In 6th grade I became obsessed with my physique. My dad began to point out that I was getting kinda chubby. This hit me hard because as a 12 year old, my dad’s opinion of me meant a lot. So I became OBSESSED with having a six pack. I would even starve myself and not eat lunch at school when everyone else was eating. Not recommended. Growing up, I had this friend who was naturally shredded, let’s call him Bob. Bob drank coke more than water, enjoyed root beer floats everyday, yet was absolutely shredded. So, from a very young age, I wanted to be shredded but I wanted to look natural. I did not want to look like I put effort into looking shredded, hence why I wanted to look “natural”.
As I got older, I started doing lots of sit ups and push ups and things along this line. It was not until high school until I really decided to put some work in. I started lifting weights. I soon achieved a really good physique. BUT, I did not have the perfect abs I wanted. No matter how much work I put in, I could never achieve the lean, ripped hollywood body. I remember I saw the movie Fight Club and that was it for me. I wanted to look just like Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). I remember I found something that worked for me, but it was not sustainable. I never drastically changed my diet, but I basically ate really healthy and just intensified my workouts. I would lift as heavy as I could for about an hour followed by 30 minutes of moderately intense cardio. This got me pretty shredded, but my body was starting to ache and I could see my abs fading if I did not keep up this intensity. Not to mention it was still too gym-ratish for me.
Off to college. I was decently ripped at this point. However, I still did not look and feel like I wanted. I always wanted a free, loose body with a shredded 8 pack; a more natural look compared to the “gym rat” tight, stalky look. I could not attain that natural look without putting in immense effort, and I would tell myself that it was because I am half Indian. I thought my Indian genetics were sabotaging my abs. This is a preposterous idea, but many buy into it. Genetics are not very well understood, and with the novel field of epigenetics on the rise we can be more open-minded. Here is what I mean: You cannot blame your genetics, you can blame your lifestyle and thought patterns. Epigenetics refers to the influence of your environment on the turning on/off of certain genes. Intermittent fasting is an epigenetic intervention which turns your body into a naturally shredded, fat burning machine.
I had heard of intermittent fasting and began employing it into my lifestyle around my second year of college. I noticed how shredded I would get, so I knew it worked, but I just hated the idea of giving up breakfast. I would fast for a few days and quickly cave, eat breakfast and fall back into old patterns. It was not until my 4th year of college when I really became infatuated with fasting. I had done a ton of research, watched a plethora of videos & had a good understanding of fasting. But it was not until a biochemistry class I took over the summer until I decided to go balls deep and incorporate intermittent fasting into my daily life. I was learning about the biochemical mechanisms by which our body uses energy. After learning all of these processes on a molecular level, I could no longer NOT intermittently fast. There is too much evidence that it is a much healthier and more efficient way of living. One thing I learned was that fat is a much more efficient fuel source for your body due to its chemical structure. When I approached my professor regarding the biochemistry of fasting he proceeded to tell me that he has been eating one meal a day for the past decade. So, I began fasting for at least 16 hours a day with an 8 hour eating window (obviously I am asleep for about 8 of the 16 fasted hours). I was also taking a molecular biology lab course that summer, which meant about 4 hours inside the lab. It went from 1- 4 PM two days a week and I would be fasted thru the entire lab. I remember how hungry and empty I would feel during those labs that entire summer. It was not easy, but I toughed it out. It takes time for your body to adjust from glucose to fat as a primary energy source. On top of that, I did not have much fat to begin with, but I was trying to be as shredded as possible. Not only is your body getting used to using fat as a fuel, but its adopting metabolically flexibility; which is the flexibility of using different sources of energy to carry out biological processes and so forth. I became accustomed to doing my workouts fasted, but I always enjoyed working out on an empty stomach so this was not too difficult; but for many this is an adjustment as well.
Remember Bob? I also had another friend, we will call him Jim, who was naturally shredded. Both of these guys never cared about their diet but enjoyed extremely shredded physiques. With my newfound knowledge of fasting and time-restricted eating, I began to put two and two together. I noticed commonalities in both of these friends; both could and did go long bouts without eating. For example, I would be hanging out with Bob around 3 PM and he would mention how he had not eaten anything all day. Jim would do the same. I would think to myself “what the fuck? That sounds unhealthy”. Basically, Jim and Bob were intermittent fasting without even realizing it. Their bodies were experienced in using fat as fuel and their hormones were optimized. This begs the question, which came first the chicken or the egg? Were their bodies innately better able to use fat as fuel or did something occur in their early lives which epigenetically altered their metabolism. After seeing how that way of eating and living worked on myself, I have concluded that it does not matter. Whether you are innately a fat burner or not, you can induce long-term fat burning thru lifestyle changes. They were both able to perform athletically with little to no fuel in their system. They always eat just the right amount of food and neither will eat past the point of no return (feeling uncomfortably full as fuck).
As of now, I have been intermittently fasting for about a year, and I have never felt better in my life. I eat whatever I want; but do not take that as, “eat McDonald’s and twinkles”. Obviously, watch your diet, but intermittent fasting allows you to be much more lenient due to the amount of time you’re giving your body to process what you eat, the amount of time your forcing your body to function without incoming energy & the optimization of nutrient absorption/distribution.
I initially practiced fasting to achieve a natural, shredded physique and it worked like a charm. But, I did not anticipate the plethora of other beneficial side effects. I was aware of all the amazing things fasting does to your body, but it did not click until I actually felt them. Fasting regulates your body’s hormones and optimizes their effects. For example, my sleep quality has immensely improved since I began. I fall asleep with ease at a regular time, sleep deeply & wake up full of energy at a regular time as well; this suggests that my melatonin/cortisol cycles are optimized. I have stronger erections and a higher libido, hinting at higher testosterone levels. I have not gotten sick (which I also credit to cold showers). I have increased endurance during workouts and I just feel happier & in more control of myself in general; if you are able to control your food intake, the universal addiction of all humans, that same control is easily transferred over to all aspects of your life. I really never thought I would achieve the physique I wanted let alone FEEL the way I do now. I can finally walk around with a relaxed belly and show my protruding abs. My workouts are short but intense, and I do not beat by body up like I used to. My message here is that this is attainable for EVERYONE. It may take you longer than me, or quicker than me. It may be more or less difficult. Everyone has slight variance in their gene expression which is what makes us unique individuals, but do not let it define you. Take control of your genetic expression by changing your lifestyle. Be patient, this is no quick fix. There will be pain, doubt & failure; but do NOT stop. Keep pushing and your body will adapt. You will be so glad that you did.