You may have heard some fitness experts recommending different intermittent fasting…
But…WHAT IS IT?
The simple explanation for Intermittent Fasting (IF) is this:
You go for several hours without eating and then cram all those calories into a short eating window, between two to 6-8 hours. Now, before you think that this is just like any other fad diet or detox cleanses that you’ve tried in the past, you should know that research has backed up its effectiveness in weight loss and muscle gain, while at the same time improving dietary compliance.
The one great thing that people love about IF is that it enables them to break away from that “three big meals a day” routine. It also lets them go for larger meals when it’s most convenient. This is a perfect scenario for those who prefer to eat small meals throughout their day and then eat one big meal whenever they have the time.
Now, that I’ve got you hooked, you’re probably wondering how do you go about doing IF. Here are five intermittent fasting tips to get you started. Let’s discuss them one by one, shall we?
Intermittent Fasting Tip #1: Choose the Right if Protocol for You.
In order to meet the increasing popularity of IF, a number of IF protocols have been put forth by physical fitness experts. There are four IF protocols that I have found to be particularly effective. They are namely: Leangains, Eat Stop Eat, The Warrior Diet, and Alternate-Day Fasting.
Developed by Martin Berkhan, Leangains specifically targets weightlifters by putting emphasis on body composition.
There are three steps to this particular protocol.
First, men should undergo fasting for a period of 16 hours and then eat in the remaining eight hours of the day. For women, their fasting period is 14 hours with food consumption to be done in the other 10 hours of the day.
Second, you should start the fast after eating your last meal of the day and end it with the first meal of your day.
Third, absolutely no eating or drinking of any calories during the fasting period, with the notable exception of black coffee (no sugar, of course), diet soda, sugar-free gum, and zero-calorie sweeteners.
If the fasting period is a bit confusing for you, let’s look at it this way. For men, if your last meal was dinner at 9 pm, your next meal will be at 1 pm the next day. For women, if you eat dinner at 9 pm, your next meal will be at 11 am.
Simply put: You’re just skipping breakfast so that you eat lunch and dinner. Not really a hard thing to do. In fact, you may already be doing this unknowingly because of your busy schedule.
Eat Stop Eat
Eat Stop Eat is the brainchild of Brad Pilon. This particular protocol involves a test of wills, and I don’t really recommend it if very long fasts ultimately let you give in to the temptation to binge because of the hunger pangs and cravings.
But, if you’re of strong mettle, here’s how you do this protocol.
First, it requires fasting for 24 hours once or two times per week.
Second, you can start fasting whenever you like. Although, you must make sure that you fast for a period of 24 hours straight.
Third, no eating or drinking of calories during the fast, except for coffee and tea and other calorie-free beverages.
It may be difficult at first to fast for 24 hours straight without giving in to the temptation to it. You can work your way up by doing it for 16 hours one day, then 20 hours the next day, until you’re able to fast for 24 hours.
The Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet was developed by Ori Hofmekler.
To be honest, this diet does not really involve “fasting” in its literal sense. With the Warrior Diet, you can eat few, small meals of protein, fruits, and vegetables for 20 hours a day, culminating in one large meal in the evening. This protocol causes an elevation in insulin levels, which technically means that you’re not fasting at all.
In his book, Hofmekler claims consuming most calories in the evening is more aligned with our body’s natural metabolic processes. It enables faster muscle gain and fat loss, better sleep, and other health benefits. However, these claims are not supported by hard evidence. There are some research studies that prove that many of Hofmekler’s claims are false.
One major pitfall to the Warrior Diet is that cramming in all that food in one very large meal will make you nauseous. It will also be difficult for you to meet the right amount of macros that you should be eating on a daily basis.
Simply put, the Warrior Diet should only be tried by people who are accustomed to eating just one big meal daily.
Alternate-Day Fasting (ADF) is a form of intermittent fasting wherein you alternate your days between fasting and eating. Let’s say you fast on Monday. Tuesday the next day, you eat.
ADF is similar to the Warrior Diet in that you can’t call it a true fast since you’re required to eat approximately 20 to 25 percent of your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) or around 500 to 600 calories. What you’re doing is that you’re eating this number of calories on the days that you’re allowed to eat. In effect, you’ll have the energy to burn on the days of your fast.
ADF is designed for the purpose of losing weight, so you’re not allowed to increase your caloric intake as compensation for your low-calorie days.
