Fasting has been around for years and used by multiple cultures around the world.
It has made its way to the fitness community and I believe it is here to stay.
Due to the important benefits you gain from intermittent fasting, like making your daily life easier.
Though , intermittent fasting isn’t the holy grail that so many click bait articles will have you believing.
It’s not the secret to extreme fat loss.
Nor is it going to magically get you the body of your dreams!
Everyone’s genetics and lifestyle’s are different, just because one diet works comfortably for one individual doesn’t always mean it will work the same for the next person.
Remember you need to find a healthy way of eating that works for your own lifestyle and Health needs.
Most of us work 8 hour jobs Monday through Friday and are on the go quite often.
Some of us are even traveling to different states and countries every day or week.
This is where I trust in Intermittent fasting and believe it has the ability to stand out above any other dieting method.
While on the go living your busy daily live, It may help you lose fat faster and maintain your ideal body composition easier and it may be beneficial to your health.
So what is Intermittent Fasting?
In short, intermittent fasting means extended long periods of time without eating.
Different styles of Fasting are practiced, with the main difference in the window of fasting without food intake.
A popular fasting method is 16:8 fast by leangains.. This would call for fasting for 16 hrs and having a 8 hr eating window to consume all your daily calorie needs.
For example: you would eat between 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm and fast until the next day to 12 pm.
Another method is is the Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler. This diet involves about a 20 hr fast with a 4 hour window for one large meal a day.
Most of these Fasting approached are similar but have strict feeding windows to unsure their claimed benefits will work.
Our bodies go through fed states and fasting states throughout the day.
When our bodies are digesting and absorbing the nutrients from what we ate , we’re in a fed state.
Then when our bodies are done digesting and absorbing the food we ate, we enter into fasted state.
The Idea behind intermittent fasting is to keep us in the fasted state longer.
Most Fasting approaches will be strict about a feeding window or have you fasting for 20 hrs plus!
My guide to intermittent fasting is a much more simple take on fasting.
My approach to Intermittent Fasting
When I was younger I was applying intermittent fasting without any knowledge of it.
I was told my whole life that breakfast was the most important meal of the day and kick started your metabolism into gear.
Oddly enough right after my breakfast as a kid I would feel sluggish and ready to go back to my warm bed.
I told my mother all the time I wasn’t hungry upon waking up and it made me sleepy, sometimes it would even upset my stomach.
A few hours after eating I would be left with hunger cravings and grouchy before lunch time had even arrived.
Of course just as any good mother would do she insisted her baby eat and sent me on my way.
It was’t until I got to college that I started listening to my bodies natural instincts and skipped breakfast.
Skipping breakfast made sence to me for a number of reasons:
- I didn’t lose my alert feeling upon waking up.
- I didn’t get full or upset stomach aches anymore.
- My digestion system was greatly improved.
- I no longer got intense hunger craving before lunch.
It makes sense genetically
Your adrenal glands secrete a hormone called cortisol.
This is a stress hormone and its levels are at a peak upon waking.
It then gradually declines throughout the day until it reaches a low plateau around 6 pm and onward.
Cortisol’s natural job in the morning is to get you up and going, bringing you to a state of alertness.
See I was already waking up with my body in a naturally primed state to start the day.
High Levels of Cortisol has an effect on our levels of insulin as well . So when cortisol levels are high so are levels of insulin naturally.
This is the key problem, because insulin controls your blood sugar which effects our hunger cravings.
When we eat with high levels of cortisol and high levels of insulin our blood sugar will spike significantly.
The high level of insulin then causes your blood sugar drop down suddenly which leaves you feeling hungry shortly after eating.
A high amount of cortisol is only present upon awakening. Later in the day, cortisol levels are lower, which means insulin levels are lower.
That is why eating 4-5 hours after waking up causes less hunger than eating breakfast when cortisol and insulin levels are higher upon waking up.
This was why I could eat around noon and be just fine all the way until dinner, even with football practice.
So I started changing my habits.
Eating large meals later in the day.
You see if you look around the office you will see most people eating a starchy breakfast followed by cups of coffee, only later to be fighting off post lethargic feelings of sleepiness.
This is usually due to the fact they have busy life’s and grab a croissant and coffee from Starbucks.
As lunch gets closer people are typically very hungry questioning what sounds good for lunch with eager stomachs and wide eyes.
As everyone makes their way back to the office after lunch most are dragging their stuffed apathetic thoughts back to their desk.
It will be an hour or so of checking on social media apps or slowly scrolling through emails before people are back in the grove of things.
This is all due to the multiple rise and fall in blood sugars when only half the working day has passed.
The Fasting state
I have noticed and from listening to my own body, most people tend to function best fasting during the day and eating more food later in the day.
What I hear a lot of is eating late will make you fat or is bad for you.
Here’s the thing, you’re only going to get fat if your’re consuming more calories than you’re burning.
This goes for any diet, whether it low carb, high fat, or vegan.
So meal frequency, timing , and the size of the meals all have nothing to do with fat loss.
Although These can be utilized in ways to help with fat loss or lean muscle gain depending on your daily schedule.
The importance of balanced nutrition.
Intermittent fasting should be applied with mostly whole foods.
It is important to take in a well rounded balance of proper nutrients for any sustainable diet.
When you setup your diet around whole foods you start to crave healthier foods naturally.
