Intermittent fasting (IF) is one of the best pathways you can chose towards a leaner physique.
Even though it is not really a diet as you are about to see, it actually works if you implement it right.
It helped thousands of people lose fat and solved other health issues, like getting rid of acne for example.
So if you want to give it a try but you don’t actually know where to start, you are on the right page.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
As mentioned above, intermittent fasting is not actually a diet because it doesn’t tell you which foods to eat and which foods not to eat. It is a way of arranging your meals throughout the day so that you have a big fasting window.
You can set your own personalized eating and fasting windows, but there are a few popular splits that work very well and will probably fit your daily schedule or eating habits. But more about that later on.
Apparently there’s nothing fancy about IF – our bodies go through fasted states all the time, right? We don’t eat anything while we sleep, some of us don’t eat anything when we’re in the office or at school. So we are fasting all the time, why isn’t everybody lean?
Well, the catch is that the fasting window needs to be significantly longer than the eating window. One of the most popular splits is the 8/16 where you fast for 16 hours straight and have 8 hours available to eat.
Why Intermittent Fasting Works
This little section right here will sound like an anatomy lesson, but I promise it’s going to be short and after reading it you will understand why IF is so successful.
So after a meal our bodies take the nutrients from the food we just ate and breaks them down into different molecules with the purpose of feeding the cells.
The fats are broke down into fatty acids, the protein into amino-acids and the carbohydrates in glucose. These macro-nutrients are carried around the body by a vehicle called insulin. That is why the insulin levels rise right after we eat.
Once every organ and cell got it’s nutrients, the insulin levels drop. This is an ongoing cycle triggered by food intake.
Another important role of insulin is to trigger fat storage and prevent the body from burning that fat. When there’s an excess of food, the insulin picks that up and tells the body to store that excess food (or energy) as body fat.
It also prevents the body from using any of the body fat if there are new nutrients available (the ones coming after a meal).
In other words, when there are no new nutrients in the bloodstream we are in a fat burning state, but once we eat, the insulin level rises and tells the body to stop burning fat because there’s new energy available.
Here are a couple of graphs which show a normal eating habit (first one) versus an intermittent fasting type of diet (second one).
Popular Intermittent Fasting Splits
This is the most popular IF split, here’s how it works – fast for 16 hours and eat in a 8 hour feeding window.
Just as the name suggests, this split will promote muscle growth while maintaining a lean physique. Eating plenty of carbs and proteins while keeping an eye on the calories will be optimal.
With this split you can have 2-3 meals a day. On your training days. it’s a good idea to have one of these meals post-workout.
The second most popular IF split involves eating just one big meal per day. I personally like to do this when I am very busy. So you basically fast for 20 hours or so and have a 4 hour eating window.
With this split it is very unlikely to overeat. After all, how many calories can you eat in just one meal? This split will be very effective if your goal is to drop weight, but it comes with a few downsides.
First off, you will most likely notice some muscle mass loss as well because you will not get in enough calories.
Second of all, your energy levels will not be super high, which will result in less intense workouts.
Eat Stop Eat
Lastly but not least, the eat stop eat split means you need to fast for 24 hours straight every 4 or 5 days.
I don’t know about you, but for me personally going 24 hours without any meal is not something I’m comfortable with.
Then, having 4 days of eating without a proper fasting window can result in overeating pretty easily. So I don’t really recommend this split, even though it works for some people.
Either way, you will need to be extra careful with your caloric intake on your eating days.
How To Stay On Top Of Your Intermittent Fasting Diet
Before we wrap this up, we prepared a list of tips that will help you to manage your IF diet more effectively and actually enjoying this way of dieting.
These tips will maximize fat loss, will help you stick with IF for longer periods of time and it will support your workouts.
- Skip breakfast
- Don’t eat after dinner
- Drink black coffee early in the morning
- Drink more water
- Fast when you’re at work/school
- Track calories
- Workout fasted
- Have a big post-workout meal
- Track macros
Intermittent fasting is one of the few fat loss methods which has science behind it. But it will work only if you have the discipline and will power to fast for 16 hours or even more.
You need to put in the effort and you will have to do the work.
There’s no other way around it and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
If they do they are trying to sell you a scam product or they just don’t know what they are talking about.