A Developers Guide to Getting Fit

Eric Bishard on February 09, 2019

🐰 TLDR: This article is about intermittent fasting, I do it and I Don't eat after 10pm or before 1pm. I exercise 30 mins a day (at least) and don... [Read Full]
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One little nutritional gripe here: it's better to eat a large breakfast, rather than a large dinner, because you have more of a chance of using those calories, and because it provides your body with the critical nutrients it needs to get through the day. You don't process those as effectively in your sleep!

Historically, that's the way we did things pre-modern-era. For example, many farmers would eat a substantial breakfast, a decent "dinner" (lunch), and a very light (if any) supper, perhaps just a bowl of porridge. Heavy physical exertion, especially outside, and early morning hours, contributed to a decently healthy lifestyle. Big suppers are the fairly recent invention; breakfast isn't.

So, the fasting time range you describe is actually contrary to standard nutritional rules. For a diurnal type person, it's infinitely better for health to eat breakfast and skip dinner, rather than skipping breakfast and eating later.

 

Avoiding breakfast has a significant impact on the metabolic system. It helps push the body into ketosis. The purpose of avoiding breakfast is that the body has used up much of the glycogen reserves over night. In the morning they are nearing, or have reached depletion. The next in line energy source is fat, which will be broken down to produce ketones.

There reason why intermittent fasting recommends breakfast appears to be because it's the easiest meal for us to skip -- as we've already partially entered ketosis over night, thus have some energy. Initially, it's the jump between burning carbs, and burning fat, that is hard to tolerate -- it can make you fell tired and lethargic.

Ideally you should avoid eating before you go to sleep, and also just after you wake up. If you like jogging, doing it in the morning is also great, as it's an activity that can be sustained by burning fat.

This is of course should have linked studies! There's too much info like this online without scientific backing. It's why I'm going to do try an source all my articles on my food blog, Edaqa's Kitchen. It's important you can understand why things like intermittent fasting work, and how to adopt them to your own lifestyle.

 

Huh, TIL. (I partially knew about the ketosis thing, but not the breakfast part.) Thanks for the info.

At any rate, there should be a giant disclaimer at the top of the any such article: talk to your doctor before undertaking any fast or significant dietary change. Every body is different! Various conditions, medications, and hundreds of other factors can affect the safety of any such diet.

I wonder if personal stories need such a disclaimer? I does clearly cross the line from story to advice, so probably.

I've got a disclaimer on my site.

Personal stories need no disclaimer, also I'm not trying to be cocky or anything but I feel that recommending that other humans eat and exercise the same way every other animal on this planet does, is not posing any health risk. Also I did put a disclaimer in the story. You see some people have insulin disorders and a certain type of diabetes that may require that person to consult a physician if they do something like this. I really do believe that humans at one point had to wake up hungry, hunt and kill food in order to eat. I feel intermittent fasting mimics that in some way and it's completely natural.

I'm glad some are passionate about health even if it's not what I subscribe to. I welcome all comments.

 

You should have co-authored the article with me! You are spot on. I also agree on not eating before bed. My last meal is between 7-8pm giving myself a few hours of digesting before I rest. I'm still trying to work out what is best, but I have never been healthier in my life. Again I have been testing intermittent fasting for about one year and really hitting hard in the last Few months (being more strict about not breaking my fast in the morning specifically and getting a workout inside the fasting window).

 

Hi Jason,

I appreciate your thoughts on nutrition, and I have gotten similar advice over the past year. No hard feelings but I dismiss this advice because it is not what has worked for me in the past.

I do ensure that my kids get a good meal before school for some of the reasons you cite, but my kids are growing and have a heavy load at school.

As for farmers, I agree that this is what they did and they needed that fuel for their hard working day, but I'm not a farmer. I also believe that before those farmers we had humans that were required to hunt and gather on an empty stomach.

The average fat that one carries on their body is enough fuel to walk hundreds of miles and not die. That's a fact. For this reason I believe that by fasting we are just scraping the surface of what humans can do on little food.

