What is Intermittent Fasting and How to Integrate it into Your Life
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is one of the most discussed topics in fitness today. It’s not a fad however. This is actually one of the most ancient forms of eating and survival. Think about how the generations of hunters and gatherers lived. They spent all day chasing, killing and also running from potential food. They worked long days and came home to eat likely a huge feast. They didn’t sit around and time their meals to eat every 3 hours so they wouldn’t “slow” their metabolism.
It really wasn’t until the 70’s when supplement and food companies decided they needed to make more money and uncovered the new way of eating. You need to fuel your body every 3 hours but how can you do that with food alone? I guess you will need meal replacements and protein shakes. Genius.
I’m not going to go all dogma on you and say that eating every 3 hours is crap and IF is the ONLY way to eat. Both can work but I do want to open your eyes to why IF is pretty freakin cool. They are both a means to an end, losing fat, but which one is easier to maintain and prosper as a lifestyle?
I have eaten every 3 hours, small meals with caloric restriction and I lost fat. I felt okay strength wise but I was pretty much chained to food and I never felt satisfied. I wasn’t enjoying the experience and for me, I want to enjoy the food.
Enter Intermittent Fasting (IF).
What is IF?
For the simple purposes of today’s blog, IF is planned periods of fasting (no food) followed by planned periods of eating (feeding period). Fasts can last as long as 72 hours but thats an extreme way to go. For general folks, 16-20 hours is great.
Let’s look at the 16/8 method. This is what I use everyday. You’ll be fasting for 16 hours after your last meal and then eat for 8 hours. The fast begins after your last meal and it can (and should) include sleeping hours. My typical day is a 7pm to 11am fast but the cool thing is that you can set this up to fit your lifestyle and training sessions.
A side note, I also have a 38-40 hour fast on Sunday night until Tuesday following my cheat days on Sundays. More on this in another post because cheat days are awesome.
Here are the highlights of your fasting period:
1. No food
2. Drink lots of water
3. You can drink black coffee or tea, this is helpful for appetite suppression
4. Keep yourself busy so you’re not thinking about food
5. Try to schedule your training session toward the end of your fast
Here are the highlights of your feeding period:
1. If possible, break your fast with a post workout shake
2. Following the shake, you’ll eat 2 other meals about 3 hours apart
3. Continue to drink lots of water
4. Don’t eat like you just fasted. Focus on balanced meals and don’t over eat
IF is something I’ve used for over a year and I’ve never felt better. Here’s why:
1. My training sessions are stronger and more energized. I have a cup of black coffee before and no food. My body is not focused on processing food and I’m not sluggish.
2. During the training sessions my body is able to burn fat and not the previously stored sugars if I had a meal prior to training.
3. I enjoy food and have more flexibility when I eat
4. There is less food prep
5. I spend way less money on food every week
6. I have lost 13 pounds of body fat while maintaining my weight and muscle
7. I enjoy a larger meal at dinner to end my feeding period before the fast
8. I sleep better
9. I have more productivity and focus during the day because my body isn’t
processing food and I don’t have to stop and eat every few hours.
Here’s how to start integrating IF into your lifestyle:
1. Start with one or two 16 hour fasts every week
2. Do them on your busiest days until you get used to it
3. Drink lots of water
4. Have your food planned out so you don’t break the fast with crap food
5. Don’t tell everyone you are fasting. At first you’ll get a lot of stupid opinions and I want you to try this out for yourself
6. Don’t over eat. If you fast and then over eat with junk and too many carbs, you will gain weight. It’s all about nutrient timing which I’ll discuss in an upcoming post
7. Enjoy the bigger meals during your feeding period
Over the next week I’ll be writing about what you should be eating and when, what I eat on a daily basis and why cheat days actually help you lose fat. Stay tuned for that and let me know how it’s going for you by leaving a comment here or on Facebook.