The Complete Guide To Intermittent Fasting
Note: During this post I use a number of references on intermittent fasting that I’ll touch upon:
IF – Intermittent Fasting
IF’er – A person that incorporates Intermittent Fasting into their lifestyles.
IF’ing – When you eat in a style that incorporates Intermittent Fasting.
BS or BS’er - Breakfast Skipper
AFD – Average Frustrated Dieter
FG – Forced Grazers – who forced themselves to graze (eat 5-6 times a day) and eat breakfast because they thought it was the right thing to do.
Like most trends that catch on fire…in the past few years none have been more widely discussed and debated than the Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle.
As of right now there could not be a wider spectrum of opinions on IF. I am obviously bias to towards IF because I was able to easily transform my body and live a healthy lifestyle through the use of these IF principles we will be talking about.
One thing you must know…I am no “Guru” when it comes to this stuff. I’m just a regular dude like everyone else, except I’ve studied the last couple of years to researching & applying the principles of IF…because it works extremely well with my lifestyle.
I have nothing to sell you…other than the idea that you can be lean and life a normal life filled without feeling chained to your “diet” plan.
So it may sound counter intuitive but…don’t believe a word I say. As I can only speak from my experiences and my clients experiences with IF. Just like all advice, you must do as Bruce Lee does and…
“Absorb what is useful and reject what is useless.”
My hope in this blog post is to give you a different idea on eating as well as introduce a way that is effective and has been very easy to maintain for myself and my clients.
Enter Intermittent Fasting…
I admit that when I talk to people regarding meal planning and nutrition…I really don’t bring up IF unless I’m sure the person is willing to have an open mind regarding such a radical change to how they approach nutrition. There are a lot myths surrounding nutrition in regards to proper meal frequency that are just being brought to light right now.
Martin Berkhan does a great job at debunking a lot of myths that go along with Intermittent Fasting that you can see here ==> Top 10 IF Myths Debunked
So when I talk about IF, I feel as if I must be careful. If the person is stuck in their ways and maintains that eating frequently leads to a faster metabolism and better satiety then I’ll take a step back and let them do their own thing.
It’s another a reason why I have two types of meal plans at my boot camp: A normal one (eating 5-6 meals a day…breakfast included) and one that employs the two types of Intermittent Fasting we’ll be talking about here.
I realize that there are a million ways to skin a cat.
In this case I believe IF is the easiest and most effective way…not to skin a cat mind you…but to melt fat off our bodies and maintain it with ease.
Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting has been researched and proven to:
1. Increase Fat Loss (my favourite obviously)
2. Lower insulin Levels
3. Increase growth hormone
4. Reduced inflammation
5. Increase lifespan through a more extreme form of Calorie Restriction
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I did a brief blog post about the benefits of Intermittent Fasting here ==> Top 7 Reasons To Do Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss Do go hand in hand as well. I can’t count the number of times I’ve recommended clients to do small changes to their diet like Skipping breakfast…and have them lose 10 pounds right off the bat.
It’s still very early but there have been studies done (on rats mind you) that shows IF to have a positive effect on preventing cancer, preventing cardio vascular disease, improving symptoms of MS and relieving arthritis. To me this is pretty exciting stuff but I will stay neutral until we get solid evidence of the fact.
Why Do I Do An Intermittent Fasting Diet? It All Comes Down To Lifestyle….
I, along with many others, were known as AFD’s (Average Frustrated Dieters).
In the past I was obsessed with meal timing, calorie counting and most of all…eating breakfast first thing in the morning. It was one of the most frustrating periods of my life and what made it even worse was that it was a lifestyle that was downright difficult for me and my clients to maintain.
It was like being in a bad relationship that almost seemed impossible to get out of and lord knows…I’ve been in plenty of those in my past.
It came to the point where if I missed a meal…I would literally feel so bad about it and think my metabolism was dying down I’d grab almost anything around me to make sure that didn’t happen.
I constantly beat myself up when I missed meals or forgot to eat breakfast. It was a brutally self abusive relationship that I was a part of for a good part of my life until finally….I forcefully ingrained those mythical “fat loss habits” into my lifestyle.
When I heard about IF I was just about as skeptical as everyone else…
I had my questions about it’s effect on metabolism that I later learned were quite false. A recent study showed that abstaining from eating actually lead to a slight increase in metabolism.
Also, the thought of not eating for a full day, skipping breakfast or eating only 3 meals a day was like blasphemy to the average personal trainer.