While ADF is best for individuals who are overweight or are “couch potatoes” (living a sedentary lifestyle), it is not applicable for most active individuals for two reasons…
First, to reduce muscle loss, the only food that you have to eat on your low-calorie days is protein.
Second, it does not give you sufficient energy for your workout. In fact, it may even cause you to perform worse.
Among these four protocols that I have described, I personally go for Leangains. I recommend that you learn more about these IF protocols and ask your physical fitness trainer what would be best for your body.
Intermittent Fasting Tip #2: Calculate Those Calories.
There is no truth to what some people are saying that you don’t need to watch your calories while on IF. Putting it this way, all physical fitness regimens require that you calculate your caloric requirements depending upon your fitness goals. Losing weight require eating fewer calories than what you’re burning. Gaining weight, on the other hand, entails eating more calories.
The good thing about IF is that it gives you greater control over the calories you eat. If you’re able to stick with your diet, you will reap the best results for the long term.
You don’t even have to work out all those numbers on a sheet of paper just to get the calorie values you need. You can simply compute your calorie requirements using the calculator found here.
Once you get the values for your Lean Muscle content (LBM), basal metabolic rate (BMR), and TDEE, you can use these figures to determine the number of calories you need to eat on a daily basis. This can be simplified as follows…
If you want to lose weight, eat around 75 to 80 percent of your TDEE.
If you want to gain weight, eat around 110 to 115 percent of your TDEE
If you want to maintain your weight, weight maintenance: eat 100 percent of your TDEE.
Simple, isn’t it? Better keep that calculator link on hand as we move on to our next step…
Intermittent Fasting Tips #3: Compute Your Macros
Most people have a vague understanding of calories, saying that “not all calories are the same.” If you’re concerned about losing fat but not end up losing muscle (or gain muscle but not fat), then this notion is very true. This is where your macronutrients come in.
Let me simplify it for you…
If you eat enough protein, you can expect bigger muscle gain, better hunger control, better preservation of muscle while on a diet, and faster recovery from workouts.
If you eat enough carbs, expect faster muscle gain and better workout performance.
If you eat enough fat, you improve your healthy hormone profile, have better nutrient absorption, and have healthy hair and skin.
You can see from the simple explanation above that eating the right amounts of macros are just as important as calorie consumption.
Now, let’s figure out how much of these macros you should eat on a daily basis.
For weight loss, you should eat 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily. For those who are overweight and obese (25 percent plus body fat in men; 30 percent plus body fat in women), reduce your protein intake to 1 gram per pound of lean body mass.
To gain or maintain weight, just eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily.
For weight loss, you should eat 0.2 to 0.25 grams of fat per pound of body weight daily.
To gain or maintain weight, you should eat 0.3 to 0.35 grams of fat per pound of body weight daily.
Regardless of your goal, your carbs intake comprises your remaining daily calories (around 30 to 50 percent).
Now, don’t get your head in a spin with all of these numbers that you need to compute. Again, just use the calculator here to calculate your macros.
Intermittent Fasting Tips #4: Develop a Meal Plan That Works for You.
Now, what would be the point of having you compute how much calories and macros you’re supposed to eat if you don’t know anything about meal planning? This is precisely why many people at their diets, including IF. They follow meal plans in books or what is recommended to them by other people. However, the meals you’re supposed to eat are just too boring, tasteless, etc. No wonder you can’t stick to a meal plan and your calories and macros go down the drain.
You should be able to devise a meal plan that doesn’t restrict you completely from eating the foods you like. In fact, you can add foods you haven’t tried before so that meals become something you look forward to.
You can check out great examples of meal plans here. You can expect another great article from me about tips on how to make yummy meal plans soon.
Intermittent Fasting Tip #5: Train While You’re Fasting.
Okay, I’m making training an optional step that you can do while you’re on IF. Let’s face it. You’re most definitely thinking “I’m starving on this fast. How can I find the energy to train?”
That’s the beauty of “fasted training.” After you have gone through a fasting period of a bare minimum of 5-6 hours, your insulin levels are low so that your body is deriving its energy from the stores that you have. This means that you burn a lot more fats than if you eat prior to your training. Fasted training is very helpful if you have difficulty in getting rid of those “stubborn fats” that you find in your abs, hips and thighs. Just make sure that you eat a big post-workout meal to replenish the energy that you have burned off.
Now that I’ve shown you the different intermittent fasting tips, why don’t you give it a try? Why not make use of the Intermittent Fasting tips if you have already been skipping breakfast and other meals? In this way, you will be able to lose weight and gain muscle at the same time.