How Intermittent Fasting Saved Me…while Slowly Killing Me

post banner cavemanfeast 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.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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.

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Here is a picture of Kaleigh, 5 Days, after ending her fasting and eating properly again, Face = ALL CLEAR and she is Happy!!!!!!
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Comments

  1. 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.

  2. Amanda Harri says:

    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!

  3. Sarah Simmons says:

    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.

    • ccattwood says:

      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!

    • 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!!

  4. 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.

  5. Cynthia Wilson says:

    After reading her blog… Well wow. Such an unhappy and spiteful person all around. Mostly negatives to say and putting down others who are achieving what she seems to want to herself. Very sad:(

    This is her other site putting people down. :/
    http://www.forgingelitesarcasm.com/2011/01/enough-with-handstand-poses-already.html

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

  6. Cynthia Wilson says:

    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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

    • ccattwood says:

      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. :)

    • 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.

  9. interesting article.

  10. 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

    • 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.

  11. 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.

  12. For smart people with common sense who want to learn how IF and clean eating can transform and change your life in the best possible ways, Dr. Berardi’s free book is a great place to start:

    http://www.precisionnutrition.com/intermittent-fasting

    Another woman’s take on IF’s remarkable benefits
    http://www.benbruno.com/2012/02/intermittent-fasting-for-women/

    The rewards are great for those willing to try–and do it right.

    • Ashley L. says:

      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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

    • Leangains is not low carb IF. Before you go calling someone a “quack” you should do your research. It’s only fair.

    • 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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 :)

  18. 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.

    • N Chapman says:

      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.

    • 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.

  19. 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.

    • 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.

  20. 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.

    • Well put Alecia, couldnt have said it better

    • 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

      • Ditto to all of this! My workout, sleep, appearance, attitude and energy have all improved since starting IF.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. Adam Chamberlain says:

    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?

    • 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

  24. 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. :)

  25. ” 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

  26. 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

  27. Mary Kate Villamor says:

    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.

  28. 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…

  29. 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

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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. :)

  35. 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

  36. 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.

    • 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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?

    • 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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 :)

    • 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…

  41. 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

  42. You were eating crap. Don’t blame IF.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  43. Christina says:

    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

    • 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.

  44. This post touched home in so many ways. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your strength!

  45. 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.

    • Allie, thanks so much for opening up yourself, I’m sad that there are more of “us” out there… I hope youre on a healthy, happy, clear-skin path :)

  46. Kassandra says:

    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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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 :)

  49. 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.

    • I had a lot to say HAHA! Yeah, for women I think IF can be different in a negative way (for some at least)

      • 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!

    • 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.

      • 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.

  50. 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

    • 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!

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