In recent years, Intermittent Fasting (“or commonly known as I.F”) has become a popular diet in the fitness community. The standard way of applying intermittent fasting is you would eat all your meals for the day within an 8-hour window, after which, the next 16 hours you will fast.
Celebrities such as Hugh Jackman and Terry Crews have used intermittent fasting to achieve their “Hollywood bodies.” Both Hugh and Terry have mentioned they felt much better after applying the intermittent fasting diet.
As a bodybuilder myself, I was always looking for the “superman workout,” and not realizing that the “superman diet” is equally important as well, especially when you want to define after a bulking cycle!
When consuming food, our bodies produce insulin. When you have higher levels of insulin, it is harder for the body to burn fat. However, when you enter the fasted state, your body burns fat easier as your insulin levels are far lower.
Who Do I Recommend Use The Intermittent Fast Technique
- Bodybuilders for cutting cycles, to get that defined, chiseled look
- General users looking to lose a considerable amount of fat stores
There are four common ways to use Intermittent fasting:
- The 16/8 method. You will fast for 16 hours and eat 2-3 meals in an 8-hour window.
- The 20/4 method. You will fast for 20 hours and eat 1-2 meals in a 4-hour window.
- The 36/12 method. You will fast for 36 hours and eat 3-4 meals in a 12-hour window
For beginners, I would recommend you to first start with the 16/8 method. Which is the most frequent way of applying I.F and was made famous by Lean Gains. The 16/8 method was also the preferred method used by Hugh Jackman to prepare for his role as Wolverine.
By applying the 16/8 method, your fast ends with your first meal of the day after 16 hours. The fast will begin again after you have eaten your last meal of the day. For example, I will end my fast by eating at 11 am. 8 hours later, I will begin my fast again at 7 pm after my final meal for the day.
Eat Like A King!You eat like a king during the 8-hour window. Feel free to try out the other three methods above as well and monitor how your body reacts to it. Research has shown that energy balance has an impact on the changes in body weight and composition.
If you eat more calories than you are capable of burning off through exercising and daily tasks, your weight will rise! However, if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. This is the fundamental and long-standing law of energy balance. To put it in basic terms, you need to be in a caloric deficit to lose weight, even with the I.F diet.
Want to know how many calories to consume in the 8-hour window? Then you first need to calculate your daily calories and macronutrients intake and be in a deficit of 10-20%.
Training in a Fasted StateResearch has shown that when you exercise in a fasting state, it lowers your body weight, body fat and will improve protein synthesis. If you have low energy levels during the fasting state, I recommend you to drink some black coffee before training to give you the extra boost to push harder in the gym. You do not need to spend on a pre-workout supplement. Black coffee will work just fine.
Putting It All TogetherWith I.F, you will find it easier to be in a caloric deficit than any other diets due to the short time window for eating. You might find it hard to adjust to the I.F diet in the beginning, mainly if you have been used to “freestyle eating” of consuming any food at any time you like, with no restrictions. It will take some adjustments for the first 1-2 weeks. Like anything in life, the starting is always the hardest, after that, your body will adapt.
Avoid going into starvation mode and eat much lesser calories than your TDEE, the safe way to lose weight is in a range of 1-2 pounds per week, if you think this is little, a month later you would have lost 4-8 pounds, and a year on your total weight loss could be 96 pounds! (if you only lose 2 pounds a week).
Don't Get Discouraged!Also, don’t be discouraged if one day, you ate for 14 hours and fasted for only 10 hours. Just make sure you're sticking to the 16/8 method for 80% of the time, you will still lose weight; it's how you eat for the majority of the time that will determine whether you gain or reduce your overall weight.
If you are watching the final of a football game with your friends at home, go ahead and enjoy the pizza and beers, forget about the fast. What is the point of dieting if it makes you hate life? The fact is, there won’t be many “finals” in your week, the majority of your week is likely to be regular days where you can apply With IF, you will find it easier to be in a caloric deficit than any other diets due to the short time window for eating. Which will prevent you from overeating for 80% of the time and still lose weight.
Common FAQs related to Intermittent Fasting
Can I drink during fasting?You can drink water, black coffee, tea, and any other zero calorie sweeteners.
Is skipping breakfast unhealthy?The subject of skipping breakfast will always be up for debate and will remain a gray area. Some have said skipping breakfast is detrimental to health while others discovered skipping breakfast can cure ailments and contribute to improved health.
Adjust your eating window accordingly. If you are a big believer in breakfast, schedule your 8-hours eating window from 8 am to 4 pm, and then begin your fast.
Does intermittent fasting work for women?Yes! Sumaya Kazi lost 50 pounds in 8 months using I.F. However; there is a caveat here. If you are pregnant, trying to conceive or had a previous history of eating disorders, it's not recommended to apply I.F.
What are the main side effects of intermittent fasting?Hunger is the initial side effect of I.F. However; this is only temporary as your body are adapting to a new form of dieting. Personally, it took me a week for my body to adjust. Here’s a tip to ease into IF.
On the first week of applying I.F, eat your calories maintenance or TDEE to relax your body into getting used to the 8-hours eating window. For example, regarding “Part II: Calories” above, I will eat my TDEE of 2,425 on the first week of I.F, after which, I will drop it by down to 2,183 calories at 10% caloric deficit in the second week.
It is tough to start I.F by immediately being in a caloric deficit, although not impossible, the body will find it difficult to adjust in the beginning.
What if I want to eat out with my friends at night? Seeing them eat and me not eating is torture! Cut them out, stop going out with them, say your final goodbye.
Here’s an alternative, if you know you will have a night out with friends, start eating at 3 pm and end your last meal at 11 pm. If you have an early dinner with friends, start eating at 12 pm and end with the last meal at 8 pm.
You can always schedule the eating window and be flexible. Again, as long as you are following the principles of I.F 80% of the time, you will lose weight. It is essential to enjoy life as well. Exceptions - If you are ten weeks out from a fitness competition, you should sacrifice in this period and put 100% into your diet and training to look your very best on stage.
ConclusionIf you have been trying to burn fat lose some weight with no avail, starting today, give intermittent fasting a go, and you should notice substantial weight loss in the next couple of months. The only way to find out whether IF works for you is to apply and see how you feel about it. If you enjoy the feeling of fasting and having lesser meals throughout the day, then I.F is best fitted for you. The best type of diet is the one that you can consistently follow.
Regardless of any diets, you apply, you will lose weight if you are in a caloric deficit. I feel I.F is the best diet for cutting and losing weight because it will almost guarantee that you are in a caloric deficit given the short 8-hour window to eat. You are more likely to overeat and be in a caloric surplus if you have a 24-hour window to eat.