It’s not particularly new, orthodox, or what Arnold did; but you may want to hear this.
Intermittent Fasting, or IF, first gained decent recognition with books like Lean Gains and The Warrior Diet; however, in recent months I’ve been hearing about it a lot more. For those of you that don’t know, IF is an eating protocol (more of a lifestyle) that can stoke up a lot of controversy in the classic fitness/bodybuilding world.
It’s been drilled into our heads time and time again, that to achieve the physique you want, you need small, frequent meals spaced throughout your day from waking to sleeping. I’m not knocking this approach at all, but there is most definitely another side to the coin, because nothing in life is one size fits all.
The Long and Short of It
With IF, you harness your body’s natural fat loss potential with extended periods of fasting (not eating), and when you do eat, you eat. For example, the popularized Lean Gains protocol recommends a 16 hour fast, followed by an 8 hour eating window. This doesn’t mean you’re eating much less food than a conventional diet, rather the meals are simply much larger.
I’ve been there, you may have too; having just eaten meal 3 and feeling hungrier than before you took that first bite. Two more meals left in the day, your life revolves around your eating and training. Preparing and shoveling down those meals takes time, planning, and a metric sh*t load of self control. So motivated for fat loss or “clean bulking” but results come slower than expected. I had been following the classic frequent meal, high protein route until I finally thought “enough”, and made the switch to intermittent fasting.
Curiosity mostly fueled the change, but also being tired of cooking and eating taking up so much time from my day, and never feeling full. This new schedule allows for much more freedom of what you eat, and the timetable can completely be your own. Whether it is an 8 hour eating window or 6, you can fit it to your own lifestyle.
See the details on the next page…
Reasoning Behind Intermittent Fasting
The reasoning behind IF is for me, scientific and theoretical. When your body is in a fasted state, Human Growth Hormone levels skyrocket (~1300-2000%), and who the hell wouldn’t want that? Further, this process drastically improves your body’s insulin sensitivity; meaning, when your insulin does spike from eating, it will be to a greater effect than before, and we know insulin is a very anabolic hormone.
The theoretical angle, in my mind, concerns how humans were “meant” to eat. Today, we have access to a fridge 24/7, we can afford to constantly snack on or drink something — and most of us do. Primitively, I’m getting the feeling that people weren’t filling the majority of their days with eating, rather working or moving until the later hours of the day and eating a large amount at one time. People definitely seem to be more productive in a fasted state.
Another aspect that makes periods of fasting worthwhile is the anti-aging benefit. Aside from the obvious bonus of less free radicals knocking around in your bloodstream and IF’s ability to down-regulate inflammation, there’s a proven correlation of how much one eats and how quickly they cellularly degenerate. Sounds menacing, f*cking degenerating cellularly, but that’s just another way to say aging — your cells do have expiration dates.
Why Does Intermittent Fasting Burn Fat So Well?
The human body can only store anywhere from 6-12 hours of usable glycogen in the liver and skeletal musculature, and when these are depleted you feel hungry. Of course your body needs another source of energy to draw from, good thing you have stored body fat because that’s actually what stored body fat is for. Your body is geared to stay alive, it wouldn’t leave itself without a backup plan for energy.
Through these extended periods of fasting, your body will adapt to the change and begin to draw more effectively on fat for energy; therefore, improving the body’s use of enzymes to oxidate said fat. Damn, that’s been a lot of science.
What To Eat
The more entertaining part of IF is the flexibility of food choices. When you have to eat 5-6 meals per day, the idea is to activate protein synthesis every time, which would require at least 25-30 grams of quality protein (or an adequate amount of leucine). Multiply that by 5 or 6, that’s a lot of protein. Expensive yes, totally necessary? Maybe not.
When doing IF, depending on how you decide to choke your food down, you’re going to have 1-3 meals per eating window. This means, not having to worry so much about getting adequate amounts of leucine, because if you’re making decent food choices, reaching that level will not be difficult with a meal containing anywhere from 700-1500 calories. That factor may be my favorite. Instead of unsatisfying small meals, enter the world of 800 calorie post-workout feasts that jackhammer insulin and ramrod that MTOR pathway (protein synthesis).
So, now that your massive post-training viking appetite has been conquered, just chill out and forget about food (easier than it sounds). “Fast for 16-18 hours?!” Well, half of it you’ll be sleeping for, and the other half … well, go get shit done. Your entire life isn’t bodybuilding, (I’m assuming) so take advantage of the productive state your brain is in when fasting and grind out some work.
Important Tips on Intermittent Fasting
No calories allowed in the fasting time; however, black coffee is a life saver. Coffee curbs the appetite to an extent and gives you much needed energy if you’re dragging without food. Also, drink water like it’s going out of style, being hydrated never hurt anyone and that will aid in fat loss and decrease hunger.
I’m not saying it’s the best thing since bench press, but I’ve experienced amazing fat loss results in a very short period of time after I made the switch. It’s scientifically sound and makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. Try it yourself for a few weeks and gauge how you feel, hell you might stick with it for years.