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.

bruce 278x300 The Complete Guide To Intermittent FastingSo 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.funny cat pictures 091 300x226 The Complete Guide To Intermittent Fasting

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

For a 5 Day E-Course On Intermittent Fasting Put Your Email in The Box Below



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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

fasting 300x221 The Complete Guide To Intermittent Fasting

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:

Intermittent fasting book The Complete Guide To Intermittent Fasting24 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 icon smile The Complete Guide To Intermittent Fasting

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 icon smile The Complete Guide To Intermittent Fasting

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

Well…it’s starting to look like that motto is becoming false.

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 icon smile The Complete Guide To Intermittent Fasting

Rules For The Ninja Style Of Intermittent Fasting

funny animated 05 235x300 The Complete Guide To 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.

In Closing…

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.

For Your Free 5 Day Course On Intermittent Fasting Sign up Down Below



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80 Comments

  • Mitch says:

    This is super in depth and very interesting. Thank you for spending the time to share this valuable piece of info

  • Jonathan says:

    Great info Dan. For me I am a definite grazer and going more than 6 hours without food I find very hard as my energy levels drop and I can’t focus nearly as well but it’s a very interesting take on things and obviously you’ve proven it works with your personal results and your clients so I will definitely be reading up on it more! Thanks for the info!

  • Duuude, you always post so much awesome content on this blog. Can’t tell you how much I appreciate all your effort. Amazing stuff Dan!

  • Michael says:

    Good article. I have been IFing for about 8 months and am leaner than I’ve ever been @ close to 50 yrs old.
    I find it very easy and my workouts have been very good.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Melissa says:

    I am a big believer in IF’ing. I’m just wondering what you would say to someone who is a endo-meso body type and has been advised to eat more frequently in order to lose weight. Do you think it matters if I incorporate IF into my diet? there is sooo much conflicting information out there.

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      If you were an endo-meso I would actually advise to eat less frequently (3-4 times) a day to lose weight. It’s easier to control calories and suppress appetite that way than to eat more frequently.

      I believe when someone is advised to eat more frequently to lose weight it has more to do with the myth of metabolism and frequent feeding…which is completely false.

      Try out the 16-8 IF version and see if it fits your lifestyle and gets you results.

  • Good balanced article. I use IF when I feel like it but I prefer to eat 5-6 meals a day cause I love eating especially cakes.
    I stay very lean using both methods so as you say many ways to skin a cat and its not for everyone.
    I have found people who do use If but are still overweight so they do sabotage their effort by pigging out when it comes time to eat so you need get your head around the whole eating thing.
    Raymond

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      Thanks for commenting Raymond. I’m a big cake fan myself.

      I think people do have to find their own truth. I find this way easier for people to control their calories rather than spreading out their meals 5-6 times a day.

  • Rick Kaselj says:

    Dan,

    Great article.

    Interesting point about IF, I liked the component about helping with inflammation.

    Rick Kaselj

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      Thanks Rick. I’m really excited about the growing research about disease prevention as well as the fat loss benefits that come along with fasting.

  • Eric B says:

    Great info. I have a question around morning workouts though. Due to my work commute I typically workout early in the AM. Do you have any guidelines as to how you would incorporate the 16-8 IF method with morning workouts?

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      I’d modify the 16/8 depending on your schedule. I’m guessing that you sleep earlier since ou workout out early in the morning.

      You can do a meal plan like this:

      PreWorkout – BCAA’s w/half post workout shake
      Workout at 6am
      Post Workout shake at 7:30am

      Then your regular meal timing would be:

      1st meal at 10am
      2nd meal at 2pm
      Last meal at 6pm
      Sleep at 10pm.

      The main thing is to play around with the times and come up with a 16/8 schedule that works for you. Remember meal timing is what you make it.

  • Jimmy says:

    Hi Dan,

    Love the great content from a fellow Canadian!

