I began experimenting with intermittent fasting approximately five years ago. I got it very wrong and lost a lot of weight, which was not my objective. My goal was to drop some body fat, but, I ended up dropping body fat and muscle mass. I will talk about the learnings from this shortly.
Since continuing to experiment with intermittent fasting, I have found what works for me. I fast on average three days of a week. I will mix it up between having my last meal at 6pm and the next meal at 10am/11am the next day. Alternatively, I will have my last meal at 2pm and my next meal at 7am (on average). For me, I have found this works well with shredding body fat (note, I also supplement with magnesium, zinc, essential amino acids and tongkat-ali). This structure works well for me. I have energy to train in the morning (fasted morning training has been shown as one of the best ways to drop body fat) and I feel mentally very sharp. Getting my best work done first thing.
Does it mean this structure is best for you? No! You also need to experiment with a variety of fasting styles to find what works. Perhaps engage a nutritionist and/or naturopath as you begin the journey.
What I did find was a crucial to its success, was ensuring your first meal was nutrient dense. Protein, fats, greens and not a burger with chips! Your body will drink up this meal.
What are the 7 most common types of intermittent fasting I have come across:
- 12 Hour Fasting – Keep a gap of 12 hours between 2 meals. For example, the 1st meal is at 6 am – 12-hour break – last meal at 6 pm. (12/12)
- 16 Hour Fast (the most common)- 16 hour of no food intake, 8 hours of food intake (2-3 meals) (16/8)
- 20 Hour Fasting – This is done by fasting for 20 hours through the day and eating 1 large meal in a 4-hour window in the evening. (20/4)
- 24 Hour Fasting -Eating only once only in a day.
- 5:2 Fasting – 5 days of usual eating pattern and 2 days of fasting where only 500-600 calories are consumed across the course of the day.
- Alternate Day Fasting -Only consuming 500-600 calories across fasting days, and usual eating on an alternate day.
- ETRF (Early Time Restricted Fasting) – Similar to that of the typical 16 hour fast where you stop eating at dinner (say, 6pm) and then fast for 16 hours, therefore first meal would be at 10am. ETRF is taking this principal but ceasing eating at lunch time or 2pm. (16/8)
What are some of the reported benefits of fasting:
- Weight loss: Intermittent fasting may help you lose weight by reducing calorie intake and increasing fat burning.
- Preserve muscle mass and decrease body fat due to the release of growth hormones through intermittent fasting.
- Improved insulin sensitivity: Intermittent fasting may improve insulin sensitivity, which can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Reduced inflammation: Intermittent fasting may reduce inflammation, which is linked to many chronic diseases.
- Improved brain function: Intermittent fasting may improve brain function and protect against neurodegenerative diseases.
- This is when your body can do it’s clean up and repair. Washing out the dead cells, re-building and repairing.
A tip or trick that works for me. If I am struggling to make the timeframe (e.g., 16 hours) have a big glass of water. If you are no longer hungry, then your belly has told your brain that, “we are all ok”. If you are still hungry, EAT! Note, keep your water up during a fast anyway.