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Intermittent Fasting for a college athlete?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 21, 2012 at 7:20 PM

Hello, everyone! I'm a 20 year old female, began eating paleo more than a week ago (though I've been eating fairly clean for a few years), and I am looking to lose body fat. I'm 5'3" and about 148 lbs with a good amount of muscle. I play softball in college and our season is starting up in under a week.

I've been browsing this site and reading the posts about intermittent fasting and leangains and I'm thinking of giving it a try. I'm still a little unsure as to the science behind it, so I'd need to read up on that first and find out exactly how to follow it, but it sounds like it has benefitted people in their weight loss.

My question though is whether or not intermittent fasting would be a good idea while competing and training for softball. I want to lose weight to be a faster, more agile player. I'm just unsure as to whether the leangains approach would hinder my performance or energy levels at all.

We would be training for a couple hours 6 days a week with lifting about 2 or 3 days a week.

Lots to read, sorry!

I appreciate any advice you might have :)

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on November 08, 2012
at 06:44 AM

Excellent response!

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9 Answers

2
273729a18d2f18903815d2644a4d64de

(1683)

on February 16, 2012
at 04:58 PM

Hey Nora!

I'm not a collegiate athlete, however I am 19, been eating Primal/Paleo for about 9 months now and still trying to work on dropping body fat, am an active Crossfitter, and work with the football team here at Auburn. I am very familiar with how our all of our athletes eat and train so I can understand your point of view.

My first bit of advice is just to allow your body to adjust eating primal/paleo before you try to add IF into your lifestyle. If it has only been about a week, you should start to feel VERY hungry very soon. Your body is a trained carb-burner so now that youve cut out the refined grains as energy it will be looking to other sources for energy. You will probably start to crave all the crap youve cut out. When this happens make sure you eat more fat and protein and less carbs (lots of green veggies and maybe some squash). When I converted to Primal/Paleo I LIVED off of nuts (not necessarily low-carb) but that stopped me from binging because my cravings for grains were so bad and that was the closest texture I could find. When trying to lose weight, nuts arent the best option, but for conversion purposes I find them helpful. You can cut them out later. Try to cut back on fruit, maybe 1 serving a day...or every other day...fruit has lots of fructose and won't help the cravings (at least they didnt for me). You may feel a bit slow, but eat when youre hungry...when your body and when the hunger pangs start to subside and your body begins to work off of fat then look in to IF.

I just started the Leangains 16/8 approach to fasting and its very do-able...I don't feel hungry during the fasting period (between 8/9 PM and 12/1 PM). The only calories I consume then are from a tablespoon of coconut oil in my coffee in the mornings...this is not every morning. Its been 9 months, and Ive tried fasting so many times and finally it is starting to click for me.

Keep your starches (sweet potato/banana) for after workouts...or have a small banana pre-workout and some post workout starches. Pre-work out will allow for some energy and post work out will refill your glycogen stores. These are the only two times that starches are a good idea if you are trying to burn fat...ideally you will have carbs in the form of greens, cauliflower, and some squash loaded with a fat along side of a meat during your meals. If youre not satisfied, add a little more fat. Keep carbs low to burn fat. Mark Sisson says under 100g. a day for steady fat loss and under 50 g. a day for rapid fat loss (will make you ketogenic...but dont worry about that now).

I'd say while you are in season try not to worry about fasting or any form of ketogenic diets because the caloric deficit can affect your performance. In order to lose weight you must break down your stored goods...this includes both protein and fat. Keep your performance up, enjoy the other benefits of Paleo (health and energy wise), and dont worry about leaning out until you can afford to have a little decrease in performance quality. Fasting occurs naturally if you eat at 7 PM, sleep, and dont eat again until 7 AM or so...just focus on quality whole foods now and experiment later. Who knows, maybe making the switch from SAD to Paleo will be enough in itself to get you to your ideal weight...you many not even have to worry about fasting.

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask any questions! Good Luck!

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on November 08, 2012
at 06:44 AM

Excellent response!

2
E4b155f898e209391902792ec3c005f3

(220)

on January 21, 2012
at 09:24 PM

Unless you have a feeding tube on steady drip, you are already intermittent fasting. Probably 10-12 hours overnight; try extending this gradually with late breakfast or early dinner and see how you feel. From personal experience, I think athletic training is fully compatible with an IF schedule. I usually eat lunch and dinner, or dinner only, and have plenty of energy for morning and lunchtime exercise.