You try telling your personal trainer to skip breakfast and eat three meals a day…you’ll be sent to the crazy house.
Note: Btw let’s just get this out of the way once and for all: Food and eating frequently has little to no effect on your metabolism. The main factors in having a fast burning metabolism is exercise with weights and movement. That is all…proceed.
Even now…when my clients tell their friends and spouses about what they are doing…they are met with skepticism and branded “stupid” and “ignorant” by people who have not even read one iota of research…but I digress.
Thankfully, I eventually found a way to live a stress free lifestyle, break free from my unhealthy relationship with food and do so quite easily thanks to incorporating the principles of IF into my life.
IF’ing has been by far it’s the easiest way allows me to increase leanness and increase my muscle gains without the horrible fat gain that usually comes with it. I don’t have to curse myself if I miss a meal every two to three hours. I don’t have to carry bags of Tupperware with me if I leave the house.
I don’t think about food until I have to eat it.
There’s a certain peace with myself knowing that I don’t have to think about food and what to eat. I can focus on more important things such as my projects, living life, and sharing value with the world.
As a famous songwriter once said, “I once was blind but now I see…“. That’s exactly how I felt once I applied the following principles of IF to my life.
It works well with my Lean Body Lifestyle and it’s easy to do.
WARNING: This Blog Post Is Not For Everyone…
This way of eating definitely requires and open mind and the ability to trust the growing research that supports it.
It’s also not a new concept.
People have been doing this for thousands if not millions of years already.
Muslims fast religiously for Ramadan, Christian’s do 24 hour religious fasts, in our Palaeolithic days we routinely went through periods of fasting between feedings because we had to hunt for food.
And here’s something I’ve been pondering for awhile…
I’m sure everyone can agree that we are facing an obesity epidemic in North America and people are on average…overweight in our society. This is largely due to the invention of processed foods.
…but when did it become “normal” to eat 5-6 meals a day?
Back in our parents generation and beyond, they ate 3 square meals a day and they did just fine. No obesity epidemic. People being overweight was not the norm back then.
So if 3 meals a day worked fine for that generation…why doesn’t it work for ours?
Well…if you think about it logically…it’s just more profitable for food companies to advise us through research to eat 5-6 meals a day instead of 3. It’s just more profitable for supplement companies to have us buy their meal replacement shakes and healthy snacks instead of eating whole foods.
Wouldn’t it be more profitable for these companies to pass out research that states you will raise your metabolic rate by eating more frequently? We could also argue that specific research that had been done in regards to meal frequency had been done by food/supplement companies with their own profit agendas.
It’s just not worth it for food and supplement companies to research IF and its benefits. There is no profit in telling people to abstain from eating for a long period of time.
I’m not here to start a conspiracy but it’s something to really think about.
Intermittent Fasting Is Not For…
One thing I’ll say…this is NOT medical advice. If you have a medical condition then I most likely will not have the answer to it. I’m not an MD and I would talk to your doctor before implementing these strategies.
1. IF is also NOT for people who won’t give themselves 3 weeks to try it out and see if it fits with their lifestyles. It takes as long as 3 weeks to get used to this style of eating. Some people take to it right away and some take time. Someone just bringing this into their lifestyle must realize that it takes time to ingrain this lifestyle.
2. IF is NOT for people who are inherently “Grazers” by nature. Grazer’s are people who like to feed frequently throughout the day. They follow the model of eating 5-6 meals a day because that is in their nature.
Now keep in mind that if, in the past, you forced yourself to eat 5-6 times a day (because you were told to) and forced yourself to eat breakfast (because you were told to) then you are NOT a grazer. You trained your body and mind to become that way after months or years of practice…because you were told it was the right way to eat.
Just like all habits, Grazing had been ingrained in your lifestyle.
I find that when I have clients who were FG’ers (Forced Grazers – people who forced themselves to graze and eat breakfast) do the following styles of IF, they really take to it and it becomes an easy lifestyle change for them.
It’s like freedom to them.
Just a quick recap on Intermittent Fasting (IF):
Intermittent Fasting are periods where we abstain away from food specific period of time.
Less technically, it is when we are not eating. When you sleep…you are fasting.
When we wake up and have our first meal known as breakfast…we are technically breaking a “Fast”.
But in this case, we will be talking about Intermittent Fasting as any periods where you intentionally abstain from food for anywhere between 14 to 24 hours.
There are many ways to do Intermittent Fasting such as The Warrior Diet and The Fast 5 Diet but we won’t be covering those today.
