The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting

“…But Tony the Tiger tells us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”

This rule has become so commonplace throughout the health and fitness community that it’s readily accepted as fact:

“Want to lose weight? Make sure you start off with a healthy breakfast, so you can get that metabolism firing first thing in the morning!  Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”

“Want to lose more weight? Make sure you eat six small meals throughout the day so your metabolism stays operating at maximum capacity all day long”.

There are even studies that show those that eat earlier in the day lose more weight than those who ate later in the day or skipped a meal.

So, eat breakfast to lose weight and obtain optimal health.  Case closed…right?

Maybe you’re not getting the whole story. As skeptics, what we need to ask: what if there’s science and research that promotes SKIPPING BREAKFAST (the horror! blasphemy!) for optimum efficiency, maximum muscle retention, and body fat loss?

After firmly being on “Team Breakfast” for 28 years of my life, I’ve skipped breakfast for the past three months and might never go back to eating it.

I want to share with you a concept about skipping breakfast (and other meals), and how your health will benefit as a result.

Tony ain’t gonna be happy, but today we’re talking about intermittent fasting.

This is a topic that is very controversial, as it turns a LOT of conventional wisdom on its head. This is why this article is filled with more sources and citations than Jim Carrey’s glove compartment.

What is intermittent fasting?

Seal

Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but rather a dieting pattern.  

In simpler terms: it’s making a conscious decision to skip certain meals.

By fasting and then feasting on purpose, intermittent fasting means eating your calories during a specific window of the day, and choosing not to eat food during the rest.

Now, there are a few different ways to take advantage of intermittent fasting:

  • Regularly eat during a specific time period.  For example, only eating from noon-8 PM, essentially skipping breakfast.  Some people only eat in a 6-hour window, or  even a 4-hour window.  
  • Skip two meals one day, taking a full 24-hours off from eating.  For example, eating on a normal schedule (finishing dinner at 8PM) and then not eating again until 8PM the following day.

Now, you might be thinking: “okay, so by skipping a meal, I just eat less than normally overall, and thus I will lose weight, right?”  

Well, that’s partly true.  

Yes, by cutting out an entire meal, you are able to eat MORE food during your other meals and still consume a caloric deficit (which is an important for losing weight).  

However, as we already know that not all calories all created equal, the timing of meals can also influence how your body reacts.  

How does intermittent fasting work?

Cog

With intermittent fasting, your body operates differently when “feasting” compared to when “fasting”:

When you eat a meal, your body spends a few hours processing that food, burning what it can from what you just consumed.   Because it has all of this readily available, easy to burn energy in its blood stream (thanks to the food you ate), your body will choose to use that as energy rather than the fat you have stored.  This is especially true if you just consumed carbohydrates/sugar, as your body prefers to burn sugar as energy before any other source.

During the “fasted state,” your body doesn’t have a recently consumed meal to use as energy, so it is more likely to pull from the fat stored in your body, rather than the glucose in your blood stream or glycogen in your muscles/liver.

Burning fat = win.

The same goes for working out in a “fasted” state.  Without a ready supply of glucose and glycogen to pull from (which has been depleted over the course of your fasted state, and hasn’t yet been replenished with a pre-workout meal), your body is forced to adapt and pull from the only source of energy available to it: the fat stored in your cells!

Why does this work?  Our bodies react to energy consumption (eating food) with insulin production.  Essentially, the more sensitive your body is to insulin, the more likely you’ll be to use the food you consume efficiently, which can help lead to weight loss and muscle creation.

Along with that, your body is most sensitive to insulin following a period of fasting. 

Your glycogen (a starch stored in your muscles and liver that your body can burn as fuel when necessary) is depleted during sleep (fasting), and will be depleted even further during training, which can further increase insulin sensitivity. This means that a meal immediately following your workout will be stored most efficiently: mostly as glycogen for muscle stores, burned as energy immediately to help with the recovery process, with minimal amounts stored as fat.

Compare this to a regular day (no intermittent fasting).  With insulin sensitivity at normal levels, the carbs and foods consumed will see full glycogen stores, enough glucose in the blood stream, and thus be more likely to get stored as fat.

Not only that, but growth hormone is increased during fasted states (both during sleep and after a period of fasting).  Combine this  increased growth hormone secretion, the decrease in insulin production (and thus increase in insulin sensitivity), and you’re essentially priming your body for muscle growth and fat loss with intermittent fasting.

