The Weight Loss Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a buzzword in health and fitness circles right now.  The promise of sustainable fat loss, anti-aging benefits, and the logistical practicality for those with busy schedules has made IF a hot topic.  

IF is the practice of taking regular “micro-fasts” usually lasting around 16 hours followed by a condensed feeding window usually lasting 8 hours. It is also common for IF practitioners to include more extended fasts of 24-hours or longer at semi-regular intervals.  Scientific studies and anecdotal evidence suggests that the best way to reap the full rewards of IF is to fast through the night and into the next afternoon timing the start of the feeding window to coincide with a post-workout meal when insulin sensitivity would be at its highest.  

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

•Rapid fat loss

•Sustainable weight management

•Detoxification

•Improved focus and cognitive function

•Improved athletic function

•Elevated senses, especially sense of taste

•Lowered blood sugar and improved insulin sensitivity

•Better compliance than calorie restriction

•Better metabolic adaptations from training

•Improved muscle protein synthesis

•Higher anabolic response to post-workout feeding

•Learn the difference between real hunger and mental hunger

•Practicality; less meals = less food prep, less clean up, less shopping, and more time to do the things you enjoy doing (or have to do)

My Experience 

Since my experiment with IF began 4 months ago I have lost 12 lbs.  During that time I hit training personal records in the Deadlift, single-arm push-up max (with weight vest), single-arm single-leg push-ups max reps, pistol squat max reps, and my first single leg back lever.  I have also felt a dramatic increase in focus, cognitive function and energy, which is even more impressive considering one month into my experiment we had our first child.  The best part is that my taste buds and stomach are rewarded every day.  I’ve never felt deprived like I have in the past when experimenting with traditional calorie restriction.  Put simply after 4 months of IF at 30 years old with a 3-month old baby I am in the best shape of my life.  

Easy Intermittent Fasting

I have condensed what I learned through my research and personal experience into a program, Easy Intermittent Fasting that I will be putting into an Ebook.  This article is an introduction to the program and the basics about how IF works, why it works and how you can get started.  For those of you interested in experimenting with IF I have included two sample programs.  The Test Flight is a good way to test the waters and a good stepping-stone into a consistent IF program.  Flight School is an intermediate program for those that are ready to dive head first.  

For the purpose of this article I will be focusing on the benefits of IF that directly affect weight loss, weight management, cognitive function, and training.

5 Rules of Easy Intermittent Fasting

1.Condense your eating into an 8-hour (or shorter) window.  By default this means that you will be fasting for 16 hours or longer. 

2.Eat the fewest number of meals you need during the feeding window. 

3.Train fasted and have your largest meal post-workout, or soon thereafter.  This is really just smart nutrient timing.  

4.Satisfy your hunger during the feeding window.  Don’t be concerned with normal eating conventions.  If you are still hungry then you need to eat more. 

5.Focus on food quality and nutrient density when you eat.  Fasting is exponentially easier when you eat quality food.  Nutrient dense foods give you a better, longer lasting sense of satiety.  Eating a large quantity of food during your feeding window is encouraged if that is what you need, but it is not a license to eat junk.  

Why it works in three sentences?

IF trains your body to become very efficient at burning fat.  Condensing your eating into an 8-hour window of time optimizes several important hormones, like growth hormone, glucagon, leptin and insulin.  It also gives the liver a daily 16-hour window to detoxify and then move on to its other job, mobilizing body fat.  

Test Flight Program

This program consists of three weekly 16-fasts for two weeks.  On those days you will do all of your eating in an 8-hour window.  Try to time your training on those days so that you break your fast with a post-workout meal.  Spread your three IF days out so that there is at least one day between them.  After 2-3 weeks try a 24 hour fast.  

Start every fast at the end of dinner and go into the afternoon on the next day.  If you decide to extend a fast beyond 16 hours because you feel good or due to your schedule that is totally ok. Remember to drink plenty of water during the day.  Tea and black coffee is ok during the fast.  Be aware of liquid calories like juice and cream in your coffee.  Those are a no-no.  

Flight School Program

This program consists of a 16-hour fast at least 6 days a week for a period of 20 days.  Use the 7th day as a re-feed day if you think you need it, but keep the food quality high.  On the 21st day you will do a 24-hour fast.  

Start every fast at the end of dinner and go into the afternoon on the next day.  If you decide to extend a fast beyond 16 hours because you feel good or due to your schedule that is totally ok. Remember to drink plenty of water during the day.  Tea and black coffee is ok during the fast.  Be aware of liquid calories like juice and cream in your coffee.  Those are a no-no.  

Conclusion

Either of these programs is a good introduction to Intermittent Fasting. In the beginning I think it is important to keep things simple.  There are more advanced tweaks that unlock even greater benefits of IF. These are great additions if you decide to stick with it.  If you go into the experience open minded I think you will enjoy it as much as I have. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this article and your experience trying IF.