The first mentions on intermittent fasting were made by a guy named Ori Hofmekler in 2003. In his book titled “The Warrior Diet”, Ori researched IF and claimed that Roman soldiers and hunter-gatherer groups were mostly starving or not eating food during the day but had big meals through the rest of the day.
The main reason why he was advocating this dieting strategy is that he claimed it was the main reason why Roman soldiers were always at a low body-fat level, and had muscular bodies.
My take on this?
I can’t make a comment here. I wasn’t on the battlefield with Roman soldiers to see what they ate. And there’s plenty of research to support hunter-gatherer groups ate more meals during the day.
But I am doing intermittent fasting for over 4 years now, experimented with most protocols, and I will tell you exactly how you can improve your fat loss with IF.
I did it myself, and I’ll help you implement it yourself. Follow this guide…
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What is intermittent fasting
- How does IF work for you
- The advantages of using IF
- IF Protocols for fat loss
- Why you should skip breakfast
- How mark lost 27 pounds eating twinkies
- How to train for improved weight loss
- When I don’t recommend IF
- Will you lose muscle mass on IF?
- Will your metabolism slow down?
- Can you absorb more than 30 grams of protein/meal?
- Is fasted training causing muscle mass loss?
- How women should do intermittent fasting
- How to skip breakfast if it’s your first time
What Is Intermittent Fasting (IF) And How You Can Use It To Improve Your Weight Loss
Many people think that intermittent fasting is a diet. I want to make the distinction between a diet plan, and a dieting strategy.
A diet plan is comprised of the foods you eat on a certain day.
A dieting strategy is a pattern in which you eat those foods.
IF is a fasting dieting plan.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a period in which you won’t eat anything named the fasting window, followed by a so-called eating window in which you are allowed to consume your meals in a particular caloric deficit.
The main rule is to keep your insulin levels down as much as you can until you break the fast. What do you have to do?
It’s simple: Don’t eat anything until your first meal when you break the fast. And if you want to drink something, make sure you don’t eat more than 50 calories worth of milk, sugar, or any other sweeteners.
The most common IF dietary strategy is the 16 hours fast with an 8-hour eating window.
In this situation, you have to eat your calories between 12:00 PM to 20:00 PM. You’ll have the next meal in the following day at 12:00 PM.
A simplified protocol I used for quite some time is the following:
- 8:00 AM: Woke up, drank tea or coffee. Go to work.
- 12:00 PM: My first meal
- 16:00 PM: Gym time
- 20:00 PM: Post-workout meal
It’s a basic protocol with two meals every day. You can make it a 3 meals a day protocol by just adding another meal in between.
Here’s how you can IF with three meals a day:
- 8:00 AM: Wake up
- 12:00 PM: Your first meal
- 15:00 PM: Your second meal
- 17:00 PM: Sports
- 20:00 PM: Last meal of the day
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work
All you have to understand is that at any given moment of the day, you can be in a fed or fasted state.
- Fed state – you are in a fed state when your body is digesting the food you just ate. This state starts from the moment you first started eating your meal, and lasts for a period of hours until your body finished with digesting the food you just ate.
- Fasted state – The fasted state is also known as a post-absorptive state in which your body is not processing a meal. In IF, the fasted state starts right after your last meal.
Fat burning is way easier in a fasted state. The main reasoning behind this is that your insulin levels are low. And fat burning will increase. But make sure you also keep your caloric deficit in check.
Don’t only rely on the fasted state. You have to also be in a caloric deficit for IF to work.
