The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

If you’ve ever tried to get in shape before and failed don’t despair. The problem with most diets is that they put too many limitations on what you can eat.

Intermittent fasting is the opposite of this! you don’t need to make any changes to your diet to get the rewards. Even better, you will become healthy as it is based on scientific resources instead of all these Internet gurus you find on the web.

IF (Intermittent Fasting) has incredible benefits like…

  • Build lean muscle
  • Increased energy
  • Increase testosterone production
  • Increase human growth hormone production
  • AND SHRED FAT

So what are you waiting for? Dive into this post now and learn everything you
need to know about Intermittent Fasting as I take you through every single step and
give you a simple, easy to follow guide.

What is Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting is a style of eating and an unbelievable way to achieve a huge variety of fitness and health goals.

It doesn’t make a difference if you want to lose fat, increase muscle, knowledge or testosterone, live longer or just save time and money. Intermittent Fasting will ensure you achieve it.

I prefer to not classify intermittent fasting as a diet or eating regimen, but rather a way of life. You will understand why as you read through this post.

Intermittent fasting (IF) is the practice of switching back and forth between predetermined periods in which you eat and periods in which you don’t eat.

When most people hear this concept they disregard it and assume it sounds to complex or that they wouldn’t be able to manage it. Some of the common things I often hear are: I prefer to not classify intermittent fasting as a diet, but rather a lifestyle. You will understand why as you read through this post.

However these people forget that every single day of their lives they have been practicing intermittent fasting on some level.

What do I mean by this? Well, when you sleep you fast and when you’re awake you eat – this is intermittent fasting. These people are often usually undereducated on the topic and haven’t studied just how beneficial it is.

The fitness industries approach to IF just takes this further by increasing the window of fasting and decreasing the window of eating.

At its core level the practice of intermittent fasting is very simple do not let this fool you though as once you explore the area deeper it becomes highly complex.

In this post I will take the complex data, scientific results and theories and break it all down into a simple, easy to understand format.

In the previous years IF has become more and more while popular gaining endorsements from bodybuilders, models, athletes and famous people such as Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lopez.

READ ALSO: 15 Things Happy People Don’t Do

Common Fitness and Nutrition Myths

I first off want to explore and debunk possibly the most well-known and quoted dietary “fact”. This “fact” stands in the way of many people accepting the benefits of IF and is often quoted when criticizing IF.

1. “You have to eat 5-6 small meals a day to keep your metabolism burning.”

brunette fasting

I’m sure you have heard this from absolutely EVERYONE or read it in men’s magazines. It is one of those suggestions that spreads out of control and is embraced by each and every individual.

It has become so popular it has basically been adopted as a rock-solid fact.

However it is a lie, with zero experimental proof to support it. That’s right; one of the most well-known pieces of fitness and health advice is false.

The rationale behind this hypothesis is that eating little meals continually throughout the day will cause you to shred fat.

This comes from the idea that as eating increases your metabolic rate, eating frequently will keep your metabolic rate expanded.

Sadly this has never been demonstrated, regardless of the way that numerous studies have attempted – and fizzled.

As is always the case with scientific research whilst some groups are trying to prove a theory, others are trying to disprove it.

For this theory of frequent feeding, the teams disproving it won and multiple papers have been published on the topic. The most famous of which is a paper entitled: “Increased Meal Frequency Does Not Promote Greater Weight Loss.”

A team of Canadian researchers disproved the model of frequent feeding and detailed that it doesn’t really make a difference when or how frequently you eat, rather it is the sum you eat.

I need to note here that you can get in shape eating 6 little meals however it is not the recurrence of eating or the dinner timing that is the weight reduction driver. Rather it is the sum you eat – little meals often results a lower caloric intake.

Now for another piece of nutritional and fitness advice that has been touted by everyone for many years…

2. “Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day”

Pear on a plate with fork and knife

This seemingly makes perfect sense and does have some inherent benefits to it, however it is not necessarily true and there is scores of evidence to disprove it.

