What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is a form of meal planning where all calories consumed are positioned into a narrow eating window throughout the day. This extends the fasting period (no eating period).
There’s no doubt Intermittent Fasting in all its forms, 5/2 (5 days normal eating, 2 days fasted), 16/8 (16 hour fast, 8 hour feeding window), the ‘Warrior Diet’ (1 huge meal in the evening) are exploding in popularity.
Why is this and why is it becoming such a popular dieting strategy?
I’ve personally used the 16/8 protocol (16 hour fast and 8 hour feeding window). I lost 35 lbs in 5 months and felt fantastic throughout this period. I went from 18% body fat straight to 7%. I improved on all of my compound lifts down to the point I hit 10% body fat.... zero supplementation.
From my current understanding (I’ve read a lot of research on this); intermittent fasting seems to top traditional eating methods from a hormonal perspective as well; optimising fat burning glucagon presence (fat burning hormone) and massively improving insulin sensitivity (I will write about this in a following article)
So surely this means it’s the key to fat loss? Wrong.
Without getting caught up in science – at surface level Intermittent fasting is simply this...
A strategy to make consuming at a deficit level easier from three main perspectives:
- It can be very practical. Skipping breakfast in the morning frees up time to be productive and proactive.
- It can help curb inevitable cravings (which come hand in hand with eating less energy than your body burns for fat loss). For some, eating breakfast (and the release of Insulin that comes with it) can trigger hunger which is obviously not ideal.
And this ones the real kicker..
- It’s a huge mental release from ‘needing to feed’ or hard earned muscle and strength will slip away.
People seem to think that the world will literally end if they skip breakfast (I was one of those).
Detaching the mental string attached with the apparent constant need to be in a ‘fed state’ is a huge release – it gets us back in touch with our genuine hunger signals opposed to ‘feeling’ like eating something although it’s not actually needed.
Honestly – do ya think our ancestors from 5000 years ago ate all the time? Absolutely not!
They hunted, found calorie dense food (red meat, fish etc) fairly sporadically and feasted – knowing this meal would probably have to last them at least 24 – 48 hours.
Now our ancestors were strong... they needed muscle, strength and stamina to hunt.
They couldn’t exactly pack it in, hit up Sainsbury’s and grab some cheerios...
They would have done their hunting (mainly) in a completely fasted state.
This makes a lot of sense no?
Relinquishing the control ‘feeding’ has over oneself is a huge weight off the shoulders – it will help understand how utterly mislead the world is by huge companies preaching ‘breakfast... the most important meal of the day’.
Newsflash... it ain’t.
My only concern is that it is being sold as ‘instant fix’ - just like every other new strategy that grows across the wide web.
I need to re-iterate – a diet strategy is just that… a diet strategy. A strategy is used to help maintain a calorie deficit and thus achieve consistent fat loss.
How to do we maintain a calorie deficit? Through knowing how to create one. How do we know how to create one? Through understanding our own unique dietary requirements in the first place.
Simply adopting Intermittent fasting to lose weight could do more damage than good if your current eating habits are completely out of whack – which lets’ be honest with most people they are.
This is why people start passing out on the treadmill... this makes any diet strategy dangerous.
Most people I work with are usually over-training relative to their current diets with a beat up, down regulated metabolism. If anything they need to be eating more in order to even think about losing another ounce of fat.
So with this being said – if you’re unsure what a calorie is... simply adopting yet another strategy (intermittent fasting) to help shed those pounds probably isn’t the best idea.
From the above it’s clear to see why this dieting strategy has grown in popularity. It’s easy to implement, tailor and (assuming all the other variables are in place for weight loss) lose weight.
Just remember... the weight loss game is purely based on calories in vs. calories out. Ultimately – whether you chose to spread the intake into 4 meals a day or 2 it will not make an ounce of difference to the outcome. You will still lose the same proportion of weight.
It’s all about adopting the strategy which works best for you. Some find that eating breakfast whilst in a deficit makes them ravenous and pecking at food all day long – if this happens with you... clearly look to skip breakfast and give Intermittent Fasting a go. If you enjoy eating breakfast and can easily stick to the calorie limits – don’t fast!
Need help with a diet strategy you may have adopted/ be thinking about adopting?
Need some help and guidance towards designing a structured plan for fat loss?
Let me know I’m always here for free advice.