BTW I do not eat right before bed. When I say I don't eat past 10pm my cutoff is closer to 8pm, I give my self time to digest and sometimes get one last workout in before 10pm (my gym closes at 10pm lol)

As a developer who loves research and science I spent close to a year thinking and learning about intermittent fasting before trying it myself and I dipped my toes in slowly and got used to it. I will go on telling people that I think the craziest thing we do as humans is wake up and put carbs and sugars into our system. On some days I drink a red bull early in the morning as my coffee, this breaks my fast and I pay for it, I need to stop doing that and I will really start to see more benefits, but this is leftover from my non fasting days. It's hard to break the cycle. lol

 

Furthermore, your body doesn't really think in terms of partitioned meals, breakfast and the other meals are all social constructs. If the body considered its TDEE on a daily basis, weight loss would look extremely linear. This is not the case and it's probably more pragmatic to think of your caloric expenditure in terms of weekly targets rather than a daily one. In other words, from your body's perspective, it doesn't really care when you ingest but rather the deficit or surplus. In the hierarchy of nutritional relevance from a weight loss perspective, timing of meals and caloric intake is largely a micro-optimization.

Please see this article for reference: rippedbody.com/nutrition-pyramid-o...

Incidentally, that site is a wealth of information regarding IF, probably even more so than the original lean gains.

Cool, I will check this article out after work today! One of the reasons I wanted to share my story was specifically to get feedback like this!

BTW, you bio has an error. jk lol

Ah thank you, I'll be sure to fix it with something more meaningful :)

I've been practicing IF long before I was ever a developer, but luckily being a developer meshes quite well with IF.

yes I have found this to be true, I hope others can share their experience good or bad with keeping up a good exercise regimen while also being a full-time developer.

 

Why are we continuing to compare our current dietary requirements with those of pre-modern era people? We're a very different people now, we also live longer. I'm not sure how relevant or useful the pre-modern era diet is to us.

Of course, the general jist of the "paleo" diet is fair - eat proper food.

 

Our physiology isn't really any different, except for the artificial alterations thereof. Human is human. Dietary needs may vary based on region, but not time period.

Also, we don't necessarily "live longer" now either - it depends entirely on a host of conditions, including sanitation, access to food, disease control, lifestyle, sociopolitical factors, and the like; all that varies from one culture to the next. There are some pre-modern cultures that may have lived longer than some modern cultures, and there are certainly some that lived proportionally as long or longer, once you factor in death causes that have nothing to do with health. (Consider also how many health problems are modern, first-world phenomenons.)

Thus, "we're healthier now than before" is more of a blanket statement that fails to account for thousands of factors. It's difficult to do a complete comparison straight across the board (e.g. we don't have to fear attacks by warring Mongols that cut our life expectancy short), so we look at individual topics without drawing artificial correlations between them. We don't have a life expectancy of 70-80 years because of our diet and lifestyle - we have one of the most nutritionally devoid diets in history, and we tend to be dangerously sedentary - we live long because of healthcare. When we make comparisons in history, we can't just look at "when did they die;" we MUST look at "WHY did they die?" A population dying of smallpox means we can't make the claim "they died young because of poor diet," because their diet may in fact have been quite good (or bad). This is why forensic anthropology is a thing.

As always, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

(Note, I've said nothing herein about the breakfast vs. no-breakfast topic; there are some interesting and valid points on both sides that warrant further inquiry. History has examples of both.)

 

Agreed, I think there are issues with modern food that make folks more likely to be in poor shape.* But some diets strike me as going too far in reacting to that by appealing to nature.

With paleo, legumes are prohibited because of phytates, but spinach and chard, and are cooked lightly (if at all) compared to beans, aren't, despite their oxalic acid content.

IMO for people who are overweight by, say, 20 lbs or more, calorie reduction will have the largest impact. To the point where recommendations based on meal timing & micronutrients (or even macros, to a certain extent) are only useful in that they might help with compliance.