    A further question on 16/8 and morning workouts.
    I’m weight training 4x week and some form of HIIT or cardio on the other days (with a rest day when needed).
    Is it better to schedule training in the afternoon if possible? Or is morning training fine despite breaking the fast with a workout shake?

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      Greetings my fellow Canadian.

      The best time to train while doing 16/8 IF’ing would be at 11am and beyond. If you worked out at 11am you’d take a pre workout meal in the form of 10g BCAA’s .

      Morning training is still good to do if that is when you love to workout.

      I’d just increase the BCAA intake done 10g every other hour until you have your first meal. Consuming BCAAs every other hour through the fast is enough to keep protein synthesis activated and prevent protein breakdown.

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  • Lenka says:

    Hi Dan, nice article. I was wondering about your opinion on 36 hour fast. Did you try longer fasting? I am doing 36 hour fast (stop eating at 6-7pm then don’t eat the next day and have breakfast the day after) every 5th day. I don’t do the 24 hour fast because it’s weird for me to not eat whole day and then have a dinner before another fast (sleep). I didn’t find any reliable research on such “long” fast. So far it’s working for me (i’m doing it only for like 3-4 weeks). I don’t feel any negative effects. Please, let me know if you have any experience with that.

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      If you can stand doing a longer fast than I’d say do it. I’ve done the 36 hour fasts but I’m not really a big fan.

      I’ve always looked at 24 hour fasting as the ability to take advantage of the effects of IF and still eat every single day. If you go longer than 24 it really has no effect other than the prolonged effect of calorie restriction (which isn’t bad in itself).

      If it works for your lifestyle and you’re seeing results with it then I’d say stick with it.

  • maya says:

    Thanks for the info. Some comments touched on exercise during 16-8 or 19-5 IFing. What’s your general opinion on how to exercise around IFing? Also I don’t take any BCAAs. Is it best to exercise on an empty stomach or schedule exercise after the first meal of the day?

    Also, is the frequency of IFing something that can be done at your discretion? I mean can you do this every day until you reach your ideal weight and then only IF 2-3 times a week? Is there a “cheat” day allowed? I am trying to figure out if whether this is something sustainable for me. My goal is to trim and maintain a loss of 10-15 pounds.

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      Thanks for the comment Maya.

      If your goal is fat loss I generally follow an exercise program like The Body Back Fat Loss System until I have reached my fat loss goal. Once I get to a certain level of body fat I do more bodybuilding type of exercises to sculpt.

      If you are not taking BCAA’s then I say to workout (assuming you are working out with weights) after having a meal inside your body. Make it low carb and have it 1-1.5 hours before your scheduled workout.

      Assuming you are doing the 16-8 IF for two to three weeks to get to your goal…are you planning to eat 5-6 meals a day once you reach it? IF can be something done to get to a weight loss goal but why stop there? Once you do IF it becomes a lifestyle that is easy to maintain.

      You can have cheat days but your body fat levels determine how often you can cheat. Check this blog post for cheat day guidelines: http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com/blog/cheat-day-cheat-sheet

      • maya says:

        Thanks for the reply. You made a good point. IF is sustainable because your body will make the decision as to when it’s at its ideal weight correct? And I won’t continue to lose weight on IF? Instead I will see my body being sculpted given I am doing more bodybuilding strength exercises. Do I have the gist of it?

        If I do the 16-8 IF I’ll likely eat every 2 1/2 hrs or so, so 3 or 4 meals a day. Will I see any results if I IF a few times a week? Also, if I may ask, why don’t you advocate the 19-5 IF more? Is it preference or is there more to it?

        I ask about cheat days to fit into my schedule because I’m curious about how to handle the days when I go out drinking late at night or brunch on Sundays, or both!

        Thanks for your time and advice!!

      • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

        Hey Maya,

        You will make the decision as to what is your ideal weight…although I would rather judge the program based on inches lost from your body as well as using before and after photo’s.

