Every so often in the world of fitness/strength and conditioning, a new diet will come to prominence and everybody will start jumping on the bandwagon like there’s no tomorrow. Atkins diet, Paleo diet, Alkaline diet, Twinky diet.. you get the gist.
Most of the time, these diets are just not sustainable. People end up quitting after a month, fatter than when they first started.
Instead, why not just train hard, increase your conditioning, walk a little more, eat a little less? Sounds more sensible to me. When I first heard about intermittent fasting (IF), however, I was intrigued.
Being a Muslim, we usually fast for about a month every year, from sunrise to sunset, with no water or food allowed during daylight hours, so fasting has always been a part of my life.
Many religions and cultures in the world fast ritually, so it’s definitely not a new concept, just new to the fitness world really.
Coming off a very, very dirty ‘bulk’ (filthy actually), where I’d put on 7/8 kg in about 1.5 months, for the first time in my life I had a belly.
My athleticism pretty much went down the drain and I knew something needed to change. Summer was a few months away so it was the perfect time to cut, and I chose IF as a means to achieve this. I’d heard alot about the amazing benefits of training fasted, so after doing my research, I went for it.
I decided to go with 16/8, one of the most common protocols for IF.
16/8 = 16 hours fasting, 8 hours eating.
That sounds like a long time fasting, but in actual fact, when you consider that you’re asleep for about 8 hours anyway, the remaining 8 hours fasting time can just be split into two periods.
Essentially, you start eating 4 hours after waking up, then stop eating 4 hours before sleeping.. simples.
More hardcore fasters do the 20/4 scheme, which for me, is way too extreme and would’ve resulted in me looking like
Peter Crouch a skeleton by the end of it.
I won’t go in to all the purported health benefits of fasting (which are numerous by the way), but training fasted does a lot of good things for your body that training in a fed state just can not do.
Briefly, training fasted means that your body utilises fat for energy, and also improves insulin sensitivity.
Basically, you’ll preserve muscle while shedding fat and improving your blood profile.
The study of IF is still relatively new, so I’m sure there’s still plenty more to be uncovered.
I’m a breakfast person, and there’s nothing I love more than eggs and sausages in the morning, so in the beginning, it was kind of hard.
Instead of eating, I drank copious amounts of water, and if I was working out, a cup of strong black coffee.
The fasted training was not a problem for me at all, in fact I felt really good. I noticed zero drop off in energy at the gym and my strength remained intact (it increased actually).
After training, I’d go home then go HAM on a post workout meal.
I noticed fat loss very quickly using IF, and all the excess weight I had at the time was incinerated within about 2 months (without adding much in the way of conditioning/cardio).
Approximately 8 weeks after beginning, I weighed about 7/8 kg less! Plus I’d maintained and actually improved my strength levels.
If you’ve tried some of the more famous diets etc and they haven’t worked, I’d highly recommend trying intermittent fasting.
If you are fat, I consider intermittent fasting compulsory. In combination with a solid training programme you will get in excellent condition, very quickly.
It’s NOT a crash diet, but a lifestyle change. If it fits you, it’s something you can do for the rest of your life.
Part of the beauty of intermitten fasting lies in the fact that you don’t have to eat less than usual.
You can eat the same amount of food, just within your allotted feeding window.
Health wise, your body will thank you too.
A couple of notes – If you’re an athlete or play a sport, it might not be the most appropriate diet for you – I didn’t really like doing IF on days when I was playing football, as it didn’t really go with my schedule.
Also, in my opinion it is quite difficult to do while bulking. You have to be easily able to cram in the necessary calories within a very small window, and I wasn’t able to do that.
So, in summary:
1. 16/8 intermittent fasting is a fasting scheme where you fast for 16 hours and eat to your heart’s content in an 8 hour window. You can adjust this ratio to 14/10, 15/9 etc as required.
2. You can only drink water (and one coffee, black) during the fasting period.
3. You don’t have to eat less than you normally would as long as it is within the feeding window. (This doesn’t mean you can eat garbage though).
Give it a try and let me know how it goes.