A Nutrition Experiment

First of all, I want to wish everyone a very happy Martin Luther King Day. I hope at the very least, that everyone takes a moment to appreciate the amazing things that MLK did in the name of racial equality in the US, and also to appreciate the very long road we still have in front of us on that front.

Second of all, don’t forget about my giveaway! It will close tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 9 pm, and you really don’t want to miss out on a chance to try some delicious GoodOnYa Bars for free! Check out this post for the details on how to enter.

Now… Remember back in my New Years post a couple weeks ago when I hinted at a nutrition experiment that would be coming up? Well here we gooo…

There are countless nutritional guidelines out there; most of which are touted by “experts” who claim that their program is the best. While I am a strong proponent of following a resistance training program combined with eating mostly whole, un-processed and minimally-processed foods, I understand that many of these programs are a little bit more structured than that. Is there a certain time that you should be eating certain foods? Are there food groups that you should eliminate? Are there certain times during the day when you shouldn’t be eating at all? And how does all of this correspond with strength training and other exercise programs?

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There are so many questions, many of which have answers that are backed up by research, but many that have answers based on anecdotal evidence at best.

This is why I’ll be conducting my own nutrition “experiment”. I put experiment in quotations, because this will not be a strict scientific process. This will be a personal period of experimentation, in order to find out if there is a program/plan out there that works well for me and my body. Will the results of my experiment be applicable to you and your goals? Maybe, with a little tweaking, but probably not 100%. You see, everyone is different when it comes to nutrition, weight loss, food intolerances, hormonal balances, etc. So to say that one specific program will work for everyone is unrealistic. But what I will do is share my results and ideas, so that you can choose to try these things for yourself (or not).

What will my experiment involve?

I will be following 3 of the more prominent nutritional styles that I have seen in the fitness world lately. These are Intermittent Fasting (IF), Carb-Back Loading, and Paleo. I will be following each of these nutritional protocols for at least 4 weeks, but will extend one or all of them if I find that I enjoy the progress I am making.  I am giving each of them 4 weeks in order to get myself over the misery that often accompanies the start of a new diet or nutritional plan, in order to really experience how they make me feel. I do realize that 4 weeks is not generally long enough to see immense changes in body composition, and that is the reason why each program is getting at least 4 weeks. Long enough to see if it’s working, and also long enough to see if I absolutely hate it. I’m not a believer in torturing yourself all in the name of “health”, so if one of these programs is making me miserable after 4 weeks, sorry, it’s out.

What are my goals? 

I have a few goals, and I’m sure I’ll come up with more as I begin each program, but here’s what I’ve got for now:

1. Lose about 4% of body fat. I’ve been sitting at about 24% for a while now, and I just want to lean down a little bit. I would love to be able to sit at about 20%, but I just haven’t been able to be disciplined enough to get there yet. This may happen during this experiment, but it may not, depending on how well I tolerate each program. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll simply go back to what works best, and go from there when it’s all said and done.  And for those of you who are thinking “but 20 % isn’t even that low!”, it is pretty lean for a female, and I’m not trying to get down to competitor level leanness here. Just feel better in my own skin.

2. Contol my hunger, instead of hunger controlling me. I’m one of those people who has a horrible reaction to hunger. I get cranky, stressed, and just plain out bitchy. I know that most of my reaction to hunger is mental, and I need to be able to learn that hunger is not always a bad thing. Transient hunger can be helpful, and learning how to deal with it instead of always reaching for the closest snack will help me to reach  my goals. No, I’m not talking about starving myself, but realizing that feeling hunger for a few hours is not going to be the end of the world is something that I need.


3. Experience these nutritional programs so that I can offer advice or thoughts about them, and actually know what I’m talking about. I’ve said before on here that I don’t follow a Paleo style of eating, but honestly, I’ve never tried it. Maybe I’ll love it, who knows until I try though, right?

Source: 9gag.com via Stephanie on Pinterest

What do I expect?

