T Nation

Vroom's Intermittent Fasting Exp.


Calorie cycling, or intermittent fasting (IF), is believed to provide the health benefits of caloric restriction (CR) without the actual caloric restriction. Based on the incredible simplicity of such a diet combined with reading a few journal items I thought I'd give it a try. I've been doing this consistently for just over a month now.

First, here are a few related articles...

Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: Two potential diets for successful brain aging

Johns Hopkins Researchers Find Link Between Cell's Energy Use and Genome Health: Another Possible Link Between Diet and Aging

Intermittent fasting dissociates beneficial effects of dietary restriction on glucose metabolism and neuronal resistance to injury from calorie intake

Intermittent fasting and dietary supplementation with 2-deoxy-D-glucose improve functional and metabolic cardiovascular risk factors in rats

Anecdotally, I find that my recovery is very good. I'm not sure that the way I am doing this leaves me "fasted" long enough, but apparently fasting does have the potential to raise plasma growth hormone levels. I speculate that after a period of low calories the body is somehow primed to make use of plentiful food energy, but I don't really have anything to back this up.

The results over the last month have been good. I am making slow but steady gains, which I notice in the ability to increase my reps until I am doing enough that I feel it is time to again bump up the weight. At the same time I have dropped from 39" to 38.25" around the love handles and belly -- basically the portion of my body that accumulates the most fat. The only other body part I've bothered to measure somewhat regularly is the bicep and it has stayed at 16.5" over this period.

I am noticing subtle composition changes less formally as well. I am starting to see the odd new angle or outline of where a muscle cut would be if I were ever to get lean enough to get them. Basically, I intend to keep on experimenting with this as long as the recovery stays good and I continue to make positive progress in the gym.

There is supplementation going on, but that is nothing new for me, which consists of BCAA's, FLAMEOUT, Surge and HRX. I'll also take caffeine and ephedrine HCL before going to the gym as it lets me up my intensity just a little bit more. I am not working very hard to be strict with my diet as I don't count calories or anything like that at the moment -- so I am sure I could certainly achieve faster fat loss if I was motivated to do so.

While there are different ways to do this I am eating in the following manner. First, I started out very basic with alternating low calorie days and higher calorie days. On a low calorie day I try to eat small quantities of protein over the day to limit muscle catabolism, but other than that I try to limit carbs so I don't get an insulin mediated hunger attack. On a higher calorie day I tend to eat like I am bulking, and again I do not bother to track intake other than trying to keep it to nutritious foods and avoid combining high carbohydrate meals with high fat meals.

In order to speed progress I've recently added a second low calorie day after every other normal low calorie day. So a cycle would consist of "up day", "down day", "up day", "down day", "down day", "up day", etc. When fall arrives, assuming I haven't run out of progress before then, I'll probably double up on the higher calorie days instead in an effort to bulk while still maintaining a calorie cycling effect.

Anyway, I know there is a lot of disagreement out there about whether or not various types of dietary programs are worth attempting. I'm not trying to say this is the best way to achieve anything, but I am finding it very easy to follow this strategy. I do not have to change what I eat, count calories, or endure a long period of sustained low calorie consumption. So, as long as it keeps moving me in the right direction I'm willing to ride it out. Finally, though my weight fluctuates a lot, it looks like I am down about two pounds over the course of the last month.

If anyone wants to talk about the concept of intermittent fasting, or point out additional research or resources, this might be a good place to do it. If not, I'll probably throw the odd update in here from time to time if anything worth noting happens.


Good work, I look forward to the future posts and updates on your progress.


Sounds interesting. Can you give us a bit more technical info.

Are you fasting days 0 calories?

What days to you fast, ie how do you fit it in around your training?

How low is a low calorie day?



I haven't been very formal about it. Maybe I'll track a couple days next week (this week is a bit messed up for me) and provide some detail.

In the mean time, on a low day I'd probably have whey in water when I take my supplements. Later I might have a few cashews, then for lunch maybe some cottage cheese.

If I get paranoid I might have some BCAA's here and there as well as before and after the workout. I'll have a swig of water and Metabolic Drive here and there and more cottage cheese whenever it's time for a "meal". Think V-Diet protein sparing strategies.

Workouts are basically every day and I don't really worry much about the eating schedule. Carb depletion isn't happening on the one day plan, though I may have to lighten up the first low day workout now that I'm doubling up every other low day.


Quick update.

Okay, I didn't really do any strict tracking but low day meals might include...

  • plenty of fish oil and/or FLAMEOUT
  • cottage cheese w/ Metabolic Drive
  • Metabolic Drive shakes
  • Cashews or almonds (good for fiber too)
  • small amount of peanut butter
  • Lots of water or green tea
  • BCAAs here and there

Yes, it's very low. It sort of goes against the grain around here unless you consider some severe dieting strategies. Supplements are as mentioned above.

However, on up days I chow down on healthy food like it is going out of style.

Anyway, the update I wanted to make is that I've reduced the frequency of double down days. It just takes too much out of me if I do it very often. Now I am going to a seven day repeating cycle like this...

Dn Up Dn Up Dn Up Dn

I do notice that the strength and energy are both very good the day after a refeed. After a double down event they both suck big time.

With a double down instead of simply alternating you do have to consider adjusting the workout to take it into account. With alternating days only you just don't seem to get run down in the same way.

The gut measurement is now dropping to 38.0" but it's not consistent at this point...


A little drop around the middle eh, good work.
Do you have any cardio work happening on the off training days to assist with the midline reduction? I found 30 to 40 minutes on the tready or stationary bike every couple of days worked wonders in tandem with the weight days.

Probably a smart move to reduce the low days if your losing "oomph".


great experiment...This might be something to get a group to try and document...


Have you found any cognitive issues with such a low caloric intake? I found that when I went ultra low like that, that I had trouble concentrating. Especially reading anything of length or depth.
I realize you are springing back quickly to higher cals so maybe this isn't a big issue, but I wondered if every other day is a mentally more fatiguing day than normal.

Also, I found it harder to fall asleep and my sleep didn't seem as deep. I didn't seem as refreshed in the am. Any issues here.


Vrooms first article for T-Nation is only a few months away.


I've certainly noticed in the past that extended periods of light eating were challenging in this way. I am not noticing this on a one day basis.

The low day is not zero carbs, so it's just "one day" of being strict without the major carb depletion symptoms.

The double down days are more apt to be like you describe.

Yes! Every low cal night I find it tough to get to sleep. It's possibly because I'll purposely consume more caffeine though.

However, I seem to be compensating for it on the heavy eating nights. I'd consider taking melatonin if I had a more rigid schedule.


So, how about an update?


I'm not in a position to have an opinion on this, but it IS intriguing and I would also be interested in learning how it goes. In a lot of cases I would consider this a crackpot idea, but you seem to be a sharp ol boy and I suspect you did a fair amount of research before embarking on something like this.


Hey Vroom, I'm no expert but I've been practicing intermittent fasting for the past year. Consider dropping the nuts and oils and putting in some fruit, the rest is fine.

Nuts are quite tough on the metabolic system which kind of defeats the purpose of you fasting in the first place.