I am not saying breakfast is bad, wrong or that you should avoid it…

I am simply noting that just because it is popular doesn’t make it right and that there are more effective strategies.

The concept of breakfast being the most important meal of the day is that it helps you start the day, gives you energy and fuels your day. Now while these points have value to them, you have to remember most people make poor dietary choices at breakfast.

These choices actually result in the opposite of the touted benefits occurring.

Combined with this is the idea that eating food (particularly carbohydrates) later in the evening will cause you to gain fat – this is another common myth that science has disproven. In actuality later feeding can result in some of the following benefits:

  • Increase in fat loss
  • Increase in testosterone
  • Better sleep and an increase in muscle gain.

There are benefits to not eating later in the evening but the evidence points to the benefits of eating later as outweighing the benefits of eating earlier.

Practisers of IF usually suggest skipping breakfast, I will explore this in more detail later.

3.“Eat THIS, not that!”

closeup of fresh chicken salad

Another fitness and nutritional staple is that you must eat certain foods and follow a specific diet in order to achieve your goals.

Whether your goals are weight loss, gaining muscle or living a longer and healthier life every guru, nutritionist and personal trainer will espouse his or her preferred diet as the ONLY way to achieve your goals.

Some of the common diets you may have been told to follow are:

  • Low carb, high protein, zero fat
  • High Fat, high protein zero carb
  • Slow-carb diet
  • DASH diet
  • Palaeolithic
  • Carb cycling
  • Atkins

There are literally hundreds of different diets you could follow, each of them have pros and cons but what I often find is that they all fall short in one area – how easy it is to stick to them.

Sure each of these diets will help you achieve your goals but no matter how effective a diet is, if you don’t stick to it religiously you will negatively impact your progress. When you lock yourself into a specific diet you limit your choices and make it very hard to follow it – this results in failed dieting.

Intermittent fasting will circumvent this as it doesn’t promote any particular diet style, instead it suggests a change in your eating frequency and window.

Yes, there are some guidelines to follow but these are very loose and for the most part you can eat whatever type of foods you like.

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

So far I have alluded to some of the benefits intermittent fasting deliver but I haven’t went into more detail. In this section I want to explore the range of awesome benefits that intermittent fasting will deliver to you.

Firstly I will list off all the benefits in a bullet point fashion before going on to explain them in more detail.

IF has a huge number of benefits not only for your body composition but also for your mind and social life.

So, what are the benefits?

Physiological Benefits

  • Rapid Fat Loss
  • Increase in Testosterone and HGH Production
  • Lean Muscle Gain
  • Increased Energy Levels
  • Ability to Easily Control Hunger
  • Higher Sex Drive
  • Improvement to Hair and Skin
  • Longevity of Life

Psychological and Lifestyle Benefits

  • Improvement to Cognitive Abilities
  • Better Sleep
  • Save Time and Money
  • Easy to Follow
  • Reduction in Stress

So as you can see intermittent fasting has a whole host of awesome benefits which make it the perfect way to lose fat, build muscle and feel awesome. Now I want to dig a little deeper into some of the key benefits and explain the research and science behind them.

One of the main drivers behind IF’s ability to rapidly burn fat is that when there is no food in the body (fasted state) your body will starting attacking its fat reserves to provide energy.

Placing your body in a fasted state will also cause a number of hormonal reactions to take place.

One of the main reactions is that your body will begin to secrete a hugely increased amount of both growth hormone and testosterone.

How much is a huge increase? Well one study found that a fast increased growth hormone production by 2000% in men.

These hormones are hugely important in the body and an increased production of them massively aids fat burning and muscle gain.

Growth hormone is often referred to as “the fat burning hormone” and increased levels of testosterone have time and time again been linked with an accelerated amount of fat loss.