1
0c875e97044bf838a074470caa5d630d

on January 22, 2012
at 04:54 AM

From what I've read, fasting before exercise burns more fat/calories but hinders your performance. So I would recommend it when you're training, but not before a game!

1
747f9c27424619fe3ae717c7455c292e

on January 22, 2012
at 04:22 AM

I've experimented with regular IF of different durations. A leangains type schedule, which is what I do regularly these days, doesn't interfere with my performance or energy levels. I did find that with day-long and longer fasts my focus and energy levels would drop towards the end of the fast, then the next day would be spent eating, resting and digesting.

Shorter fasts disrupt your schedule much less.

You might see some benefit from just reducing your protein intake window. I often don't eat much protein with my first meal. Doing so keeps the autophagy going - good for overall health, though I'm not sure about performance in particular.

1
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on January 21, 2012
at 08:02 PM

It definitely works and there is solid science behind it, however IMHO it may be best to wait until after the season.

The one exception I'd add is if you're doing multiple training sessions in a day and you lift weights early in the morning. You may have good luck working out before you eat anything. Assuming you eat dinner around 6 or 7, that could give you around 14hrs of fasting, which should give you some good results.

0
99d1e7df37554230177d5a06136a0d9f

on November 08, 2012
at 03:59 AM

Hi! So I am also a college Athlete, I play softball at Texas A&M! It is very exciting to see other girls on here who play a college sport and follow the paleo lifestyle. I was wondering if you ended up trying IF or not? I would love to know how it has worked for you! Been play for 7 months by the way and Love it! Would appriciate any knowledge you could share with me! Jenna Stark

0
99d1e7df37554230177d5a06136a0d9f

on November 08, 2012
at 03:57 AM

Hi! So I am also a college Athlete, I play softball at Texas A&M! It is very exciting to see other girls on here who play a college sport and follow the paleo lifestyle. I was wondering if you ended up trying IF or not? I would love to know how it has worked for you! Been play for 7 months by the way and Love it! Would appriciate any knowledge you could share with me! Jenna Stark

0
F514c59692c45189d46cc01c34961153

(375)

on February 16, 2012
at 04:04 PM

I am in a similar situation! I am also a 20 year old female college athlete (rowing). I was a bit concerned when switching to paleo/primal lifestyle due to the fact that I use a lot of energy running/rowing/lifting all week.

Last fall season was the real test. I had started eating primal(included some dairy) over the summer and went into the school year the same way. I found I had to make some adjustments.

I started IFing without even knowing it when I went paleo and felt better during exercise if I had at least 2 or 3 hours of no food beforehand. Right now I eat twice a day, late breakfast(10am/11am) and then dinner around 7pm. My practices are usually in the later afternoon/early evening and I eat about a half hour/hour after exercise. We sometimes practice in the morning and I feel I need a later dinner or an earlier breakfast when this happens. This is typical for me 5 or 6 days of the week. Occasionally I'll eat a early breakfast, or a later dinner... but eating more than 2 meals a day makes me feel weird. I don't snack at all either anymore, if I do its on weekends when I only eat one meal.

Unfortunately the lack of nutritious food here at school is making me fall back into old habits but as long as my fat and protein intake is on par, I have not had many problems.

Sprinting did take some adjusting to. I'm still trying to figure out what works because I burn out faster that I did before. Just be prepared!

Food wise I no longer consume any dairy. If i'm feeling a lack of carbs i'll eat some sweet potato if its available or a banana.

Don't push yourself but it is totally doable. On game days or after very hard practices make sure you up your calorie/safe starch intake! Go with how you feel. Make sure you're getting enough vitamins/minerals and protein/fat.

I don't go on any specific schedule like leangains right now. My own plan usually works out well. Stay on top of sleep too, without it I fall apart and my schedule only allows me to get 6h per night during the week. Ideally you should get 7-9 especially if you want to lose weight.

Keep researching this stuff, I do all the time and try out different techniques. Good luck!

-1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 23, 2012
at 06:18 AM

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