What Research Says And The Advantages Of Using Intermittent Fasting
Let’s face it:
The truth is that intermittent fasting won’t really transform you into a super hero but it will offer you a whole host of advantages compared to a guy that doesn’t use this eating strategy:
- It’s a dieting strategy that’s easy to implement and maintain – the main advantage of Flexible Intermittent Fasting is the simplicity and flexibility it offers. You can add the Flexible Intermittent Fasting protocol to any kind of diet you are using now, and get the benefits associated with this eating style. The hunger sensation will disappear, and you’ll be able to eat huge meals and still lose weight
- It will help you maintain muscle mass on a diet – One of the main advantages of intermittent fasting which I personally observed on me and all of my clients, is the ability to maintain muscle mass and strength easier compared to a normal diet when you are in a caloric deficit. Many people ask me how am I able to keep all my strength and muscle mass when I look so lean? Now you’ll know why too. Keep reading
- It offers extreme flexibility – because you don’t have to eat many meals a day to „ramp up” your metabolism (there’s no such thing), you have the freedom to eat whenever you want to. Intermittent fasting allows you to set up your own meal plan
- It improves concentration and mental clarity – many dietitians and nutritionists recommend you to always eat something so you have a constant flow of energy. That’s nonsense. It’s been proven in scientific studies and practical application that you don’t have to eat frequent meals to have a constant surge of energy. Concentration and mental clarity will improve while being on a fast
- Efficient against stubborn bodyfat – the biggest problem you have body composition wise is the so-called „stubborn” bodyfat. It’s the fat that goes down the hardest. You can find it in the lower abdomen area in men, and thighs and hips in women. Intermittent fasting is effective against stubborn bodyfat because it activates certain receptors called adrenaline and noradrenaline which help with fatty acids mobilization and burning from the fat cell. It improves blood flow to certain areas that have stubborn bodyfat. Areas with stubborn bodyfat have reduced blood flow.
- Better nutrient partitioning – Every time you eat, your body sends nutrients to different tissues. It can be muscle tissue, fat tissue, etc. As an oversimplification, let’s say an average guy has a 50%-50% nutrient partitioning. Any caloric surplus will go in a 50-50 proportion towards fat and muscle stores. As a strategy, Intermittent Fasting improves this partitioning. Scientific studies show that intermittent fasting improves many markers like better glucose transport into the muscle, improvements in muscle glycogen stores, better body composition, better sports capacity, improved insulin sensitivity, and much more. Technically speaking, all these improvements are still under a question mark because we need more studies in this area. But improvements are seen through practical application.
- You can create your own huge and satisfying meals – you are not limited to small and frequent meals anymore. Now you can create your satisfying meals and still lose fat or improve muscle gaining.
- Improved immune system – I don’t even remember when I last caught a cold
- Better insulin sensitivity – Basically, your body is more efficient at taking glucose into your body cells. This translates into easier fat loss and muscle gaining
- Better brain health – studies show intermittent fasting supports better brain health
- The improved process of „autophagy” – this is a process that takes place into your body cells. This process eliminates cell waste and improves repairing. Autophagy has a major role in muscle mass maintenance and fights against certain aging-related aspects.
An article in New York Times made intermittent fasting even more popular because they said it can make you live longer.
From scientific studies and my point of view, there’s not enough proof to say this is correct, but there are certain positive aspects indeed with the practice of intermittent fasting.
Other benefits I experienced:
- I didn’t even remember when I was truly hungry on a diet plan, and now I only eat because I want to
- The fact that I only eat 2-3 meals a day between the fasting and eating window gives me a tremendous flexibility and an incredible desire to prepare my next meal
- Better mental clarity after I drink coffee on a fast
- Improved energy through the day
- Constant energy levels through the day
The reality is that these benefits are not unique in intermittent fasting regimens.
In fact, no one demonstrated that intermittent fasting has any tangible benefits that cannot be achieved with less restrictive diets. This is the word: Less restrictive dieting. This idea gave birth to my flexible intermittent fasting protocol which I’ll detail in this guide.
But before I show you my protocol with intermittent fasting, you have to see what’s up with this dieting strategy…
11 Intermittent Fasting Protocols I’ve Tried That Are Proven To Help You Shed Fat (I Only USE The Last One Now)
I spent around 4 years testing all the popular IF protocols. That’s why I feel like I know enough about IF to tell you which one is the best from my point of view.
Some protocols were a piece of cake, some were making me eat nothing for over 24 hours, and some of them made me feel hungry and tired.
Some of them made me feel more energy, focus, and strength. Others were making me feel without energy, and with low mental motivation.
Nevertheless, I only listed the ones I personally think they work the best (the last one if my favorite – and ever since I discovered it, I am using just that one)
If you are new to this, I recommend you to start with the simplest one (the 16h fast, 8h eating window), and then go with my flexible intermittent fasting approach.