        With IF you’ll have the freedom to play around with how much food you intake over the course of the day. Eventually the diet will evolve once you play around with the parameters and see what fits with you and your lifestyle. I’d go based on portion sizes first and then play around with IF until you find a happy medium for yourself.

        Once you reach an ideal body size/body fat % I’d get into more bodybuilding type of exercises to start sculpting muscles.

        I wouldn’t do IF for “a few times a week”. It’s an every day thing.

        16/8 to 19/5 is more based on your personal preference moreso than anything else. An 8 hour window allows you to split up 3 meals a day a lot easier than a 19/5 set up.

        If you do a cheat day I would go a full 24-36 hours fasting after the cheat day and take advantage of the leptin release. The thing is…if you are not lean yet (in this case lean would 15% body fat for women and 10% body fat for men) and you are trying to get into a great shape…I would do cheat days less frequently…maybe once every two weeks.

        It’s just hard to get into great shape when you are cheating every single week.

      • maya says:

        Now that I have all the info I’m looking forward to trying this out and tweaking it to see how IF works best for me.

        Thanks for the info!

  • Marie says:

    Hi Dan, I have just been introduced to the IF plan and am very interested. I do my workouts in the evenings (around 7 or 8pm), and I am working on an IF schedule of 12pm breakfast and last meal between 8 or 9pm. I also do a 5k run at 6am on Mon, Wed and Fri mornings. From your readings I am thinking that I should be doing the following:
    5:45am — BCAAs
    6am — run
    7am — BCAAs
    ———————- > Should I have a protein shake here or have nothing else until my ‘break fast’?
    12pm — Meal 1
    4pm — Meal 2
    7pm — HIIT workout
    ———————–> Should I have BCAAs here as well, or will the protein shake that follows suffice?
    8pm — Meal 3
    ———————–> Should I have a protein shake immediately after my workout and then immediately follow it with my last meal? Or should I have my last meal only and no protein shake?

    I’m trying to figure out how to best maximize fat loss, and not sacrifice efficiency of my run or workouts due to not fueling my body properly. Thank you.

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      Hey Marie,

      Please see my comments below:

      Hi Dan, I have just been introduced to the IF plan and am very interested. I do my workouts in the evenings (around 7 or 8pm), and I am working on an IF schedule of 12pm breakfast and last meal between 8 or 9pm. I also do a 5k run at 6am on Mon, Wed and Fri mornings. From your readings I am thinking that I should be doing the following:
      5:45am — BCAAs
      6am — run
      7am — BCAAs
      ———————- > Should I have a protein shake here or have nothing else until my ‘break fast’?

      Me: Do another dose of BCAA’s at 9:30am and then fast until your first meal of the day at 12pm.

      12pm — Meal 1
      4pm — Meal 2
      7pm — HIIT workout
      ———————–> Should I have BCAAs here as well, or will the protein shake that follows suffice?

      Me – Take your BCAA’s before your HIIT workout. Leave the protein shake out and eat a real meal.

      8pm — Meal 3
      ———————–> Should I have a protein shake immediately after my workout and then immediately follow it with my last meal? Or should I have my last meal only and no protein shake?

      Me: If you are just doing HIIT then I would skip the protein shake and have a regular meal. I like use PWS (Post workout shakes) after training with weights.

      I’m trying to figure out how to best maximize fat loss, and not sacrifice efficiency of my run or workouts due to not fueling my body properly. Thank you.

      You are on the right track. I’m not sure if you are working out with weights but IF works best when you exercise with weights. Cardio is for the times where your diet is not so on point or if it is for pure enjoyment.

      • Marie says:

        Actually, the workouts are circuit — no weights but alot of weight-resistance… ropes, squats, lunges, kettlebells, etc. Is IF suited for this kind of workout?

      • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

        I would add some weight based exercises that involve Squats, Deadlifts, bench press and a chin up.

      • Marie says:

        Hi Dan,

        Firstly, let me say a great big thank you for your blog and for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions. This site is so informative — love it!

