In the previous article on Intermittent Fasting (IF), I talked about what is IF, possible health benefits of IF, how it works, how it doesn't work, who IF is for and who IF is not for.
In this article, I will provide a few approaches of IF, offer some tips and strategies to make IF-ing tolerable and even enjoyable, and end with some concluding thoughts.
Part 1: Approaches to IF[The First Fast]
First off, I recommend everyone new to IF to try out a mild version of IF. This helps one decide if you enjoy the idea of IF, which is by no means neccesary for fitness success - a point I will go through in my concluding thoughts.
What to do: Pick any 16 hour period where you are comfortable with not eating and drinking any calorie-laden item.
An example is as follows:
7pm Saturday: Have dinner as your last meal of the day. Drink 500ml water.
10pm Saturday: Sleep
6am Sunday: Wake up. Drink 500ml water, and a cup of your favourite tea or coffee with no added sugar or cream milk.
8am Sunday: Drink 1L water
10am Sunday: Drink 500ml water and maybe a cup of your favourite tea or coffee with no added sugar or cream milk.
11am Sunday: First meal of the day
Some tips for the First Fast:
- Drinking water and tea/coffee helps to manage feelings of hunger.
- Be in-tuned with your body signals. If you experience some stress during this fast, relax. Find a quiet spot and take a few deep breaths. Pay close attention - this is what hunger feels like. The more you are in-tuned with this feeling, the better you will get at managing it in the future.
- Ideally, pick a day where you don't have to be out and running. This way you can better attend to yourself and learn how to manage the stress associated with your first time fasting.[The Regular Fast]
This is the IF that you will finally progress to if you decide to try it. Essentially, you fast for 16 hours and have an 8 hour eating period. You should only do it after attempting The First Fast at least once with no issues. It is best for people who:
1) are already lean and want to be really lean
2) are fit
3) have good nutrition habits
It is NOT for these type of individuals:
1) pregnant women
2) people with eating disorder(s) or a history of eating disorder(s)
3) some people undergoing medical treatment
4) most professional athletes, especially those who train more than once a day and almost everyday of the week
5) people experiencing difficulty gaining weight
Above all, check with a licensed medical doctor before embarking on IF-ing.
What to do: You eat during an 8 hour eating period, and fast during 16-hour fasting period.
An quick example is as follows:
730am: wake up, drink 1L water and your favourite tea or coffee with no sugar and calorie-laden cream milk
11am: first meal of day (usually the largest)
3pm: second meal of day
7pm: third and final meal of day
rinse and repeat
Some tips for IF-ing:
- High protein and vegetable intake: During your 8 hours of eating, consume foods high in protein and fibre, and these foods should be calorie dense. These include meat, poultry, fish, and plenty of vegetables with some fruit. The calorie dense, high protein and fibre foods helps a lot in keeping hunger at bay.
- Consume the bulk of your carbohydrates after exercise: This would quickly help replenish glycogen stores and kickstart recovery.
- Train fasted: Train right before your first meal
- Post-workout meals should be the highest in calories[Part 2: Concluding thoughts]
It is important to note that IF is nothing magical. The research on IF - whether IF itself provides an advantage in fat loss (especially for "stubborn fat areas") is still insufficient and inconclusive, and the research on the health benefits of IF are still limited to rodent studies and therefore insufficient and inconclusive.
What we know at this point, based on the bulk of research and science, is that for IF to work for fat loss, the fundamental law of fat loss has to apply: the individual has to be in a long-term state of calorie deficit. IF merely helps to make this process easier by limiting the eating period and teaching the individual how to manage hunger.
Therefore, IF certainly isn't required to lose fat or get healthier. If you are interested, try it for a while - perhaps for a month. If it does not fit into your lifestyle or you simply don't enjoy it, go back to your nutrition habits that fit your lifestyle and you enjoy doing.
Sticking to a nutrition habit that you can adhere to most of the time, which is based on science, is what leads to long term results and satisfaction. Even if you don't end up doing IF for the long haul, you would have learnt how to better manage your hunger which is a good thing.
I hope this 2-part article has been useful. Do speak to our Gold's Gym trainers, who will be glad to discuss how you can incorporate IF in your fitness.