You may or may not have heard of intermittent fasting but it is an important topic as it has become ‘trendy’ in the health and fitness world as of late. This is a research-backed, proven principle that can help optimize fat loss. The idea is basically to eat during a shorter ‘feeding period’ followed by staying in a ‘fasted state’ during the longer segment of your 24 hour time block. Let’s dig into the positives as well as potential negatives surrounding IMF (intermittent fasting).
Why not knock out the negatives first and get at that from an awareness standpoint? First of all, even with IMF, stick with the typical ‘dietary rules’ of following macronutrient percentages as well as the calorie in vs. calorie out principle. In other words, IMF will NOT WORK if you eat crap or eat way too much during the feeding period. People who try the ‘anything goes’ technique during those hours simply will not achieve results.
One potential limitation of IMF is meal timing. The feeding window needs to fit within a reasonable and sustainable lifestyle. Your ‘feeding time’ should start as soon as you finish your workout if you want to escalate your fat loss results. Therefore, if you have to train in the evening, this means that IMF is probably just not going to fit into said lifestyle. If you CAN start the feeding window right after you workout, then you’ll be working out in a fasted state. To maintain that fasted state, make sure you’re not consuming BCAAs or other calorie-containing supplements before the workout. Water, creatine and beta-alanine are great supplements to go with before the workout. These two supplements will help you maximize your workout by boosting strength and endurance during the workout.
Another drawback is that this is NOT the dieting style for you if your goal is to increase muscle size and overall body mass. Here’s why: when following a calorie ‘excess’ diet, eating 500-1000 calories in excess of your daily calorie expenditure, it is very difficult to achieve that level of consumption during such a short window of time. This short window actually helps with appetite control, making it harder to overeat and thus, a super effective fat loss strategy.
And so it seems we have entered the ‘benefits zone,’ if inadvertently. Let’s roll that statement in the intro again. IMF is a proven and effective fat loss technique. The recommended split times vary depending on who you talk to and they can be anywhere from 20-4 (with 20 hours fasted and a 4 hour feeding window), to 14-10, to 16-8. We’ve found the the optimal feeding window is the 8 hour period, with 16 hours in a fasted state. One example of this split would be starting to eat at noon (ideally right after a late morning workout) and cut off any calorie consumption at 8:00 PM.
Two groups of people typically see the best results with IMF.
These people have healthy eating habits in place but results have tapered off and IMF can jump start those results.
This group appreciates the discipline and structure of IMF and it comes naturally to them.
There are a couple reasons that intermittent fasting is so beneficial. During a fasting period, our body increases the activity of genes that enable more calories and more body fat to be burned. Research also indicates that fasting can increase red blood cells, giving muscles a better supply of oxygen during activity.
Pretty awesome stuff! Finally, make sure that you find a diet that works well for you. The key is finding something that you can stick with and is also providing measurable results.