The Ultimate Intermittent Fasting Guide

eating-fasting

by Josh Hodnik

After covering the many benefits of intermittent fasting in a recent article, I felt it was only right to follow up with a detailed and easy to follow guide.

Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term used to describe a dieting protocol based on the scheduling of meals, rather than cutting calories or particular macro-nutrients in order to reduce body fat or improve muscle to fat ratio. Many that practice intermittent fasting believe that since less time is spent in the fed state, they can consume a diet with little to no restrictions and still directly burn body fat. Proponents of intermittent fasting claim that a person can eat their normal diet as long as its in the allowed time window. Now, a normal diet of one person could consist of high calorie junk food, while another person’s norm could be moderately balanced meals. If a person eats poorly, and then puts those poor eating habits into a smaller time frame throughout the day, there wont be much of a change. Some weight loss may occur, but an improvement in body composition wont be very noticeable. A person that decides to perform intermittent fasting is not getting the full benefit if they decide to eat their normal diet. Tweaking calorie intake, and adding in macro-nutrient cycling will greatly amplify the success achieved with intermittent fasting.

The guide discussed here is based on the 16:8 fasting method. You fast for 16 hours a day, while fitting your calories into the remaining 8 hour window. There are many other IF methods, but the 16:8 protocol is the only one that can be performed daily and still allow a person to build muscle with minimum fat accumulation, and in some cases, both muscle gain and fat loss. When the correct amount of calories and macro-nutrients are consumed with IF, and for the correct amount of time, a clean, shredded, and aesthetic look can be achieved.

Before getting into the specifics of the guide, I feel it’s importmant to explain a few details in regards to the timing of a person’s workout, first meal, and last meal. Many prefer to perform their workout in a fasted state and having a post-workout meal as their first, which would be the beginning of the 8-hour eating window. During the fasted state, not as much blood is being pumped to the digestive system. This allows more oxygen rich blood to be sent to the muscles during a workout. During the first few weeks of intermittent fasting, training at the tail end of a 16-hour fast can leave you feeling weak and tired. This is because the body has relied solely on glucose for fuel, and readily available glucose is not readily available in a fasted state. There is an adjustment period where the body has to almost relearn how to start breaking down body fat and using it as a fuel source. One the body adapts and the adjustment period is over, strength and endurance will increase while fasted. Whether or not you train while fasted is optional. You may want to consume one pre-workout meal before training. This is dependent upon your goals. If there is a lot of fat to be lost, it would be recommended to train fasted, For a person looking to gain muscle, consuming a meal or two prior to training would be the best option.

When deciding when to schedule your fasting period, you need to determine what best fits around your work and training schedule. Many choose to fast while sleeping, skip breakfast, and eat during a 12-8PM window. Again, this is more of a matter of preference than anything.

Intermittent fasting yields it’s benefits mostly from increasing growth hormone and insulin sensitivity. The body has the ability to adapt to changes in eating, and intermittent fasting can become less effective over time. The best way to avoid this is to keep the body guessing with calorie and macronutrient cycling. The body will usually make major adjustments to a clorie increase or decrease after approximately 30 days. This is why progress in the form of fat loss or muscle gains will slow considerably or come to a halt after some time passes with any diet. For this reason, a full cycle for rotating calories would be 3 weeks long, with 2 weeks of moderate calories followed by 1 week of restricted calories when the primary goal is fat loss. And 2 weeks of moderate claories followed by 1 week of higher calories when the primary goal is muscle gain with minimal fat storage.

Fat Loss 16:8 IF Periodization

Week 1-2:
Calories: 16 per pound of body-weight

Macronutrients:
Protein: 30% total calories
Carbohydrates: 50% total calories
Fats: 20% total calories

Week 3:
Calories: 10 per pound of body-weight

Macro-nutrients:
Protein: 55% of total calories
Carbohydrates: 20% of total calories
Fats: 25% of total calories

Muscle Gain 16:8 IF Periodization

Week 1-2:
Calories: 16 per pound of body-weight

Macro-nutrients:
Protein: 40% of total calories
Carbohydrates: 40% of total calories
Fats: 20% of total calories

Week 3:
Calories: 20 per pound of body-weight

Macro-nutrients:
Protein: 30% of total calories
Carbohydrates: 50% of total calories
Fats: 20% of total calories

Coffee, tea, and other sugar free drinks can be consumed to help fight hunger during the fasting period. Supplements such as creatine monohydrate, BCAA’s, and glutamine are recommended for their anabolic effects while fasting.

The attention to detail with calorie intake, macro-nutrient intake, and timing make this form of intermittent fasting much more complex. It does take extra effort, but the results achieved can be dramatic for just about anyone.




 

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