(Which might still make them very useful. Good compliance is 100% necessary for success. But what works for compliance varies from person to person.)

As one gets closer to the ideal weight range, some fine-tuning might be in order, but I think it's important not to let such things take priority over plain old energy balance.


* Without getting too deep into it, I think hyperpalatability is the big issue -- the practice of adding synthetic flavoring to foods has done a number on our collective palate, and made high-calorie, low-nutrient foods more appealing than they'd be otherwise. The same techniques used to used to fatten up livestock are used to drive food sales, with predictable results.

 

Vouch. I lost 20 kg using a very similar approach. Initially I walked every day for one hour and fast 6pm till 6am. Once walking didn't felt like much I switched to rucking, started with 10 kg and now I do 20. Best thing ever.

 

Great job!

I had to look up "rucking". So, walking with a heavy weight on your back. When I started my journey I rode my bike to the grocery store. The way back was with a filled backpack. :)

 

Yep, think "Ruck sack". Military folks train like this to get them ready for lugging around a tonne of equipment on their back. I can't ruck because I have a sore spot in my back, however; I have noticed after getting in shape that the sore spot is less of a problem for me.

 

I'd like to hear more about your story and your regimen!

 

As a lifter and an aspiring natural bodybuilder I can summarize it easier if the goal is to lose weight: calories in < calories out - in a week timeframe (don't let fool yourself on dieting for 5 days and go overboard on the week-ends).
People complicate it too much.

 

Excellent job in regaining control of your weight. It's nice to hear these stories.

I think it's important to note what exercise you were doing. In particular there is a significant difference in dietary requirements between a low-intensity and high-intensity workouts. The high-intensity kind, generally involving weights, do require you to eat following the workout. IF you do not, you may be promoting muscle loss. If you're doing low-intensity, like jogging, then burning fat alone should be enough*.

*I put a star there, since when you start out, your body won't be well adapted and doing anything during ketosis can feel challenging.

Also, be sure to drink a lot. Going into ketosis appears to use more water than burning carbs (not just the water lost that was stored with the glycogen). IF you fast long-enough, or find yourself getting headaches or muscle cramps, you'll likely need some electrolytes (salts) as well.

 

Also, I would like to post some before and after pictures. Let me see what I can find. When I started my fast I worked at Tesla and I have some images of me presenting at a meetup vs my latest pictures. I think If I can find those I will be able to show the results.

Before:

After:

I will try to find better images! believe it or not, there is a 30 lb difference in those to images, at the lest a 25 lb difference.

 

Thanks for sharing Eric. I am a developer advocate as well. And my weight has started to affect my confidence when I am in front of an audience. I recently started IF and I am hoping to see positive changes as you did ! Well done and good luck with everything.

Hit me up on a direct message if you want to hop on Slack or Skype anytime. Would love to share or learn what you are doing each day!

 

Yes, I will say that I never do weightlifting without eating protein first, my workouts that I do on my fasting regimen are mostly running on a treadmill, elliptical machine and small weights high repetition and many sets.

 

Yes I believe it is a misconception that you need to always eat breakfast - there are a lot of very successful people that regularly skip it (mentioned on Tim Ferriss' podcast). I just have coffee in the morning and am not hungry before lunch. As for the meal plan, I'd recommend a more diverse diet, bump up the vegetables, add healthy oils and spices to make it tasty otherwise you'll get bored with it. For exercise, much better to get out in nature when you can rather than do a routine in a gym. For me, mountain biking and bouldering in gyms has been the ticket to fun workouts. But I'm still 1/8th of a ton so I have work to do...and btw I think you mean regimen rather than regiment...

 
 

hmm I vouch for intermittent fasting, it has worked wonders for me. I went with fasting between 6pm and 7am. With an hour of walking first time in the morning and other at the evening, I've lost 12Kg in 40 days.

