Intermittent Fasting | The Definitive Guide

Akash Sehrawat

7 min read | Jan 28, 2016

Introduction

 

True Or False?

 

1. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

 

2. I need to eat five to six smaller meals throughout the day if I want to lose weight.

 

3. I need to ingest protein every three to four hours to avoid muscle breakdown.

 

These statements are what conventional wisdom dictates to be true. Do they work?

 

Maybe, but what if I tell you there is a better way to eat that will not only save you time, but will make you stronger, leaner, and healthier at the same time.

 

Interested? I bet you are.

 

So what is intermittent fasting and how can it help you build a lean, sexy, healthy physique and in the process save lots of time and effort?

 

IF Is Not Starvation!

 

Starvation is restricting calories severely to fewer than 1,000 per day in order to lose weight quickly. Intermittent fasting is about decreasing the frequency of meals while keeping the required number of calories intact.

 

Essentially what it means is that instead of eating, say, 2,000 calories over five to six smaller meals throughout the day you’ll be eating three or even two meals a day (sometimes just one).

 

Fasting for more than 24 hours is something I have not done. However, the benefits of prolonged fasting on health are significant, and there is enough evidence to support that it does more good than harm.

Different Patterns Of Intermittent Fasting

 

As I strictly preach what I practice, in this section, I will only discuss two types of eating patterns (limited to a 24-hour period only) that I have been following for the past year and a half.

 

One Meal A Day

 

This type of meal plan is comprehensively explored in Ori Hofmekler’s fascinating book, The Warrior Diet. 1http://amzn.to/1WOQZWN

 

The gist of the Warrior Diet is to eat only one meal a day, preferably at night, without any restriction of calories or macronutrient content. During the day, Ori recommends eating fresh vegetables, fruits, and a little protein that doesn’t include any carbs like bread or grains.

 

The Warrior Diet guarantees you several hours a day of fat- hormones burning (read: no insulin) percolating throughout your body.

 

Ori further states that during these hours, your body is at peak capacity to remove toxins and generate energy while staying alert and resisting fatigue and stress.

 

Long periods of under-eating increase protein efficiency, so when you eat protein, it will be utilized much more efficiently. Not eating for long periods also improves insulin sensitivity, so when you do eat, your blood sugar doesn’t fluctuate wildly, and your body won’t store carbohydrate calories as fat.

 

Eating only one meal a day works perfectly well for me, as I usually research and write my articles in the morning for a few hours when I know my creativity is at its peak.

 

I don’t want to stop to cook breakfast, which I know will take away an hour, and who knows if I will feel like writing again after my meal? So I skip breakfast and simply sip water, black coffee, or green tea until lunch.

 

When lunchtime arrives, if I decide I need to keep working but am feeling slightly hungry, I have something light like a whey protein shake or boiled eggs, etc., and at the same time, I plan my sumptuous dinner. (Planning dinner becomes really important as that one meal will decide how healthy you will eat for that day.)

 

This kind of intermittent fasting means eating all your required calories in one meal. However, you need to build to it slowly.

 

At first, eating this many calories at once can be intimidating and tough for the body to accept.

 

Also note that during the under-eating periods, you are allowed to eat light foods that are not taxing on your digestive system, like whey protein, boiled eggs, and tea/coffee without milk or cream. So yes, you do get some calories from these foods.

 

There are three times I practice this one-meal-a-day pattern of IF

 

1) During my off-workout days when I work the whole day and don’t have time to plan, prepare, and eat meals.

 

2) When I plan to eat a buffet at my favorite restaurant, I can’t help eating over 2000 calories.

 

3) When I am traveling most of the day and can’t get access to good food.

 

Two Or Three Meals A Day

 

When I follow this pattern, I simply skip one of my main meals (usually lunch). Instead, I routinely have whole eggs in the morning, as my two-year-old son loves them, and it’s a good way to bond with him, a wonderful start to my day.

 

Then I usually skip lunch, as eating in the afternoon makes me sleepy. Skipping lunch also allows me to work productively until early evening and prepare for a sumptuous dinner.

 

Now, on days when I work out with weights, I usually eat three square meals. I opt for a heavy breakfast made of oats, milk, and eggs. I then again have a high-carb meal before and after my workout, ensuring I am close to my required calorie range each time.

 

The best part about IF is you don’t have to be hell-bent on doing it a particular way or in a pattern.

 

You can choose whatever way suits your mood and your lifestyle. But if you are looking for a structured approach, Martin Berkhan from Lean Gains does a good job recommending a structured approach.