Additionally when you combine an increase in GH and testosterone production with a weight lifting routine you will add lean muscle at an accelerated rate.

This is awesome for two main reasons: you build muscle rapidly and muscle raises your metabolic rate, meaning you burn additional fat.

Increased testosterone is also strongly linked to a reduction in stress, an increase in cognitive functioning, improvements to sleep and hugely spiked energy levels.

Looking at the other reactions that take place when your body is fasted it has been shown that intermittent fasting will decrease your insulin levels.

This is important as insulin prevents lipolysis (the release of body fat stores). Without lipolysis occurring, the body can’t target its fat stores for energy.

As a fast will blunt and lower insulin production it means your body can attack the fat stores this both provides you with energy and helps you lose weight.

People are often worried that fasting will result in muscle loss as they think their body will attack muscle for energy – don’t worry about this happening, it is a misconception about how the body works. The blunting of insulin production combined with the increase in hormones means that you are able to increase muscle whilst burning fat.

Another couple of points I want to elaborate on is that fasting also decreases the production of the hormone ghrelin. This is the hormone that influences your feelings of hunger and satiety. If you’ve ever had a hunger pang then ghrelin was being produced in higher amounts. Being in a fasted state blunts this, effectively preventing you from feeling as hungry as you might expect when fasting.

As I mentioned earlier in the post fasting is not a diet, rather it is a style of eating.

For me this is one of the most crucial benefits as it makes it easy to adhere to, suitable for any lifestyle and gives you the ability to reap all its powerful benefits without interfering with your social life.

iets can be very effective, when followed religiously, this however if often difficult as so many foods are off limits. Ever been out with friends for dinner when on a diet? Choosing something on the menu is stupidly difficult.

Intermittent fasting removes this as the benefits do not come from the foods you eat; instead they come from the physiological reactions that occur. Of course if you follow certain eating guidelines (discussed later) you will see accelerated results, but the key point is you do not have to eat the same meals over and over again.

Intermittent Fasting Styles

Within the world of IF there exist various practices you can adopt. Each style has its pros and cons but they all deliver the benefits that were mentioned in the previous chapter. The effectiveness of the benefits will only vary slightly between each option so the most important thing is to pick a style that best suits your lifestyle.

All of the styles of IF revolve around the same basic concept: a large fasting window with a small eating window. The most common eating/fasting windows are listed below.

16/8 Split.
Each day consists of a 16 hour fast followed by an 8 hour eating window.

This is the easiest to adopt and what I suggest for beginners. Considering that you will be sleeping for close to half of this fast makes it very easy to adopt.

18/6 Split.
Each day consists of an 18 hour fast followed by a 6 hour eating window.

At 18 hours the effectiveness of fasting jumps massively and you will see accelerated results from the 16 hour window. I suggest adopting this after you have experimented with the 16/8 split.

20/4 Split.
Each day consists of a 20 hour fast followed by a 4 hour eating window.

I find that this is a very, very effective window but due to the fact it is a daily 20 hour fast the impact it can be quite difficult to work around.

24 Hour Fast.
Carried out twice per week.

This is not for beginners, once you have experimented with different fasting windows feel free to switch to this but do not attempt it as a beginner. Beginners attempting 24 hour fasts have not yet acclimatized their bodies to fasting and as a result will often fail.

36 Hour Fast.
Once every 8-10 days.

For well-practiced intermittent fasters only. A 36 hour fast will be a mental struggle to get through, the benefits of it are huge but it is difficult to complete and difficult to work into a lifestyle. Do not ever go over 36 hours as your body will have burnt through all its fat stores and begin attacking muscle for energy.

The eating/fasting window that you eventually choose will not hugely impact your goals as each option will deliver the desired benefits.

That said, what is important is the consistency in which you stick to your chosen option.

Don’t treat it as something you can just randomly do when you feel like it, in order to get the results and benefits you must consistently follow your eating fasting window.

