Anyone can achieve the body they desire whether the goal is building muscle, burning fat, getting fitter or just to improve your health. In this article you will learn how you can boost your results without having to restrict yourself to boring and tasteless diet. Eating tasty meals doesn’t have to be unhealthy, and if done correctly you can still achieve great results 365 day a year.
In order for any diet to work it must be:
- Easy to manage and follow daily 365 days a year
- Be flexible and not restrictive
- Be healthy but still enjoyable
- Effective enough for you to see the results!
Over the years I have tried countless diets, one of my favorite ones to follow is intermittent fasting (IF). Intermittent Fasting is simple, easy to follow, enjoyable and doesn’t have to be restrictive, but most of all delivers results all year round.
Even top celebrities such as Hugh Jackman (AKA Wolverine), Liv Tyler and Even Ben Affleck have all spoke about their success with intermittent fasting, but there are thousands of people all around the world who have seen amazing results with an eating plan that they can fit around their lifestyle while shrinking their waistline.
In this guide we will explore some of the concepts behind intermittent fasting for accelerated fat loss, muscle gain, improved energy levels, calorie control, and much more.
IMPORTANT: Unless a diet can be followed for the rest of your life, then the chances are the diet will at some point fail you.
What Is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is NOT a diet, but rather a pattern of eating. It is a way of scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them. Intermittent fasting doesn’t change what or how much you eat, it changes when you eat. Since you spend more time fasting than you do eating, it gives your body a chance to tap into its stored fat for fuel.
Intermittent fasting is a great way to get lean without having to go on a crazy diet or drop your calories to almost nothing. Your calorie intake will remain the same only you will be eating bigger meals in a shorter time frame. Intermittent fasting is a great way of keeping muscle mass whilst burning fat.
Even top Hollywood celebrities are using intermittent fasting to get into shape for films. Hugh Jackman used intermittent fasting to get in shape for his role in Wolverine. He used the 16:8 Intermittent fasting protocol combined with training to help him get shredded quickly and easily. The 16:8 fasting protocol which is my favourite and involves a 16 hour fast with an 8 hour eating window, which will discuss further a bit later in this book.
One of the best things about intermittent fasting is that it requires very little change in your eating habits and is simple enough that you’ll actually do it, but meaningful enough that it make a difference.
Note: If you are pregnant, have diabetes, or some other health issue, it’s important to discuss fasting with your health care professional before starting.
Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Studies have shown that there are many benefits of intermittent fasting. These include:
- blood lipids (including decreased triglycerides and LDL cholesterol)
- blood pressure
- inflammation in the body
- oxidative stress
- risk of cancer
- cellular turnover and repair
- fat burning (increase in fatty acid oxidation later in the fast)
- growth hormone release later in the fast
- metabolic rate later in the fast
- appetite control
- blood sugar control
- cardiovascular function
- effectiveness of chemotherapy
- neurogenesis and neuronal plasticity
With this list of benefits like this you would wonder why everyone isn’t doing it right. Well, we are all doing it in to some degree. Most people are already fasting for 12 hours every single day.
Unless you are getting up in your sleep and stuffing your face with food, you’re probably already doing intermittent fasting. You just didn’t realize it!
However, research shows that some benefits require longer fast periods such as 20-24 hours, although this is depending on how active you are. For example if you are fairly sedentary and don’t exercise much then you may need to fast for 20-24 hours to notice the benefits, where someone who is pretty active, or who exercise during their fasted state may notice the same benefits after a 16-20 fast.
I believe that everyone should follow a healthy exercise program regardless of whether or not you are doing intermittent fasting or not. However, combining the two together will only enhance the benefits.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Before we talk about how intermittent fasting works it’s important to first learn the difference between the fed state and the fasted state.
The fed state typically starts when you eat and your body starts digesting and absorbing the food that you have consumed. The fed state usually last for about 3-5 hours while your body is breaking down the food you ate and absorbing all the nutrients from it. It is hard for your body to burn fat while in this state because your insulin levels are high.
After this time period your body goes into post-absorptive state, this simply means that your body isn’t processing food anymore. The post-absorptive state usually lasts somewhere between 8-12 hours after your last meal. After this your body enters a fasted state where it is much easier for the body to burn fat because your insulin levels will be low.
