my work day and have adapted to where I don’t even get hungry until around 5PM though, so it just works for me, but definitely not for everyone. It’s truly amazing how different everyones’ bodies are when it comes to diet and exercise.

    I hope you continue to listen to your body and focus on being healthy. By the way, I think you are absolutely beautiful!

    1. It is amazing how each person is so different. I’m so happy to hear you’ve modified and found a healthy balance in your life and thank you so much for your kind words… makes my day :)

  100. Wonderful, brave post. I worry about the whole IF thing sometimes, mostly because it seems to work for me & I’ve also read about the potential side-effects for women and wonder if I’m doing the right thing for my health long term. I was never a natural breakfast eater (brunch was more my style), but when I quit carbs and became fat adapted I naturally adopted a sort of IF routine – only I’d never heard of IF. I just wasn’t hungry eating as much fat as I was. I would work out in the morning, have a whey protein shake with cacao and about 4T of coconut oil, and then I just wouldn’t feel hungry AT all until late afternoon when I would have dinner. I worried that I wasn’t eating enough, but I wasn’t hungry. Then I read about IF and it was like a lightbulb went off in my head and I stopped worrying. Maybe because I have coconut oil in my protein shake (and a little more before bed in my hot raw cacao drink), I’m not really eating IF anyway. I don’t know, but most days it feels very right Sinai don’t worry about the pedantics. Some days, esp. weekends when we eat together all day as a family, I eat more, and I feel this is good balance. I’m not trying to lose weight (and I don’t need too), I just want to be happy and healthy. Sometimes I have some nuts if I’m hungry in the afternoon – but that usually ruins my appetite for dinner which is essential nutritionally, so I try not to do that too often. Sometimes I have a big fruit salad with lots of double cream. Basically if I really want something I met myself have it, but distinguishing between what the mind wants, and what the body needs is a tricky business. I’ve never been a breakfast eater so this way of eating feels very natural to me. And I think because I’m eating so much fat (coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, butter, animal fats), and I’m not eating any sugar, grains or flour of any kind, or anything processed, my hormones, skin, and mental health seem to be fine. Better than fine actually! I guess we’re all different and we all need to do what fits right for us. I am always mindful that I’m sort of still experimenting to find my right fit, and I need to be objective when considering the results, so if things change for me I will remember this post!

    1. I think the very MAJOR difference between us 2 is that you are listening to your body. The “natural” IFing is just that-NATURAL. for it was not…and i believe its why it messed with me more n more as time went on. I felt like it “worked for me” at first-but that was as far as losing weight went- nothing else “worked” (losing sleep, losing my glow, energy, etc). I was a breakfast eater… so skipping that on the regular and working out with an ounce of food in my system for up to 20 hrs on somedays wasnt ok for me. I think your approach (and mind set) to listening to your body and eating accordingly is exactly what healthy eating habits are. I hope to be there 100% someday soon.

  101. Thank you for sharing your story! While I know that all of us as women can relate to the body image issues, the biggest thing I got out of your story is that WOMEN ARE UNIQUE! Our hormonal patterns, body fat distribution, and ability to nourish life make us biochemically different from men. Hoping to start seeing more research on how paleo / IF applies to women…

    1. I agree! And no man or woman are the same! I see women do Paleo and crossfit for a month and they’re in sick, insane shape…for me, I was getting caught up in that. Why them and not me?! I dont want to compare myself to other women! I am me, and I work hard in the gym and I try to maintain a healthy way of eating and I’m learning to love THAT and let go out my “imperfections”

  102. ” bread, oreos, ice cream, bagels… anything that I could “enjoy” on workout days because it fit my macros.”

    perhaps it was your poor choice of training day carbs that caused the problems and not IF. If you were to retain your clean paleo eating ways while fasting 14 hours a day, I’m sure you would have found a different result. Still, IF is not for people who struggle with eating – and your biggest meal on training days should be post workout, not necessarily the first meal of the day – and should consist of at least 50% of your calories in LEAN protein, good quality carbs and low fat. Martin outlines a number of protocols for differing schedules on leangains.com. I’m sorry you had such a negative experience.