The less science-y version: Intermittent fasting can help teach your body to use the food it consumes more efficiently.  For many different physiological reasons, fasting can help promote weight loss and muscle building when done properly.  

But why does every health book say “6 small meals?”

small plate

There are a few main reasons why diet books recommend six small meals:

1) When you eat a meal, your body does have to burn extra calories just to process that meal.  So, the theory is that if you eat all day long with small meals, your body is constantly burning extra calories and your metabolism is firing at optimal capacity, right? Well, that’s not true.  Whether you eat 2000 calories spread out throughout the day, or 2000 calories in a small window, your body will burn the same number of calories processing the food.  So, the whole “keep your metabolism firing at optimum capacity by always eating” sounds good in principle, but reality tells a different story.

2) When you eat smaller meals, you’re less likely to overeat during your regular meals.  I can definitely see some truth here, especially for people who struggle with portion control or don’t know how much food they should be eating.  However, once you educate yourself and take control of your eating, I would argue most people find that eating six times a day is very prohibitive and requires a lot of effort.  Along with that, because you’re eating six small meals, I’d argue that you probably never feel “full,” and you might be MORE likely to eat extra calories during each snack.

Although grounded in seemingly logical principles, the “six meals a day” doesn’t work for the reason you think it would (#1), and really only works for people who struggle with portion control (#2).

If we want to think back to the caveman days, we’d have been in serious trouble as a species if we had to eat every three hours.  Do you think Joe caveman pulled out his pocket sundial six times a day to consume his equally portioned meals?  Hell no!  He ate when he could, and his body adapted to still function optimally during the rest of the day.

A recent study (highlighted by the New York Times) has done a great job of challenging the “six-meals-a-day” technique for weight loss.  

Martin from LeanGains points out two important quotes from the study:

“…The premise underlying the present study was that increasing meal frequency would lead to better short-term appetite regulation and increased dietary compliance; furthermore, it was hypothesised that these predicted beneficial effects of increased meal frequency could have resulted from more favourable gut peptide profiles, potentially leading to greater weight loss. Under the conditions described in the present study, all three hypotheses were rejected.”

“…We had postulated that increasing meal frequency would enhance the compliance to the energy restricted diet thus leading to greater weight loss, an effect possibly mediated by increased fullness. The present results do not support this hypothesis.”

Remember, the type of food you eat matters. Meal frequency is not nearly as important as the quantity and quality of food consumed.  This study reached similar conclusions.

Why intermittent fasting?

IF fast plate

Because it works.  Although we know that not all calories are created equal, caloric restriction plays a central role in weight loss.  When you fast (either for 16 hours per day, or 24 hours every few days), you are also making it easier to restrict your caloric intake over the course of the week.  This will give your body a chance to lose weight as you’re simply just eating less calories than you were consuming before.

Because it simplifies your day. Rather than having to prepare, pack, eat, and time your meals every 2-3 hours, you simply skip a meal or two and only worry about eating food in your eating window.

It requires less time (and potentially money). Rather than having to prepare or purchase three to six meals a day, you only need to prepare two meals.  Instead of stopping what you’re doing six times a day to eat, you simply only have to stop to eat twice.  Rather than having to do the dishes six times, you only have to do them twice. Rather than having to purchase six meals a day, you only need to purchase two.

It promotes stronger insulin sensitivity and increased growth hormone secretion, two keys for weight loss and muscle gain.  This was already explained in the previous section with relevant sources, but intermittent fasting helps you create a double whammy for weight loss.

Plus, Wolverine does it.

What are the drawbacks with intermittent fasting?

refrigerator

In my own experimentation, I have found very few negative side effects with Intermittent fasting.  

The BIGGEST issue I’ve found, and the biggest concern most people have, is that intermittent fasting will lead to lower energy, focus, and the “holy crap I am hungry” feeling during the fasting period.  People are concerned that they will spend all morning being miserable because they haven’t consumed any food, and thus will be miserable at work and ineffective at whatever task it is they are working on.

Yes, the initial transition from EATING ALL THE TIME, to intermittent fasting can be a bit of a jolt to the system. However, once you get through the transition, your body can quickly adapt and learn to function just as well only eating a few times a day:

This study explains that in participants after 48-hours of fasting, “cognitive performance, activity, sleep, and mood are not adversely affected in healthy humans by two days of calorie-deprivation.”

