Intermittent fasting (or I.F.) is a fasting technique that can easily be worked into your daily schedule. I.F. is usually used to refer to fasts that are only from about 16 to 36 hours long.
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But, why do I.F.?
Well, there are tons of benefits of fasting, whether it's I.F. or another kind, but the ones that are probably most relevant for you are…
Intermittent fasting is great for losing weight. The whole idea with fasting is that you aren't eating, and thus your body is drawing energy from its fat stores.
With intermittent fasting you eat your big meal(s) during one part of the day, say from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Then skip dinner and fast till 8:00 AM the next day.
The keys for this are…
Beyond that, the field is wide open!
I like this method because instead of 'grazing' on small, insubstantial meals all day long I get to eat a big steak with guacamole and sour cream. Which is definitely more filling and pleasurable for me, even though I have to go without for the rest of the day.
You can use this as an alternative to the 6 meals a day diet that most dieters and nutritionists champion. Do intermittent fasting every day, and enjoy big meals every day while losing weight!
Intermittent fasting is a great tool to use to stay lean once you've gotten to your ideal weight. Without counting calories - or so the idea goes.
See, you're probably used to eating too much. You've learned to control it on your diet, but what do you do when you go back to eating more normal amounts of food?
When you start eating more again, you'll probably eat a little too much. It's only human nature to want to indulge!
So, take one day a week and skip dinner. This will be your weekly intermittent fast, and will create a slight caloric deficit.
If you put on a little weight during the week, this little I.F. will burn it off. Simple, yet effective.
But if you're really over-eating after your diet, this won't work. You can't undo eating an extra 2,000 or 3,000 calories by skipping one meal. But I.F. is good for burning 500 - 1,000 calories, staving off that insidious and slow weight gain.
The other key to working I.F. into your life to stay lean is by eating normally after your fast! Don't bulk up or eat a lot before or after your fast. Simply eat a normal meal when you wake up.
If you eat a ton before or after your fast, Congratulations! You've wasted that time you spent fasting!
Intermittent fasting is a great way is gain muscle and keep your weight under control. Just listen…
So, you've calculated your base metabolic rate and figured out that you need, for example, 2,700 calories to maintain your weight. This factors in your exercise, sex, age, amount of physical activity, and all that good stuff.
You're working out to put on muscle so you want to eat more food, specifically protein, to fuel your gains. This should be around 200 - 400 calories - enough for the extra fuel, but not so much that you'll risk putting on a ton of fat. So you decide you'll eat 3,100 calories to gain muscle.
Do your workout and then have your huge protein packed meal afterward. Steak, a roast chicken, tons of sashimi… whatever works for you. Then, you've got your fasting till tomorrow.
This will effectively (1) give you the fuel you need to build muscle, at the critical time you need it, and (2) give you a mini-fast to burn off any extra calories that you've eaten.
This isn't perfect for holding off the fat, but it's a very good method of adding only lean muscle mass. If you want to add more muscle, and only muscle, try it!
If you're trying to lose weight, you still need to count your calories. And create that calorie deficit you need to lose weight.
And if you're trying to just stay lean, make sure your other meals aren't too big. Your once or twice a week dinner-skipping intermittent fast should counteract your diet on the other week days, not vice versa.
I find managing a social life much easier with intermittent fasting than with any other diet. Simply put, it allows me to eat big meals.
While I do count calories to lose weight, I'll go out to hang out/eat with friends about once a week. On those days, I just fast till my meal with them and then eat a regular restaurant meal.
And that large restaurant meal is usually in the ballpark of my calorie intake for the entire day. In this case, larger restaurant portion sizes work to my advantage ;-)
Even though I don't pig out.
Doing intermittent fasting is really easy. Many people write whole books about it - but it's just eating and then not eating.
If you want more intermittent fasting info, check out Martin Berkhan's site www.LeanGains.com. He's done a ton of work with intermittent fasting, and uses it to stay ripped year-round.
Choose what method of intermittent fasting you want to use. I've listed some common ones for you below, but play with it. Find out what works for you.
This is the one touted by the e-book Eat STOP Eat. He lists lots of benefits of fasting in that book, as well as arguing that 16 hours is the minimum about of time needed to get the full benefits of fasting.
This is also the one I like using. I just make sure that I've fasted for at least 16 hours after I've eaten my big-calorie meal of the day.
19 Hours of fasting, and 5 hours during which you can eat. This is the method popularized in the book The Fast-5 Diet and the Fast-5 Lifestyle.
20 Hours of fasting and 4 hours of eating. Need I say more?
You take an entire day off from eating. This is a simpler approach that doesn't involve any hour counting.
For example, eat normally on Monday and dinner that day is your last meal. Fast Tuesday, and then start eating again normally on Wednesday at breakfast.
This will give you a good 32 - 36 hour fast, and a significant calorie deficit. I don't do this one regularly since, well, that's a lot of time to not eat!
This is a simple one, normally used to create a small calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories. It's also pretty easy, and will give you about a 10 - 14 hour fast. This is on the short end of I.F., but it has its uses.
If you want to lose weight, make sure you're counting your calories and creating a calorie deficit of 500 calories a day. Just like you would on virtually any other diet.
If you want to gain weight, eat more. Though I still recommend counting your calories here, too. It will give you valuable information about how much food you're taking in vs. how much you're using to build muscle (or converting to fat).
If you just want to stay lean and don't count your calories, decide on that.
It's not that complicated! Choose an intermittent fasting plan and do it.
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