        After reading the discussion flow above, I was hoping that if I provide a little more detail on what I am eating that maybe you could tell me if I am on track, or if I am eating enough.

        My first meal at 12 or 1pm consists of a carb and a protein (which seems to be oatmeal and fat free cottage cheese — I really like that), and 4 fish oil capsules and multi-vitamins, and a green tea (I also have a green tea in the morning along with water while I am waiting to break my fast). Meal 2 at around 4 or 5pm consists of a protein and a fat (which so far has been plain greek yogurt and crushed pecans or almonds), and 4 fish oil capsules. If I am still hungry here I will add some veggies too. And my final meal after my evening workout around 8 or 9pm consists of a protein, carb, and veggies (ex. boneless skinless chicken breast, brown rice or whole wheat no yolk egg noodles and stir fry veggies — no fat), and 4 fish oil capsules. Does this sound ok to you (of course there will be changes for variety, but this is the jist of it)?

        As for workouts, are kettlebell weight workouts in line with your suggestion of weighted squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc? Along with weighted crunches, pushups, etc.?

        Thanks again for all of your help and sharing of advice — much appreciated!!!

        Marie

      • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

        Thanks Marie.

        Please see my answers below:

        My first meal at 12 or 1pm consists of a carb and a protein (which seems to be oatmeal and fat free cottage cheese — I really like that), and 4 fish oil capsules and multi-vitamins, and a green tea (I also have a green tea in the morning along with water while I am waiting to break my fast).

        Me: I would replace the carbs with veggies and keep your carbs to the post workout window. I would also add in a protein source that gives you more grams of protein. Cottage cheese is just not enough. I’d do eggs or chicken instead.

        Meal 2 at around 4 or 5pm consists of a protein and a fat (which so far has been plain greek yogurt and crushed pecans or almonds), and 4 fish oil capsules. If I am still hungry here I will add some veggies too.

        Me: Again I would put more vegetables in there as well as a more solid protein source. Greek Yogurt and nuts won’t cut it. Go with a veggie and a meat as a meal here along with the fish oil capsules.

        And my final meal after my evening workout around 8 or 9pm consists of a protein, carb, and veggies (ex. boneless skinless chicken breast, brown rice or whole wheat no yolk egg noodles and stir fry veggies — no fat), and 4 fish oil capsules. Does this sound ok to you (of course there will be changes for variety, but this is the jist of it)?

        Me: This meal is fine.

        As for workouts, are kettlebell weight workouts in line with your suggestion of weighted squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc? Along with weighted crunches, pushups, etc.?

        Me: I’d keep the kettlebell workouts separate from your strength training days or added in as a finisher. They’re all good exercises but put the main focus on the pillar exercises of squat, deadlifts, chins and bench. I personally do a 4th cardio day where I combine bodyweight, kettlebells, etc..

      • Marie says:

        Thank you Dan for all of your advice!

  • Syed Mehdi says:

    Hey Dan, first of all, I would like to thank you for the hard work you have put out for us in this post, and all of the information on your website. It is amazing and I appreciate the hard work that was required for this. I had a few questions on starting an IF program, that I was hoping you could answer from me. As you may know from my name, I am a muslim, and the month of Ramadan has just started. Prior to Ramadan, I have been following the old diet trends that I have been told to do from fitness instructors and such, eating 5-6 small meals a day, etc. This gave me great results, even though I didn’t really have a definitive goal or plan. I just increased my protein intake ALOT, and decreased my carbohydrate intake. I started my diet in late February at 288.8 pounds. Four months later, I am at 235 pounds, and in great shape. The following link describes my journey, and my progress pictures, and I hope you check it out.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/loseit/comments/j3sqe/19_year_old_males_4_month_transformation_so_far/

    So on with the questions, as Ramadan starts, I started to panic as I wouldnt be able to eat my recommended meals and I would get fat again, and everything would go wrong haha. Thats not the case so far :P. So my main concern for doing IF is to incorporate my religious affairs and keep on my weight loss journey. I started doing IF, or a modified version yesterday, the first day of Ramadan. Since I am going for weight loss I eat high protein foods and low carb during my feeding block, and this makes sense to me.

