Do you ever struggle with cravings and an insatiable appetite?
It sucks right?
I'm not just speaking out of sympathy either...
I've followed some gruesome diets:
Let's just say, I'll never eat chicken, broccoli, and white rice ever again...
Luckily- I don't have this problem anymore.
My last two dieting phases were smooth as peanut butter.
You're probably wondering:
What's my secret?
Well, for the past three years I've been using intermittent fasting.
You're probably familiar with IF.
But for those of you who haven't heard of it, let me clarify something:
Intermittent fasting is not a diet- It's a way of structuring your diet.
Believe it or not, this is a big difference.
Today, I'm going to share the incredible benefits of intermittent fasting, as well as debunk some annoying myths.
I'll also give you six exclusive tips you can use to get great intermittent fasting results in just 60 days.
Intermittent Fasting 101
Intermittent Fasting is a term used to describe periods of fasting and eating.
Wait a second..
Doesn't this describe normal eating patterns?
You got it!
Each and everyone of us fasts every single day.
Think about it...
When you're asleep your technically fasting.
You're also fasting in-between meals.
But what defines a 'fasted state'?
For you to understand this, I'll first need to explain the role of insulin in the human body.
After you've eaten a meal, the body works to digest the food you've eaten.
Once the food is broken down, it enters the small intestine through the bloodstream.
Here it is met by the hormone insulin.
Insulin's job is to shuttle the nutrients to the different cells in the human body.
After several hours, insulin levels return to baseline.
The body is now placed in a post-absorptive state- causing key physiological changes.
Body fat is now the preferred fuel source and as a result Lipolysis and fat oxidation rates are elevated.
This is how we determine when the body is in a truly 'fasted' state.
Variations of the IF diet
There are three distinct variations of intermittent fasting.
They are known as:
- Alternate day fasting (ADF): Involves a 24-hour fast which is followed by a 24-hour non-fasting window.
- Whole-day fasting: Varies fasting to non-fasting ratios. e.g. the 5:2 diet.
- Time restricted feeding (TRF): Incorporates a 'fasting' period and a feeding window in the same day.
The most commonly prescribed intermittent fasting variation is TRF.
If you plan on trying intermittent fasting, this is the method you should use.
Intermittent Fasting 16/8: The Lean Gains Protocol
The lean gains protocol is a popular intermittent fasting system:
It was founded by Martin Berkhan- a nutritional expert in the fitness industry.
The 16/8 method is simple to follow (especially for beginners):
- There is a 16 hour fasting period each day.
- Following this, you have an 8 hour feeding window.
But with all this talk of fasting, you're probably wondering:
Is it better for fat loss?
7 Incredible Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Benefit #1| Dietary freedoom
Want unparalleled freedom on your diet?
You NEED to try intermittent fasting.
It sounds counter-intuitive...
But here's the thing
Most diets place so many restrictions on what you can and can't eat.
Need an example?
Take a look at the Paleo diet:
There lies the beauty of intermittent fasting.
It isn't a diet.
There aren't any arbitrary restrictions.
And you have the freedom to eat as you see fit.
You get to determine:
- Meal frequency
- Meal size
- How long your feeding window is
Most diets have you eat a breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner.
The problem with this approach is that the portion sizes are too small.
Good luck trying to cram the foods you enjoy into a 500 calorie meal!
In my experience, 2-3 larger meals are much more satisfying.
You can experiment for yourself:
Try eating your daily calorie intake spread out between 5 small meals.
Then try eating 3 large meals the next day.
You'll thank me later.
Benefit #2| Adherence
Adherence is the most crucial factor of any diet program.
It's the ability to stick to the plan long-term.
Here's the hard truth:
Most diets fail.
Obesity rates have continued to climb steadily over the last two decades.
Shows like the biggest loser have promoted a crash diet culture in an attempt to boost TV ratings.
In reality, these crash diets are horribly ineffective.
This study showed that most of the competitors regained the weight after 6 years.
The implications of this study are profound, and raises the issue of diet adherence.
The number #1 reason intermittent fasting works is because it's sustainable long-term.
Research has also shown that It's a great way to suppress appetite.
If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense...
You only have a limited number of hours to eat your daily calories.
As a result, there's less chance of you overeating.
Benefit #3| Social freedom
Being on a restrictive diet will kill your social life.
Do you really want to be the guy who orders a salad at a pizza parlour?
Having a cheat meal here and there is perfectly fine- as long as you pay attention to your daily caloric intake.
Want to know a secret?
You can lose weight eating junk food like this EVERY day with intermittent fasting.
Here's the deal:
Weight loss is a a product of eating less calories than your body burns through caloric expenditure.
This is explained by the first law of thermodynamics.
It's simple: Calories in vs calories out.
Benefit #4| It Helps with type 2 diabetes
A recent review of the literature, found that intermittent fasting can be used to combat type 2 diabetes in the obese population.
It appears that fasting and calorie restriction are a viable way to reduce blood pressure long-term.