The two types of IF diets that we cover today are the ones we employ on myself and a good number of our clients.
I’m not going to say these are the best…these types are the ones we have seen best results with in my test subjects…namely me, my female boot camp clients and my male beta testers:
24 Hour Fasting – These are 24 hours you choose to abstain from food. So if your last meal was at 6pm, your next meal would be 6pm the next day. We employ this once a week if our goal is fat loss. Brad Pilon employs this method in his book Eat Stop Eat which I still think is the definitive guide on IF.
You can grab your copy by clicking on the book
16-8 Intermittent Fasting (IF) – These are are every day periods of having a 16 hour fast (including the time you sleep) and have a window of 8 hours in which you’ll eat 3-4 meals. Martin Berkhan does a terrific job of covering this on his blog Leangains.com
We employ 16-8 IF as the main method of eating at my boot camp. 16-8 IF’ing is if your last meal was at 8pm, your next meal would be at 12pm the next day, second meal at 4pm and last meal at 8pm.
Yes we are breakfast skippers…you can all us BS’ers…
…and since some of us do IF, we can be considered…IF’ers…moms everywhere would be proud
Note: that there is a relationship between not eating breakfast and being overweight. This is in large part due to people who are not “dieting” and most apt to grab a quick danish/donut/junk food when their hunger starts.
This can easily be avoided by having a healthy meal prepared and ready to eat as your first meal of the day.
For the record…I have no problem with breakfast and people who eat breakfast. If you love eating breakfast then rock on my friend. I can only speak from personal experience and say that skipping breakfast has been very crucial to me living an easier, more productive lifestyle and having a leaner body.
It sucks to say but in the beginning I forced myself (and past clients) to eat breakfast even when I wasn’t hungry because I was told it was the most important meal of the day.
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” This was the motto for almost all personal trainers and fitness “guru’s”
Nowadays I do the complete opposite and I am at my strongest and leanest I’ve ever been. Also first meals are moderate sized while my dinners are the biggest.
I love my dinners so this is pretty awesome for me
Rules For The Ninja Style Of Intermittent Fasting
At my fitness boot camp business we like to combine both styles of Intermittent Fasting to give us the best bang for buck when it comes to getting results. We use a 16/8 style of eating as a regular way of eating. We do 24 hour fasts if we cheat the day before or if we just don’t feel like eating anything throughout the day.
We like to limit the amount of rules we place on our clients to get the best Intermittent Fasting results. The less rules we have and the more we can integrate these principles into their lifestyles…the more compliance we get from our clients.
So here are some simple rules to follow when doing IF:
11 Simple Rules To Easily Doing 16-8 IF (Intermittent Fasting)
1. You will have a 16 hour “fast” from when you sleep to the time you wake up. This means no eating between that time. Some women (due to mood swings) may have to cut their fast by two hours and do 14 instead of 16.
2. Eat 3 meals within an 8 hour time window split up in 4 hour blocks.
3. You will only eat Whole Foods that can be cooked. You can have an unlimited amount of Veggies for your meals. Really…fill up your plate with as much fibrous veggies as possible. Mom was right on this one.
4. On workout days and cheat days you can have starchy carbs (sweet potatoes, quinoa etc..) after your workouts because your body will be primed to burn them off and build muscle.
5. All meals MUST have a protein source – Should be at least 25% of meal.
6. Use this calorie counter to find out how many calories you should be taking in daily ==> Livestrong Calorie Counter
7. On non workout days you will have free veggies and protein at every meal but no starchy carbs.
8. If you are a woman, you will drink at least 2 liters of water each day. If you are a guy you will drink 3-4 liters each day.
9. You will workout at minimum 3 times a week with a solid weight training program.
10. You will take BCAA’s with every workout (one serving before, during and after). My fave is xtend by sciavation that you can grab at GNC.
11. You will have a one serving of a post workout shake before and after each workout.
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IMPORTANT NOTE: If you just start to implement 16-8 IF then there will be a period of 1-3 weeks where your body and mind will have to get used to the change. It’s normal. Some people will take to it easier than others while some may need to give themselves time to feel normal on this diet.
What we don’t realize is that we train our bodies hunger response.
That’s why, when I forced myself to eat 5-6 times a day and forced myself to eat breakfast…after about 2 months I would actually start to get hungry around those specific times. You can and probably have at one point…trained your hunger response to where it is right now.
Take the 3 weeks as the time it takes to re-train your bodies natural hunger response. If you do feel yourself getting hungry then have a drink of water.