“So why do I feel grouchy when I’m not eating breakfast?” In this nerd’s humble opinion, a good portion of the grumpiness is a result of your eating habits. If you eat every three hours, your body will start to get hungry every three hours as it learns and becomes used to expecting (and receiving) food every three hours. If you eat breakfast every morning, your body is expecting to wake up and eat food.

It turns out, quite a bit of it is mental.

Once you retrain your body to NOT expect food all day every day (or first thing in the morning), these side-effects become less of an issue (thanks to a substance our bodies produce called Ghrelin).

Think about it in caveman terms again.  We certainly found ways to survive during periods of feast and famine, and that remains true today.  It actually takes our bodies about 84 hours of fasting before our glucose levels are adversely affected.  As we’re talking about small fasts (16-24 hour periods), this doesn’t concern us.

AN IMPORTANT CAVEAT: Intermittent Fasting can be complex for people who have issues with blood sugar regulation, suffer from hypoglycemia, have diabetes, etc.  If you fit into this category, I highly recommend you check with your doctor or dietitian before adjusting your eating schedule.

I believe more research needs to be done for these particular cases and thus would recommend you do what works best for YOU.

Can I build muscle and gain weight while intermittent fasting?

muscle hypertrophy

Absolutely!

In fact, I have been intermittent fasting for the past three months or so while building muscle, with minimal increase to my body fat percentage.  I still eat the same number of calories I was consuming before, but instead of eating all damn day long, I condense all of my calorie consumption into an eight hour window.

  • 11 AM Work out with heavy strength training in a fasted state.
  • 12 PM Immediately consume 1/2 of my calories for the day (a regular whole-food meal, followed by a massive Calorie Bomb Shake.)
  • 7 PM Consume the second portion of my calories for the day in a big dinner.
  • 8 PM – 12 PM the next day: Fast for 16 hours.

This method has been borrowed from one of the best resources on intermittent fasting and muscle building on the internet: Lean Gains.

In a different method, my friend Nate Green packed on a crazy amount of muscle while fasting for a full 24 hours on Sundays.  

I’m not kidding when I say this has revolutionized how I look at muscle building and fat loss.  Ultimately, this method flies in the face of the typical “bulk and cut” techniques of overeating to build muscle (along with adding a lot of fat) before cutting calories to lose fat (along with some muscle) and settling down at a higher weight.

I prefer this method to the bulk-and-cut technique for a few reasons:

  • There’s far less of a crazy swing. If you are putting on 30 pounds and then cutting 25 to gain 5 lbs of muscle, your body is going through drastic swings of body mass. Your clothes will fit differently, you’ll have different levels of definition, and your body will wonder what the hell is going on.
  • You’re consuming less food and thus spending less money.  Rather than overeating to put on 1 pound of muscle and 4 pounds of fat in a week or two, you’re aiming to eat exactly enough to put on 1 pound of muscle without adding much fat on top of it.  Yeah, it’s a delicate balance, but there’s far less swing involved. You are just slowly, steadily, and consistently building muscle and strength over many months.
  • There’s never a need to get “vacation-ready”: we all want to look good naked, right?  When you are just adding muscle, you don’t need to worry about getting your body ready before by drastically altering your diet (going on a miserable crash diet for a month). I like Anthony Mychal’s technique of never being more than two weeks away.  Keep your body fat percentage low, build strength and muscle, and if you happen to notice your body fat creeping up, cut back on the carbs. Within two weeks you should be back at your preferred body fat percentage and can continue the muscle building process.

Does intermittent fasting have different effects on men and women?

boy girl

Yes, intermittent fasting does affect men and women differently.

This article over on Paleo For Women goes extensively into the negative effects of intermittent fasting for women.

This article on Mark’s Daily Apple does a fantastic job of breaking down the differences between men and women and how they are affected by intermittent fasting, ultimately explaining:

  • “One study, which I’ve cited before as evidence of a benefit to fasting, found that while IF improved insulin sensitivity in male subjects, female subjects saw no such improvement. In fact, the glucose tolerance of fasting women actually worsened. Ouch.
  • Another study examined the effect of alternate day fasting on blood lipids. Women’s HDL improved and their triglycerides remained stable; men’s HDL remained stable and their triglycerides decreased. Favorable, albeit sex-specific results.
  • Later, both obese men and women dropped body fat, body weight, blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyercides on a fasting regimen. These people were obese, however, and perimenopausal women were excluded from the study, so the results may not apply to leaner people or women of reproductive age.”