 

He suggests a 14-hour fast for women and 16-hour fast for men, then ‘feeding’ for the remaining eight to ten hours. So you are fasting the entire night and eating only after five to six hours of being awake.

 

During the feeding window, you can have a few meals to fulfill your required caloric intake. The only thing you need to ensure is that you eat the same number of calories in each 24-hour period so that your body doesn’t slow its metabolism down or start burning down lean muscles.

 

Other Patterns Of IF 

 

There are other patterns of intermittent fasting that you can follow for even more flexibility. For example, in his new book, The Fast Diet, Dr. Michael Mosley suggests the best way to lose weight is to normally eat for five days a week and fast for two.

 

On fasting days, he recommends cutting down to 25% of your normal daily calories or about 600 calories for men and 500 for women, along with plenty of water and tea. He claims to have lost 19 pounds in two months by following this eating pattern.

 

Brad Pilon, the author of Eat Stop Eat, suggests fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week. After the fast, he says to then go back to eating normally.

Act as if you didn’t fast.

~Brad Pilon

The reason this may work is there will be a reduction in total average calories that you eat in a week, which will give your body a break and allow it to heal itself and of course lose fat.

 

The main reason I practice IF is that it saves me time and effort in planning, cooking, and eating meals. For me, every meal needs to be healthy with the low-moderate carb macronutrients according to my preference (and high carbs around my workouts).

 

I feel following any kind of diet is restrictive. Your hunger, your lifestyle, and of course your goals should dictate what you do or do not do.

Five Awesome Health Benefits Of IF

 

1) It Saves Lots Of Time And Effort

 

As you must have figured out, fewer meals mean less time planning, preparing, and cooking.

 

2) It Improves Insulin Sensitivity

 

A limited number of trials have been done on humans, but early results have shown that IF can significantly improve insulin sensitivity83. 2http://jap.physiology.org/content/99/6/2128

 

3) IF Helps Reduce Total Caloric Intake

 

The total calories consumed in a 24-hour period are reduced when following an intermittent fasting pattern and can be beneficial to heart health 3http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23748374 and chronic disease prevention. 4http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15741046, 5http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17616757 Periodic fasting is also associated with a reduction in coronary heart disease. 6http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18805103, 7http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110403090259.htm

 

4) Helps You Stay Consistent With Your Diet Plan

 

When you have fewer meals to plan, you will tend to stick to your eating schedule better over the long term, leading to a leaner, stronger physique.

 

Fasting is no mystery to us humans. Muslims fast during their holy period of Ramadan, Hindus fast for various religious reasons, and we instinctively don’t eat when we are sick. Our genetics was built 2.5 million years ago when humans alternated between periods of feast and famine.

 

5) Over Time, You Will Become More Successful

 

Although it’s pretty hard to quantify, with periods of under-eating (or complete fasting), I feel powerful, alert, more aware, relaxed, creative and raring to take on the world. This is when my sympathetic nervous system is dominant.

 

The sympathetic nervous system is the fight or flight system, which promotes alertness and energy expenditure and is mainly catabolic; hence productivity is improved.

 

With a lighter body and a clear mind, I also become more self-aware and grateful for things around me.

 

These periods of under-eating or fasting are also the times when my insulin levels are the lowest, and of course, we know what happens when insulin is low. The body burns fat like crazy. On the other hand, when someone eats, the parasympathetic nervous system becomes dominant.

 

This system is responsible for digestion and sleep. It promotes relaxation and replenishment of energy reserves and is mainly anabolic. That’s why people often feel sleepy after eating lunch.

 

Intermittent patterns of eating work in synergy with both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems without compromising one or the other.

My Experience & Recommendation

 

Here Is My Not-So-Good Experience With Eating Five To Six Meals A Day

 

I consider myself quite disciplined when it comes to training and eating right. I was willing to eat boiled chicken with broccoli all the time.

 

I was willing to cook all of my day’s meals in advance, and I even set the alarm for every three hours to remind me to eat and avoid the breakdown of my muscles.

 

I enjoyed the process, as conventional wisdom (top bodybuilders and veteran trainers) convinced me it was the only way to achieve a perfectly lean and sculpted body.

 

I followed through, but then eventually, it started to affect me. I started to become obsessed with it. It started to affect my work, as the moment I finished a meal, I started thinking about the next one. Worst of all, I hardly saw any results.

