Intermittent fasting seems to offer many of the same benefits as calorie restriction, including increased longevity, neuroprotection, increased insulin sensitivity, autophagy, resistance to stress, and some great effects on hormone secretion and mental clarity. Not to mention IF has some benefits that exceed those of simple calorie restriction!
(I can tell you from personal experience the mental clarity and hormone thing works!)
Unfortunately, not all of us want to worry about counting calories. It tends to be tedious and really counterproductive in the world of muscle gains. It’s also pretty stressful and can drive you bonkers, leading to cheating and bingeing, and just plain failure.
Intermittent fasting is the best of both worlds. It allows you to reap all the same benefits of calorie restriction practices, while still allowing an 8 hour window for good eating.
The easiest way to do it is by following the Paleo framework, and eating only animals, vegetables, and some fruit. By following the Paleo diet, our hormones will be more able to keep us from getting hungry during the fast, and our body will be trained to burn fat for energy when we are not eating! That’s exactly what we want!
By eating a Paleo diet rich in animal fats, our hunger signals are greatly sated, and we just don’t get hungry, unless we are truly hungry! And we are only hungry when nutrients are needed by our bodies (not just because of a sugar craving or because our blood sugar is low). It is pretty easy, see? Our caloric intake pretty much self-regulates once neolithic food toxins are no longer being ingested.
Fasted training also blunts glycogen depletion during workout, meaning more fat is used instead!
So, once you’ve reprogrammed your genes and hormones using the Paleo framework, IF becomes effortless! And that stubborn fat loss plateau should be easy to break.
How do I do it?
- Eat 2 or 3 large meals inside an 8 hour window. Usually between noon and 8pm.
- Make sure adequate protein takes priority to preserve muscle mass.
- Within the 8 hour window, only eat when truly hungry, don’t snack unless you are hungry, and don’t eat any calories outside the 8 hour window. Coffee in the morning is an ok exception (very little cream. NO SUGAR).
- Train fasted. That means if you hit the gym at 6pm, make sure your most recent meal was at least 3 hours prior at 3pm. This should ensure you are fasted enough to reap the benefits.
- Eat a large post-workout meal. This will be your last meal until noon the next day, so make it count!
- On rest days, eat less than you normally would. I usually consume only 2 large meals. (It’s easier if you sleep in 😉 )
Here is a good guide to get you started, basically a nice explanation and a few protocols for different meal timing strategies.