    There are more than 3000 women in my FB group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/fiercefitfearless/, who have had positive experiences with IF, but with slightly differing approaches. Some can get away with eating garbage carbs and using IIFYM, some can’t tolerate gluten or too much processed sugar and stick with more primal carbs. Perhaps it’s because women have so much more going on hormonally that we have to tread lightly and experiment to find what works for us as individuals. I’m glad you feel better.

    1. I Was part of that group and un-subscribed. I should make it clear that my “unclean” eating maybe last 2 weeks of the 10. I thought the food choices were also my problem so i adopted paleo/leangains. After 10 weeks I was a complete disaster. I see that this program has worked for many, but I also can look and see toxic posts on that page of women who went through binges…or bragged about their massive PWO meal… I really dont think a binge of any sort is anything to be proud of. That is my personal opinion now. I dont want to obsess about carbs, fats, proteins, etc. I want to eat whole, real food and be happy. No more counting, no more burden…and no more acne! But to each their own…for ME…it was destructive.

  103. There don’t seem to be too many on here with a positive experience of IF. I’ve been paleo and IF’ing for pretty much a year now, mainly I go with it during the week, and on weekend I love a morning breakfast.
    IF to me is not about weight loss, or body image, it’s about feeling good. I think clearly in the morning when fasted, I have great energy (though I will admit, it does take me a little longer to get going when I wake up) and it makes me appreciate my first meal of the day WAY more than I ever used to.
    I don’t overthink it, I just do it, it’s a way of life now. I also don’t follow a high carb/low carb strategy, I eat whatever I fancy and just keep a general eye on trying to make sure the foods I’m eating through the week will be giving me what I need.

    Sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you, it was a great article though, extremely interesting and I’m glad you are in a better place now.

  104. Kaleigh, first off, thank you for outing yourself…you’ll never regret living your truth, even when you wish it were a different truth. I think so many of us struggle when paleo and Crossfit only get us so far. I’ve come to realize that is when the real work begins…when we really do learn to embrace the bodies we have for what they can do, not how well they conform to current standards of ideal beauty. For me, the journey began when a paleo challenge threw me into a mental tailspin. Suddenly, I was adding up points, and deducting points, and, like you, looking at the scale and ignoring what is already knew. I ended up feeling so foolish because I was letting arbitrary and external influences define me. It took a few months to find myself again, but no journey is wasted. Now, I’m not tempted by new interpretations, nor exhortations to go strict. My body really can be trusted to do the best things. Good luck and have faith…you’ll be fine.

    1. SO happy to hear that you escaped the mindset we sometimes get stuck in. I am REALLY glad I caught it as well and I was pretty deep in. Every day I dig out a little further and start seeing the light… It’s like a WOD really… an ass kicker, but always worth it in the end :) Thanks so much for your kind words

  105. Hey there,

    first of all I’m glad to hear you’ve got your groove back and are happy with an eating and training system that is working for you.

    I am a fan of using or at least exploring IF as a tool for de-stressing about food, making your relationship with food better and given the multitude of ‘IF styles’, I like the flexibility it can give to people.

    One of the quotes that stuck with me early on from the Leangains website (when people were hitting Martin up for the ‘exact’ details, the secret formula etc) was the following

    “My diet is far from rigid. I don’t plot out x grams of y macronutrient to consume on z days, but have a general strategy depending on requirements (i.e workout days are higher carb, but not necessarily high carb, rest days are lower carb etc). It’s a lifestyle approach these days.”

    The flexible, stress free, healthy approach that works for you is the answer. For some it might be through IF, for others it isn’t.

