Intermittent Fasting: Part Three
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When something seems like a mystery, most people don’t want to take a page out of Nancy Drew’s book and try to solve it. From a distance intermittent fasting seems like a mystery better suited to Sherlock, but it’s really not a difficult puzzle to solve.
Yet the logical response to that which is foreign to us is to run for the hills. If there’s anything in the dietary biohacking world that confounds the shit out of people it’s intermittent fasting. Because we’ve been so ingrained to think about eating a certain way. I wrote an in-depth blog post which serves as a good introduction to weary wanderers in the night of IF and another for those who want some real answers to specific IF questions.
But for anyone who wants to get down with the dirty details and go deep into intermittent fastings who why what where and when (or something like it) then this is for you. See there’s a lot out there, and IF isn’t just one set method, there are various ways of using this system to see some tangible results. What works for one person might not work for another and vice versa. This is where trial and error come in but it certainly helps to have some extra insight.
Personally, I’ve tried most of these methods on and off. Some days one happens more naturally than the other, it’s not like you have to stick with just one method. There are times when I get really busy and don’t even feel hungry until dinner time (warrior method) and there are days when I’m hungry in the morning so I eat by 10AM on a 14/10 schedule instead of noon like I talked about in my article on IF for women.
It’s unfortunate that most of the scientific research on intermittent fasting is on the alternate day fasting regime, because this is probably the least accessible version. However for certain circumstances it can be really useful. When you’ve got deadlines and huge projects on the go and you really need to up your concentration factor, eating just slows you down. As an entrepreneur the value and benefit of alternate day fasting is alluring and has proved to be worth its salt time and time again.
Increased ability to get work done and maintain stable focus is essential to growing a business. Some people use nootropics to get the job done while others (like me) rely on alternate day fasting. By far the most popular intermittent fasting methods are the 16/8 schedule popularized by Martin Berkhan of Leangains and the method Brad Pilon developed and wrote about in his book Eat Stop Eat. These guys look the part, they’re cut beyond belief and living proof that you can gain mad muscle while eating for a shorter window during the day. I’m going to go into detail on how exactly you can replicate their results to look and feel better than ever.
For the ladies, I urge you to check out this blog post first. What applies to guys doesn’t necessarily hold fast for women when it comes to IF. That said many women, especially those past childbearing age have great success with the same principles as men so don’t hesitate to read on.
Different Intermittent Fasting Methods: What Works for One Doesn’t Always Work for Another
The leangains method is specifically designed for fitness enthusiasts and to be utilized in conjunction with a strength training protocol. It emphasizes the importance of replenishing the muscles post workout in a way that other fasting methods don’t.
Why did this method become so popular? I mean, this guy has an insane following and he’s not some fitness guru or famous author. He’s just a guy who figured out what works really well for his unique physiology and for countless other people too.
Here’s an example Martin gives of the 8-hour feeding phase:
“11.30-12 AM or 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA
12-1 PM: Training
1 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal of the day).
4 PM: Second meal.
9 PM: Last meal before the fast.
Calories and carbs are tapered down throughout the day in the example above.”
Personally, my schedule is moved up a bit. I tend towards ending the fast a little bit earlier at around 11AM and having my final meal closer to 7PM. It’s a personal thing and it doesn’t matter as long as you’re sticking to an 8 hour feeding window.
The only caveat is to maintain some consistency. Because of hormonal entrainment your body will tend to get hungry at the same times each day. That’s why the initial phase of intermittent fasting can be challenging, before you’ve reconfigured the hormonal release of ghrelin it’s impossible to control that feeling of hunger. It really only takes a few days of hunger before your body readjusts the timing of the release of ghrelin, the hunger hormone.
As the author of this research paper on the role of ghrelin states, “If you eat all the time, ghrelin secretion will not be well controlled,”
Martin recommends lowering your carbs and fat on non-training days and keeping protein consistently high. This is only applicable if your goals are to lose fat. If you’re using IF to boost brain function and increase your stamina then I say eat as much fat as you want, healthy fats are pure brain food after all.
Ori Hofmekler developed the Warrior Diet, which is cool if like me you’re interested in evolutionary principles and how we can apply them to improve our modern lives. The entire premise behind this 20/4 fasting and feeding schedule is that humans are nocturnal eaters by nature and our ancestors wouldn’t have eaten large meals throughout the day as we do.
The biggest difference between the Warrior Diet and other IF protocols is that it’s not strictly intermittent fasting. You’re allowed to eat small snacks of fruits and vegetables throughout the day, which does appear to be closer to how our predecessors would’ve eaten.
