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My Experience with Intermittent Fasting

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My Experience with Intermittent Fasting

My Experience with Intermittent Fasting

I’m so hungry!!!!


A couple of years ago I started experimenting with intermittent fasting based on experiences a friend had had. This article tells the story of why I chose to do it, how I did it, and the results that I have seen. I’m not an expert on intermittent fasting by any stretch, nor am I some sort of dietitian. I’m just a stubborn old Jiu-Jitsu guy, who is willing to take chance and likes to test things out for myself. If it speaks to you and generates some ideas, that’s awesome - go for it. If it seems like something you want nothing to do with, that’s okay too. Give it a read, for those who know me, it will make more sense, for those who don’t it should still paint a good picture of my experiences. Some of the points I talk about leading up to how I started playing with intermittent fasting are abbreviated (this was pretty long already), but perhaps we will revisit them in the future. Either way, I/m confident one way or another this will help you generate some thought about your own life and health.

Past Practices and Lifestyle

Having participated in weight-bearing sports for most of my life, the idea of cutting and maintaining a certain weight is an all-too-familiar subject for me. For those who have never had to cut weight, the short version is that it is a terrible experience, and I wouldn’t recommend doing it unless you absolutely have to. When I was wrestling in high school, the way we did it was terrible (and dangerous). The process we used was predicated on dehydration and starvation; sure, it worked, but it was not a formula for being at your peak performance level, and as noted, it is dangerous. There were a few kids when I was in high school (they were out in the Midwest, and I didn’t know them) who died trying to cut weight (dehydration can cause your organs to shut down). It got to the point that rules, regulations, and eventually hydration tests were implemented into high school wrestling to prevent that type of cutting. Then entered sport Jiu-Jitsu and Judo. Only really knowing one way to cut, the old (bad) process was used. The weight classes in Judo are very broad, so I didn’t have to do it much for Judo, but it seemed like it was a semi-regular thing for Jiu-Jitsu. Then entered Kickboxing and MMA, and with it, the same bad processes. When I finally decided it was time to retire from competition, I swore I was never going to cut weight ever again (yes, it is that awful).

Maintaining Competitive Weight

As far as maintaining weight, as I got older, it finally clicked that if I could keep my walk-around weight at a certain level, when I did have to make a cut, it wasn’t as bad. Cutting 2-3lbs isn’t nearly as bad as cutting 10+, especially if you are on a short timeframe. For example, when I was a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu, I used to compete as a lightweight in bigger events, which was 167.6 lbs. For me to be able to get to that weight without something drastic, I had to keep my walk-around weight around 170lbs. I lived/live an active lifestyle, even more back then, so that was not particularly difficult to stay around that weight and not be on some super-restrictive diet. I did find, for me, through a lot of trial and error, that it was easier for me to stay that light as a vegetarian (I did that for about four years). Thankfully, my Judo weight class was 81kg (178lbs), so that was not an issue at all.

So fast forward again to the time after real competition. I had re-introduced meat back into my diet, I was recently retired from the Army, and decided to also give up running every day, but I still trained Judo and/or Jiu-Jitsu six days a week and kept up the active lifestyle. My natural weight with that lifestyle seemed to settle around 185 +/- . All was good, and I really didn’t have to watch what I ate (or drank); I would pretty much burn it up with my daily activities.

Weight Gain After Injuries

A short while later, I experienced a series of injuries and underwent surgeries. The first was an exploratory surgery on my neck due to a tumor. Fortunately, the tumor was benign (it's still there, and I have a picture of it if anyone wants to see it), but it forced me off the mat for several months. The break was extended because I moved back to Tennessee shortly after. During this unplanned hiatus, I gained weight, but it wasn't healthy weight, just fat.

When I began getting back into the swing of things, my knee suddenly gave out. I wasn't sure what had happened, but it swelled up to the size of a football. I tried to be frugal and went to the VA to get it checked out. They poked around and gave me a cortisone shot, telling me that it would be better in a week. Unfortunately, it didn't improve, and I later learned that my meniscus had been completely severed. I tried to walk around on it for a month, which resulted in significant back issues due to my posture compensating for the damaged knee.

The knee was bad, but the back was worse. I would wake up in the middle of the night with shooting pain, and everything in my life became challenging. Even getting dressed was a major undertaking. Eventually, I knew I had to see a proper doctor. During this period, I wasn't able to train very much. Maybe once or twice a week, I'd force myself to get some mat time in, but my body didn't respond well. Even light training resulted in several days of increased pain, mostly in my back.