    Thanks for sharing, I hope others can learn from your experience and not end up on the same path :)

    James

    1. Thanks James! I do think escaping the rigid is a good thing. For me, that also meant no more “waiting to eat”…when I’m hungry, i chow! plus i LOVE my bacon and eggs before work in the AM :)

  106. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this. This is incredibly timed with how I have been feeling about myself lately. I have been consistently eating <100 (and even <50) grams of carbs a day for awhile now; even quit dairy and alcohol for a bit. Did I have a perfect flat and toned stomach? No. Did I lose weight? No. In fact, some of my clothes were tighter. I keep seeing all of these Paleo people (men and women) who within a month of eating Paleo (I'm arguably 6-7 months in) have toned bodies. I'm SO glad to hear another woman's perspective on body type and what Paleo is REALLY about (eating the right way for our bodies and health) rather than picture after picture of before-and-afters that make me feel like I'm doing something wrong. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    1. I feel like we’re kindred spirits! I have thought the EXACT same thoughts as you. Why does woman A have a rock hard body and she eats paleo 80/20 and maybe works out 2x/week… The truth is all of us our different. Maybe ill NEVER have a crazy 6 pack…so what! I am healthy and strong and I feel amazing. I am not obese, I have no health issues, I am young and I have GREAT support via my paleo site, my friends, family and my boyfriend… my life rocks! And here I am getting caught up in other peoples “results”… I’d so much rather just do right by myself and learn to love me and love my healthy eating and love my crossfit workouts…and let go of ego. It’s so much easier said than done! But let’s get there together!

  107. Thank you for opening yourself up in this very public place. The Crossfit Community is here to support you thru the good and the bad times. Never forget that, best of luck to you on your new health endeavors.

    1. Couldnt agree more! I am so so SO grateful to people @ my box who have reached out unselfishly and said so many kind things. I love that I am a part of it and back to taking classes rather than working out by myself!

  108. Kaleigh, THANK YOU so much for your post. I am coming up on 6 months Paleo, and I had fallen into an IF rut, as in I didn’t have an appetite for food anymore, literally NOTHING sounded good, and I would go whole days on 3 chicken leg. Now I know as a result of my lack of appetite and really accidental IF I have been having TERRIBLE breakouts, I have pimples and boils on my face and neck. Because of this post I am going to make it a point from now on to try and put something in morning, noon, and night, to help balance my hormones.

    1. It’s nuts how it messed with my skin…absolutely nuts. Get on a pattern of healthy portion sizes and delicious foods! I have such a love for Paleo eating and getting really creative with spices, sauces, different cooking methods… makes it fun and yummy! I used to host “paleo dinners” for my friends too it was an awesome way to eat up and socialize.. my friends never minded either! I plan on doing those again!

  109. Such a shame that you took such a destructive path to IF. It really can be a great tool, if used properly. I don’t IF every day, don’t even try. I’ve found that on my lifting days, I need to eat a little pre-workout, and IF just doesn’t work 3 days a week.

    I cringed when I read how you were stuffing thousands of calories in your face when you hit your eating window. Is that really what Leangains recommends? I experienced a bit of compensatory overeating when I first started, but I haven’t done that in a very long time. I just eat until I’m satisfied, and if my body needs more calories than I’m giving it, it’ll let me know. Thank God you’re back to letting your body tell you what it needs instead of following guidelines set by someone you’ve never met!

    1. It is disgusting…. it really is. And yes… my PWO meal was 60-80% of my daily caloric intake which was anywhere between 1300-2200… scary stuff. I believe in listening to what your body wants. For example, this past Sunday, I wasnt hungry for lunch at all. I ate breakfast around 10 and then dinner around 5. Technically a small “fast” but a NATURAL fast… I just try to listen now :) baby steps to recovery.

  110. Thank you Kaleigh! I have been going through the same thing and have been driving myself crazy because I have not been able to eat at my calorie requirements for about two weeks now. i have been going over! But when i first started I felt like I was stuffing myself. I have been moody and frustrated and just dont look and feel as well as I use to. I have become obsessive and complusive about food and have been binge eating for two days and feel like crap. Too many grains and sugars have crept back in and its time for change! Thanks for being so open and honest. I know it works for some people but I think for some of us it can turn into something physically and emotionally destructive! Listen to the caveman, he seems wise and …. you two look cute together!!