Fasting makes dieting easy when only eating two times a day.
Rarely will you even be thinking about dieting or eating throughout your busy day.
With each meal being on the bigger side, you will have plenty of calories per meal for a delicious variety of foods!
This style of dieting also allows the luxury of eating out with friends and family.
Plus leaving the room to easily plug in additional sweets while still sticking to your meal plan, without going over your target calories.
It is important to note here that as far as muscle gain and fat loss goes, calories and macros do matter with intermittent fasting.
Fasting does not give a pass to overeat anything you wish with the magical promise of fat loss.
Think of fasting as a way to make everything more enjoyable while saving time also realizing some of the incredible mental benefits that fasting provides.
- Eating two times a day allows for easy travel and sticking to a flexible meal plan.
- Eating few times a day doesn’t involve stick meal prepping.
- With bigger meals you can eat more variety each time.
- Eating less frequently allows for more productivity
So how do I simplify all this? Lets take a look at my 5 rules I apply.
1. I drop the whole idea of an eating window
Instead of worrying about how long I have to eat I simply just push back my first meal 4 to 5 hours upon waking up.
When I get up at 6 am I have my first meal at 12:00 pm.
On the weekend I get up at 10:00 am so I have my first meal around 3:00 pm
The Idea is to just be in a fasted state for a good part of the day.
Some people like to fast longer than others , listen to your body and figure out what is best for you.
Also don’t worry about a schedule , like above I eat at different times on the weekend than I do during the week days.
I typically eat dinner anywhere from 9pm to 10pm , sometimes later.
The point is you do not have to be strict, this allows for flexibility.
Your diet should not be controlling your life , your diet should enhancing your life while you are in control of your diet.
2. I Exercise Accordingly
When applying interment fasting, resistant training should be kept at a moderate volume.
Cardio should be on the moderate end of intensity as well. Just walking 45 min on your off days will suffice for most.
If you like a structured cardio routine like interval training keep it at a moderate intensity as well.
Both resistance training and cardio strategies are applied in my programs.
Your main goal should be focused on building strength and muscle with light or strategic interval cardio training.
Unless you’re a full Athletic competitor, anything else is only going to slow your progress down.
3. Blunting the Appetite
Some people and my self occasionally find your appetite might get the best of you before your first meal.
My first strategy is to drink another cup of black coffee , this will add additional alertness while blunting your appetite.
Coffee while fasting not only blunts the appetite but has be shown to aid in fat loss.
I do not recommend more than 2 cups of coffee day with that being said.
If you still have the need to eat something I recommend some fibrous vegetables like broccoli or small portion of fruit like an apple.
The vegetable will help curb the appetite for a little longer and the fruit can actually aid in helping to replenish liver glycogen levels.
Glycogen levels can drop from a extend fast and this is the best time to have a small serving of fruit near the end of a fast to shift one back in to an anabolic state.
4. Eat Large
Okay so this is my favorite part about interment fasting, the large meals!
If you want to make a shift to this style of dieting you need to be prepared to eat much larger meals.
For most people I have worked with I find them to be overly excited about this, though there are the occasional few that claim they cant eat much in one setting.
If you are not eating larger meals your will be scrambling to try and fit a bunch of little tiny meals into a short period of time.
Or even worse you will be to low on calories and proper nutrients for your physique goals.
This will make the fast hard to get through, which will lead to overeating and snacking.
If eating large meals is hard , look for calorie dense foods that feel you up easier with less volume.
Eating large amounts of protein will be a change you will need to be accustomed to as well during these bigger meals .
Sicking with a medium lunch helps safe money when eating out , I often have to order double meat when eating with friends and family.
Eating a medium lunch will help so I’m not ordering double for lunch and dinner.
I understand even this can add up and become expensive , this is why I advice learning the skill of cooking.
I have my personal Ideal Meals you can follow , each meal with its own recipe, designed for lean fit bodies.
Cooking at home will allow more control over your budget, calories , and Macros.
5. I Stopped worrying
At first I worried about fasting and if I was loosing out on my gains or not eating frequently enough to fuel my metabolism.
Stressing about these things can cause much more damage to you physiologically and physically.
Just go one with your life and accomplish other things your need to worry about, like work, school, and family.
Let the fasting ride out and your body will handle itself accordingly.
No you’re not going to enter starvation mode and no you’re not going to hold onto stubborn fat from not eating frequently enough.
The less you think about your diet the less control it has over your life.
By carrying on with your life and getting your regular priorities done in life , fasting will become effortless.
If you’re thinking about making the transition to intermittent fasting , ask your self a few questions first.
- Is my current lifestyle a good fit for this diet strategy?
- Do I like eating fewer times in the day?
- Is eating larger meals something I am okay with?
- Is eating breakfast extremely important to me?
- Does this diet seem long term and sustainable for me?
- Will this be a diet strategy I will enjoy ?
- Would Eating out with friends and family be something I want more of?
- Do I want the freedom to play with my calories and macros more?
These are all Important factors when deciding to switch to my approach on Intermittent fasting .
I believe my spin on intermittent fasting is the easiest approach to follow.
This took me some time to develop through practice with trial and error.
But I believe when you give the dieting style a try, it will change your life and view on dieting forever.
Discovering how to apply intermittent fasting do your life, essentially comes down to putting one foot in front of the other and giving it a shot.