Intermittent Fasting is a diet philosophy that restricts your eating into windows of time, with prolonged fasts in between. There are several popular IF protocols around today, and all of them have their own merits. I have used Leangains style IF for over a year and have had great results from it. It is a great way to help you restrict Calories on a cut, too!
IF has many benefits, such as:
The Leangains Protocol was developed by Martin Berkhan several years ago. His protocol combines RPT training with IF into a very successful program for body re composition. His protocol is like this:
You fast for 16 hours a day, with an 8 hour eating window. All of your Calories for the day are to be consumed in this 8 hour window. For females the window is usually 14/10.
In your 8 hour eating window, you consume all of the Calories for the day. You want your post workout meal to be upwards of 50% of your daily intake. You can eat 50 meals or 1 meal if you want, as long as they are all in that 8 hour window.
This method may seem confusing, but it’s actually really simple. Here is the breakdown:
1) Figure out your goals and determine your calorie budget for the day. Determine your protein requirements as well (generally 1g per pound of body-weight). You can find a macro calculator here.
2) Pick an eating window that you can maintain every day. For me, this window is generally 12pm-8pm. The only time I will consume calories during the day is in this window. This window is the same every single day.
3) Train fasted if you can. Consume 10mg of BCAAs 30 minutes prior to training. It takes a while to get used to, but you will reap the benefits. If you cannot train fasted, try to only eat 25% of your allotment before training.
4) After training, consume the majority of your Calories for the day. This often means eating a gigantic steak and tubs of cottage cheese, etc. It is pretty awesome. On training days, consume more carbs and less fats. On rest days, consume more fats and less carbs. Protein will remain high every day.
See, its easy. Nothing to be scared of here. If you have any additional questions about Leangains, shoot me a message!
PSMF stands for Protein Sparing Modified Fast, and was designed in the late 70s to help curb the growing obesity problem. PSMF is a very low Calorie, low carb protocol that should not be followed for extended periods of time.
In a PSMF, you will limit your carb intake to 10-12g a day. The majority of your Calories will come from lean protein (the majority meaning 99%).
Calories are generally limited to less than 1000 a day. The idea behind PSMF is to consume just enough protein to prevent catabolism in a 24 hour window, and that’s it. This generally ends up being somewhere between 50-70g for most people.
Limit foods to lean proteins, and low carb vegetables. Make sure you drink a lot of water.. not only will it help you stay hydrated, it will help curb your hunger.
Take supplements. With a PSMF, you are not getting all of the nutrients you need, so take calcium, d3/b12 vitamins (or a multivitamin), potassium, and omega 3.
Eat, Stop, Eat
Eat, Stop, Eat is a protocol developed by Brad Pilon, and is more focused on individuals looking for the health benefits of fasting, opposed to the more bodybuilding aspects. His protocol is like this:
2 times a week you will take 24 hour fasts. The days can be whenever, the times can be whenever, but when you start, you can’t eat for 24 hours.
After your fast is over, have a normal meal with normal macros. Don’t eat a million Calories or carb it up. Eat a normal, high protein meal.
As I mentioned previously, this protocol isn’t specifically tailored for weight training (like Leangains). It is an effective protocol, but probably not the best if you are lifting heavy shit.
The Warrior Diet is a protocol developed by Ori Hofmekler. In it, you operate on a 20~ hour fasting window, with a 4~ hour eating window.
Essentially, you are fasting all day and eating a large meal at night. Train fasted (taking BCAA’s of course), and consume all of your macros after training.
This protocol is similar to Leangains, but less structured. Some people (myself included) find this style of fasting to be easiest. Don’t worry about food until dinner, and then eat a huge meal. It is satisfying, and the high protein content of the meal will keep you full well into lunch the next day!
The Myths in Fasting
So I can hear what you are thinking now. All of your life you have heard that you need to stoke that fire, condition your metabolism, eat breakfast, etc. I hate to break it to you, but you have been lied to your entire life. It sucks, I know. Good thing is I am here to help! Here are some of the common fasting myths and the truth behind them:
Stoke your metabolism by eating small, frequent meals.
This one I hear a lot. A whole lot. Eat 6-8 small meals a day, keep your metabolism going, don’t skip breakfast because its the most important meal of the day. Meh. The truth of the matter is that while it is true that you do see a small spike in your metabolic rate after eating for a couple of hours, you have to expend energy to break that food down. This is called the Thermic Effect of Food. If you eat 200 Calories, it takes a set amount of energy to break down those Calories.
That is exactly the problem. The amount of energy you expend is completely based on the amount of Calories you consume. So if you eat 6 meals of 200 Calories each a day, it takes the same amount of energy to process this food as if you ate 2 meals at 600 Calories. There is no difference in the energy expenditure between meal frequencies.
In case you don’t believe me, I will leave this here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19943985
This is another one that I hear a lot of people discuss, starvation mode. If you don’t eat for 6 hours, you will go into starvation mode bro! Lets take a minute and think about that statement. Lets assume humans have been around for awhile. Lets also assume that humans didn’t always have the convenience of a Kroger right down the street to grab a flank steak and some yogurt. The ability to adapt to prolonging fasts and famine has been ingrained in your very being for thousands of years. It is just silly to think that your body is not designed to operate optimally during short fasts.
Oddly enough, your metabolic rate actually increases during short-term fasts. There have been several studies done on this topic, and from an evolutionary point of view, it makes sense. Increased cognitive functions in a fasted state would allow a hunter to track down an animal and help him survive.
Now… Starvation is certainly a thing, but this “starvation mode” crap doesn’t really kick in until you have been fasting for 60+ hours. Starvation will happen after a couple of days, basically. After this time, you will start to see the negative effects of this “starvation mode”. Until then, enjoy the many benefits of fasting!
Sources? Sure! http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3661473
You can only process 35g~ of protein in one sitting!
This is probably the most popular myth I hear about fasting and diet in general. The gym bros will make you think you have to slam down a protein shake every 2 hours to maintain your gains.. and it’s simply not true. This myth has been going on for ages, and it boggles my mind that people are so ignorant to the truth.
There have been numerous studies done about the rate of protein consumption:
The truth of the matter is this: Yes, there is a limit to how much protein your body can absorb, but no-one really knows exactly what that number is, and it certainly isn’t 35 grams in a sitting. Most studies will show somewhere around 10 grams an hour, but this process is long and complicated, and there are numerous factors that can modify this rate and change things even further. Some proteins digest at a slower rate than others (i.e. Casein vs Whey), with some proteins staying in digestion for 7-8 hours at a time. Furthermore, most of your protein absorption occurs in the small intestine. The small intestine breaks all of the protein down into amino acids and then stores them until you need them.
The TL:DR here is that you can eat as much protein in one sitting as you want. Your body isn’t stupid. If it needs the protein, it will use it.
There you go, four popular IF protocols that you can try sometime. I personally have used Leangains for over a year and use it with many clients for great results. I condense my eating windows down to something like The Warrior Diet, however, because I find it easier. Try them out, see which you like better or find easier, and go be the better man!