Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a powerful lifestyle and eating strategy that I personally use on a daily basis to stay lean, increase my insulin sensitivity, and generally simplify my life. IF is exactly how it sounds: fasting for intermittent periods of time either throughout a day, several days, or a week.
There are many ways of intermittent fasting, and it all boils down to your personal preference and lifestyle choice. Some people may fast almost a full day once a week (I don’t recommend it), some fast every other day, and some fast for shorter periods every day. My preference is the latter, so that’s the method I will discuss.
Daily Intermittent Fasting
Daily intermittent fasting involves two bulk periods of your time broken from a 24 hour period: fasting time and feeding time. My current personal preference is a 12-14 hour fasting time and a 10-12 hour feeding time, as it fits into my personal lifestyle. For example, my lunch break at my day job starts at 11 am, and my lunch break is when I workout. So on a typical day I skip breakfast and do not eat my first meal until around 10 am, which is my pre-workout meal. This meal usually consists of both fat, a small amount high GI carbs, and protein. I eat my post-workout meal around 1 pm, consisting of mostly high GI carbs and protein. The rest of the day I eat mostly fat, protein, and some low GI carbs. My feeding time stops around 8 pm.
So a typical day for me consists of fasting from 8 pm to 10 am (HINT: fasting is easy when you’re sleeping) and a feeding time from 10 am to 8 pm. That’s 14 hours of fasting and 10 hours of eating time. Several years ago, when I first discovered IF, I had a fasting time of 18 hours and feeding time of 6 hours! The hours are flexible and will depend on your lifestyle and goals.
Disclaimer: Don’t overdo intermittent fasting. Yes, the more you fast, the more you will burn fat, but at a certain point you will just be starving yourself. Starving yourself eventually puts your body into “starvation mode” in an attempt at self-preservation. Starvation mode will actually make it harder for you to burn off your fat stores. Remember: everything in moderation.
Developing Your IF Schedule
Analyze your typical day when developing your IF schedule. The main landmark I like to use is my workout. What I mean is I center my eating schedule around my workout. Coming in second is my work/life schedule. This is my usual day:
- 6 am – wake up
- 10 am – eat pre-workout meal
- 11 am – workout
- 1 pm – eat post-workout meal
- 3 pm – eat small size meal
- 8 pm – eat medium size meal
- 10 pm – go to bed
From 8 pm to 10 am I do not consume any more food and remain in a fasting state. You can also see that the bulk of my daily food intake is after my workout. This is on purpose. My pre-workout meal is there to make sure I have the appropriate nutrients for my workout. The rest of my meals are so that I have the appropriate nutrients to re-build after my workout. That’s mainly because my chosen form of working out is strength training. If you do any kind of anaerobic training, this is the schedule I recommend. If you do mostly aerobic training, the concept is relatively the same but the timing of your nutrient intake matters less.
Adjust your fasting and feeding schedule to what suits you best. If you want to burn more fat, then fast for more hours. A popular strategy is 16/8, 16 hours fasting and 8 hours eating. IF can simplify your life, so use it in a way that it will.
Fasting Period – I Can’t Eat Anything?
Pretty much. Of course, you can and must be drinking water. A lot of water. However, coffee is kosher in the sense that it will not spike your insulin. Of course, when I say coffee, I don’t mean double shot mochalatteefrappewhatever. I mean straight, black, unadulterated coffee.
I really like drinking coffee while fasting because not only does caffeine increase your metabolism, but it also suppresses appetite. This comes in handy, especially when you first start IF. You will be hungry, especially if you are transitioning from a standard high carb diet. Over time, however, your body adapts and will learn to tap into its fat reserves for energy instead of driving you mad with cravings for more sugar. Just remember to hold on. It gets better.
Don’t forget that intermittent fasting is more of a lifestyle choice than anything else. No, you don’t have to do it to be lean and healthy, but it certainly will result in a longer and healthier life if employed correctly. But don’t forget to do your research, and always start small when trying new things, especially when it pertains to your health. If you just starve yourself in an attempt to fast, it may backfire and you’ll end up waking up with a binge hangover the next day.