I expect a lot of things; most of which I’ll go over when I first begin each specific program. Each one will bring it’s own challenges, and hopefully it’s own rewards. I don’t expect to love all of them, but I do expect to find some new insight into the worlds of each of these programs. I expect to lose some body fat, but I’m not sure how much until I actually get started. I expect to have some days where I’m a total raging bitch (I apologize ahead of time), especially when I first start IF. (More on that soon).

How is this all going to go down?

I have a little bit of a process planned out.

First, I’m going to take 2 weeks to really focus on me, my eating habits, training habits, sleeping habits, moods, and so on. I’m going to be a documenting freak, carrying around a journal and taking notes on what I’m eating, when I’m training, how I’m feeling at different parts of the day, energy levels, weight, BF %, and sleep habits. This will be my baseline.

From there, I’m going to start with Intermittent Fasting, and we’ll talk more about this when I get there. After at least 4 weeks with IF, I’m going to transition into Carb-Backoading for at least 4 weeks as well. I plan on finishing out the experiment with at least 4 weeks of strict Paleo eating, and then, well, the future is up in the air.

I’ll keep you all updated as I start each one, and then probably once or twice throughout each 4 week period. Don’t worry, this wont turn into a blog thats all about IF, or CBL, or Paleo, but I will let you know how I’m progressing. I’ll report back with weight and BF% after each trial, as well as challenges, rewards, and thoughts on each one as a whole.

Maybe I’ll love one of these and go back to it. Maybe I’ll hate all of them and go back to the way I do things now. Maybe I’ll want to try one or two of them again, with some small tweaks in order to fit my life better. Who knows! That’s the beauty of an experiment: Who the F knows what is going to happen.

So here we go! Do any of you follow any of these nutritional styles? Have you heard of them all before? Is anyone interested in trying any of these with me? 

Don’t forget about the giveaway

26 thoughts on “A Nutrition Experiment

  1. This sounds so exciting! I have done carb backloading (a very loose version of it, anyway!) and obviously Paleo now. I love both of those approaches, and I still concentrate my carbs in the evening despite working out in the morning. I don’t think I could ever do IF though – I don’t like the idea of fasting and I worry that doing so would encourage a bingeing mentality. I can’t wait to see how your body responds!

    1. Thanks!! I’m equal parts excited and nervous. I have a feeling I’ll end up with some sort of loose interpretation of CBL, although who knows until I try! I am a little worried about IF for the reason you mentioned, I have a feeling that one’s going to be the biggest struggle!

  2. How exciting! I am so thrilled you shared this with us 🙂 I will definitely keep up with your journey! I bet you’re excited to see what happens! It’s so interesting to see how our bodies respond to different approaches to nutrition

    1. Thanks Meg!! I am really excited (and nervous) to get started with this whole thing. I kept going back and forth on whether or not I was going to do this, and then I realized that the only reason I wasn’t was because I was afraid to. I just need to get over that and dive in head first… each one is just 4 weeks of the rest of my life afterall 🙂

  3. So I have pretty much tried your first two experiments: IF and CBL. I started with CBL, and a Lean Gains style of IF is part of that (if you follow Jason Ferruggia’s guidelines especially). My digestive problems didn’t love CBL because of the reliance on high GI carbs (and therefore lower fiber intake). I then switched to IF without the CBL, similar to the Leans Gains protocol, fasting for about 14 hours a day. As long as I was overeating, this worked out for me just fine LOL. As soon as I tried to under eat in order to lean out, my breakfast-free mornings were killing me. I was also training fasted at like 7AM, and my workouts suffered a little, at least mentally, from not feeling 100%. I added a small breakfast back over a week ago, and I feel SOOO much better. So IF isn’t for me unless I am purposely overeating.

    I also sort of went paleo for a few months; I was gluten and dairy free already and went to a very low carb, higher fat diet focused on sweet potatoes and fruit for starches. Again, it seemed OK at the time, but I was overeating and didn’t actually lose any weight.

