Intermittent Fasting with Flexible Eating
Intermittent Fasting (IF) may sound complex but this nutrition strategy is actually quite simple. In a nutshell, it involves following an eating pattern that cycles between feeding and fasting. When you think about it, we are all already doing this anyway, it just so happens that our fasting period falls when we’re sleeping! The first meal of the day actually earned it’s name to describe this eating pattern of fasting and feeding – breakfast literally means “breaking the fast.”
People who decide to practice intermittent fasting are simply taking this a step further by choosing to extend the length of time they’re not eating. There are many protocols that have emerged but chances are you’ve heard of the 16:8 or 5:2 methods. Let’s examine these and some of the other most common protocols a little further.
Intermittent Fasting Protocols
16:8 or Leangains
This involves fasting for a period of 16 hours followed by an 8 hour feeding window. Also popularly known as the Leangains protocol, the most common way of doing this is by skipping breakfast and then eating between the hours of 1-9pm. You may have also heard of the Warrior Diet which follows the same premise.
This involves fasting for a full 24 hours on two non-consecutive days during the week. To follow Brad Pilon’s intermittent fasting approach, you would typically stop eating between dinner on one night until dinner on the following night. Some followers choose to implement this method just once a week.
The 5:2 Diet (The Fast diet)
Popularized by the British journalist Michael Mosley, the 5:2 diet involves two non-consecutive low-calorie days during the week. The suggested caloric intake is about 1/4 of your typical daily calories, or around 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men. A common strategy would be to make Monday and Thursday your fasting days and to eat two or three small meals.
The bottom line is that there are many different methods of fasting out there, what’s important is you find one that works for you and stick with it. We discuss intermittent fasting protocols and ways in which to implement different methods in our ebook. Click to learn more.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
So now we know what it is and several of the most common methods followed, but what’s the point to all this? Why would you put yourself through an entire 24 hours of not eating, on purpose?! Well, whilst we might be hooked on the societal convention of 3 meals plus 2 snacks a day, constant grazing was not something our ancestors were always at liberty to do. Hunting and gathering was a hell of a lot harder than battling with Saturday shoppers ar Trader Joe’s or Publix believe it or not!
In fact, although the name may be a recent invention, intermittent fasting is not a new concept. Whilst we have a primal need to feed, humans have always fasted throughout history, whether that be during periods of food scarcity or for religious reasons. Culturally, it might be something most westerners are unaccustomed to but the body can adapt, with relative ease, to the introduction of extended periods of fasting.
Aside from the reported health benefits that we’ll discuss in a moment, intermittent fasting can be extremely beneficial from a practical and convenience-based perspective. Most of our clients are busy people – heck is anyone able to escape being “busy” these days?! Some work long hours or do shift work and it can be physically impossible for them to stop what they’re doing and make time to sit down and eat. Enter intermittent fasting! This basically allows you to adopt an eating window that suits your hectic schedule. So much more convenient than worrying about having to eat every 2-3 hours!
What’s new and interesting about intermittent fasting is the research that’s coming out about it. Data suggests that when intermittent fasting is done properly, it can provide numerous health benefits as well as significant changes in body composition. My own experiments with intermittent fasting have helped me achieve body fat percentages that I’ve struggled to reach in the past without horrific dietary restrictions. You can read more about my experience with IF in our ebook.
Here are some of the other reported benefits of intermittent fasting:
1. Improved body composition
Human growth hormone has been shown to increase as much as 5-fold when the body is in a fasted state. This is hugely beneficial for fat loss and muscle gain.
2. Lower Insulin levels
Studies have shown that insulin sensitivity improves and insulin levels drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels help mobilize stored body fat.
3. Increase Cellular repair
A fasted state stimulates autophagy, an essential process whereby your cells essentially clean themselves, breaking down and expelling dysfunctional proteins that build up inside the cell.
4. Stimulate Fat Burning
Fasting has been shown to increase levels of norepinephrine which is a key regulator of fat metabolism within the body.
5. Promote Brain Health
An increase in the production of BDNF, a brain hormone that aids the growth of nerve cells and may protect against
6. Improve Heart Health
Key risk factors for heart disease such as LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers and blood sugar levels, have been shown to improve in subjects in a fasted state.
Other physiological changes in the body such as gene expression have also indicated that fasting can reduce inflammation and also help prevent cancer.
Is Intermittent Fasting right for you?
Women and competitive athletes are not typically thought to be ideal candidates for intermittent fasting. Why? For women there is some concern that fasting may cause irregular periods and hormone deregulation. For athletes it may simply be impractical for you and cause you more stress than it’s worth. However, we would still encourage women and athletes to read our ebook, and experiment with various methods. Everyone is different so if this is something that fits your schedule then try it out and see how it feels for you.
Intermittent Fasting is NOT recommended if:
- You’re pregnant
- You have a history of disordered eating
- You suffer from chronic stress
- You suffer from insomnia or irregular sleep patterns
Starting from a solid nutritional platform is also recommended. So if you’re new to flexible eating we highly recommend you get to grips with tracking and hitting your numbers first, before embarking on any experimentations with this strategy. For this reason, we purposefully wait to tackle intermittent fasting until our Advanced Macro Video package.
If you’re interested in learning more about the various intermittent fasting methods and how you can go about implementing them as part of your flexible eating lifestyle, CLICK HERE to download our ebook.
Barnosky, A., et al.,
Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. Translational Research, Vol. 164/4, 2014.
Heilbronn LK., et al.,
Alternate-day fasting in non-obese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 81(1), 2005.
How Intermittent Fasting Might Help You Live a Longer and Healthier Life. Scientific American, Vol. 308/1, 2012.