Intermittent fasting is not so much a diet, but more so a diet schedule (Walker et al., 2017). This phenomenon involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating. For most of us, fasting comes natural, because we do it everyday – unless you’ve figured out a way to eat while you sleep? Intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending that fast a few more hours after waking.
I have been intermittent fasting periodically for about 2 years now.
I skip breakfast each day breaking my fast at around noon. Through this particular cycle, I have an 8-hour food window (12pm-8pm) in which I can eat my meals for the day. This also allows me to fast for 16 hours at a time (8pm-12pm the next day) accelerating my fat loss.
Since I have started, I have increased muscle mass (gaining about 6-10 lbs of solid muscle), decreased body fat (from 20.5% to as low as 17.4) and decreased the amount of time I spend training (7.5 to anywhere between 4-5 hours). In other words, I’m stronger and leaner even though I go to the gym less than before.
Here’s what happens:
After you eat, your body is in a fed state while it properly digests and absorbs your food. The fed state starts when you begin eating and lasts approximately 3-5 hours after your body digests and absorbs what you ate. When you are in this fed state, your body burns fat a lot slower as a result of your increased insulin levels. As the fed state wares off, your body begins to go into a fasting state, known as the post-absorptive state, which is just a fancy way of saying that your body isn’t processing a meal at that time. This post–absorptive state lasts 8-12 hours after your last meal, slowly bringing your insulin levels back to normal. During this transition, your body is in the perfect state to burn off fat at a much faster pace. Likewise, while you are in that fasting state, your body can actually burn fat that has been inaccessible during the fed state.
I thought we were supposed to eat every 3-4 hours?
It’s quite common in the fitness industry to hear about this 3-4 hour eating regimen, but this approach is not the only successful approach in the market.
The amount of calories you burn is proportional to the size of the meal your body is processing. So, digesting six smaller meals that add up to 2000 calories burns the same amount of energy as processing two large meals of 1000 calories each.
Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you get your calories in 10 meals or in 1, you’ll end up in-taking the same amount of calories either way.
Interested in intermittent fasting?
Here’s a great resource to get started – http://www.precisionnutrition.com/intermittent-fasting
Walker, C., Savage, J., Robinson, C., Byerly, H., & Darnell, K. (2017). EFFECTS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING ON THE BODY. In International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings (Vol. 8, No. 5, p. 35).