    My daily schedule, as of now is somewhat like this:

    Sehri, or the time the fast starts for muslims is at around 4am. So, prior to 4am, I eat around 8 egg whites, a whey protein shake, my multivitamin, lots of water, and usually some chicken breast and vegetables. After that I do not eat until Iftar, which is like 8:30pm. Then, I eat a small meal again, rich in protein not in carbs, then do my workout, which is Shaun T’s insanity program, for weight loss and is all cardio based interval training. After the workout, I eat a bigger meal, usually chicken breast, salad, vegetables etc. and for the rest of the night, get in my usually 4 liters of water because as a muslim you cannot eat or drink during the fast, so I try to get my water requirements during the feed block.

    So having said that, do you think my approach is good? Or do you recommend anything more, or some changes that I can make to improve my routine? Is my diet okay for losing weight? Also, would you recommend me doing insanity workouts AND a light weight lifting routine for *weight loss*? (keep in mind I do NOT want to bulk up at all!). If theres anything else, please feel free to add it!

    Thank you very much!!

    • Syed Mehdi says:

      I forgot to add, I workout 6 times a week, and will do IF/Ramadan fasting 7 days a week with one day off.

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      Hey Syed..thanks for the comments and questions!

      First of all I would add a BCAA supplement to take during your Sehri. In your post workout window (last meal of the day) I would add some starchy carbs in there for proper muscle recovery.

      I’d get away from doing pure Insanity workouts and start getting more into weight based workouts that involve squats, deadlifts, bench presses and chin ups. You won’t bulk up. You’ll get leaner and with the lack of calories coming into your body you are going to need to pump weights 3 days a week to keep that muscle.

  • Mike says:

    Hi,

    I just trying to find a good windows in my schedule. I can workout evening late only. For convienience feeding time would be like noon to 10 pm. So workout would be in between meals. Does it make a sense ?

    • Mike says:

      I forgot to add that I do kettlebell workouts about 11 pm. I made a mistake , time should be noon to 8pm. Is 3 hours after last meal enough time before workout ?

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      It would still be preferable if you ate directly after your workouts (even if they are at 11pm). I would move your feeding time up to suit your post workout meal schedule.

      • Mike says:

        Thanks for answer, didn’t think about it. So my plan
        is to have window from 4 pm till midnight. I am gonna start from Monday. I remember in December I had a flu, and didn’t eat dinners, I had the lowest weight that time but gain back quickly. I am sure it will work.

  • Richie says:

    Have been on a keto diet for 4 months (low cal diet prior), and for the last month have not lost much weight (stuck at 265, down from a high of 305 in January)

    Considering changing up to IF’ing. However I have read a lot mentioning it’s not really worthwhile to do this unless you are sub 20% bodyfat, I clearly am above that at 6′ 265.

    I usually have a problem eating enough cals, I was eating 1800 cals per day while working out w/ weights 3x week, and long cardio days 3x week, 1 rest day. I was advised to increase my calories to about 2500 cals. I have done this for 2 weeks now and am still maintaining weight, so am now really looking into IF. I am pretty sure I would be able to easily do IF, as I hate breakfast usually also, I just am wondering if it will be beneficial to move to IF, or stick with what I am doing and hope the caloric intake increases my metabolic rate.

    BTW I love eating keto, I definitely prefer it, and would likely do the same on IF, aside from some pre and post workout carbs (weights days)

    Thanks for any and all advice.

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      Hey Richie…thanks for leaving the comment! Please see my answers below:

      Have been on a keto diet for 4 months (low cal diet prior), and for the last month have not lost much weight (stuck at 265, down from a high of 305 in January)

      Me: I’d say you are doing quite well right now. 40 pounds is a lot of weight to lose!