Benefit #5| It helps with inflammatory diseases
Extensive research has shown that intermittent fasting can prevent chronic inflammatory diseases:
- Crohn's disease
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Parkinson's disease
Benefit #6| Improvements in general health
Research has shown that fasting may improve metabolic health.
Another study found that increased periods of fasting promoted improvements in sleep, satiety, and energy levels.
Benefit #7| Improved cognitive function (focus)
This 2016 review in the Journal of sports medicine aimed to highlight the effects of fasting on cognitive function at rest and during exercise in adults.
Here's where it gets interesting:
It found that intermittent fasting has crucial effects on physical AND intellectual performance by affecting physiology / biochemistry.
Annoying Intermittent Fasting Myths
You would think that intermittent fasting is so great it could solve world hunger...
However, It isn't perfect.
There are a few annoying myths that refuse to die...
And I'm going to address them right now.
Myth No. 1 | You don't need to count calories
There is a big misconception that fasting is a magic bullet for weight loss.
I'll be the first to tell you...
If you want great fat loss results- you need to count calories.
There's no way around this.
Of course, you could try and wing it...
But that will only get you so far.
Experience is a major factor here.
With enough practise (and patience), you'll evolve an instinct for tracking calories.
Here are my mini tips for tracking calories:
- Use a simple method for tracking calories: MyFitnesspal is an excellent app for tracking your calorie intake and staying on track. *You'll need a smartphone such as the iPhone or an android device.
- Count calories NOT macros: In truth, there's not much of a point in counting macros- it will only confuse you.
- Try to eat similar foods: Want to make your life easier? Eat similar foods when counting calories- it automates the process and makes it less of a pain in the ass.
Myth No. 2 | Growth hormone release
I've heard fallacious claims that fasting can boost HGH (human growth hormone) by upwards of 1000%!
This sounds great right?
Until you realise that small fluctuations in hormone levels don't impact muscle growth.
Diving into the research also reveals that fasting doesn't impact growth hormone all that much.
Life lesson of the day: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Myth No. 3 | IF burns fat faster
This is by far the most common myth surrounding intermittent fasting.
For some reason, IF zealots believe that fasting burns fat quicker vs standard calorie restriction.
This simply isn't true.
In this study, male participants fasted for 28 days during Ramadan to test the impact on body composition, cognitive function, and metabolism.
There was a control period before and after the 28 days to assess the changes.
Results concluded only a minor effect on body mass index without any effects on body composition.
What does this study tell us?
That calorie balance is still the main factor behind successful fat loss.
Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss
Want to know where IF really shines?
It isn't a magic bullet that will stop cravings completely but it's still a great way to structure your diet.
If you set it up right, you can lose weight effortlessly.
Here's three things you need to consider:
- Calorie intake.
- Fasting/ feeding ratios.
Step #1 Determine your caloric intake
Before you can do anything, you need to determine your caloric intake.
Use this TDEE calculator to figure out your maintenance calories.
First, you'll need to enter your gender, age, weight, height, and activity levels.
(It's important that you're accurate when selecting activity levels- if in doubt, go lower.)
Once you've entered the fields, it's time to calculate your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure).
Tada! You have your estimated maintenance calories.
It's important to note that this is just a rough estimation- you'll need to test this number for a period of 2 weeks.
- If you gain weight, then reduce daily intake by 200 calories and test again.
- If your weight stays the same, congratulations- you've found your true maintenance calories.
To lose a pound per week, you'll need take your maintenance calories and subtract 500.
Step #2 Set up your fasting/feeding windows
At the heart of every successful diet is structure.
Intermittent fasting is no different.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to stick to a set feeding window but it can be beneficial.
Discipline is formed through habit- this is why successful people live structured lives.
If you're a beginner to intermittent fasting here are a few simple guidelines:
- Skip breakfast and fast for at least 5-7 hours before eating your first meal
- Drink coffee and sparkling water during the fast to suppress appetite.
- If you get hungry, eat a high fibre snack such as an apple and push the meal farther.
- Stop eating 2-3 hours before bed.
Step #3 Fasted cardio
If you train in the mornings then you'll want to consider fasted cardio.
"But Marcus, doesn't that accelerate muscle loss?"
The short answer is yes.
Studies have shown that muscle breakdown can occur during fasted training.
But there's an easy workaround:
BCAA's can be used as an anti-catabolic agent.
And because they have 0 calories, they don't spike insulin levels (meaning you won't break your fast).
How to burn stubborn fat with fasted cardio
There is one standout benefit of fasted cardio:
It's incredibly effective at burning stubborn fat.
Before I can answer this, you need to know what makes stubborn fat...stubborn.
Here's the deal:
We all have stubborn areas that we just can't seem to get rid of.
No amount of crunches with the ab machine 3000 can change this.
For guys this is usually:
- The lower abdomen
- Lower back
And for women:
This is largely down to genetics and body fat distribution.
But there is also a physiological reasoning behind stubborn fat.
- Stubborn areas have higher concentrations of alpha receptors- these are highly resistant to being broken down for energy.