I want to mention that you do not need to stick to the exact same eating and fasting window every day of the week – but it does make it much easier to adhere to.

Intermittent Fasting and Food

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that IF is not a diet but a lifestyle choice. In this chapter I want to explore that concept further.

Firstly let’s look at what a diet is as defined by the dictionary.

“A particular selection of food, as designed or prescribed to improve a person’s physical condition… Such a selection or a limitation on the amount a person eats for reducing weight…The foods eaten, by a particular person or group.”

Reading through those sentences all I can see is limitations – this is the problem with diets in my mind. They place too many limitations on the foods you can eat, the amount you can and make everything more confusing than it has to be.

Now I want to emphasize that diets can be very effective, however I tend to see them as useful for only very specific goals (such as getting to single digit body fat %) or for medical reasons.

For the majority of people though diets are not effective, they do not deliver the required results and they have a massive fallout/ failure rate.

This is because diets are limiting.

Intermittent fasting is not limiting. It is freeing.

IF frees you from all the technical details that diets have. If you begin to practice IF you will not have to adhere to the incredibly strict rules of diets.

Instead you can eat whatever you want (within reason) and you can eat much more (again within reason).

I say within reason as if you eat fast food every single day and eat stupidly large portions then no drug, fitness routine or supplement is going to allow you to lose fat and be lean. Not to mention that fast foods are detrimental to your health, hormones, brain and internal organs. But back to what I was saying….

Intermittent fasting differs from dieting as you are not held in shackles by the rules of the diet. Want to eat white carbs? Go ahead! Want to have a pizza for a treat tonight? Go ahead! Don’t want to change your current eating style? Well IF is the answer.

Due to the fact that the body reaps the majority of IF’s benefits from the hormonal reactions that occur when you are in a fasted state it smash the shackles that most diets place on you. As long as you place your body into a fasted state for at least 16 hours per day you will reap the rewards of IF.

If you are interested in stepping it up a notch and seeing highly accelerated results and more powerful benefits then there are certain eating choices you can make.

Accelerate Your Results Through Food

As I mentioned the main benefits of IF come from the hormonal reactions that occur when your body is in a fasted state.

However you can achieve accelerated results by switching out your current eating style and following a few principles.

Following these guidelines and principles will accelerate your results as you will eat foods that:

  • Boost testosterone and growth hormone production
  • Help burn fat
  • Reduce insulin spikes
  • Aid muscle growth
  • Improve cognitive functioning

So if you are looking for accelerated results here are the guidelines that I would follow.

  • Avoid processed and manufactured foods
  • Avoid white carbohydrates
  • Increase amount of protein in diet
  • Increase amount of healthy fat in diet (olive oil, avocado etc.)Ensure 80% of your carbs
  • come from legumes and beans
  • Ensure the other 20% of your carbs come from whole-grains and whole-wheat’s
  • Eat green vegetables with every meal
  • Use the following for seasoning: Garlic, paprika, cayenne, chilli flakes, black pepper and sea salt
  • Reduce fruit intake, limit to one piece per day
  • Drink only black coffee, herbal teas and water

Again, you don’t have to stick to these guidelines but if you do you will see
results and benefits at an accelerated rate.

Getting Started with Intermittent Fasting
Now you’ve read everything about IF and you understand how powerful it can be
– it is time to get started.

Instead of just diving into fasting though I suggest you read this chapter.
I’m going to suggest a few steps you take before you start practicing IF.

Following the information here will help you in developing a plan, sticking to the
plan and ultimately getting the awesome results you want.

So, what are the steps?

  1. Decide a Starting Date

    I would highly recommend starting on a Monday, it just makes more sense. Pick a day and then follow the next few steps to be fully prepared for the starting time.