- The 16 with 8 protocol – this protocol is frequently used and popularized because it’s one of the easiest protocol to do. It is comprised of 16 hours of fasting with an eating window of 8 hours. It’s the easiest way to start fasting, and it goes well with any dieting. You can eat large meals without any worries. What I don’t like about this protocol is the fixed eating windows. This is the main reason why I created my flexible protocol
- The 18 with 6 protocol – Most of the time, the answer to most things is the middle way. This is the middle way between the 16-8, and 20-4 fasting protocols. I like this one because it feels more balanced, and you have plenty of time to consume your calories for the day.
- The 20 with 4 protocol – Created by Ori Hofmekler, the creator of The Warrior Diet. His method is comprised of 20 hours of fast combined with a 4 hour eating window. You have to consume most of your calories at night. In the course of the day, you are permitted to eat fruits and vegetables, but you are not allowed to consume protein foods. Save your biggest meal for the night. The only problem I see with this intermittent fasting pattern is the inability to keep a fasting window. In my opinion, consuming veggies inside the eating window negates the potential benefits of this diet. Not all of them but it can’t certainly be considered a fasting diet.
- The 24h protocol – The simplest and most satisfying method of fasting from my point of view. Its creator is Brad Pilon. What do you have to do on this protocol? You won’t eat anything for 24 hours. That’s all. Your first meal after the fasting window should be a regular meal. Through the day, you will consume certain foods like usual. I recommend weight lifting with this dieting strategy for muscle mass maintenance.
- 1-2 times/week fasting – one of the most interesting protocols I’ve seen lately is this one. It’s the easiest one to follow but it’s the least effective one in my opinion. It’s a compromise between the normal IF protocols and flexibility. You have to choose 1-2 days from the week in which you’ll fast.
- The 5:2 fast – In this protocol, you have to choose 2 days from a week in which you’ll fast with an extremely low caloric intake. Eat normally the remaining 5 days. The caloric intake in those 2 days of fast is 500 for women, and 600 for men.
- The 5 day fast – While not a full fast for 5 days, this protocol requires you to eat around 1000 calories on the first day, followed by 725 calories for the remaining 4 days. The macronutrient setup for this diet is low carbohydrates, protein, and high in healthy fats. I don’t recommend this approach. And if by chance you decide to try it, make sure you consume most of the calories from protein sources
- The Alternate Day Fasting – There are many eating strategies that can be implemented with ADF but the cookie cutter build for this diet is to fast every other day. Hence the name. Just fast every other day by eating a very low caloric intake or don’t eat anything. If you are a beginner, don’t try it until you get used to IF or FIF
- Personal researched 30h fasting protocol – no matter how strange this might sound, I tried not eating anything for 30 hours. Then, I broke the fast with my first meal which was a mix of vegetables, meat, and cheese (to slow down the glycemic response, and absoption). And I ate the rest of the calories for that day in another two meals.I don’t recommend this protocol to a beginner. Start with the 16h fast, and 8-hour eating window
- Personal researched 32-35h fasting protocol – This protocol is similar with my personal 30h fasting protocol. This was the only time I felt a bit dizzy at the end of the fasting window. This dizziness feeling happens only in certain people. But testing it on myself, I discovered that going on with this protocol in the long term translates into loss of muscle mass. I had difficulties maintaining my strength in the gym using this protocol. If you want to try it, don’t do it one after the other
- Flexible intermittent fasting for weight loss – the best of both worlds. This protocol combines fasting with flexibility in an attempt to gain all the benefits of IF, and make it fit your lifestyle. Every day can be a fast day, and you don’t have a certain restriction aside from creating and closing a fasting window. Keep reading…
Which protocol is the best to use?
There’s no best way to do IF. The primary determinant of the protocol you chose should be your personal lifestyle. The protocol that fits your lifestyle is the best in your case.
My personal choice is FIF because it can fit any kind of lifestyle. You can read a how-to guide here.
