What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting (I.F.) is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting and non-fasting. There are a few different popular types (you may have heard of The Warrior Diet, Eat.Stop.Eat or Leangains), but for now please think of I.F. as purposefully skipping breakfast. Of course, there is a little more to it than that, but for now, please think of it in those terms.
Intermittent Fasting reached a peak of popularity around 2013. Unfortunately with this popularity came the typical fitness industry nonsense articles selling people on exaggerated expectations of what it can help do for dieters and physique focused individuals. If you’re coming to this page through Google, you’ve may well have heard an exaggerated story. Fortunately, I’m here to tell you what the real deal is with Intermittent Fasting and how it may help you, without the hyperbole.
What are the benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
- Reduced hunger while dieting
For a person looking to lose weight, this is one of the biggest benefits offered by I.F. as opposed to other dieting systems. Skipping breakfast allows for bigger, more satisfying meals. After a few days of starting the diet, the body’s hormones, notably the hunger hormone, ghrelin, get used to the new eating pattern and adjust accordingly so you no longer feel hungry in the mornings.
“For the dieter, I.F. offers something very unique, in terms of enjoying physically and psychologically satisfying meals while losing weight. The absence of hunger and cravings are also a welcome feature when using I.F. for weight loss. Contrary to popular belief, the fasting phase has a suppressive effect on hunger. Hunger pangs may come, but they disappear quickly, to be replaced by a sense of well-being and total absence of hunger.” -Martin Berkhan
- Increase in mental focus and concentration
During the fast, your body releases more of the stimulant hormones, catecholamines. Mental focus is increased, productivity goes up, and you’ll feel more involved in whatever you’re doing. Most people find this particularly pronounced during the last 4 hours of the fast. – Your morning time at work.
- More stable energy levels and improved mood
With fewer meals, your blood sugar levels will be kept more stable, leading to more stable energy levels and fewer mood swings. Also, not having to worry about meal timing is a welcome relief from the irritable feeling that is often found by those used to dieting by eating many meals throughout the day.
- More stubborn fat burned
Fasting can help shift stubborn fat and explains why people can get exceptionally lean without cardio work. I would like to point out that this is only relevant to individuals that are already exceptionally lean in the first place, and this won’t help you unless you have the more important pieces of your diet in place – calorie intake and macronutrient intake.
For more, see Dr. Bojan Kostevski’s full review of the research into The Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Human and Animal Health.
What is ‘Leangains’?
Leangains is a type of I.F. pioneered by Swedish nutritionist Martin Berkhan. It was put together based on scientific research on fat loss, muscle building, his own experimentation and the actual experience of working with clients over the last 12 years.
I personally have used this system with myself and to coach hundreds of clients helping them in their physique journeys in the last six years.
While some nutritionists or trainers get stuck in their dogma or are quick to jump on the latest fad to make sales or exploit our ignorance for profit, when enough solid new research comes along that suggests an improvement can be made with the method, Martin incorporates it and make the amendments necessary. It is this lack of ego and objectivity that has made the Leangains method so spectacularly effective for thousands of people. I would highly recommend you check out his blog, leangains.com.
Why not give it a try?
Drawing on my experiences working with clients I’ve written guides on this site to show you how to do it. A lot of love has been poured into the articles and I really hope you can have success on your own like thousands of others already.
Questions welcomed in the comments on any page. Thanks for reading and good luck!
See my Step by Step Guide →