Intermittent fasting (IF) is one of the most discussed nutrition topics in fitness today. It’s not a fad, however. This is actually one of the most ancient forms of eating and survival. Think about how the generations of hunters and gatherers lived. They spent all day chasing, killing and also running from potential food. They worked long days and came home to eat a huge feast. They didn’t sit around and time their meals to eat every 3 hours so they wouldn’t “slow” their metabolisms.
Now, I’m not going to try and convince you that eating small meals every three hours does not work and IF is the ONLY way to eat. Both can and do work, but I want to open your eyes to exactly what Intermittent Fasting is and how you could use it.
Both styles of eating are a means to an end—losing fat. But, the question is which one is easier to maintain and prosper as a lifestyle? That absolutely depends on the individual. You have to figure that out for yourself. In my case, I have eaten small meals every three hours with caloric restriction, and I was successful at losing fat. I felt okay strength-wise, but I felt chained to food and also never felt satisfied. I wasn’t enjoying the experience, and that’s important to me. Enter intermittent fasting.
What is IF exactly?
For the simple purposes of today’s article, IF is planned periods of fasting (no food) followed by planned periods of eating. For us regular folks, a 16-20 hour fast is effective. There are some people who fast as long as 72 hours, but that’s an extreme way to go.
The 16/8 Method. 16 hour fast followed by 8 hours of eating). This is what I do everyday. The fast begins after your last meal, and it can (and should) include sleeping hours. My typical day is a 7pm to 11am fast, but the great thing is that you can set this up to fit your lifestyle and training sessions.
Here are the highlights of your fasting period:
1. No food.
2. Drink lots of water.
3. You can drink black coffee or tea – this is helpful for keeping your appetite under control.
4. Stay busy, and the time will fly by.
5. Try to schedule your training session toward the end of your fast.
Here are the highlights of your feeding period:
1. If possible, break your fast with a post workout shake.
2. Following the shake, you’ll eat 2 other meals about 3 hours apart.
3. Continue to drink lots of water.
4. Don’t eat like you just fasted. Focus on balanced meals and don’t over eat.
IF is something I have used for over a year and I’ve never felt better. Here’s why:
1. My training sessions are stronger and more energized. I have a cup of black coffee before and no food. My body is not focused on processing food, and I’m not sluggish.
2. During the training sessions my body is able to burn fat and not the recently stored sugars from a pre-workout meal.
3. I enjoy food and have more flexibility when I eat.
4. There is less food prep.
5. I have lost 13 pounds of body fat while maintaining my weight and muscle.
6. I enjoy a larger meal at dinner to end my feeding period before the fast.
7. I sleep better.
8. I have more productivity and focus during the day because I don’t have to stop and eat every few hours.
Here’s how to start integrating IF into your lifestyle:
1. Start with one or two 16-hour fasts every week.
2. Do them on your busiest days until you get used to it.
3. Drink lots of water (80 ounces at least).
4. Have your food planned out so you don’t break the fast with junk food.
5. Don’t tell everyone you are fasting. You’ll get a lot of opinions, and I want you to form your own first.
6. Don’t overeat. If you fast and then overeat with junk and excess carbs, you will gain weight. You still have to hit your macronutrients for the day, they will just be consumed in a compressed schedule.
7. Enjoy the bigger meals during your feeding period.
The important thing to remember about intermittent fasting is that it can work for a variety of lifestyles. For me, it’s great because I like to train in the mid-morning. So, I will break my fast with a shake, have a small lunch and then a bigger dinner when I get home after training clients. When you are on the go, it’s helpful to not have to pack several snacks throughout the day.
Now, if you enjoy eating every few hours to keep yourself satisfied, I would not have you stray from that too much. Perhaps I would recommend a fast once a week just to reset your body and see how you respond. IF isn’t for everyone, but it is definitely for some.
Leave a comment below this article or on Facebook to let me know your thoughts on intermittent fasting. In an upcoming article, I will discuss exactly what to eat and when in order to hit your macronutrients for the day.