Not making the smart choice, I used the extra time for social engagements. However, social events tend to revolve around food and drinks, and doing them regularly wasn't suitable for my health. With a reduction in physical activity and a drastic increase in caloric intake, I accumulated more unhealthy weight.

I made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor who ordered an MRI of my knee. Unfortunately, I had to undergo surgery to remove my meniscus, which was entirely torn apart and had to be removed. I had the surgery in mid-July and was basically immobile for about a week after. After that time, I started becoming mobile, but it was very limited and required the use of a cane (I had some crutches that I had to use that first week). Soon after, I began physical therapy. It took about twice as long as usual because they had to fix my back before they could do much with the knee. I started to slowly migrate back to the mat around October, but it was more of just moving around than actual training. I had completed my PT by the end of November and was able to start training again at a more normal tempo and intensity. By this point, I had continued to gain weight and had to start the process of fighting to get rid of it.

Most of my adult life up to this point I was extremely active, and with that I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted, and it would get burned up. Needless to say, my normal eating habits were pretty poor, and with the massive reduction in activity and sustaining poor eating habits, I swelled up like a balloon. When I started normal training again, the fat slowly (very slowly) started to go away. It clearly was going to take some time, but I was on the right course. Unfortunately, this was also around the holidays, I have always called the time between October and January the fat season. This is the time of year; sweats are more available and more social engagements happen. I accept this and understand that improvement would be very limited during this period. I think progress was null during this but started to get back on track in January.

As luck would have it, at the end of January, I broke my leg in a spectacular way, not so much in how I broke it (that is a boring story), but in what I broke. I managed to break my tibia, fibula, and tear the tendons in my ankle. I had another surgery, actually two, and was immobile again. This time was even worse than the last. I was literally stuck on my butt for almost a month. Things like using the restroom and bathing were major endeavors. I think this also had an impact on my psyche, I was very irritable and cantankerous during this time, which was compound by the fact that I couldn’t leave the house.

After that first month of sitting on my butt, I was given the okay to start moving around more but could not put weight on my right leg. I didn’t like the crutches, so I got one of those scooters you put your broken leg on. I also was at the point that I had to get out of the house. I couldn’t drive like a normal person because it was my right leg, so I bought a handicap modification kit for the car so I could drive with only my hands. The day it arrived I installed it and started practicing with it in the driveway and then around the neighborhood. I can imagine it must have been a spectacle watching me put this thing in the car, hopping around on one leg and fishing around in the car. The second day I went out and just drove around town. I didn’t have any place to go; I just couldn’t stand sitting around the house anymore.

One day I drove out to the Halls school to visit and watch, but I found it hurt my soul watching people training and being stuck on the side watching. A month or so later I was able to slowly start putting weight on the right leg, but I had to wear a boot. I kept the kit on the car but was starting to walk on my own again for short periods of time. Every day I walked more and more, somedays I over did it and paid for it, but I was determined to get back to a more normal routine.

About a month later I went back to Jiu-Jitsu. I couldn’t really train, but I could teach, and that was at least something. In retrospect, it was probably stupid of me to do that then, I was on the mat teaching with a boot on?!?! I was at the point that I could take the boot off at night to sleep but had to wear it during the day. It was during this period that I hit the fattest point I had even been in my life. I’m only about 5’9 and at the peak of my fatness I was tipping the scale at 275lbs!!! To say that I was out of shape wouldn’t be accurate, I had a shape – spherical. I had to do something about this, so I made some drastic changes.

The first thing I did was a major dietary shift. The once vegetarian, went to an almost all meat and protein diet, and also removed all simple sugars. This worked almost immediately. I went from that 275lbs down to about 250 in less than a month. A month later down to about 235-240 range. The next month I never really got much below 235, and similar results, the month after that. I had a great deal of enthusiasm coming in, watching the lbs. roll off, but it became frustrating when things started to stall. What was more frustrating was that my activity level was going back to a semblance of more normal, but that didn’t seem to matter much.

The introduction of intermittent fasting

It was around this point a friend told me about intermittent fasting. I started to investigate and experiment with it and found positive results early on. I was able to get down and maintain 220 and lighten up on the strict protein focused diet and the occasional simple sugar. Fast forward to today, and what I found works best for me is a 16:8 eating cycle at least 6 days a week, but with few restrictions on what I eat. I found it was easier for me to sustain “when” I ate versus “what” I ate. I currently float around in the 195-200lb range, slightly more on the heavier side now that we just came out of fat season. My average weight will start to go down as the summer months approach because I tend to be more active in the summers, so my range will likely be in the 188-195 range from early summer until fall, the fat season will return, and it will likely go back up to the 195-200 range.