Why Skipping Breakfast Can Be Better Than Eating It
Almost every time I get a new client or refer Flexible Intermittent Fasting to someone, I keep getting this question:„Florin, are you sure my first meal is at 12:00 PM?”. Every time, my answer is the same: YES.
Many people believe that because they don’t eat their breakfast, something bad will happen. They will lose muscle mass, have less energy, or something bad will happen to them.
The „Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” saying is nonsense. It certainly isn’t something wrong to consider, and if your lifestyle is built on eating breakfast, by all means continue doing so. But eating or not eating breakfast is irrelevant.
It doesn’t matter for body composition. What’s important is your social and psychological conditions, and how much food you eat. In other words, your caloric intake for that specific day dictates if you lose or gain weight.
Why are some nutritionists, dietitians, and some of the so-called “fat loss gurus” saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day?
Because some of them misinterpret research data. And here’s just an example of how they do it. One of these tricky studies is named the effects of breakfast on your total daily caloric intake in which researchers tested how breakfast or lack of it, impacts on total calories eaten through the day. They discovered the following:
This study concluded that people that skip breakfast have a higher body weight.
But it has one big flaw. This study is not valid because researchers didn’t control the subjects caloric intake carefully. This means that they don’t know exactly how many calories each person ate every day. They just know if they ate breakfast or not.
The reality is that most people that skip breakfast without doing it with a weight loss reason in mind have dysregulated eating patterns. This means their weight is usually higher than that of people that don’t skip breakfast. And the same people that skip breakfast probably don’t adjust or follow their total caloric intake.
How A Nutrition Professor Lost 27 Pounds In 10 Weeks By Skipping Breakfast And Eating Twinkies
It’s a common belief that it’s good to eat breakfast in the morning. Because you are more insulin sensitive in the morning. And that means that your body can better handle carbohydrates.
You are also more sensitive after a fast or after a weight training session, but this doesn’t mean that you should only focus on breakfast.
Mark Haub spent ten weeks eating twinkies, brownies, cakes, corn pops. And he lost 27 pounds by just counting calories.
This guy lost weight eating nothing but junk food and sweets. He didn’t care for breakfast.
His only dieting rule was to eat in a certain caloric intake range which was 1800 calories every day.
How To Train The Right Way For Improved Fat Loss When Doing IF
For a complete training program, I suggest you to check out DTM method for fat loss. In the second day of this training, you’ll receive an email with a training routine you can use with intermittent fasting.
There are 3 different strategies you can use when you want to implement weight training with IF.
All of them work well. I tried all of them, but the last one works the best for me. It all depends on your schedule. Keep reading, and I’ll leave a comment about it after these protocols:
- Fast, Eat, Train, Eat, Eat
- Fast, Train, Eat, Eat, Eat
- Fast, Eat, Eat, Train, Eat
1. The first one is the simplest one in my opinion.
A simple set up would look like this:
- 12:00 PM – Eat your first meal (this is considered your pre-workout meal)
- 14:00 PM – Weight training
- 15:30 PM – Eat your second meal (this is considered your post-workout meal)
- 20:00 PM – Eat your last meal
2. This is also known as the fasted training technique.
You won’t do it on an empty stomach but you’ll take 10 grams of BCAA’s. Do this if you want to maintain your muscle mass. Fasted training is suboptimal.
- 12:00 PM – 10 g BCAA + weight training
- 14:00 PM – Eat your first meal (this is considered your post-workout meal)
- 17:00 PM – Eat your second meal
- 20:00 PM – Eat your last meal
3. This is my preferred approach to training while doing the FIF method.
I usually close my eating window faster because I want to have my first meal faster. Here’s an example:
- 10:00 AM – My first meal
- 13:00 PM – Low-calorie snack
- 15:00 PM – My second meal
- 17:00 PM – Weight training for around 1h
- 18:20 PM – My last meal
When I Don’t Recommend IF
Like any dieting strategy, I sometimes see people abuse or misinterpret certain protocols. And I don’t want you to do that. I want to educate you to make the best choice in your case.
Everybody says that intermittent fasting is the “best” diet out there, but not many think about the implications of saying that.
Your mind trumps over everything else. It’s the first element that has to be in check if you want to lose fat continuously.