These are the Warrior Diet 10 Commandments
- Eat one main meal per day preferably at night
- Do not count calories. Do not force feed yourself
- Introduce as many tastes, aromas, textures and colors varieties as possible in your main meal
- Grant sufficient intake of essential nutrients from plants along with proper probiotics (Multi-Vitamins and DigestX)
- Avoid synthetic vitamins and antioxidants (Vitamin Report)
- Detox routinely by avoiding meat, grain, sugar, sugar alcohol, refined carbs, soy, alcohol and chemical additives
- Separate between fat and carb fuels
- Avoid GMO foods and dietary products containing pesticides, chemical additives, added sugar, artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, industrial fructose, industrial casein, thermolized (overheated) dairy, as well as synthetic vitamins and antioxidants
- Keep your diet low glycemic and whole
- Avoid wrong food combinations such as:
- Fat and sugar
- Grain and sugar
- Nuts and sugar (or fruits)
- Nuts and grain
- Alcohol and grain
- Alcohol and sugar”
That’s that, it’s quite simple yet still effective. Though you can’t apply the current research on intermittent fasting to the Warrior Diet because it’s not strictly fasting during the day. Many people have had great results with this way of eating. It’s popular among bodybuilding communities, in fact the first time I heard about the Warrior Diet was from my brother who’s a total Cross Fit junkie. There’s no question, people get some astounding results on this program.
The main downfall of this style of eating is that for many people it can be difficult to consume enough calories during the feeding phase. If fat loss is your goal then this is probably a fast track but if it’s important to you to keep making gains, it’s hard to say how much protein powder you’ll have to guzzle to get enough nutrients in a 4-hour window.
Alternate day fasting seems to be a fan favorite of the scientific and medical community. While research on IF all around the board is sorely lacking, there’s relatively more research on alternate day fasting.
The trials that have been done to date include one that tested an alternate day fasting schedule on non-obese men and women told to eat double their usual calories on the feasting day. They lost on average 2.1kg of total body weight after 22 days of alternate day fasting. Another human trial of a similar nature showed participants lost an average of 2.5% of their initial body weight. Unfortunately both of these studies showed that hunger levels remained high on fasting days for the duration of the program, which isn’t exactly enjoyable.
Brad Pilon popularized this intermittent fasting style in his book Eat Stop Eat. He advocates for 24-hour fasting once or twice a week. This naturally reduces caloric intake by 25-30% which quite obviously initiates fat loss. His whole deal, and part of why I think his book became so popular, is that people can still eat whatever the fuck they want. Of course, anyone who’s obsessed with krispy kreme donuts and McDonald’s but still wants to lose weight would be drawn to a program like this.
The downfall is that it does matter what you put in your body. For reasons that go beyond weight loss. But hell, if weight loss is your only goal and you don’t care about getting cancer or other modern diseases, then by all means don’t change your SAD diet.
The 5:2 Diet
How do you lose weight? You maintain a calorie deficit. Whether it’s through food or exercise, there’s no way around it. So the 5:2 diet took what Eat Stop Eat promotes and made it all the more accessible. Basically instead of fasting for the 2 days, this protocol recommends restricting calories to between 500-600 for two days a week. You still get the calorie deficit, and you don’t get the traditional benefits of fasting, but heck, you lose weight and if that’s your goal then great.
This isn’t the ideal program for entrepreneurs looking to dramatically increase productivity though, so be wary.
Other Intermittent Fasting Resources
Mark’s Daily Apple – Mark did an amazing 7 part series on fasting and it goes through everything a person would ever want to know, with wit and humor to boot. My favorite piece of advice here is Mark’s Eat WHEN (when hunger naturally ensues) philosophy. There are days when you’ll be hungry at noon and days where you’re so busy you won’t even have time to eat or notice your belly growling, Mark’s stance, just go with it
James Clear – This guy is famous for sharing his book recommendations but somehow he made an impact on people with his intermittent fasting articles. These are good entry-level articles for anyone who wants to gain a different perspective on IF.
Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness – Steve makes nutrition funny, but no joke he’s got a ton of resources for learning more about intermittent fasting.
Authority Nutrition – These guys make science so accessible. Fluff free articles and plenty of answers to tough questions.
What are your favorite intermittent fasting resources? Let us know in the comments? Got questions? Ask away.
This article is part of a monthly series all about hacking your diet.
If you like this post check out How the Establishment Destroyed Your Health and How You Can Get it Back and How to Optimize The Time You Spend Buying and Preparing Meals.
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