I have found, that 16:8 fits my daily lifestyle, I usually eat a small snack at 3:00PM then eat a regular meal when I get back from Jiu-Jitsu around 10:00PM, although pretty regularly it turns into a 24hour fast because I get busy and don’t eat the 3:00PM meal. I tend to relax it on Saturdays if I have something going on or if I’m traveling, but all-in-all it is pretty easy to maintain. So far, the value I have found are: 1- I feel more mentally acute during the day, leading towards more productivity. 2- It works. 3- It’s easy to maintain. It takes away the hassle of meal planning, nutrient and kal tracking etc. 4- I eat pretty much whatever I want (of course everything in moderation). If I want to have a couple beers or a whisky with a buddy, no problem. If I want to eat a cookie (and if you know me, you know I want to eat it), I can. Now this doesn’t mean I can drink every night and chase it with a tin of cookies, I’m not 25 anymore; it just means I can still enjoy them from time-to-time. 5- If I want to drop a few lbs., it is easy to do, just making some minor adjustments to what I eat during the window.


In retrospect I have realized for me the key to success is finding sustainable processes that fit into my lifestyle. In terms of weight management and fat loss, it wasn't about following fad diets or some extreme exercise regimes, but making small, consistent changes to my habits and finding what worked best for my body and my schedule. Starting with an idea presented by a friend then through trial and error, I discovered that intermittent fasting combined with a flexible approach to nutrition was the most effective way for me to lose weight and improve my overall health. Not only did I find it is easy to maintain, but it also allowed me to enjoy the foods and activities that I love without feeling guilty or restricted. I noted in the opening paragraph that I am not an expert, but if you want to see what the experts have to say, read on.

What Science and Research Have to Say

Intermittent fasting has gained popularity in recent years as a potential tool for weight loss and improved health. This eating pattern involves alternating between periods of eating and periods of fasting. While many people turn to intermittent fasting for weight loss, it may also have other benefits for overall health.

  1. Improved insulin sensitivity

Insulin plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels by facilitating the movement of glucose from the bloodstream into cells for energy. When a person consumes too much sugar or refined carbohydrates, it can cause insulin resistance, which can lead to high blood sugar levels and eventually type 2 diabetes (Patterson et al., 2017). Intermittent fasting has been shown to enhance insulin sensitivity, which improves the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels. According to a study conducted in 2014, individuals with type 2 diabetes who practiced intermittent fasting experienced significant improvements in insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control (Barnosky, et al., 2014; Varady, 2009). By improving insulin sensitivity through intermittent fasting, it may be possible to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes or help manage the condition in those who have already been diagnosed. This makes intermittent fasting a potentially effective dietary strategy for improving metabolic health (Tinsley et al., 2019).

  1. Weight loss

Intermittent fasting has been identified as a useful strategy for achieving weight loss goals. By reducing meal frequency, it is possible to reduce caloric intake, leading to weight loss (Gabel et al., 2018). Furthermore, intermittent fasting can enhance the body's capacity to burn fat for energy (Antoni et al., 2018). A study conducted in 2018 found that individuals who engaged in intermittent fasting for 12 weeks lost an average of 7.7 pounds of body weight (Gabel et al., 2018). The study also observed a decrease in abdominal fat and an increase in lean body mass among the participants, which are markers of improved health status. The research suggests that intermittent fasting is a viable dietary approach to reduce body weight and improve metabolic health.

  1. Reduced inflammation.

Inflammation is a natural immune response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can increase the risk of various health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases (Chen & Zhong, 2019). However, intermittent fasting has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory effects by reducing oxidative stress, which can cause damage to cells and tissues (Horne et al., 2015). According to a study conducted in 2015, intermittent fasting for one month led to a reduction in markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in participants (Horne et al., 2015). This indicates that intermittent fasting may be an effective approach for reducing inflammation in the body and improving overall health. The study further suggests that intermittent fasting can be considered as a beneficial dietary intervention for reducing chronic inflammation and promoting better health outcomes.