And intermittent fasting can be something that can get out of control in the following situations:
- You use IF as an excuse to pig out – if you think that calories don’t matter anymore, and IF is some magical diet, think twice about it. No matter how much you fast, if you don’t create a caloric deficit just like I teach in my DTM method, there’s no fat loss for you. Sorry, there’s no other way to this. Don’t exceed your caloric requirements. You’ll gain fat.
- You want to gain weight – if you are the so-called hardgainer type, then I don’t recommend IF for you. The problem with hardgainers is that they usually have to eat A LOT of food, and sometimes even more then they can imagine if they want to put some size. And IF is only limiting the time available to do this.
- Your health doesn’t allow it – If you have blood pressure problems, or any kind of condition that doesn’t align well with IF, then don’t do it. Don’t worry, IF is not the pill you’ve been waiting for. You don’t lose anything really. Just a bit of flexibility.
- You have bad eating habits – you might think that doing intermittent fasting can allow you to eat 1-2 HUGE meals, and still lose weight. Well, wait a bit. While that can theoretically work, you have to think about the mental implications of doing this. I was in this boat too. I tried fasting the whole day just to get a huge eating buffet, and I ate. I ate like I imagined. But I wasn’t losing weight because it was hard to control my appetite. Bad food + uncontrollable hunger and appetite = failure. You are more prone to binge eating because of this. And binge eating translates into caloric surplus almost all the time.
- You can’t stop yourself when it’s the right time – You can ruin a whole week of dieting just because you enjoy eating a huge meal, and feel like you can add something on top of that without thinking about the consequences. Something along the lines: “Oh well… I’ll just fast more in the next day, and create a bigger caloric deficit”. NO. It doesn’t work like this trust me. I’ve had weeks in which I simply hit plateau just because of that mentality.
How to lose fat with a step-by-step diet and training route
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IF Frequent Questions And Concerns
I’m an analytical guy.
If I read about something, and I have questions left in my mind, I can’t do it until I answer them. That’s why I created this section.
This is a collection of questions about intermittent fasting that I’ve seen being asked on the internet.
Will You Lose Muscle Mass On Intermittent Fasting?
Take a look at the pictures above. Do you still think I’ve lost muscle mass?
Some people still think that fasting can cause muscle loss.
Your body’s ability to nutrients is extraordinary. For example, a single regular meal digestion takes around 6-7 hours. A casein shake taken even on an empty stomach will continue to release amino acids even after 6-7 hours depending on the quantity.
Theoretically, you could not eat anything for the next 6-7 hours, and still have a constant flow of nutrients to your body.
Imagine a huge meal comprised of meat, veggies, and healthy fats. A meal like that can potentially release amino acids even after 20 hours of digestion.
And adding weight training to IF will bulletproof your muscle mass.
There’s no way you can lose muscle mass if you do intermittent fasting given that you eat an adequate protein intake, do weight training, and don’t exaggerate with cardio.
Will Your Metabolism Get Slow?
Metabolism slowdown. You might have heard about it. Some people say metabolism slowdown is real, and it can happen if you do intermittent fasting. I say it’s bs.
Through thousands and thousands of years of evolution, your body adapted to long periods without food.
This adaptation allowed us to survive, and get over periods of starvation in prehistoric times. It kept us function well until we hunted or found something to eat.
But most people confuse starvation with metabolism slowdown. Starvation means not eating for days. And fasting for 18-32 hours doesn’t mean starvation. It’s just a short-term period of fasting.
Our metabolism is a term that’s used to described how our body transforms energy to use it for the daily activity. The metabolic rate is the rate at which our body burns calories. Every day, your body burns calories for energy to maintain all the voluntary activities you do. And it also burns calories for involuntary activities like heat maintenance, heartbeat, blood circulation, breathing, etc.
Your basal metabolic rate is comprised of the total energy your body needs to keep it functioning at rest. Lastly, the basal metabolic rate affects the rate at which you burn calories. Now you understand why it is important to see how intermittent fasting affects your metabolic rate.
Looking at countless research studies, the earliest one that showed a lowered metabolic rate, was when subjects fasted for over 60 hours. Metabolic rate only slowed down by 6%.