    1. First, I am so glad I am not alone! I am happy for anyone it works for that can adopt it safely, for me (and it seems for you) it is so unsafe. Caveman is so wise…however we’re both in happy relationships! We will be lifelong friends though I am sure!

  111. Kaleigh, thank you very much for your bravery. I have also been drawn in by IF and the idea that it can give me the “paleo body” that I feel that I should have. I will soon be 50 and my hormones are a mess. My weight is creeping up, I get rampant acne and I am exhausted. I just want to relax and eat real food when I am hungry and stop when I’ve had enough. I am going to be brave too. Enough is enough.

  112. Well i certainly sympathize with U and am glad you have backtracked and r back on track, but i have read Mark Sisson’s posts on IF and it certainly does not sound anything like what U were doing. I am female and I go from around 8:30-9pm to usually 1-2pm before i eat without the side effects u experienced, but i have wonderful coconut oil in my coffee & the fat keeps me happy & healthy…good luck

  113. Wow…as someone fairly new to Paleo (6 months) i had considered IF to jump-start the benefits of weight loss. I thank you for changing my mind. Thank you for sharing your story, your struggle and your success on realizing there was a problem!

    You look gorgeous to me!

    God luck on your continued journey!

    1. Andrea… I’m glad I could change your mind about getting “crazy” about searching for new results.. just keep at your healthy ways! I really do think it’s the best. It’s so easy to get impatient… I struggle with that too. And thank you! It’s always nice to hear someone thinks you are beautiful- esp when you aren’t feeling your best

  114. Thank you so much. So many days I feel so crazy with my obsession with what I eat and my body image. I constantly think about how I look and what I’m eating. One bad meal can lead to me swearing I’ve gained weight and look different. One minute I’m happy with my body, one meal later I’m fat. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming and tiring to feel like that and I wish I could just forget it. Paleo has helped me some and I feel more upbeat, healthy, in control and energetic. It’s honestly just so comforting to know someone else has those issues too and it helps me to let go of all of it just a little bit. Again, thank you for airing your innermost feelings because I now know I’m not alone! :)

    1. Its so refreshing to see I am not alone either! We all have to face our demons, and also face our accomplishments and love ourselves! I was seeing so many negative effects (physical and mental) from my destructive thinking. My mom says to repeat this mantra: The universe wants what is best for me…

      So i’m just living a healthy life and letting things go…i already feel better. I hope you can have less destructive thinking days as well! I know it’s a hard habit to kick!

  115. Found this via Caveman’s FB share.

    You have earned me as a new follower.

    Kudos to you and please, please, please document your return (and subsequent flourishing) as you will be helping SO many in the process

  116. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’ve struggled with body image issues for decades, and as a recovering anorexic, reading this really resonated with me. I’ve been eating Paleo for over a year and have never felt healthier, and while I’ve considered IF a few times, I’ve never actually tried it because of my past eating disorder and my addictive personality. And while I know IF works well for others, after reading about your experiences, I think I’ll steer clear of it altogether. Thank you again!

    1. Oh Lia… I’m so humbled to read this. I would say IF is a dangerous road to go down for a recovering anorexic. Paleo is a GREAT choice for your health (and mine!) Strangely, although I can’t say I was anorexic, or bulimic, I do feel like I had an eating disorder and I was very deep into it. I feel like I am also in recovery. Everyday is a new day of healing… I have good days and bad, but I am learning to love myself and listen to my body!