- There is reduced blood flow to these areas- which makes it harder for catecholamines to reach them.
Fasted cardio improves blood flow to these areas and increases concentrations of catecholamines.
As a result, you'll be able to target stubborn fat stores much more effectively.
For more information on fasted cardio- check out this article.
Intermittent Fasting For Bodybuilding
If your goal is to build muscle, intermittent fasting won't be as useful.
Here's the truth:
Most guys struggle to consume enough calories to gain weight.
A high protein intermittent fasting diet will suppress appetite even more.
Can you see the problem here?
Do yourself a favour and stay away from intermittent fasting if you have a small appetite!
Should you lift weights in a fasted state?
Carboydrates are crucial for strength training performance.
Countless studies have demonstrated this.
If your goal is to build muscle optimally, don't train fasted.
Aim for at least a 40-50% carb intake.
You'll have more strength in the gym and this will translate to faster muscle growth.
6 Game-Changing Tips For Better Intermittent Fasting Results
Tip 1 | Delay your first meal as far as possible (skip breakfast)
Skipping breakfast is the cornerstone of intermittent fasting and I advise you do it.
And for those of you wondering:
"Isn't breakfast the most important meal of the day?"
Not according to this study.
I can also speak from personal experince.
There seems to be a period of adaption for intermittent fasting.
If you can push through the tough first few weeks, you'll quickly adapt.
As a beginner to IF: forget about ratios.
Delay your first meal as long as you can.
If you start to feel hungry you can cheat by eating an apple.
The fibre and water content in an apple makes it an extremely satiating fruit.
And the best part?
It's only 50-80 calories for an apple!
Tip 2 | Drink black coffee
I could write an entire novel on my love for Coffee (seriously).
Here are some of it's surprising benefits :
- It improves focus
- Gives a boost to energy.
- It suppresses appetite
- It burns extra calories by stimulating the CNS (central nervous system)
You read correctly- it actually burns calories!
On top of that, it acts as an effective appetite suppressant.
If you're a regular coffee drinker, this will be music to your ears.
However, if you dislike the taste (what's wrong with you) then you can easily supplement with caffeine capsules.
Click here to buy some.
I recommend 2-3 regular sized cups of coffee per day (100mg of caffeine each)
Any more and you'll be bouncing off the walls yelling ariba ariba!
Caffeine is like any drug, the more you're exposed to it the less effective it becomes.
Tip 3 | Drink sparkling water
Have you ever drunk a can of soda and felt immensely full not long after?
This is the carbonation effect (Aka the fizziness).
If you want to replicate this, try drinking a refreshing glass of sparkling water.
It's much healthier and won't give you a bloated stomach.
Combining coffee and sparkling water on a fast is a match made in heaven!
Tip 4 | Eat larger meals less often
Want to enjoy dieting?
Get rid of the six small meals a day.
Research has shown that more frequent meals don't positively impact ratings of satiety (as once thought).
I can attest to this:
I've tried the small, frequent meals and they're hell.
Larger, less frequent meals are much more satisfying and you'll be able to fit in the foods you love.
I've found that 2 large meals work perfectly for me.
You'll have to experiment and find what works best for you.
Tip 5 | Eat lots of protein
Protein is your best friend on a diet; it's the most satiating macro nutrient of all.
This isn't just speculation either- research has proven the positive affects of a high protein intake.
If you want to maximise feelings of fullness, aim to eat 30-40 grams of protein with every meal.
Tip 6 | Don't be too rigid
It's almost cliched but Listen to your body!
If you're ravenously hungry then EAT.
The beauty of intermittent fasting is there isn't a set fasting window.
You can break your fast earlier or extend it further depending on how you feel on that particular day.
Allow yourself to be flexible and you'll stick to the diet.
Intermittent Fasting: Inspiring Success Stories
Can you drink water on a fast?
Of course! Water is a zero calorie beverage.
How often should you fast?
There is no set guideline- IF isn't a diet, it's a lifestyle. Try to avoid the rigid approaches to fasting, and instead focus on consistency.
Is fasting good for you?
Evidence suggests that intermittent fasting regimens are not harmful physically or mentally (i.e., in terms of mood) in healthy, normal weight, overweight, or obese adults. Research also shows intermittent fasting can prevent type 2 diabetes and ease the symptoms of inflammatory diseases.
Will you lose muscle when fasting?
No, you won't lose muscle following a traditional intermittent fasting diet. However, you need to pay attention to calorie intake- eating above a 20% deficit will invariably cause muscle loss.
Can I fast in the evening instead?
Theoretically you could do this, although I wouldn't recommend it. An exception to this would be If you work a night shift.
I'm a big advocate of intermittent fasting...
It doesn't have strict rules...
And there aren't any restrictions for what you can or can't eat.
Instead, it's a simple tool you can use to deal with cravings in your day to day life.
Intermittent fasting won't change your life; but it will make dieting a hell of a lot easier!
Follow the six simple tips I outline in the article and I guarantee you'll get great intermittent fasting results.
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