IF (Intermittent Fasting) is the latest craze in dieting. It’s popularity has gained traction by doing away with the myth of meal frequency. For years, the idea of eating small meals every three hours was thought to be the only way to lose fat and gain muscle.
Thankfully, IF has done a solid job of debunking the meal frequency theory but the downside is that it’s another diet that will have you counting calories and macro-nutrient ratios. However, if you’ve never done this, it sounds more painful than it is. Once you get a few weeks of calorie counting under your belt, it’s quite easy.
There’s a few different protocols for IF. There are 24 hour fasts, alternate-day fasts and a lot of creative fasting windows that rogue dieting websites will swear by. The most popular version is popularized by Martin Berkhan at LeanGains, which entails fasting for 16 hours every day and then eating in an eight-hour window.
When you break it down and do the math, you’re not missing much. If you skip breakfast every day and don’t eat late into the night, you’ve pretty much mastered the eating pattern.
How much do you eat?
Determine the amount of calories you need by using the BMR Calculator. For me, it’s right at 2500 calories.
Ideally, you want to consume lots of water, sugarless tea and black coffee while on your fast. Consume 10g or more of BCAAs while fasted, right before your workout, train right after and then gorge.. eating 60%-80% of your daily caloric intake right after this workout.
On workout days, eat high carb, low fat and moderate protein. If you’re goal is cutting up (losing fat), eat 10% more than your BMR calculated rate. I would eat 2750 calories on training days.
On non-workout days, eat high fat, low carb and moderate protein. The caloric load is reduced by 30% so I would eat 1750 calories on rest days.
Easy enough, right? So does it work, you ask?…
Well Martin definitely has a solid list of clients that swear by it but before jumping in, you might try a few fasts to see if it’s a lifestyle you can live with. There are a fair share of negative reviews for intermittent fasting so it’s definitely not for everyone but others claim it as the Holy Grail of diets.
Females considering the protocol might want to further research as well. There are negative experiences reported by some very knowledgeable and strict dieters that are worth looking into.
My Experience With IF
Intermittent Fasting was the primary method I used to lose fat this year. True to it’s claim, I didn’t lose much muscle at all, if any. I lost over 30 lbs and like many, I thoroughly enjoyed the new found freedom of not planning meals.
This sounds fantastic and it was but the reality is that I didn’t lose fat any faster than with any other diet but again.. being able to lose fat and gain muscle without eating every three hours is the promise of IF and it delivered on this.
My wife, on the other hand, didn’t like Martin’s protocol at all. She’s a breakfast eater and a late night eater and tends to not ever eat much in the middle of the day. In this way, she consistently maintains a calorie deficit and low glycogen levels. It’s quite the opposite of the protocol but it’s just a bit more proof that what works best is what works for you.
I’m also currently training two females that I work with and after presenting several options for fat loss, both elected for a paleo type diet with my personal favorite added in.. a little carb cycling.
Intermittent fasting might well be exactly what you’ve been looking for, but if you enjoy eating every few hours all day, you may want to skip this one.
More questions of IF? Check out the full Intermittent Fasting FAQ.