  1. Improved heart health

Intermittent fasting has been found to have potential benefits for cardiovascular health, including the reduction of blood pressure, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, all of which are established risk factors for heart disease (de Cabo & Mattson, 2019). In a study conducted in 2016, participants who followed an intermittent fasting regimen for eight weeks exhibited a decrease in LDL cholesterol levels and an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, which is regarded as the "good" cholesterol (Tinsley et al., 2016). The findings suggest that intermittent fasting may be a promising dietary approach to manage lipid profiles and promote heart health. Additionally, it can be inferred that intermittent fasting may have potential benefits for individuals with cardiovascular risk factors and could be an effective strategy for reducing the risk of heart disease.


  1. Potential longevity benefits

Although additional research is required, several studies indicate that intermittent fasting may have potential longevity benefits. Animal studies have demonstrated that intermittent fasting can extend lifespan and enhance overall health (Longo & Mattson, 2014; Mattson, 2009). In a review published in 2018, the authors concluded that intermittent fasting may slow the aging process and improve overall health and longevity in humans (de Cabo et al., 2018). The authors suggested that intermittent fasting could trigger a range of cellular and molecular mechanisms that promote longevity, such as reducing oxidative stress, enhancing cellular repair processes, and modulating gene expression. This study supports that intermittent fasting may represent a promising approach to promote healthy aging and extend lifespan. Further research is necessary to confirm these findings and determine the optimal intermittent fasting protocol for longevity benefits.





Antoni, R., Robertson, T., Robertson, M., Johnston, J. D., Aveyard, P., & Higgs, S. (2018). Effects of intermittent fasting on glucose and lipid metabolism. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 77(1), 41-52. doi: 10.1017/S0029665117003955

Anton, S. D., Moehl, K., Donahoo, W. T., Marosi, K., Lee, S. A., Mainous, A. G., 3rd, ... & Mattson, M. P. (2018). Flipping the metabolic switch: Understanding and applying the health benefits of fasting. Obesity, 26(2), 254-268. doi: 10.1002/oby.22065

Barnosky, A. R., Hoddy, K. K., Unterman, T. G., & Varady, K. A. (2014). Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. Translational Research, 164(4), 302-311. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2014.05.013

de Cabo, R., & Mattson, M. P. (2019). Effects of intermittent fasting on health, aging, and disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 381(26), 2541-2551. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1905136

Chen, L., & Zhong, L. (2019). Roles of oxidative stress in polycystic ovary syndrome and cancers. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2019, 1-2. doi: 10.1155/2019/1749104

Gabel, K., Hoddy, K. K., Haggerty, N., Song, J., & Kroeger, C. M. (2018). Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: A pilot study. Nutrition and Healthy Aging, 4(4), 345-353. doi: 10.3233/NHA-170036

Horne, B. D., Muhlestein, J. B., Anderson, J. L., Health, B. D., Park, J. J., & Hodge, D. O. (2015). Intermittent fasting may improve inflammation and oxidative stress in metabolic syndrome patients. Atherosclerosis, 242(1), 214-218. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2015.06.007

Longo, V. D., & Mattson, M. P. (2014). Fasting: Molecular mechanisms and clinical applications. Cell Metabolism, 19(2), 181-192. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2013.12.008

Mattson, M. P., & Wan, R. (2005). Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 16(3), 129-137. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2004.12.007

Patterson, R. E., Sears, D. D., & Kerr, J. (2017). Effects of intermittent fasting on markers of metabolic health: lessons from animal models. Nutrients, 9(11), 1189. doi: 10.3390/nu9111189

Tinsley, G. M., La Bounty, P. M., & VanDusseldorp, T. A. (2019). Intermittent fasting and its effects on body composition and health: background, potential benefits, and methods. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 119(8), 1272-1289. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2019.02.018.

Tinsley, G. M., La Bounty, P. M., & Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans. Nutrition Reviews, 73(10), 661-674. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv041 (2016).

Vasconcelos, A. R., Yshii, L. M., Viel, T. A., Buck, H. S., & Mattson, M. P. (2014). Intermittent fasting attenuates lipopolysaccharide-induced neuroinflammation and memory impairment. Journal of Neuroinflammation, 11, 85. doi: 10.1186/1742-2094-11-85

Varady, K. A., Bhutani, S., Church, E. C., & Klempel, M. C. (2009). Short-term modified alternate-day fasting: a novel dietary strategy for weight loss and cardioprotection in obese adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90(5), 1138-1143. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28380


Photo credit: https://faithingeeks.com/2012/08/07/fasting-makes-you-younger/

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