While in a fasted state your body can burn fat that was inaccessible while your body was in the fed state.
Because we don’t enter the fasted state until 12 hours after our last meal, it’s rare that our bodies are in this fat burning state. This is one of the reasons why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat, or how often they exercise. Fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.
Intermittent Fasting Protocols
If used right intermittent fasting can be an effective way of losing weight and getting into shape. However not all intermittent fasting is the same, there are several protocols to choose from. Read through the protocols below and find which one works for you.
(16h fast / 8h feed)
This is one of the easier methods of fasting based around an 8-hour feeding window followed by a 16-hour fast. However, it also has a few food rules you must follow. Your diet should be high in protein, should cycle carbohydrates, should include fasted training, and should use nutrient timing (eating the bulk of your calories during the post-exercise period). On this plan, you fast from, say, 9pm on Monday night until 1pm on Tuesday afternoon. If you’re going to exercise, you’d do so just before 1pm on Tuesday, with 10 g BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) during training. After training, you eat 2-3 meals before 9pm, with your biggest meal coming right after exercise. The fast begins again on Tuesday evening until Wednesday at 1pm, and repeats every day.
(20 hour fast / 4 hour feed)
On this plan, you will fast for 18-20 hours of each day, working out during this period of under eating. Then, you would eat your daily calorie intake within a 4-6 hour over feeding window. After that 4-6 hour over feeding period, you would repeat the fasting for the next 18-20 hours. Generally, most people place their over feeding window at the end of the day, as it’s more convenient for family dinners and after-work training sessions. However, modifications can be made based on individual and scheduling differences.
There are many other variations that you may come across but these are just the most popular protocols which I recommend you try. I like to switch between protocols now and again for a change. Each style offers its own benefits but you just need to experiment and find which one works for you.
ALTERNATE DAY FASTING (ADF)
(36 hour fast / 12 hour feed)
This is perhaps one of the harder methods. With this protocol you simply eat every other day. So for example if start on Monday you would eat all you meals in a 12 hour window say 8am to 8pm. Then you would fast overnight on Monday and all day and night Tuesday. Then on Wednesday you would start eating again from 8am to 8pm and continue the cycle.
Many people who follow this protocol have a habit of pigging out on food after the fast. However, if you choose this protocol be sure to choose healthy options from our cookbook recipes and not binge on junk food.
(24 hour fast, 1 or 2 times per week)
With this approach you fast for a full 24 hours once or twice per week, while still eating sensibly for the rest of the week. This plan is pretty flexible: You simply choose a 24 hour gap to fast. Want to fast from breakfast to breakfast? No problem. Just eat breakfast on Monday, and don’t eat again until breakfast on Tuesday. Want to fast dinner to dinner? That’s fine too. Just eat dinner on Wednesday, and don’t eat again until dinner on Thursday.
This protocol takes on the behaviour like our evolutionary ancestors did. As humans evolved to get their food and exercise randomly, so should we. This brand of fasting involves eating unprocessed “evolutionary friendly” food (A Paleo style approach), randomly cycling daily calorie intake, and randomly skipping a breakfast or dinner once or twice a week. The rules are very flexible for this approach to intermittent fasting.
Should You Try Intermittent Fasting?
If you think intermittent fasting could work for you then maybe you shouuld give it a try.
The best way to find out if it is for you is to do some personal experimentation. You might prefer one method more than the other, or you might even prefer to use each method at different times, this is a great wa to add some variety and to change switch things up (this is what I do).
Another word of advice, is don’t follow intermittent fasting just because it’s the next big thing. Intermittent fasting works, that I will say, but it’s important that you find what works for you and your lifestyle. There is no one size fits all – so just do what works for you.
And please keep in mind, no method/nutrition approach will produce the results you want if you’re constantly stressed out and miserable. You need to find a method you enjoy and that you can sustain long term.
I’m Interested . . . Now What?
If you’re interested in trying one of the methods of intermittent fasting discussed above, I strongly advise you to read the author’s own words and apply the method in the way they provide. This information is simply based on my own experience and only scratches the surface of each author’s method. Most of the time people half-ass apply what they read, and then when they don’t see the results they want they write the program off as a complete failure.
I hope this guide has been useful and has given you some insight as to whether or not intermittent fasting is for you. If you enjoyed this please share it using the links below.