Types of intermittent fasting.
The last couple of years we have seen the trend emerging where people choose to alternate periods of eating with longer periods without eating. These people are convinced that regular fasting will help them to become fitter. They believe that the fat in their body will be used as fuel and in turn lose weight Besides the weight loss effect they also hope to get some detox effects as well.
In fasting (other than religious fasting) water doesn’t count as it contains no calories. Drinking lots of water will aid in surpressing hunger feelings.
One of the big questions however is if fasting is yet another diet fad or if there are some real benefits by fasting during prolonged periods of time.
There are a lot of people these days that are convinced that they will faint, or die, or can’t perform without food. After a couple of hours without food they become shaky and /or cranky and hungry. Question though if that is because of the bodies actual needs or just because of the body used to getting fed every couple of hours. In my experience the human body gets accustomed to whatever you submit it to. If you start eating every two hours your body will prepare itself to be fed every two hours and will eventually start asking two hours after a meal for the next meals. The other way around also works (writers experience). If you start the day and wait with the first meal until noon then your body will adjust remarkably fast. Historically we are creatures of feast and famine. We would either starve to dead or engage in big meals as a result of hunting actions or finding sweets like berries or honey or other treats. Even today one only has to look to the animal world to see how you are supposed to live. There is no Lion (other than in captivity) who will insist on a big breakfast and a good warmup before going after that juicy gazelle. No its just the other way around. They hang around, sleep and basically do nothing until they become hungry and then they go out to catch a steak.
We as humans are designed the same way most animals are. But modern world living these days were food is readily available makes us lazy individuals that eat what ever, when ever, where ever. And that abundance doesn’t do us any good. So lets have a look at Fasting and more specific intermittent fasting.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
According to the definition in wikipedia.org Intermittent Fasting is : “an umbrella term for various diets that cycle between period a period of fasting and non fasting. Intermittent Fasting is one form of calorie restriction”
Looking at intermittend fasting in that perspective makes that we all qualify. Most of us have at least one longer period where we restrict food (I said most of us) and that is during the night. For most people it is normal to stop eating around 9 or 10 pm and fast until the moment they break the fast with a breakfast. That means that most of us are used to a period of six to eight hours where they fast and don’t have any calorie intake. The assumption that the body doesn’t do much during that period is only partly valid because the basal metabolism keeps on burning and there are a lot of recovery/repair jobs going on in the body during the night.
The Leangains method
The Leangains method popularized by Martain Berkhan. One way of playing with Intermittent Fasting is postphone the moment you eat your breakfast. An easy way to adjust yourself slowly is by waiting 30 minutes longer each day until you start breakfast. If you are used to having breakfast around 7 am, wait until 7.30 on the first day, 8 the second day and so on. The other thing to enlarge the fasting period is by not eating after 8 pm (or 7pm for that matter).
Based on the rules described above a really popular method of intermittenf fasting emerged. That is the 14(women) 16(men)/10(women) 8(men) rule.. 14-16 hours of fasting followed by 8-10 hours of eating without restriction. That could mean that you postphone your first meal of the day until
1 pm. Have the ability to eat until 12+8 = 8 pm and then start your fasting period again. This method can be highly effective for losing weight. Because of the short period and the lack of other food restrictions it can be an attractive form of dieting. The perspective of good food waiting for you in just a couple of hours can be much easier than the perspective of not eating what you really enjoy for months at a time. A guy like Martin Berkan made that really popular as a way for fatloss and muscle gain and healt.
Another way to do intermittent fasting is the religious fast like the Muslims do it during the yearly Ramadan..
The rules for the Ramadan are fairly simple. During a full mooncycle healthy muslims age twelve upwards are not allowed to eat and drink anything between the period of sunrise and sunset. Contrary to other forms of fasting they are also not allowed to drink water during the fasting periods which makes it though. That and the fact that the Ramadans lasts for almost a full month. The Ramadan is based on religious believes and goes beyond just limiting food and water. It is also restrictive in smoking/sex/listening to music and more things. After the full moon cycle the Ramadan ends with a big fest.
Day on Day off
Or Eat stop Eat mad popular by Brad Pilon Another variation is the one where you alternate 24 hour periods of eating with 24 hour periods of not eating. This one is obviously much harder but like everything else it is just a matter of getting used to. After one or two cycles your body and more important your mind gets used to the absence of food and you can go and do your daily things without much limitation. Most people doing this kind of IF do this once of twice a week.
Created by Ori Hofmekler.
If you like following rules then this one is the one for you. This IF method gives your fasting periods of 20 hours a day followed by a feeding period of 4 hours. Ori created more than just the book. He also has a warrior product line. the 20 hour fasting period is more about under eating than strict fasting. you are allowed some raw vegetables and fruit juice.
What makes this one though is the 4 hour window a day. That is a small window to get your food inside you. Basically you need to stuff all your calories in one big meal.
Up day and Down Day
or the Alternate day diet allows you to alternate between low cal days and normal cal days.. Which technically doesn’t make it qualify as intermittent fasting.
If you are thinking about changing diets its always wise to consult your doctor. You can talk with your doctor about your plans to fast and perhaps train at the same time. Not all doctors are created equal though and most doctors are no nutritional experts so also use your own good judgement.
5 Tips for Starting Your First Fast
I you are thinking about doing IF, then these tips are for you:
- Take a big part of fasting and do it during the night. Whichever method you choose have the nights for free..
- Drink water, drink a lot of water. Hydration makes it much easier to fast.
- Start when you are really busy. Your mind will be occupied with other stuff and time passes more quickly.
- Think about eating in another way. Fasting can be a break from eating which doesn’t have to be a punishment but a break.
- Go and train. I personally do most of my training sessions early morning and in fasted state.
If you want to read up on IF
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