Advanced Fat Loss - Part III: Intermittent Fasting
This is the food-timing strategy used by countless traditional cultures to reduce inflammation, fix hormonal imbalances, and literally slow down the aging process. (A nice side-effect of this strategy is an unrivaled effect on focus and productivity)
Intermittent Fasting, also known as IF, basically means eating all of your calories within an 8 hour period for men (or a 10 hour period for women) and fasting the rest of the time.
This is highly beneficial for fat burning during the fasting period, and it has the added benefit of reducing stress on your liver, other vital organs, and adrenal glands and causing a mini-detoxification process in your body.
But wait! How many times have you heard that the best way to lose weight is to keep your metabolism constantly stimulated - by eating five, six, seven times a day? Or that you'll "never lose weight" unless you eat every three hours? Too many to count, right?
Look, the supplement companies would love for you to believe that, because that keeps you using plenty of protein powders, protein bars, and meal replacements throughout the day.
But the truth is, intermittent fasting is actually closest to the way our bodies are programmed to eat; our ancestors often hunted and foraged all day, lit one fire at sundown, and did all of their cooking and eating at that time.
Now we've come a long way since that time, and made a lot of advances in nutrition and
medicine that help us lead longer, healthier, more productive lives. But everyone can agree it's easier to swim downstream than upstream, and IF is definitely the way our bodies have evolved to eat.
Let's get further into the specifics of a healthy IF regimen...
You already don't eat for about 8 hours a night when you're asleep, so that's not difficult. It's the 16 hours that you're awake that you need to manage. Out of those 16 hours, you just have to choose one 8-hour period during which to fast.
The good thing is, you can work out an IF regimen that fits into your lifestyle best so long as you hit a total fasting period of 16 hours for men or 14 hours for women.
For example, if you're a man, you may decide that the eight hours after you wake up is the best time to do all of your eating, and that you won't eat anything in the afternoon, evening or through the night. This is a good way to start things off if you've still got a substantial amount of weight to lose or you have a body type with a slow metabolism.
However, if you're not someone who eats much in the morning, listen to your body! It's telling you not to eat until the eight hours between your afternoon and your bedtime.
Oh yeah, there's more.
I should also note that IF is the "strategy of champions". You, see IF is the main thing that Bruce Lee and a college football hall-of-famer (leading rusher and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker), have in common. IF is basically the "strategy to trump all strategies" and it is my hands-down favorite way to build a jaw-dropping physique.
For example, here's how I've been structuring my fast for the past 6-8 months (for massive results!):
- Last meal of the Day 1: 7:30-8 p.m.
- Fast begins at 8 p.m.
- Sleep: 11 p.m.-7 a.m.
- Continue fasting until 12 p.m.
- Eat 2 big meals from 12 p.m. - 8 p.m. on Day 2
Keep in mind that there are many variations on the IF concept: You could eat only in the late morning and afternoon, leaving four hours after you wake up and four hours before you go to bed (plus 8 hours of sleep) as fasting portions.
Or you could fast the way that Muslims the world over do during Ramadan (and Sumo wrestlers in Japan do year-round) - no food between dawn and sunset, but the feast at the end of the day is something truly epic. The point is, it's up to you and your lifestyle.
The only thing to add is that you should definitely perform your workouts during your eight-hour eating period, not during your sixteen-hour fasting period. There is a slight exception to this rule if you do one (or both) of the following:
- Have some grass-fed butter or MCT/Coconut Oil with your morning coffee. This will give a bit of a boost and not be so stressful on your body.
- Take 5-10 grams of BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) about 45 minutes pre-workout.
This will help prevent muscle breakdown that may occur when training fasted. (You can get roughly 10 grams of BCAAs for every 40 grams of whey protein.)
Otherwise, if you work out on an empty stomach, your body is too low on many of the hormones you need to promote muscle growth and burn fat, and in many cases, you'll only end up forcing your body into a catabolic state, where it's cannibalizing its own muscle for energy (and rapidly lowering your day-to-day basal metabolic rate.)
That said, as long as you're in a caloric deficit and are training steadily on IF, I wouldn't worry too much about losing too much muscle or stalling your fat loss.
For example, here's a peek into Herschel Walker's very unorthodox fitness regimen. He eats one huge meal per day (dinner), and it consists of soup, salad, bread, and occasionally chicken. He workouts out daily, but uses no weight training whatsoever. Instead, he sticks to progressive bodyweight training. I wouldn't recommend his workout regiment to any of us mere mortals, but for reference, he is known to do up to 1,000 push-ups, pull-ups, dips and squats EVERY DAY.
(The man is a beast.)
On a somewhat similar regimen, Hugh Jackman (from Wolverine/X-Men, Les Miserables, and various other films) practiced a 16/8 Intermittent Fasting routine. Like the method I've described above, he fast for 16 hours and then eats all 6,000 of his daily calorie needs within an 8 hour period.
A few things to keep in mind during IF:
- You will get hungry the first week or so and want to give up. Just stick with it, and keep in mind that you have 2 huge meals coming up in just a few hours.
- To stave off hunger, make sure you have your morning coffee or tea, and feel free to have an extra cup or two of plain green tea if you need.
- Stay hydrated!! One of the biggest reasons IF doesn't work is because people don't drink enough water, and misinterpret thirst as hunger.
- Keep busy. One of my favorite benefits of IF is the massive productivity boost. Many IF practitioners have noticed the same effect. Basically, water, some caffeine, and some work to get done somehow bring you into an intense state of focus. I usually get more work done while I'm fasting in the morning (and not worrying about food) than I do the whole rest of the day.
That's all for now. You've got three "cream of the crop" methods that will constantly fire up your body and reveal a lean, lean physique, especially when more traditional methods eventually fail.
Remember, though, that this is advanced fat loss - if you're just getting started on a weight-loss program, cycling your carbs and calories won't actually be as effective for you as a standard calorie-restriction and exercise regimen.
After the first month or so of a standard program, the ideal fat loss per week is between one and two pounds; anything more is unsustainable (and counterproductive in the long run, because it can destroy your lean muscle and stresses your heart) and anything less isn't working fast enough to get you the results that you want.
Thus, use traditional means to lose weight (eat less, eat better, work out, use the calorie calculator bonus) until you stop losing one to two pounds per week; this should happen between four to six months after you've started your program.
Once it does stop, you're ready for advanced fat loss methods like carb/calorie cycling and intermittent fasting (and the body of your dreams!)
Interested in losing weight? Then click below to see the exact steps I took to lose weight and keep it off for good...
Moving forward, there are several other articles/topics I'll share so you can lose weight even faster, and feel great doing it.
Below is a list of these topics and you can use this Table of Contents to jump to the part that interests you the most.
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