      Considering changing up to IF’ing. However I have read a lot mentioning it’s not really worthwhile to do this unless you are sub 20% bodyfat, I clearly am above that at 6? 265.

      Me: Not necessarily. Almost anyone can do it especially someone above 20% bodyfat.

      I usually have a problem eating enough cals, I was eating 1800 cals per day while working out w/ weights 3x week, and long cardio days 3x week, 1 rest day. I was advised to increase my calories to about 2500 cals. I have done this for 2 weeks now and am still maintaining weight, so am now really looking into IF. I am pretty sure I would be able to easily do IF, as I hate breakfast usually also, I just am wondering if it will be beneficial to move to IF, or stick with what I am doing and hope the caloric intake increases my metabolic rate.

      Me: Switch to IF and use the 16/8 model that is described in this blog post. As long as you keep within your calories and macros you should be good to go. If you want help organizing me put Swole.me into your browser

      BTW I love eating keto, I definitely prefer it, and would likely do the same on IF, aside from some pre and post workout carbs (weights days)

      Me: Doing keto is cool but your body definitely needs carbs especially post workout. Start playing around with this and do your carbs post workout (strength training) for the next two weeks.

      Thanks for any and all advice.

      Me: You’re welcome!

  • Robin says:

    Hello,

    I’ve been doing alternate day fasting for a week now, and I was wondering what your thoughts are regarding fasting 24 hours and then eating 24 hours every other day. It’s been working for me, but I want to make sure it’s actually safe and that I’ll be seeing benefits from it because I’m fasting so frequently. I’ve also been eating low amounts of calories (ballpark 1400) on my ‘eat’ days, and I want to know your opinion about how many calories I should actually be ingesting if I’m fasting every other day.

    I just don’t want to end up doing damage in the long run, but I want to see weight loss results. I’m not concerned with gaining muscle right now, I just want to lose weight in a healthy manner.

  • Layne says:

    Hi!
    Thanks so much for putting together this great site that is so helpful for people wanting to learn about IF. If I read one of your last posts correctly it is safe to have a 24 hour fast 1-2 per week and the other days sticking with the 16/8 fast? I am following Paleo diet and do Crossfit 4x per week and would like to try out If for many reasons including weight loss and less stress with planning out my food each day. What is your thoughts on amount of nuts and fruits I should be eating for weight loss? I am getting married in about 4 weeks and would love to slim up a bit so any other advice would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks so much!

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      Fruits you should eat during the day and after your workouts. Aim for 3-5 servings a day. I’m a little biased to say that nuts are not a super important staple of a persons diet and can be quite dangerous due to the density of the calories. 16-8 doesn’t allow for snacking and I would only add nuts if I was snacking.

      • Layne says:

        Ok. That makes since. Also, from your post you stated that a protein shake should be consumed pre and post workout. Would you add anything else to this protein source? What does your typical pre and post food look like? Thanks so much! Your information is so very helpful.

      • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

        You’re welcome Layne. Anytime.

        The only thing I would add would be a fish oil supplement to help increase the fat burning.

        My typical pre workout meal would be a serving of BCAA’s and that’s about it. I’ve been playing around with a post workout shake taken before the workout and afterwards but I’m staying away from that for now. So my post workout would be whole foods in the form of:

        Chicken, fish or lean beef with lots of vegetables and a serving of carbs…my fave being sweet potatoes.

  • Layne says:

    Another question for you. I follow the Paleo diet as strictly as possible but at times feel burnt out. What are your thoughts on a planned open meal once a week of whatever food I want at that time. Do you think this one meal is enough to stall weight loss? If you are for it do you have any suggestions or guidelines to follow after an open meal to balance out this meal?
    Thanks so much! You rock!!