Combating hunger with water works 99% of the time for me.
How To and When To Implement 24 Hour Fasts
If I am in fat loss mode and want to lose weight I will implement a 24 hour Fast into my lifestyle at least once…maybe twice a week.
A 24 Hour ADF is really simple…you just don’t eat for 24 hours straight. I usually pick a time from 8pm to 8pm the next day. If I’m traveling then I will probably fast during the plane ride to avoid eating the food.
Here are some tips to get you through a 24 hour fast:
1. Drink lots of water.
2. Stay busy and don’t think about the fact that you are fasting. Btw my best and most productive work is done when I am fasting.
3. Drink green tea. I also drink a coffee a day usually in the morning.
4. Set a time frame to do the 24 hour fast. My favourite is 8pm to 8pm. Find a time that works for you and stick to it.
5. Once you are done the fast…act as if it never happened. Eat normally and act normally.
Bonus – Try not to tell too many people you are fasting unless you want to get a tongue lashing or ostracizing. It is not socially acceptable to not eat for 24 hours. If you do say you are fasting…be prepared to defend yourself.
You can also implement a cheat day right before a fast to take advantage of the effect eating junk foods have on your metabolism.
For cheat day guidelines my friend John Romaniello did a terrific job of outlining them here ==> Roman’s Cheat Day Guidelines
What Workouts To Do For Intermittent Fasting
The best workouts to do while incorporating an intermittent fasting lifestyle are ones that require strength training and maaaybbe some interval training done right after a workout.
The biggest rookie mistake I ever made was trying to make my own programs at the gym. Listen if you have not invested in someone else’s training program and always do your own thing…you are making a big mistake.
You must learn from the giants first and then make up your own exercises from the experience you take from each program.
Here are my following recommendations:
Surprisingly I’ve found that Intermittent Fasting and Bodybuilding type of workouts go quite well with each other. I’m a big fan of Rusty Moores Visual Impact book. His programs have worked really well on my clients as well as myself.
I would only recommend doing these types of workouts if you are at an already somewhat low body fat percentage.
For guys it would be around 12-14% body fat and for girls it would be from 17-19% body fat. Doing these workouts will really sculpt your muscles and give you that lean Hollywood look. Think Chris Evans in Captain America and Jessica Biel in Blade.
For people with higher percentages of body fat I’ve found that my clients get great results with John Romaniello’s Final Phase Fat Loss program. Even though it is for the person trying to lose the last 10 pounds his workouts work great for the client who also have higher percentages of body fat.
Find out where you are in regards to body composition and get the program that corresponds best with you.
Putting It All Together…
What we do for our clients is have them do 16-8 IF as a regular way of eating 6-7 days a week. We may add in a cheat day in there depending on the cheat day guidelines my friend Roman so graciously contributed just above.
Keep in mind that the 24 Hour ADF will come right after the cheat day.
You could do the 16-8 IF program alone and see great results with it. What I’ve noticed is that within the first two weeks your insulin levels drop and people tend to lose the most weight in that period partly due to water loss.
Just by switching to the 16/8 style of eating (using our 2 week green face detox) we’ve had girls lose 5 pounds in a week, 10 Pounds in two weeks, 17 pounds in 4 weeks.
But it’s not just about weight loss and getting lean. When choosing an eating style that is right for you (and also allows you to maintain a lean body) it must give you results and simple to follow.
My clients who have fully applied IF to their lives have described it as, “Easy to do” and “Very simple to maintain“.
To me, doing Intermittent Fasting is a heck of a lot easier than figuring out what 5 meals to eat throughout the day.
It’s also a lot easier to comply with this eating style if you work a 9-5 job. Although I do not have a regular job and I spend a good amount of time at home so it works for someone like myself as well.
Doing IF is a choice in lifestyle rather than “a diet”. In my experience, it is the one diet that has allowed my clients and myself to really live the lifestyle I want to live (traveling, creating new experiences, partying etc..) but still maintain a lean body.
In a weird way it has also given me more control over the foods that I eat. I have become more mindful of foods and their effect on my energy levels as well as satiety.
Again I’m really excited to see it’s positive effects on preventing cancer as well as relieve symptoms in diseases such as Multiple scleroris and arthritis. But I will keep a neutral stance until it is proven without a doubt.
Whether you choose to apply intermittent fasting to your life or not, I hope this blog post gave you a clearer picture about what it is all about and benefits it can bring to your lifestyle.
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