Many people interested in nutrition and the many “diets” out there have been buzzing about IF or Intermittent Fasting for some time. But this is still a term that is mostly unheard of.
And that is a real shame. Of all the different ways of eating, and approaches to maintaining or losing weight, it is one of the ones that has made the most sense to me. If you want to get lean, lose weight, and build muscle at the same time so you look great when you shed the pounds then this protocol, along with a number of other lifestyle changes, has given us by far the best results. Combined with proper exercise this is the best way to get toned abs, along with getting lean over the rest of the body too.
But, as always, I do want to emphasize that we have no interest in “diets” as such. We are interested in lifestyle changes that can be carried out indefinitely. Ways of eating that allow you to feel happy, enjoy your food, and not obsess about every macro-nutrient you put into your mouth.
We are not interested in:
- Counting calories for Intermittent Fasting or any other protocol
- Sticking to a way of eating religiously
- Obsessing about food
- Making ourselves miserable
- Being dogmatic about any one approach
As far as I am concerned life is for living, and making yourself miserable by picking some kind of weird diet is not conducive to either happiness or to achieving any kind of permanent change to your body. Be it fitness or weight loss. If you enjoy counting calories and it helps then it is recommended, the same with anything to do with your nutrition. But don’t feel like you have to do these type of things to get the body you want.
That being said, Intermittent Fasting, as I touched upon in the article about should you eat breakfast, is something that both myself and Alexis have come to embrace.
But, as usual, we have put our own slant on it.
- So we will actually do it
- So we can enjoy the results
- So we can do it for life (if we so wish)
- and so we can still gain lean muscle whilst eating a calorific deficit
Losing Weight And Gaining Muscle Is Not A Myth
Which we go into a lot more depth about in the Lean Ape Living book.
But Intermittent fasting for weight loss is a reality, and it doesn’t mean you have to count calories, freak out about eating some carbs if you wish (and on certain days complex carbs should always be present), and it is simply one of the easiest and most efficient ways of getting a calorie deficit as at its most basic you just skip meals.
Well, not quite!
As always these things tend to be quite complicated if you search around the Interwebs for information, and try to learn what the heck you are supposed to do.
Anyone who knows me and Alexis knows that we don’t do complicated!
We like to keep things simple, and we are not interested in telling people that they have to eat “exactly” this or that to reach their body goals. And it is part of the reason why IF is such an appealing concept.
It is simple, but very effective for weight loss.
And combined with a program of resistance training 2 or 3 times a week and overfeeding, or having a cheat day once a week, it can be very effective for gaining muscle at the same time.
As long as you eat a meal directly after working out that is high in complex carbohydrates, with a decent slab of protein, you have a regime that can be carried on indefinitely.
As long as you don’t obsess about the odd tummy rumble or not feeling constantly full.
OK, let’s get down to it.
Let’s look at the most common forms of Intermittent Fasting, and see what all the fuss (in limited circles) is actually about.
This is a protocol popularized by Martin Berkhan of Lean Gains. This is a away of life we have come to embrace and one that suits us very well. You simply never eat breakfast, and fast from your last meal in the evening until lunch time the next day. You go without food for between 16 and 18 hours.
Eat Stop Eat
The Eat Stop Eat protocol is the very popular protocol from Brad Pilon and a very popular ebook to boot. It is based around fasting for 24 hours once or maybe twice a week. Although it would be very effective (you will be cutting calories dramatically) it is a little too long a gap between food for us to feel comfortable with. I think Alexis would have a biological meltdown if she didn’t get her lunch! But there is a lot to be said for performing a 24 hour fast now and then. The health benefits of any intermittent fasting protocol seem very sound, and apart from anything else it is a natural state of being that most of us have now forgotten about.
The Warrior Diet is the other name associated with fasting that you may have heard of. Based around a 4 hour overeating window it allows you to eat a number of meals a day, but all focused around the evening when being social means food plays an important part.
Other Fasting Options
Of course these are just a few of the many different options we have at our disposal when it comes to fasting. These are just a few fancy names pinned to a few different approaches, each with their own merits.