Long story short: Yes, men and women will have different experiences with intermittent fasting; we’re all unique snowflakes (yep, even you), and your body will be affected by intermittent fasting differently than the person next to you.

My best advice?  Give it a shot, track your results, and see how things go!

Questions about intermittent fasting

kiwi

“Won’t I get really hungry?”  

As explained above, this is generally a result of the habits you have built for your body.  If you are constantly eating or always eat the same time of day, your body can actually learn to prepare itself for food by beginning the process of insulin production and preparation for food.  After a brief adjustment period, your body can adapt to the fact that it’s only eating a few times a day.

Remember, your body’s physical and cognitive abilities aren’t diminished as a result of fasting.

“Where will I get my energy for my workouts?  Won’t I be exhausted and not be able to complete my workouts if fasting?” 

This was a major concern of mine as well.  And for my first workout or two, it was very weird to not eat a heavy carb meal before training.  However, after a few sessions, I learned that my body could certainly function (and even thrive) during my training sessions despite not eating a pre-workout meal.

As Mark’s Daily Apple states:

Fasted training can actually result in better metabolic adaptations (which mean better performance down the line), improved muscle protein synthesis, and a higher anabolic response to post-workout feeding (you’ll earn your meal and make more muscle out of it if you train on an empty stomach).

That being said, I’m currently experimenting with a pre-workout BCAA supplement to see the effect it has on muscle creation.  So far, so good, though I’m not sold on the necessity of the supplement yet.  I’ll keep you posted :)

“I like the idea of fasted training, but I work a regular 9-5 and can’t train at 11AM. What am I supposed to do?”

Martin from LeanGains lays out a few different options for you, depending on your training schedule.  The best advice is to not freak out and overanalyze unless you are an elite athlete concerned with the absolute optimal performance at all time.

If you’re just a normal guy or gal looking to drop a few pounds and get stronger, do the best you can.

“Won’t fasting cause muscle loss?”  

Another big concern of mine, but it turns out…it was unfounded.  We’ve been told by the supplement industry that we need to consume 30 g of protein every few hours, as that’s the most amount of protein our body can process at a time.  Along with that, we’ve been told that if we don’t eat protein every few hours, our body’s muscle will start to break down to be burned as energy.

Again, NOT TRUE!  This study shows that our bodies are quite adept at preserving muscle even when fasting, and it turns out that protein absorption by our body can take place over many many many hours. Protein consumed in a shorter period of time has no difference on the body compared to protein spread throughout the day.    

“What about my body going into starvation mode from not eating?” 

Now, the thought process here is that when we don’t feed ourselves, our bodies assume calories aren’t available and thus choose to store more calories than burning them, eliminating the benefits of weight loss with fasting. Fortunately, this is NOT true.

As Martin from LeanGains so eloquently explains (as you can tell, he’s good at this stuff):

“The earliest evidence for lowered metabolic rate in response to fasting occurred after 60 hours (-8% in resting metabolic rate). Other studies show metabolic rate is not impacted until 72-96 hours have passed.

Seemingly paradoxical, metabolic rate is actually increased in short-term fasting. For some concrete numbers, studies have shown an increase of 3.6% – 10% after 36-48 hours (Mansell PI, et al, and Zauner C, et al).  Epinephrine and norepinephrine (adrenaline/noradrenaline) sharpens the mind and makes us want to move around. Desirable traits that encouraged us to seek for food, or for the hunter to kill his prey, increasing survival. At some point, after several days of no eating, this benefit would confer no benefit to survival and probably would have done more harm than good; instead, an adaptation that favored conservation of energy turned out to be advantageous.”

“This sounds crazy, I’m not gonna do it.”

That’s cool.  Are you losing body fat, building muscle, and getting a clean bill of health from your doctor?  If you can say yes to those things, AWESOME. Keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s working.   

However, if what you’re doing ISN’T working, or you’re not getting the results you were hoping for, why not give it a chance?  Hopefully the dozens of studies at least peak your curiosity.  Self-experimentation is the best way to determine WHAT methods work for you.

