WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Intermittent Fasting is a pattern of eating in which you restrict the hours you eat, rather than the quantity of food you eat. It is not so much a diet, as a diet pattern. It's different from typical "fasting" in that it can be implemented daily, and you probably won't go longer than 24 hours (many people fast for 12-16 hours.) Individual “eating windows" and timing of fasting vary. Some people implement it daily, while others use it more occasionally. I’ve been intermittent fasting for 3.5 years, and personally practice it by eating all of my daily nutrition at night in a flexible dinner window. You can experiment with different IF patterns to find what works best for you!
Why should I try Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting frees you from the diet struggles, hunger, cravings, and energy/mood swings which come from eating constantly throughout the day. By putting you in a fat burning mode saturated in energy from fatty acids, intermittent fasting completely kills hunger, while giving you more energy, time, and productivity. When you do eat, you can do so to satiety with absolutely no calorie counting. Plus, you'll lose weight like never before, and burn stubborn fat with little effort. Intermittent Fasting also boasts a myriad of health benefits. It supports the immune system, is anti-aging, and helps prevent a multitude of ailments, from the common cold to cancer.
How do I start Intermittent Fasting?
To start Intermittent Fasting, simply pick a pattern you want to try, and go for it! You will basically be eating the same amount of food as before, just in a smaller time window. Simply eat to satiety when you do eat. You can start with a longer eating window to make things easier, and one which includes the meal when you're typically most hungry - be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner. While fasting, you can consume water, tea, and coffee (as long as they're not loaded with cream and sugar). Your body will quickly up-regulate fat burning processes, so you'll be saturated with energy from within, rather than from food. Once you've done it a few times, it will be a breeze! In fact, you may never look back, like me.
COMMON INTERMITTENT FASTING PATTERNS
1. Daily Time Window Fast
Implementing a regulated time window is a good technique if you're new to the intermittent fasting world. In this popular approach, you eat each day during a set “window” of your choosing (i.e.: 12:00pm-6:00pm, 5:00pm-12:00am, etc.). The eating window is usually around 6-10 hours or so, and encompasses the entire amount of calories and nutrients for the day.
Martin Berkhan’s popular Leangains protocol advocates a consistent 16/8 pattern, in which you fast during a 16 hour window, and then eat during an 8 hour window.
2. Daily Meal-Based Fast
In this intermittent fasting approach, you eat certain meals each day, rather than during a certain time. For example, you could eat breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner, or only dinner. The meal eating window encompasses the entire amount of calories and nutrients for the day.
The “Warrior Diet" by Ori Hofmekle is an example of this approach: he advocates fasting during the day and feasting each night. This is what I have been doing ever since reading Rusty Moore’s post “Lose Body Fat By Eating Just One Meal Per Day?” over three years ago.
3. Weekly Fast
If you choose a structured weekly fast, you will eat “normally” most days, but throw in some intermittent fasting a few days per week. This could be a smaller 16-ish fast, or longer 24 hour one. Since you’re not fasting daily, you don’t need to focus on getting a day’s worth of calories, and can just eat a normal sized meal. (Although you certainly can “feast,” and will still see benefits).
Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat is a good example of this approach. He advocates a weekly or biweekly complete 24 hour fast, broken with a normal sized meal.
4. The Random Fast
Of course, you don’t have to stick to any certain protocol! You can always simply eat when hungry, while throwing in an elongated fast here and there. The nice thing about having some fasting under your belt, is knowing you can pull it out of your proverbial back pocket whenever you feel like it!