But I won't subscribe to the conspiranoic theories, I don't see a "you've been lied to" scenario, but a "established dietary advice is designed for FAR less sedentary lifestyle".

 

Awesome work! I saw your before/after pictures below and you have really come a long way!
I also follow a similar eating window, though because I wake up so early for the gym my hours are different. I hit the gym before work, then all my food is between 9am and 6pm with bone broth to wake up my digestive system around 8am. I do three meals a day and follow a very low carb diet with the majority of my carbs coming with breakfast in the form of veggies like broccoli and carrots.

My fats are moderate and protein is high, and I don't get affected by the dreaded "keto flu" so I allow myself to bounce in and out of ketosis (a process called gluconeogenesis allows the body to produce glucose from protein instead of carbohydrates, which keeps the body out of full ketosis after high-protein meals). I'm one of those people who feels best on a no-carb diet though, so this certainly won't be the case for everyone.

 

I was doing the intermittent fasting thing for awhile then I fell off the wagon. Your article has encouraged me to start again. My time frame for fasting was 7:00 PM to 10:00 AM, as that worked better for my schedule. Do you think it matters that much? If it does, I could try your schedule for awhile.

 

I don't think it matters as long as there is a time period you don't eat.

 

I’ve been doing the same thing recently and noticed a huge difference.

Throw in a solid compound workout routine & you’re going to see some amazing results

 

Yep, I do a little cardio each day as well as a compound workout.

 

I have lost 34lbs and still progressing and have found this is an excellent routine for me. Also solved some gastro issues I'd had for years. I've also chosen to lightly pick up running and found that to be great for some stress relief and for my body's endurance.

Glad it works for others like yourself too!

 

I have heard wonderful stories about acid re flux and heart burn issues completely disappearing. As well other gastro issues. So great to hear.

 

My exercise routine includes two balanced calisthenincs/gymnastic strength training inspired workouts a week, and two yoga classes. I do stretching/mobility work pretty much every day. Minimal cardio (walking is enough for me). I experiment with IF - every few weeks I'll go 24 hours, which I find pretty easy. Definitely think it's a good idea to pay attention to what the body is asking for and when it's asking, than just assuming that the three meals a day default is what is right for you.

Human bodies have untapped potentials and it's amazing the progress we can make with some dedication and education!

 

Getting fit and loosing weight are very different things ...

 

Agreed. If a skinny-fat individual with sedentiary lifestyle just do a diet without a minimum strength training program it will look just leaner, not "fit".
Lesser bodyfat, without a decent lean mass =/= fit.

 

This is why I share my regimen, the regimen is key to not only losing fat, but getting fit. Yeah I chose a catchy title that would get people interested. Sue me!

JK of course. Please don't sue me!

No problems, I was just pointing this out the differences, but I understand the use of the title.

 

Not in my book, I'm doing it all at the same time and using IF to get me there faster. And I say it's not a cheat.

 
 

Yes, I studied intermittent fasting for about a year before trying. I would tell anyone that it takes getting used to. But there is no studies I can find that show in any way that it is unhealthy, in fact quite opposite. I have heard negative things about Keto and all Meat diets. If anything doing intermittent fasting, it has guided me into a better diet and I have more energy, etc.. It forced me to understand the delicate balance of what's going into my body and how I can change due to those inputs. I'm a much healthier eater, I eat less meat than before and any meat I eat typically goes down with some type of greens now. As with any regimen, when you start losing that much weight and start feeling good about it. You change your diet along the way to help accelerate the process.

 

Great post! Have you tried squats & kettlebell swings? I've found that those really help me slim down and also build muscle at the same time.

 

Squats yes, kettle bell swings no. I'm thinking about getting a few kettle bells though.

 

@ben has a pretty intense IF schedule -- I think he does 20:4?

I'm on the keto diet and do a 16 hr fast :)

 

Hi Jess,

We'd love to hear more about what you do! ALSO do you listen to "Two Keto Dudes" podcast?

 
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