Tips and tricks about Fasting 

hungry ant

Don’t freak out.  Stop wondering: “can I fast 15 hours instead of 16?” or “what if I eat an apple during my fasted period, will that ruin everything?”  Relax.  Your body is a finely tuned piece of machinery and learns to adapt.  Everything is not as cut and dry as you think.

If you want to eat breakfast one day but not another, that’s okay.  If you are going for optimal aesthetic or athletic performance, I can see the need to be more rigid in your discipline, but otherwise…freaking chill out and don’t stress over minutiae.

Expect funny looks.  A few weeks back I had a number of friends staying with me, and they were all completely dumbfounded when I told them I didn’t eat breakfast anymore.  I tried to explain it to them but received a bunch of blank stares.  Breakfast has become so engrained in our culture that NOT eating it sounds crazy.  You will get weird looks from those around you…embrace it.

Stay busy.  If you are just sitting around thinking about how hungry you are, you’ll be more likely to struggle with this.  For that reason, I time my fasting periods for maximum efficiency and minimal discomfort:

  • My first few hours of fasting come after consuming a MONSTER meal, where the last thing I want to think about is eating.
  • When I’m sleeping: 8 of my 16 hours are occupied by sleeping.  Tough to feel hungry when I’m dreaming about becoming a Jedi.
  • When I’m busy: After waking up, 12 hours of my fasting is already done.  I spend three hours doing my best work (drinking green tea and listening to PM, which is exactly what I’m doing while writing this article!), and then comes my final hour of fasting: training.

I don’t have time to think about how hungry I am, because I keep my brain constantly occupied!

Zero-calorie beverages are okay.  As previously stated, I drink green tea in the morning for my caffeine kick while writing.  If you want to drink water, black coffee, or tea during your fasted period, that’s okay.  Remember, don’t overthink it – keep things simple!

Track your results, listen to your body:  

  • Concerned about losing muscle mass?  Keep track of your strength training routines and see if you are getting stronger.
  • Buy a cheap set of body fat calipers and keep track of your body fat composition.
  • Track your calories, and see how your body changes when eating the same amount of food, but condensed into a certain window.

Everybody will react to intermittent fasting differently; I can’t tell you how your body will react.  It’s up to you to listen to your body and see how making these adjustments change your body.

Don’t expect miracles.  Yes, intermittent fasting can potentially help you lose weight, increase insulin sensitivity and growth hormone secretion (all good things), but it is only ONE factor in hundreds that will determine your body composition and overall health.  Don’t expect to drop to 8% body fat and get ripped just by skipping breakfast. You need to focus on building healthy habits, eating better foods, and getting stronger.

This is just one tool that can contribute to your success…

To sum it all up

Grass

Intermittent fasting can potentially have some very positive benefits for somebody trying to lose weight or gain lean body mass.

Men and women will tend to have different results, just like each individual person will have different results.  The ONLY way to find out is with self-experimentation.

There are multiple ways to “do” intermittent fasting:

  • Fast and feast regularly: Fast for a certain number of hours, then consume all calories within a certain number of hours.
  • Eat normally, then fast 1-2x a week: Consume your normal meals every day, then pick one or two days a week where you fast for 24 hours.  Eat your last meal Sunday night, and then don’t eat again until dinner the following day.
  • Fast occasionally: probably the easiest method for the person who wants to do the least amount of work.  Simply skip a meal whenever it’s convenient. On the road? Skip breakfast.  Busy day at work? Skip lunch.  Eat poorly all day Saturday?  Make your first meal of the day dinner on Sunday.

Remember: One of the Rules of the Rebellion is to QUESTION EVERYTHING.  If this seems like something you’d like to try, give it a shot. If it sounds crazy to you, ask yourself why you think it sounds crazy, and do your own research and experimentation before condoning/condemning it.

I’d love to hear from you:

  • What are your questions with intermittent fasting?  
  • What are your concerns?
  • Have you tried intermittent fasting?
  • Have you had success with it, either with muscle gain or weight loss?

Thanks for leaving your comment, I’m excited to get the conversation started.

-Steve

PS: We’re fans of Intermittent Fasting, which is why its part of the Nerd Fitness Academy, our online training course that is helping over 4000 superheroes-in-training get fit, healthy, and happy.  Come on and join us!

PPS: Added an important caveat:  If you are somebody who has blood sugar regulation issues (diabetes, hypoglycemia, etc.), I strongly recommend you discuss with your doctor or medical professional before making changes to your diet.  Remember, question everything!

