Intermittent Fasting has become a widely discussed subject recently but seems to go against everything we’ve learned about eating, metabolism and muscle gain. However, research has shown us that this might be one of the most effective diet strategies for fat loss.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a eating schedule where you alternate between a fasted state and a feeding window. You simply make sure that you only eat during your feeding window. In some cases this can mean skipping breakfast and can sometimes last upto 24 hours depending on which approach to fasting you use. One of the most common approaches to IF is Jason Ferruggia’s Renegade Diet which uses the 16/8 method and involves fasting for 16 hours then eating for 8 hours everyday.
Skipping meals goes against most experts advice. However, this would have been the way our ancestors would have lived as food would not have been guaranteed day by day. This would mean that our ancestors bodies would need to adapt to long periods without food, this means that early man would have often been in a fasted state which would make their bodies very good storing body fat. This would help them cope when food was limited.
Everyone loves food and the problem is it has become to easy to access and has lead many people into overeating. We don’t need to feed ourselves regular small meals to keep our metabolism lit like some kind of furnace like we have been lead to believe. Intermittent fasting gives us the chance to keep our eating habits healthy and enjoy the rewards.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Studies have shown that Intermittent fasting offers many great health benefits. These include:
- Increase in fat loss while maintaining lean muscle mass
- Faster fat burning and metabolic adaption when training fasted
- Higher levels of human growth hormone which is essential for muscle growth
- Lower LDL cholesterol levels
- Improved mental and cognitive function
- Reduced hunger and food cravings
- Reduced insulin levels and normalised insulin sensitivity
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Reduced inflammation and oxidative stress
Research in animals has indicated that intermittent fasting may also help fight cancer, diabeties, and aging.
Which Approach Should I Use?
There are a few approaches to intermittent fasting, two of which are the most popular methods. I’ll give you a brief explanation below but use the links for more information.
The first and most popular of the two is 16/8 approach, this simply means not eating for 16 hours then you have 8 hours to eat your meals for the day. The easiest way to follow this approach is to skip breakfast. Jason Ferruggia’s Renegade Diet is probably the best guide you’ll find to this approach.
The next approach is the most difficult approach of the two. This requires a 24 hour fast once or twice a week (usually done every 5 days) . Going a full 24 hours with nothing to eat sounds pretty tough, but it is easier to get used to you think. The best resource on this approach is Brad Pillions Eat Stop Eat, a very well researched book that keeps everything simplified for you.
So, which one is right for you? Well it really depends on your own personal preference. For me personally I prefer the 16/8 approach. But you may find yourself better suited to fasting a full day every 5 days. The most important thing is to stay consistent and follow the principles recommended.
One last thing I would recommend to beginners trying to build muscle is NOT to try intermittent fasting if your goal is to gain size as a newbie fasting will make it harder for you to gain mass. But, for those wanting to lose weight and get ripped go ahead and see the benefits for yourself.