    Layne

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      As much as I like Paleo I wouldn’t follow it strictly and I don’t. I still drink alcohol on occasion and I do have my cheat meals. You should have at least one open meal if not an open cheat day a week depending on your body fat levels. I could explain it further but John Romaniello has already done so….Follow these guidelines that Roman lays out on this blog post here:

      Roman’s Cheat Day Guidelines

  • Sarah says:

    Hi Dan,

    Thank you for all the information. I stumbled on your website after searching for info on IF. I have been on IF for the past 1 week. I eat one meal in the evening at 6pm and then fast till 6 pm the following day. I have more energy, mental clarity and good cheer than ever before. I have literally spent whole days researching the subject and am convinced that it is the lifestyle for me but for one problem.

    In the past one week I have gone from 160lb to 165. I should add here, I am 5’2″ and restrict my calories in the one meal to around 1600. I also workout every single day. Fairly high intensity cardio and resistance training with 10reps/3 set scheme to failure.

    So far the benefits of added energy, not obsessing over food etc are making me stick with the plan. However, my ultimate objective is fat loss so wondering why there should be a weight gain. I was prepared for the fact that I might not see an immediate downward movement in weight but a 5 pound gain has me totally confused.

    What do you think I am doing wrong? Any help you can give with this would be much appreciated. Thanks again for the wonderful information in this site.

    Regards,

    Sarah

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      Hey Sarah! Thanks for leaving a comment.

      One thing I would mention is to break up your meals to at least 2-3 meals a day. To take in 1600 calories in one meal (I’m assuming it’s not taken post workout either) is too much. Adopt the schedule I’ve provided you in the guide.

      I’d also start lifting heavier with more sets. I’d go by the 5 rep x 5 set range and focus your efforts on the squat, bench, deadlift, and chin. Split up your workouts to a 3-4 day a week split. Do not workout every day. After your strength training do your intervals to get that GH release but that’s it.

      Sometimes when you are first starting IF you may see weight gain and quite possibly a little bloating. Stick to it for 3 weeks and keep your measurements to your inches on your body to see if you are making progress. Yes the weight will come down once you implement the recommendations I just gave you.

  • Sarah says:

    Thanks for replying Dan, really appreciate it.

    Actually, the meal is post workout. Within an hour or so. I will try and shorten the time spent on cardio but I am quite addicted to the high I get from doing 80% plus of effort for 45 mins or so ( as measured by an HRM). Will definitely make the changes you recommended for weight training.

    Thanks again for replying, will keep you posted about my progress. Keep up the good work on IF it really has been a game chager for me so far at least where other aspects of life are concerned.

    Thanks,
    Sarah

  • Ninja Man,
    I only wish I had come across this advice years ago. I have been fasting for 24hrs once a week for the last 5 weeks. Over the last 5 weeks I have got better results than I had got over the last 12 months. This is the best method I have ever used to get lean, I am now finally under 10% bodyfat.
    Niko

  • Rob says:

    I love your IF posts Dan, very indepth. Thanks very much!

  • RCS says:

    Great, great info. I just had a quick question about the morning workouts and the protein shake. Here is my 2x/day workout schedule:

    Preworkout: BCAA & 1/2 Protein Shake
    9am: Lifting/Strength Workout
    Postworkout: 1/2 Protein Shake
    11am: Meal 1 (eaten within 1 hour of finishing morning workout)
    3pm: Meal 2
    5pm: Cardio Workout
    7pm: Meal 3

    Total calories ends up being around 2000, macros around 100C, 250P, 60F.

    So I’d be fasting from 7pm-11am (16hours). My question is: wouldn’t the morning protein shake “break the fast”? And, therefore, I wouldn’t have the 16-hour Fast Window? Or does the protein shake not count? (I use NitroPeak.)

    I’m going for fat loss, only about 10 pounds of fat to go! I’ve lost almost 90 pounds thus far and have plateaued. IF sounds perfect, I just want to get it right.

    • RCS says:

      I forgot to say thank you so much for all this info and dedication, Dan!

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      There is no need for the half protein shake before the workout. Just take the BCAA’s and you’ll be golden.