###

Photo Source: seal mouth, tony the tiger, anatomy, cog, small plates, apples, fridge, ant, boy girl, kiwi

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  • fiuza78

    No, you won’t need to count your macros. But it’s important to have an idea if you ate too many carbs in one day.

  • Ben Rigg

    Once your on fasting are you on it for life? I’m guessing if you come off it and start eating regularly the results will be reversed??

  • Kathryn

    Great Article! I have 10lbs to loose and need some advice. I eat my first meal at 1pm or 2pm, my last before 7pm or 8pm and I work out in the am between 6am and 7am. I am just not sure how many calories I should be consuming in my feasting window. The technique is working for me so far but want to make sure I am not doing something wrong. I want to be sure I am doing it correct so I maximize my potential for losing the fat and gaining lean muscle

  • Kathryn

    Luke, I have the same issue and not sure if that is correct have you heard anything on this?

  • BONE

    Thanks for the Rules of Rebellion most sites treat you like sheep leading you to… Anyway instead of 8 hour window to eat then 16 hour fast how about one healthy meal then 16 hours to your next meal?[on your own calorie plan mine is 800 daily no bad carbs. Protein and all the good vegtables you want [no potatoes,rice or bread/grains ]for weight loss duration mode adjust in future] black coffee/green tea/ water anytime

  • Brob

    What about Alcohol? Are you able to consume alcohol?

  • Bec

    Just a note – I would add a caveat to the bits of this article where you already do about blood sugar etc – that for people with a history of eating disorders or disordered eating and body image issues, any kind of restrictive eating plan, especially one involving fasting, ESPECIALLY one that involves working out while fasted, is a very risky health gamble, and can lead to out of control fasting and over-exercising while under-fed. Talk to your mental health practitioner before attempting this method.

  • Pingback: I Don’t Know What I’m Doing. | Nerd Fitness()

  • Ally

    I’m thirteen, and I’ve always skipped breakfast for as long as I can remember, when I heard that eating six meals a day was good for you(about last month) I still didn’t. I’m not overweight, but I have a tiny bit of extra weight. Since I’m still growing I don’t want to do anything extreme, so I just obey what my body tells me to do. I usually don’t eat until lunch, which is an hour and a half before P.E…..
    I’m 5′ 4″ I was 5′ 2.5″ at the beginning of the year, and I every time I leave my state to visit my family for a few weeks I gained muscle but lost fat and actually seem generally healthier, which is a bit off topic, but I wanted to share that. I feel like I have a head start with the fasting on everyone here, and that makes me happy..somehow. It’s good to know I’m not a horribly unhealthy person for this…. I get straight As in school and I’m very athletic, so I don’t see a problem with my current habits. Today has really boosted my confidence, and it’s not just this article.

  • Jess

    Good article very well said, I am fasting now for 2 months. Skipping breakfast and lunch and having a 4 hour eating window will be very hard at first. What worked for me is that I starved my self for a day and ate oats for dinner. Then my stomach got so flat it git usednot having anythigng for the whole day and my eating habits started to change since then. :)

  • Cathy20101113

    What should I eat during the non-fasting window?
    Fat is pulled from my body during the fasting window.But will it be gained again after I consume food?
    I am short. Is it a factor that my weight-losing is not obvious?

  • Saraya

    This is a great read and very informative. I think the importance of drinking ALOT OF WATER was left out, and that is very important during any type of fasting. But overall I really loved the information. Thank you.

  • Hot mama fitness

    K. So true. It worked for me. Lost 13 kg in 4 months. There is a downside though, once you go back to normal eating routine you gain weight quickly except you are into sports or fitness and don’t miss you training.

  • Linda B.

    I need to start fasting again! Me and a handful of friends used to fast every Friday. The support of friends makes it so much easier. Now I have to cook 3 meals/day for husband which makes it difficult for me to resist eating. But when I did fast… oh my gosh… if done correctly you will feel so good afterwards mentally, physically, spiritually. I would only drink water during my fast and afterwards break my fast with a big “loaded” salad first, then eat normally the next 6 days. It was hard to fast but the rewards were sooooo worth it! Good luck everybody (me too) LOL

  • Julian Rickards

    Why doesn’t intermittent fasting produce the same yoyo effect as unsuccessful dieting?

  • lindsnapo

    What kind of meals do you eat when intermittent fasting? Are they more protein based?

