Intermittent fasting (IF)is something that has been around for quite a long time, it just sprung back into popularity within the last decade or so. The concept is simple; go a specific amount of time without eating and then eat for a time.
When you really think about it we do this all the time. If you’re getting a good 8 or so hours of sleep every night (another post about that later) and if you hadn’t eaten a couple hours before bed, you really have already fasted for 10 hours or so, depending on when you eat breakfast.
Problem is so many people are surrounded by food, good or otherwise, that it becomes difficult to control how much we eat.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting: mostly hunger control in my experience. Eating 3 or four meals a day would trigger my hunger response like nobody’s business. I’d have my 600-700 calories (while cutting fat) and would be left starving afterward. If I made it to dinner without cheating, I’d eat dinner and still be left starving afterward, craving all manner of sweets.
How did I take care of this?
I narrowed down my feeding window to about 8 hours or so a day. No breakfast. Eating a good breakfast will help control blood sugars through the day in someone who is having problems with that, but it isn’t necessary to lose weight or keep up metabolism. Here is one study that shows weight loss isn’t affected either way.While I wouldn’t rec
ommend skipping for a child, having breakfast isn’t required. Calories is kings when it comes to weight loss…PERIOD!
I would also add that IF isn’t necessary to lose fat either. Calories are king, it’s just a tool and happens to be one I grew to love.
There are a few different protocols so here are a couple you can try. I would not that others have mentioned that women seem to be more sensitive to IF. Mood and menstruation regulation can be affected, so it is probably smarter for a woman to start with a shorter fasting window than a guy and reassess periodically, like weekly. While the thought of losing a period is probably just fine with some women, it also means that your endocrine system is malfunctioning and that is not good for health.
16:8 – This is the one popularized by Martin Berkhan whose website LeanGains describes it. Basically you go through 16 hours of fasting and have an 8 hour window of feeding. This is what I do.You can have the window when you’d like but for practical purposes it’s a lot easier to have it from around 12-8PM. This makes things like dinner easy if you go out with friends or have a social event.
You can have no sweetened beverages during this time and water of course, just no significant calories. As in you can have a little cream in your coffee, but keep it minimal, or a powder drink that has 20 calories is probably fine.
Working out early can throw a bit of a wrench in this scheme. This is my situation. I work out at 6AM. I do 10g of BCAA before the workout, after and 2 hours later. My day looks like this (as recommended by Berkhan):
6AM: BCAA and workout
12: Lunch or Whey protein (I don’t always have lunch at noon so if I don’t I’ll take the whey or sometimes eat a portion of my lunch and eat the rest when I’m on break at work)
7-9PM Dinner and then start fast.
Instead of a 600-700 calorie meal, I eat about a 1200 calorie meal, which will fill me up and keep me satisfied. Some days I’m not even that hungry at dinner.
If you workout around 12PM, then you can work out with some BCAAs and then eat lunch right after.
Two non-consecutive times per week you don’t eat anything. You can have non calorie drinks but that’s it. When you start back up you just continue eating normally, not pigging out.
The purpose of this is to lower your overall weekly calorie intake (remember calories are king)
Some will have issues with a full 24 hour fast. Some won’t. I train at least 4 days per week and not always on the same days which makes my schedule variable but if yours isn’t, then it would be easier to plan. This type of fasting gives me horrible headaches and I don’t like it at all, but some love it.
This is very similar to 16:8. The ratio is 20:4. Essentially you eat dinner and that’s it every day. I wouldn’t recommend this for women due to the above mentioned side effects women may experience. This does allow for small snacks, but it is very strict on what is allowed. This probably won’t work well for some who workout in the morning. My BCAA bill is large enough with 16:9, I don’t need to add to it.
There are a whole lot of other protocols that are really just variations on a theme. I’m not going to cover all of them. Really if you choose to do any one of these the most important thing is to find what works for you.
The other thing to remember is going crazy and eating whatever you want during feeding time is a surefire way to gain weight. If your goal is to gain then by all means, but please don’t be disillusioned. These plans just help regulate calorie intake, that’s it. You can still lose fat by eating 6 meals a day or one. It still all boils down to calories baby.
Remember that IF may not be for you because it’s not for everyone. I only do it for hunger control, because I get hungry if I don’t. 6 meals a day leaves me ravenous for more food so that old bodybuilding routine just won’t cut it for me.
Here is what my day looks like both working out and rest days:
12PM Lunch or Whey (depending on my schedule)
I drink lots of water through the day to stay hydrated, which will also help curb hunger. If you have any questions please post them and let me know how IF has worked for you.
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