Studies that show the effects of intermittent fasting on metabolic rate:
- Researchers studies 3 days of starving with just plain water and they discovered decreased metabolic rate
- Another study showed increased metabolism after 36 hours of acute starvation. At the 72-hour mark, the basal metabolic rate was the same
- In another study, researchers saw a 8% decrease in basal metabolic rate they kept the subjects almost 3 days without food
- Yet another study showed a 6% increase in metabolic rate after 48 hours of fast from the last meal
- The last study I want to talk about showed a 10% increase in BMR (basal metabolic rate) after 84 hours of not consuming any food – this is exaggerated, but it shows a good point.
This is the truth about IF: Intermittent Fasting doesn’t slow down your metabolism
These studies show that starvation mode is just another fad most likely created by the supplement companies.
Why am I saying this?
Ever heard of the so-called metabolism boosters?
Plenty of them on the market even today…
Not only that, but studies show that „starvation mode” is just a myth. There’s no reason why you should not try Flexible Intermittent Fasting and get the benefits associated with this eating pattern.
Before I continue, you might ask yourself: „But Florin, those studies you referenced also show a 6-8% decrease in metabolic rate. What do you say about that?”
Negative effects on metabolic rate started to appear between 60 to 74 hours of fasting. The reality is that those people that participated in those two studies were not eating a high protein diet before entering the fasting period (as I recommend in my free DTM method for fat loss that you can download by clicking here)
Those most of those people were not people involved in regular weight training. Why am I mentioning this?
Having a high protein day before entering the fasting period would most likely nullify any negative effects associated with intermittent fasting. And even if your metabolic rate might be affected with a 6-8% reduction, that would only mean that you’d burn 100-200 calories less every day. And this is unlikely to happen.
I’ve Heard My Body Can’t Absorb More Than 30 Grams Of Protein Per Meal
The 30 grams of protein per meal is an old issue.
It’s decades old. And for what I can see, it still seems to hold ground in some places.
The main rationalization for this myth is that if you give your body a constant supply of aminoacids, it won’t eat your muscle mass when you are in a caloric deficit.
That’s why there are people that fear to eat in the IF style because they believe their body won’t process larger quantities of protein.
Your body will process all the protein you throw at it because digestion is extremely efficient.
If you eat 100 grams of protein in your first meal, your body will take its time to properly digest and absorb that meal, and you’ll have a constant flux of amino acids on a longer period of time.
Even a moderate whole meal can maintain an anabolic state for 5-6 hours with a constant flux of amino acids.
A 100 grams of protein meal can maintain it for a longer period of time.
Don’t worry. The protein you eat will be utilized, not eliminated.
Fasted Training Causes Muscle Mass Loss
There are a couple of studies that show the effects of training in a fasted state, and I haven’t observed any negative effects of doing so. Here are a few papers:
- Many studies on doing aerobic activities in a fasted state show that 60 minutes of running had no significant negative effects on muscle mass and performance
- There are studies that show that even after more than 3 days of fasting, strength is not affected.
The reality is that fasted training does not affect your performances inside the gym.
But I don’t recommend you to train in a complete fasted state. It’s suboptimal from my point of view. I tried it, and it doesn’t work that well for me.
My body likes to have some nutrients before a hard training session.
How Women Should Do IF
There are no studies to this day to show a “perfect” eating and fasting window for men or women.
So this question doesn’t have a clear answer. From my experience, women should go with less fasting hours, and bigger feasting windows.
For example, a 14 h of fast followed by a 10 h eating window can work perfectly fine. Alternatively, I suggest you to have a look into my preferred method of fasting, namely the FIF method.
How Should You Skip Breakfast If It’s Your First Time?
I wrote a complete transition guide in my FIF method but the simplified version is this one:
- Eat your last meal at 20.00 PM today (if you can do it).
- Prepare to fast for at least 14 hours.
- Break the fast with your first meal
This is not rocket science. There’s no hocus pocus method to do it. It’s as simple as I’ve written above.
Just do it.
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What’s your favorite style of fasting? let’s discuss