    1. Love hearing about your experiences (and reading about them on your blog)!! The reason I’m piggybacking IF and CBL are because they are so similar, because I do plan on following the Lean Gains type of protocol for IF. I’m a little nervous for all of the things you mentioned — overeating vs undereating, High GI carbs, and just being so strict with myself in general. Strict paleo will be a challenge in and of itself for sure! It’s certainly going to be interesting…

  4. I look forward to reading about the results of your “experiments.” Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks so much!! Hopefully I have some good results to share along the way 🙂

  5. Timmy Jones Johnson January 21, 2013 — 5:48 pm

    Sweet, I’m excited to hear about the Paleo Diet, it’s the one that seems to make the most sense to me. Although I think some of it’s DO NOT’s are a little too extreme, considering we are no longer cavemen, 2012 isn’t the Paleolithic age. We’ve evolved and so have our digestive tracts….

    1. I agree…I don’t really understand why PB is a no-no, and that’s probably going to be the hardest thing for me to give up!

  6. I’m excited to read about your experience with these diets! I don’t think I could ever do any of them (actually I don’t know what carb-back loading is, so I can’t speak for that one) but it’ll be interesting to see what you think of them!

    1. Thanks!! I’m definitely the most nervous about IF, but who knows, maybe it won’t be as bad as I’m expecting 🙂

  7. Can’t wait to read about your experiences. I’m expecting we’ll find that a combination of all 3 methods will produce some awesome results.

    1. I’m kind of thinking the same thing!! I can’t see myself following any of these strictly for the rest of my life (I don’t like having so many rules), but I feel like I’ll be able to take some principles from all of them and apply them so that I’m happy and healthy 🙂

  8. Love this idea. Can’t wait to read about your results and comments.

  9. i like the order you choose to do — IF first, and CBL right after. they are pretty similar depending on timing…. i follow a loose CBL type deal, but i change it up depending on training days & weekends…. i’m really curious about how this goes for you! i feel like you’re going to really like each of them for awhile, but want to change them up consistently anyway – i kind of subscribe to a ‘everything works, until it doesn’t’ mentality – just like with training, you have to adapt…. nutrition too. i think this is awesome!

    1. Yeah that’s why I chose the order, especially since I’ll be following a Lean Gains type of IF, which I think will transfer pretty easily into CBL when the time comes. I figured Paleo would have to go at the end, because if I tried to introduce all those high GI carbs after being paleo for month, my GI tract might go a little bit nutso 🙂 I’m kind of expecting that I’ll end up with some loose combination type deal after this, once I figure out what I like and dislike about all of them!

  10. Great, I’m interested in Intermittant Fasting because it was presented in this month’s issue of Women’s Health – although they did claim it was part of the “8 Hour Diet” fad. The immediate critique that jumped to my mind was that if people attempt to eat only during 8 hours a day – isn’t the worry that they will just skip breakfast in favor of eating lunch or dinner? That’s supposed to be of the few hard and fast nutrition rules (I thought) – eat breakfast!

    1. Bah…honestly the last thing I want is for people to think I’m following an “8 hr Fad Diet” from Women’s Health Mag. And yes, although you can shift the times around for IF to suit your preferences, my plan is to fast through breakfast, essentially having my “eating window” from 12p-8p. This just fits my schedule better personally. But it’s important to note also that that “hard and fast” rule of eating breakfast is actually just a myth — For some people it is helpful, but it’s not physiologically necessary. We’ll see how I handle it — I do love my breakfast!!!

  11. I am looking forward to reading about your experiences. I am a fan of the Paleo style of eating… but I am not super strict. (I have a hard time resisting peanut butter!) I can definitely relate to the eating out of boredom or habit. Completing a Whole30 helped me reset my hunger cues and reminded me that being hungry isn’t the end of the world!

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