  117. Thank you!! This past year I went from my typical Primal eating to a more destructive eating disorder of fasting and binge eating. I was depressed working out, not feeling motivated, forcing myself to do it with my heart no longer in it. I would starve myself and then eat with guilt, my health has taken a nose dive since then, zits, lack of sleep, cranky and depression and much much more. It’s hard to say that I have a problem and I’ve been struggling to get back where I was, but I actually fear the foods I used to love and I can’t seem to feel healthy about my food choices at all. I’m happy you were able to be aware of what it was doing to you before it got too out of control, and I hope I can make the same turn around you made. Good luck and God Bless (((((hugs))))) <3

    1. Dawn, everything you said is everything I went through. It is so hard to let go of over-thinking, I know…but I know now, from experience, it HAS to be done to stop the cycle and it feels better. I find being occupied and busy with other things keeps me sane. I love to cook! So i do that lots…sometimes I make batches of goodies and share them with Crossfitters or my co-workers…and I’ll allow myself one too! I do what my body tells me… if it says eat… I eat. if it says I want sweets! I have a few strawberries…etc. I dont “think” about it… I just listen and respond. It’s not easy…but i already feel better! I hope you can get on a healthier path as well! I know how hard it can be!

  118. Interesting. I have had much better experiences with IF – particularly with the 16/8 LG general model. BUT, I have heard that women struggle more with it. In fact, I believe Martin Berkhan noted on his site that he recommended only a 14-hour fast for most women. Also, I ignored any LG macro recommendations, and instead just continued to eat in a general Paleo style, but with more carbs on workout days (all post-workout). Kind of a mix of LG with the recommendations of Dr. John Berardi.

    At any rate, I think people generally need to experiment with the good information out there, and then tweak the protocols based on how they feel and the results they observe. My 2 cents.

    Glad you have found something that works well for you.

    1. I too, am following this same approach… 16/8 Paleo-style. I have only been doing this for a week now, but I feel fine. I think that IFing (personally) helps me to control the amount of food I eat per day. Having a shorter designated time frame to eat in actually leaves me feeling satisfied. I feel like I get fuller quicker, eating the same sized Paleo meals I would eat before trying IF. I also feel much energized in the morning while I fast. I could be wrong, but I believe Martin @ LG said that IF can be sometimes psychologically harder for women than for men. I have not had the urge to binge like crazy on crappy processed foods. But like I said, I have only been doing this for a week now (and I am nowhere near the size of Paleo Angel!) so I’m not sure how valid my opinion can be. What I have learned in my weight loss journey is that not all woman’s bodies respond equally to the same methods. I’ve seen many womens testimonies of IF working for them and also many who got nowhere with it. All I know is that I feel great right now, so I plan to keep at it and see what happens :)

  119. Thank you for sharing your struggle. I think there are many of us who struggle with the same issues. It is hard to feel like you are fueling your body correctly and feel amazing, yet to still ignore that voice in the back of your head that still thinks you should have a 6 pack. It’s hard to come to terms with your body. We have to remember that we all have a different story, and we can’t possibly all look alike. I admire your courage in telling your story, and in taking the higher road to health even if it means abandoning your 6 pack. Thank you again for sharing, this is something I really needed to hear right now :)

    1. Leslie… so awesome to read this. It took a lot to admit I had an issue and face my demons. Every day is a new day of healing. You’re right- we are ALL different. I will continue on a path of fueling my body with whole foods and doing what i love– cooking and crossfit!

  120. This is such a wonderful post; I completely identify with Kaleigh. I try day after day to overcome my crazy body issues, the constant negative self-talk, the strong desire to have a body free of imperfections. I don’t want to be mean to myself, but it’s a hard habit to break. I would be so sad if I have a daughter someday that felt about her body the way that I feel about mine. I hope that I can continue to improve how I treat myself and remember that I am beautiful, strong and AWESOME JUST THE WAY THAT I AM!!!!!

    1. Karla– TOTALLY agree. I love that I’m not “alone”… Lets face it, we all have insecurities…but so many of us really need to just love and accept ourselves and focus on the many GORGEOUS things inside and out. Body image is a mother f… but I’m really re-building a relationship with myself…not easy but everyday I get better :) I hope the same for you!

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