  • lindsnapo

    How many days a week do you work out on intermittent fasting? Do you continue the fast schedule on your off days?

  • patricia hubbard

    I love to shredd cabbage, a bottle of v-8 juice mixed with water about 3 to one ratio, teaspoon worchestershire sauce and cook in the crock pot personally I love it you can have all you want and cabbage is a known SUPER food, (: just a suggestion) good wishes for your success

  • mauroalan84

    Just wondering then, since a meal right after working out is stored as glycogen and burned as energy for recovery more efficiently, what if I work out at 4am? Does that mean I have to fast from 1pm the day before to eat then at 5am (breakfast right after workout)? I find it easier to just follow your routine, except for the 11am working out part (can’t cuz of work), so I wanna start my workout at 4am and then eat at 12pm just like you… is it going to affect my goal in any way? Looking forward to lose weight and build muscle at the same time.
    Thanks a lot in advance

  • http://www.singledadfitdad.com Steve Roy

    Hey Steve, I was wondering if your stance on IF has changed at all since you initially write this.

  • Nina Baquera

    I’m really really glad I found this article!! One of my husbands old friends recommended intermittent fasting to us after he lost 100 lbs in one year. We have been thinking of starting it soon and I wanted to do some research before really starting it. I’m glad I can continue drinking my green tea!! For someone who’s trying it out for the first time, do you have any suggestions for the types of meals i should eat when i do eat?

  • Chris

    So when I break my fast should my 1st meal be the largest meal?

  • chelsea

    I’ve been fasting for a week now. 12 to 8 is my eating time. I’ve been having awould headaches anybody else experience this?

  • Reeshae Mccray

    This was such a great article, Thanks !

  • Motfeen

    How much water should i drink while fasting as opposed to when im not fasting?

  • SpaDreams

    If you want to learn more about other fasting types – have a look @ our Fasting Guide :https://www.spadreams.com/nourishment-fasting/spadreams-fasting-guide/

    :)

  • Jason

    I’ve been eating breakfast at about 8am then fasting for the rest of the day. 30 minutes before my workout, I take in 25grams of protein. After my workout at about 6-7pm, I eat a light dinner. Then start it all over.

    I’ve been under the assumption that such low calorie intake would be best for cutting fat, but I’m worried that it may be too low and I might start burning away muscle too.

    What do you think??

  • Laurie McAfee

    Just got one question. I drink a matcha green tea in the mornings, but I add 2 tablespoons of Great Lakes gelatin and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Is this breaking my fast?

  • Chris Townsend

    Thanks for this article. I am starting my 16:8 today and I’m measuring my waist size. Looking forward to seeing what happens. The only thing I’m concerned about is when to work out. I currently work out at 5PM, when I finish work. My 8 hour window is 1pm-9pm. Would I be better to do my work out in the morning while I am in a fasted state?

  • joblo

    Thanks so much for the article! I’m also at a plateau right now so I think I will try fasting:)!
    I just have one question as to when should be the best time to fast? I would do like Steve; fast from 8 pm to 12pm the next day, however I strength train every morning from 6h30 to 8h am. Shouldn’t I always eat right after a training?
    Thanks :)

  • Kim

    I’ve been doing this all my life but I’m still overweight.

    I hate to have to eat in the morning so I always skip breakfast. I usually eat my first meal at around noon then dinner at 6/7.

    I need to lose 18kg

  • Matt

    Great article, very informative, well written with some great logic and humor in between. Nice one.

  • Billie Kirk

    Do you do this daily? Skip breakfast and get all your calories in before 8pm? Mostly fasting while sleeping? I wouldn’t mind this method at all. Just trying to figure out if I do this daily?

  • Layne LeBleu

    Has anyone tried the Two Pre-Workout Meal approach from Leangains?

    I work 7am-4pm M-F (Tuesday I work until 9pm and thought about just fasting the whole day)

    Does anyone have a mostly similar scenario and can share their thoughts?

    Thank you!!!
    Layne

  • DeadPool9190

    Does work for endomorph body type?

