Intermittent fasting is the new diet everyone is talking about. Gone are the days of clean eating and flexible dieting for fat loss – they’ve got nothing on the all-powerful intermittent fasting!
How does Intermittent Fasting Work?
With intermittent fasting you have a smaller eating window compared to the traditional way of eating (throughout the majority of the day). This window is usually around 6-8 hours, but refreshments and snacks are (generally) allowed outside this time frame. It’s really as simple as confining the majority of your calories to a smaller time period than normal!
Intermittent Fasting Times
An example of a common fasting to eating pattern would be the 16:8 intermittent fasting option; whereby people choose an 8 hour window for food consumption, usually from around 1300 – 2100 hours.
Another more extreme example would be the 24-hour fasts. Here people choose a day a week or every 7-14 days to go completely without food, although alternate day and even consecutive day fasts are also becoming popularised.
Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss
Intermittent fasting for fat loss often proves itself to be a very useful and successful tool for many people. Fat loss is caused by being in a calorie deficit, and daily or frequent fasting is a great way to manage and consistently curtail daily energy balance.
With intermittent fasting, although you have less meals in a day, you will have larger meals. These often prove to be more satisfying, easier to include foods you enjoy within, and harder to overeat at. Studies have also suggested that fasting does not lead to overeating at your fast-breaking (first) meal, because levels of hunger are markedly similar to those experienced on a normal diet (especially as you become more accustomed to fasting) once you have adapted to your new routine.
Fasting also helps you more effectively identify genuine hunger and faux-hunger associated with routine and boredom more accurately. As a personal example; I used to think I would keel over if I skipped breakfast, but I can now carry on as normal until around 1200-1400 without any difficulty. Often eating (or snacking) is just part of a routine, and if you break that routine you may well discard some of bad habits that have historically obstructed you in reaching your goals, or maintaining fat loss results long term.
Intermittent Fasting for Muscle Gain
Whilst there will be many jacked up Youtube and Instagram fitness models who swear that intermittent fasting got them their gains, it is not an ideal way to bulk up. Often if these herculean people try to attribute unbelievable physiques and performance to a new (or secret, militant) way of eating, they’re often using it as a cover for something more anabolic (steroids and performance enhancing drugs).
Protein synthesis (muscle building) has been shown to be optimised via 4-5 adequate protein feedings, spread evenly throughout your day. With intermittent fasting you will be getting a maximum of 2-3 protein feedings (usually 2), which is not ideal for the intermediate or advanced lifter, where gains are already harder to come by (than a beginner).
Also, more protein will not equal more muscle, once you have maximised protein synthesis. Larger feedings of protein will not make up for reduced protein feedings, and will likely lead to digestive discomfort.
Intermittent Fasting is Not Magic!
Like every successful way of dropping fat or maintaining your weight, IF works by being a convenient way (for you specifically) to create a calorie deficit, or to simply prevent overeating. It also allows increased flexibility at your meals, and helps you learn what genuine hunger feels like, so you can begin to eat more intuitively longer term. Ultimately, it is a very handy tool to practice and employ, and can be used as and when required, to account for higher and lower calorie days throughout your week – like the day after (or in the morning of) a boozy office party for example!
There are strong theories about beneficial effects on overall health and disease prevention from reducing your eating window (to around 8-10> hours) and regular fasts, but this is hard to say conclusively just yet. Many people also report improved cognitive function and steadier energy levels, and thus increased efficiency in their working lives, but this also needs more investigating.
You can use intermittent fasting with our fat loss and lean definition guides for ladies and gents, but we would suggest 3-5 meals per day when using the Bulking Bible, which helps you gain muscle size and strength.