None of them need to be followed dogmatically, we can base a lifestyle around what suits us best. And there is no reason why we have to stick to them totally every single day.
Other options could be:
- Skipping breakfast for a number of days a week
- Fasting for a day whenever we feel inspired
- Missing food for 2 days, or severely limiting intake on those two day. See the 5:2 Diet article for more on this
- 36 hour fast
- etc etc
There are any number of combinations that we could choose from.
Personally, although I am no believer in sticking to a diet plan doggedly, I think that if you want to make Intermittent fasting a part of your life then you do need to make a plan and stick to it in this case.
Otherwise it is too easy to say that you will do your fast tomorrow rather than today. And it is why I think the Lean Gains approach is best. And this is simply never eating until lunch time as long as you have a normal wake/sleep cycle. But whatever kind of cycle you do have if you simply do not eat for 16-18 out of every 24 you are going to see a number of very real benefits.
Specifically it is one of the simpest ways possible to lose weight.
What Are The Effects Of Intermittent Fasting
There are a ton of claims Online about the effects of IF on the body, but from what I can tell there is not that much scientific evidence actually available. Much is based on conjecture and what people believe the body does when it is in a fasted state.
For us there is nothing like doing something and seeing what the effects are. And I do agree with a lot of what is claimed, science or not, you get some amazing effects from making Intermittent Fasting a part of your daily life.
The most obvious thing is that if you simply skip a meal and don’t make up for it at the other meals then you are going to lose weight. You can’t really argue with that one. Lower your calories and you lose weight. Simple but very effective.
Burn Fat Quicker Even With The Same Number Of Calories Consumed
This has been an interesting one and it does seem to stand up. Even if you consume the same number of calories whilst using the intermittent fasting protocol as you do eating morning, noon and night, you do seem to be able to lose weight quicker. Being in a fasted state for 16 or so hours does seem to speed up your fat burning capabilities. There is also no doubt that it also allows you to take advantage of training for muscle mass at an optimal rate.
Build Muscle Easier
If we eat and then workout we use the fuel we consumed to get us through our workout. If we train fasted what happens?
Well, we will have to use our bodyfat stores to see us through! The energy has to come from somewhere.
And our bodies won’t break down our muscles to get us through the workout as we need maximum muscle mass to perform our training routine.
It makes total sense. No fuel put in means our body will have to pull on reserves to get us through the session.
But not just that. Then, when we eat directly after training we are using that fuel to replenish our bodies in the most useful way possible. Helping our bodies to recover and build muscle. It seems that fasting can decrease your Insulin sensitivity, and this means that you are not as prone to weight gain in the form of fat, but can build muscle easier than previously.And the great news is that the leaner you get the more enhanced all of this becomes. So the more you do it and the better and stronger you get the easier it is to lose even more weight, build more muscle, PLUS eat more carbs with less negative effect. It’s genius!!!
It’s like being handed a magic potion for optimal fat loss and muscle gain.
With insulin levels being low in the am after waking you can burn fat easier. Eat a load of carbs, you know, like that bowl of cereal we were told was good for us, and you spike your Insulin level and it is goodbye to the fat burning and hello fatty belly. Don’t get me wrong, you need to raise those Insulin levels at certain times. So we save the carb loading for after a workout to take advantage of the muscle building effects eating like this has. But do it first thing and you may struggle to lose weight even on a restricted calorie diet.
It just makes life that little bit easier. No morning dishes to wash up, extra time in bed for those that have to go to work, and just one less thing to worry about.
Should I Do Intermittent Fasting?
Entirely up to you.
If you think you can do it then I would recommend it wholeheartedly. If not then no. There is no point trying different eating protocols if you know in your heart you will give up quickly. That just leads to depression as you have failed to do what you set out to do. But if you think you could embrace this as a way of life then I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.
After doing it for some time now I see nothing but positives from this way of eating. We simply skip breakfast and eat around 1 PM, after not having eaten since 8 or 9PM the following day. It certainly does seem to boost the fat burning in the morning, and it makes sense from a logical point of view.
What do you think? Going to give it a try, or do you think it is too much of a lifestyle change for you?