  • Janey

    Hi I have started 14 to 18 hour fasting and getting on very well. I had one episode of the shakes, sweatpants and need for sugar, but after 2 weeks I am not having a problem with it and enjoy feeling in control and not just following old habits. Weirdly though I have gone up one kilo in weight. Not sure I understand this, as my calorie intake is certainly lower than it was. Still, it’s been easier than I expected and know it’s done me good :-)

  • MissMonk

    I really enjoyed this article. Thanks for writing it. Though, the example used through it is breakfast skipping. So i do my workouts at about 8am. I’ve only been doing this a few months but with changing my eating habits to more fruits and veggies and less, other stuff I’ve gotten to the point where I really, prefer not to eat dinner. Or have like some fruit or something instead of a full meal. Its the same concept right if i choose to start fasting by skipping dinner (about 630pm) till breakfast. (about 930am)? Silly question. I know but I just want to make sure I’m still being healthy about it.

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  • Taylor

    I have a question. I am a two-sport College athlete that starts the day with lifting at seven am and finish the day with practice till roughly seven o’clock every night. Say I want to do an 8 hour eating window with a 16 hour fasting period. Is it a bad Idea to say work out at 7 am every day, but not eat until 12? or should I be absolutely eating after every workout? Thanks so much!

  • shinita

    I always thought it’s natural to eat when I’m truly hungry… My body gives a sign to eat so I eat. I almost always did something like 16/8 IF, it seems. I didn’t know about it, it was natural to me. My body strongly rejected the idea of eating after just 12 hours after dinner… 15-16 hours without eating felt so perfect and needed :)
    Then I went keto and sometimes 20/4 happens. But typically just 18/6.
    I had some days in my life when I didn’t eat, I simply wasn’t hungry at all. My body must know what it does, I never force feed myself…
    Keto and IF is just perfect for me.
    I have some “problems” with portion control. Not really, I just don’t control it, I eat till my hunger gets satiated. If it’s 1700 calories for an extended meal, so be it. It isn’t even much food, I eat very fatty even when not on keto. 3 meals is too much for a calorie decifit, I use typically 2 now (a lunch around 3pm and a dinner around 7pm), sometimes a big one and a few bites later ;) It works. And so convenient… And more filling than more meals (I can’t even imagine more than 3, I would eat and be hungry all day… Simply eating breakfast ruins my day, I just get hungry. Even if it’s a very low-carb breakfast. Breakfast isn’t for me.)

    I don’t care what they say about women, I keep doing what feels right to me… ;)

  • Patricia Lee Denison

    Will it matter if I start this fasting and I workout in the evening.. usually from 5 to 630

  • pizza.princess

    Sucks to be you, then.

    Everyone is NOT the same. Just get over yourself and accept it.

  • Nathan

    I’m trying to cut my bodyfat down from 20% to about 10-12% and IF might be the thing that helps me achieve that goal. My problem is in working out while fasted. I checked out the LeanGains link which said that working out fasted can be detrimental and, as a solution, recommended the consumption of 10g of BCAA’s prior to and following a workout.
    However, I really cannot afford anymore supplements and BCAA’s look particularly expensive. I’m also unable to work out any later in the due.
    Does anyone have any advice here? Is there a BCAA alternative that won’t break the bank?

  • Kaaay

    Hi there! Still researching and very curious about IF, now that your article has definitely sparked my interest. I’m learning to be more health conscious about what I’m eating, but it never really occurred to me to think about WHEN I’m eating as well.

    If I try something like doing the IF on Mon & Fridays, having an 8 hour window of eating, will it benefit me at all just by changing the pattern of eating on those days (say 12PM-8PM)? Or do I also need to do training before I eat on those days for it to be effective? I work at regular 9 hour job day.. and I usually try to be active or hit the gym after work.

  • Odd Harald

    Hi, I´ve been working out steadily for about 7 months now and was thinking about starting to get i shape for the summer:) I have been reading quite alot of different stuff, but this really had me interested. But i have a couple of questions which i would really appreciate some good answers for :)
    1) How much and in what ways should you workout for getting the best results?
    I was thinking about a plan where i work out 5-6 times a day( strength on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and cardio on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays)
    2) I always workout in the morning around 8 am. Is it crucial that i eat right after my workout?
    3) What are your views on PWO (PreWorkOut) and Creatine? i like the PWO because it quickens me up in the morning and it kind of pushes back my hunger during the workout, but are there any drawbacks to it that might make me want to stop?
    From all that I´ve heard and read about Creatine i cant really see any drawbacks with using it, but i thought i´d just ask anyhow.
    Thanks in advance for any replies, i´m interested in anyones input! :)