Do you get tired of tracking every morsel of food and feeling like you do nothing but obsess about when your next meal is coming? Being a slave to eating around the clock gets tedious and nowadays doesn’t make sense for our busy lives. Contrary to belief, but is it possible to have the dream physique you want without the 2-3 hour feeding schedule?
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a protocol of eating that offers a solution to the above problems. You can ditch the phone reminders and consume all of your calories and macros within a window of time and make incredible progress. This lifestyle is most popular for people who have time demanding schedules and don’t have the luxury to pull out a Tupperware of food every couple of hours.
Benefits & Basics
The basics of how IF works and the benefits it can have for an athlete or for someone who is looking to lose weight goes as follows:
- While in a fasted state, insulin levels drop, which increases the bodies fat burning abilities.
- Human Growth Hormone increases, which promotes muscle gain.
- Decreases appetite while boosting the metabolism.
It can also reduce overall inflammation, promote cellular repair, aid in disease prevention, and may help you live a longer life. In addition to the physiological benefits, IF is easy to follow, can be used anywhere you go and is also a lifestyle that can be used for the long run.
IF offers a few different feeding windows that you can choose from that makes sense for your schedule.
16 Hours Fasted: 8 Hours Feasting. This is the most popular window used in IF. It can be a struggle to consume a large amount of calories in a shorter window of time and this method offers you more time to eat and less time to fast. This specific feeding window is the one I personally implement in my own day to day life. I try to consume 4 larger meals during the feasting phase.
A typical day for me looks like this:
(Fast all night.)
9am Pre-Workout Drink
10-11: 30am Gym (Resistance Training)
12-8:00pm Feeding Window Starts
Post workout, I will begin by breaking my fast with my REAAL BCAA’s and immediately have a protein packed lunch. Throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening, I will consume about three-four more meals before bed, with an additional cardio session.
Within the eight hours, I will consume all of the calories and macros I need. I don’t track my food, but I am conscious to make sure I get the required amount of protein my body needs, in addition to fat and carbs.
8:00 PM Eating window ends, fast begins again.
Other Eating Windows for 16:8 could look like this:
Eating Window: 10:00 AM-6 PM
Eating Window: 11:00 AM-7 PM
20 Hours Fasted: 4 Hours Feasting. This type of fasting will typically be one or two very large meals.
Eating Window: 12:00 PM-4:00 PM
Eating Window: 5:00 PM-9:00 PM
24 Hour Fast: No calories will be consumed during a 24 hour period and regular calorie consumption will resume the following day.
This doesn’t mean that you have to fast an entire “day”. You can set your fasting window to be from 7:00PM-7:00PM. So you could have a dinner right before the fast starts at 7:00PM and then have dinner the follow night after 7:00PM when the 24 hour period is over. This type of fasting would be done only a couple times a week.
2 Day Fast: This type of fasting is where you would consume 500 calories for two days. This could be in one meal or spread out with little snacks throughout the day. You would then resume regular eating the other 5 days a week.
You would choose two fast days for the week.
Fast Days: Monday/Thursday, Sunday/Wednesday
During your fast:
With whatever fasting window you choose, during your fast you can consume water, black coffee, sparkling water, or tea. It is advised to try and avoid artificially sweetened beverages if you can handle it.
Breaking your fast:
Research has shown that breaking your fast with a high protein meal is more beneficial than a carb-packed meal. Opt for a protein shake, omelet, or typical chicken meal. Skip the oats and fruit for this first meal.
The benefits of IF are undeniable. Although it does take a bit of discipline to refrain from eating during the fasting window, the freedom is worth it! Decide which one fasting window works best for you and your schedule, follow through with the protocol, and then watch it do its magic.
[Guest Post by Team ICON Member Brandan Fokken. @brandanfokken]