Intermittent fasting, or time restricted eating, is a method in which you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. This is not a diet, and has nothing to do with what you eat, only a time schedule in which you would consume your meals.
For anyone who thinks fasting is difficult, realize you fast nightly as you sleep when your body is not consuming calories. The easiest way to being intermittent fasting is by skipping breakfast each morning and consuming your first meal at lunch time. This way your body will likely be at least 14-16 hours fasted depended on when you stopped eating the night prior.
It doesn’t take long for your body to adjust to scheduled fasting, with hunger usually subsiding within two weeks. Once you have become adapted to intermittent fasting you may find that you have no hunger issues at all, so it is good for those who may be struggling with binge eating. Personally, I started intermittent fasting in 2015 for that very reason, and it worked favoribly to curb my appetite and cravings.
The potential benefits of intermittent fasting
Since the body is unable to get its energy from food during fasting, it dips into glucose that is stored in the liver and muscles. This begins around 8 hours after the last meal is consumed.
When the stored glucose has been used up, the body then begins to burn fat as a source of energy, which can result in weight loss.
the use of fat for energy can help preserve muscle and reduce cholesterol levels.
“A detoxification process also occurs, because any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body. Noting that after a few days of fasting, higher levels of endorphins – “feel-good” hormones – are produced in the blood, which can have a positive impact on mental well-being.
The benefits of fasting also promote weight loss, improve metabolic health and possibly extend lifespan. There are several methods in which you could fast, but I want to cover five main protocols. All of them can be effective, but the window in which one chooses to fast will vary based on their overall lifestyle and daily schedule.
This fasting style is also referred to as the Leangains method, originally established by nutritional expert Martin Berkhan. This protocol require you to fast for 16 hours per day (14-15 hours for women), and consuming all of your nutrition in a 8 hour window.
This is a popular fasting style which has been adapted by many in the bodybuilding community. It’s ideal for those looking to build muscle with minimum fat accumulation, and in some cases for both muscle gain and fat loss.
The 16:8 method tends to be the easiest for those new to fasting as the hours are not as restrictive as other fasting protocols. Skipping breakfast would be the best approach to ensure you maintain the required fasting window. For example, if you finish your last meal at 8 pm and then don’t eat until 12 noon the next day, then you are technically fasting for 16 hours between meals. Typically, you would consume 2-3 meals during your fed hours.
The 5:2 diet was made popular by British doctor Michael Mosley, and involves eating normally 5 days of the week while restricting calories to 500-600 on two days of the week. These days do not have to be consecutive, so you it’s best to schedule your low calorie fast on days where you are the busiest.
On the fasting days, it is recommended that women eat 500 calories, and men 600 calories. You could split this between two small meals or one big meal. Since there is no time restriction on your fasting days, you are able to eat at the time of your choosing.
Omad, or One Meal A Day, is a protocol in which you are fasting for 23 hours and eating within one hour each day. You would not be consuming any caloric beverages or food outside of your one-hour eating time frame.
Omad is ideal for those who want to ditch restrictive diets, counting calories and measuring food intake. You can choose to eat whatever meal you want with no restrictions inside of your eating window. However, it is best to choose a healthy balanced diet to promote effective weight loss and sustained health.
The Warrior Fast
The Warrior Fast was made popular by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler. This protocol allows you to eat small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day, and eating one huge meal at night.
Basically, you “fast” all day and “feast” at night within a 4 hour eating window. This method also emphasizes food choices that are quite similar to a paleo diet; therefore, you typically will consume whole, unprocessed foods.
The warrior fast is great for those who tend not to be hungry during the day and would prefer the option to eat more during the evenings. This could include someone who works a graveyard shift.
There is no wrong or right time to fast; however, you can include the hours in which you sleep as a part of your fasting window. For example, if you typically go to bed at 10:00 PM and wake up at 7:00 AM, you have been in a fasted state for 9 hours. This time frame is a part of your accumulative fasting hours.
For those not adapted to fasting, it may be best to start with the 16:8 method. Once your body is adjust to this timeframe you can tighten the hours in which you are in a fasted state. I started with this method, and currently I am able to do the OMAD protocol without any hitches.
My best advice is to pay attention to your body. It may take a few weeks to train, but once you become versed at fasting you can open yourself up to a world of benefits.