 

With IF, my recommendation is to try out this method slowly. If you are eating five or six meals a day now, cut down to three and then two. The idea is to give your body a break long enough for it to heal itself.

 

What do you think about intermittent fasting? Would you like to add anything? Let us know in the comments below!

 

If you’re feeling intrigued and looking to learn more, you can enroll in my Internationally Accredited Certificate in Intermittent Fasting course!

 

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About Akash Sehrawat

Akash is a creator of 25+ programs and certificate courses in which more than 200,000 students have enrolled both on Udemy and Fabulous Body's native platform. Akash is also an author of three books that can be found on Amazon. His answers on Quora have gathered more than 12 million views in less than a year.

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Akash Sehrawat
Akash Sehrawat
8 years ago

Hi Kala,

If you want to go from 3 to 2 or even 1 meal a day, it needs to be done slowly to give your body enough time to adapt. I personally get up by 6 or 7am, and eat my breakfast after 11am. So you can fast for few hours and eat your breakfast a bit later. Then ideally you can skip lunch and then eat a bit extra for your dinner. If you are having indian thali, you can simply add more of everything to whatever you eat. Eat slowly and stop when you are full. Try this pattern and let me know how this works for you.

purvi
purvi
4 years ago

Hi Akash,

I am 47 yrs old female with 5’5 height and 81kg weight. i am doing IF for a month now. havent reduced even one kg so far. i eat full lunch and full dinner too. i want to know what kind of breakfast i can have in place of lunch as i am avoiding milk these days and am a vegeterian so dont even eat eggs.

my eating window is 12 to 8 pm. I was also wondering that if i do yoga or weights generally between 8 to 9, do i need to eat immediately or i can continue with fasting and have my food at my time 12 pm? does that harm?

Best Regards

nisha
nisha
4 years ago

hii akash
i want complete veg meal plan for daily basis to stay fitt and healthy

Ranjoo
Ranjoo
4 years ago

Hey Akash

Any idea to get over sweet cravings !!!

ปั๊มไลค์
ปั๊มไลค์
4 years ago

Like!! Really appreciate you sharing this blog post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

Lavanya
Lavanya
Reply to  Akash Sehrawat
3 years ago

Hi Akash, what’s the FAB D course?
I have purchased your UDEMY course for Weight loss. Checked ghis very helpful article. Would definitely love to have some Vegetarian plans.

Thanks,
Lavanya

Vesna
Vesna
3 years ago

Thanks for wonderful article and sharing of your experience. I’m female, 50 yrs old, struggling with hormone issues etc, etc and I find that IF is great lifestyle. I’m practising it about 3 yrs, first by introduction of 12 hrs eating window and 12 hrs IF, now I’m on about 18-20 hrs IF daily, with 1-2 meals per day. During IF hours I drink only teas and water. I also tried prolonged fasting and 3 days is my top, not because I was unable to control hunger, but because some issues raised, like muscle weakness, pain in cartilage area. Just to mention, during these days I had light activity, including short workouts and walking (I do not run due to health issues). And it is very, very important to use supplements with essential minerals and vitamins, particularly Mg, else, you could feel sick (dizzy, severe weak, muscle aches, sleep deprivation).
I’m performing this type of fasting every 2-3 months, something like detox. After 48 h and especially after fasting breakage, I feel extraordinary, but it takes time to get back into routine, particularly when eating is considered (about 2-3 days). Now I do not have hunger attacks during fasting, I learned and developed my model. So it is best for someone to try, experiment and develop something what works best for him/her.
Fasting is not just to lose and manage weight, it is style of complete body, spirit and emotional regeneration. I think that fasting has helped me to improve my health overall, physical performance, and a way how I see the world.

Ishika
Ishika
3 years ago

hi,
i wake up at around 9:30-10 am and eat my first meal at 11 which is mostly just fruits. Then i prefer a heavy lunch which includes 2-3 chapati, sabji, a bowl of daal and then i eat a very light snack at 7 in the evening. is this okay? and also what if maybe once in two weeks you can’t follow the IF hours and eat a late dinner? how should i go about it?

Kunal Arora
Kunal Arora
Admin
Reply to  Ishika
3 years ago

Hi Ishika,

The timings sound correct, however, the total caloric intake will still make a difference.

You can check your TDEE on the free calorie calculator

https://fabulousbody.com/free-tdee-calculator-%E2%80%8B-how-to-calculate-tdee

Other than this, protein intake should also be adequate.

Good luck!

Regards,
Kunal,
Team Fabulous Body