  2. Choose a Fasting/Eating Split

    Decide which eating and fasting window you want to adopt, again for beginners I always suggest the 16/8 as it is very easy to get used to and won’t prove too difficult on your first attempt. Pick your window and then decide when you are going to stop eating the night before the fast – this will serve as your split and for the first week I suggest following it religiously.Once you’ve been practicing IF for a few weeks switching windows and times will become second nature to you, but for week 1 it’s best to stick to the same times.So if you decide to stop eating at 9pm on the Sunday then you won’t eat until 1pm on the Monday. After that 1-9pm will be your eating window.

  3. Have a Cheat Day

    The day before your first fast have a cheat day – eat a lot and eat whatever you want. This will serve two purposes for you.Firstly the more food you have in your system the easier the first fast will be.Secondly if you eat whatever you want the day before it means you won’t crave these foods during the week.

  4. Tell People

    I highly suggest telling those who are closest to you about the new practice you are adopting. Explain why you are doing it and that you are committed – politely let them know you won’t be eating at certain times and that you would love their support. By telling people in advance you will offset the chances of them offering you foods when you are fasted. One of the hardest challenges you will face is friends, family and colleagues offering you food – circumvent this by letting them know about your IF.

  5. Buy Branch Chain Amino Acids (optional)

    Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) can be very useful when fasting – they are a pure form of protein and are unbelievably powerful if you are doing longer fasts. Consuming 10g of BCAAs will help curb hunger without breaking your fast. Do not take more than 10g at a time but feel free to have two servings during your fast. If you are going to be exercising then I would highly suggest BCAAs.

  6. Decide if You Are Going to Train

    I will discuss fitness training and IF in the next chapter but decide if you are going to adopt or continue with a fitness routine whilst practicing IF. I do highly suggest it (explained in next chapter) but would say buy BCAAs if you are going to be training.

  7. Start

LET’s DO THIS TRIBE!

Training and Intermittent Fasting

In order to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting you do not need to exercise.
However if you choose to exercise you will see results on an unprecedented level.

As discussed earlier in the post IF will boost growth hormone and testosterone
production as well as attacking fat cells and stores. Now if you add in an exercise
routine (I suggest weight training) to this then the results you will see are
incredible.

By adopting a weight training routine combined with your elevated hormones
you will be able to add lean muscle faster than you thought was possible. Not to
mention that the act of lifting weights also increases testosterone and growth
hormone production, so your body will be getting a double dose of hormone
production.

Weight training is also highly metabolic so you will shred the fat from your body
and remember as I said earlier more muscle = less fat.

I also want to quickly mention that weight training and exercise is arguably the

most effective way to protect your body from everything the world throws at you.

It has been proven to reduce stress, help with depression, increase energy level,
improve mental functioning, increase your happiness, better your life and help
you live longer.

So, I do highly suggest you start to exercise and if you don’t have a gym that’s fine
– bodyweight exercises such as pushups, air squats, lunges etc. will all aid you
in your journey.

One final point I would like to add is that if you can train fasted – then do that.

I understand it might not be possible for everyone due to scheduling but a way
to upgrade your IF is to train fasted and then break your fast with a post workout
meal.

Never go more than 2 hours after weight training without eating as your muscles
will begin to breakdown and this will negatively impact your goals.

READ ALSO: Floor Exercises that Don’t Require Equipment

Conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and are ready to get started with your
intermittent fasting lifestyle. Just remember, I’m here with you on your journey
so if you ever want to shoot me a question then doesn’t hesitate to ask – I’m
happy to help.

I’m going to close the post with a “quick guide to IF” so that you can check the
bullet points if you ever need to jog your memory.

Quick Guide to IF

  • Choose a fasting/eating window and stick to it. 16/8 is easiest but I suggest 18/6
  • Make sure your window suits your schedule
  • For accelerated results follow the dietary suggestions of eating whole and natural foods with a high level of protein
  • Train with heavy weights 3-4x per week and train fasted if possible
  • Remember it is not a diet but a lifestyle
  • Become awesome

Comments

comments