      The protein would break the fast therefore nullifying the effect of fasted training.

      • RCS says:

        Hi and thanks for the quick response. Just one follow up if you have the time and I’m good to go…

        I have MonsterAmino which sates it has an 8:1:1 BCAA ratio (3.5gL-Leucine; .5g Isoleucine; .5g Valine; 3.5g Leucine Peptides; 1g Citruline Malate) which totals 9g BCAA complex.

        But it has 10 calories in that one serving (one serving is all that’s necessary)…Would this constitute a break in the fast if I were to take it preworkout?

        Thanks you again so much!

      • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

        If it’s under 50 calls you should be good to go.

  • RCS says:

    Thanks so much! Really appreciate it and all the work you’ve put in.

  • Bp says:

    Hey Dan. Great website. I have a question about cardio. I’m running on my rest days. Not too worried about bulking, but the IFing has been working wonders with fat loss and Ive seen strength gains.

    I’m training for a race though and I need to do kinda long runs on some rest days. If i’m supposed to eat like 1600 cals on rest days, which is a deficit to begin with, and 2200 on my lift days, which is about maintenance or a little more…and I run 6 miles (say, burning 600 calories), should I eat 600 more calories on that rest day, so I’d be eating 2200 (instead of the 1600) on that day to make up for the 600 I burned so I’m not too far into deficit?

    Thanks so much. It’d help a lot, just as this page has worked wonders!

  • Ryan says:

    Hey,
    My question was with the 16-8 program and following the meal timing at 12:00, 4:00, and 8:00. From what i’ve read, you recommend having a protein shake or meal replacement before and after the workout. I’m just confirming this because it looks like that’s what you recommend. I do some form of weight lifting workout 3-4 times a week and sometimes follow that up with cardio whether its intevals on the treadmill or playing basketball. Thanks for an adivce you can offer. Ryan

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      I personally do not like to take a post workout shake after my workouts. Some do while others don’t. In my case it makes me hungrier after a workout and if I don’t eat I’ll end up getting hypoglycaemic shakes.

      I say don’t try it for 3 weeks and then try it out for another 3 weeks to see how your body reacts to them. They certainly don’t hurt your workouts one bit.

  • Paige Misken says:

    I work out at 4:45 am with weights 4-5x/week and run 1-3x/week. I take 5gms of the BCAA with my workout and eat my first meal between 10-11 am and my last meal between 6-7 pm. I eat very little meat since most of my family members are vegetarians however, I do eat fish. In some of your previous response to those who workout in the morning is to take a post work out shake. Is the PWS a protein shakes? I am just concerned that I am not refueling my body after my workouts and will loose muscle.

    • NinjaMan NinjaMan says:

      I’m going to go out on a limb and say that your post workout protein window is not as small as you think. What I’d do in your case is take another serving of BCAA’s after your workout and sip it throughout the day until you get to your first meal.

  • Randy says:

    I have to thank you for your effort on this blog. I’ve been using 16/8 IF since reading your blog in January. I’ve lost 20 pounds without changing anything else!!

    I do kettlebell and/or bodyweight circuits 3x a week. I’ve struggled with so called “diets” but haven’t been able to change my eating practices permanently until now. It makes sense, is easy to do and most of all is effective! Thanks!!!

  • James Wilson says:

    Great job Dan! I’m giving this a go for sure.

    Two things though:

    Are you able to say what the actual benefit is of 16/8 and 24 hour fasting is? Compared to having the same 3 meals a day but equally spread out. Why 8 hours? Is it to do with your metabolism changing, or fat burning changing?

    And secondly, if I cut out breakfast which was cereal early in the morning, should I still be drinking milk. That’s good for metabolism right? Can that be a drink you have in the morning, outside the 8 hour window. Or should you incorporate it into one of the 3 meals a day?

    Cheers!

  • Amelia says:

    Hi Dan- would you be interested in doing a personal IF program for me? thanks – Amelia

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