Intermittent Fasting is basically just a very general term to describe an eating protocol which relies on modifying the timing of when you consume your food. This means that you can intermittently fast while following any type of other diet protocol. Be it vegan, paleo, high/low carb, atkins, macro-counting, whatever you may like. This is one of the best ways to manage your diet so that you can focus on eating the foods you love, and still lose fat!
What it implies is basically that instead of eating your meals spaced throughout the day as is generally recommended, you save all of your caloric intake for a specific limited period of time, and don't consume any food at all in the meantime. All that time spent not eating any food will stimulate your body to release fat from storage, and since you won’t have any nutrients from food in your bloodstream to use for energy, you body will use the energy from it’s own fat stores!
While this might seem daunting and go against pretty much all other nutritional advice you’ve heard thus far, try and be open to the idea, because for some people (particularly those with a big appetite that enjoy large meals), this might just be the way to go when it comes to a sustainable way of handling your diet.
What are the different Intermittent Fasting Protocols
By far the most popular would be Martin Berkhan Lean Gains Protocol (16/8 hrs fast/feed): On his website leangains.com Martin has a plethora of information and scientifically backed evidence supporting his specific method, and if there was a single protocol I would suggest to meet the needs of the large majority of people, this would be it.
It’s tailored specifically for those looking to get both lean and as strong and jacked as possible, while maintaining their sanity when it comes to dieting.
Some of the other intermittent fasting protocols out there are:
The Fast-5 Diet (19/5 hrs fast/feed)
Eat Stop Eat (24 hrs fasting, 1-2x/week)
The Warrior Diet (20/4 hrs fast/feed)
The Alternate-Day Diet (36/12 hrs fast/feed)
The biggest proponents of intermittent fasting talk about its metabolic advantages compared to other eating protocols, but that’s not what we're going to talk about here. See, even though a 5% increase in fat oxidation might help you a little bit, a 200% increase in diet adherence will help you a hell of a lot more, and that is the greatest benefit of intermittent fasting for most people.
Yes, there is a large group of people that adhere to the typical 5-6 small meals a day and ‘keep the metabolic fire going’. But some of us like to sit down every now and then really, really fill up on some good food. And the thing is, intermittent fasting allows you to do just that. It just limits how often and for how long you can keep it up.
By making this simple modification, it takes a habit most of us already have and flips it into a sustainable strategy for not feeling deprived on a diet while still making consistent and noticeable progress!
All the benefits aren’t without a few drawbacks of course. Mainly, when you first start out and you are sued to eating at all times of the day, its going to be rough. You’ll be cranky, tired, agitated, and you will most definitely piss people off as a result.
But stick it out for a week or two and your body will adjust.
The other concern is that many of us on this fitness journey have developed a bad relationship with food, which when combined with the freedom Intermittent Fasting gives you to pig out might possibly lead to a dangerous Binge-Starve cycle. The main point here is to know and be honest with yourself, and recognize if your turning something that can be healthy and sustainable into something thats potentially harmful to your health.
As a general recommendation I can say that if you absolute hate picking away and small meals all day, and want to be able to stay within your calorie goals while still being able to enjoy large meals, even if they might be infrequent, and you deserve to at least give intermittent fasting a shot.
Pro tip: during the fasting phase if you do feel a bit low on energy, caffeine is your friend
Some considerations for practical use:
- On workout days,break the fast with meat,veggies and fruit.This will fill you up and save plenty of calories for a slightly less wholesome meal to end your day with (perfect for days that you have date night with your significant other, dinner with the family, etc.)
- On rest days,eat less calories than on workout days,making sure that the majority of your intake goes into helping you progress in the gym and not your waistline
- In the last meal of the day,include a slow digesting protein source,just as a fail-safe to make your your body has plenty of circulating amino acids to retain muscle while you’re fasting