Statistics show that losing weight is the number 1 goal for most people.
However, by the end of the year, instead of losing weight, most people would gain weight due to as they overindulge in all kinds of food and not being in a caloric deficit.
It is puzzling to see so many people who are busting their ass off in the gym and yet, don’t have the results to show for. Eating the right diet will be a major difference between you losing weight or you gaining weight.
In recent years, Intermittent Fasting (“or commonly known IF”) has become a popular diet in the fitness community. The common way of applying intermittent fasting is you would eat all your meals for the day in an 8-hours window, after which, the next 16 hours you will fast.
Celebrities such as Hugh Jackman and Terry Crews have used intermittent fasting to achieve their “Hollywood bodies.” Both Hugh and Terry have mentioned they felt much better after applying the intermittent fasting diet.
We are always looking for the next “superhero workout”, and not realizing that the “superhero diet” is equally important as well.
Is intermittent fasting the best diet to lose weight?
Let’s look at the research for a better understanding.
Research have found out that intermittent fasting increases insulin sensitivity (i.e decrease in insulin production) and contribute to improvements in metabolic function. The more sensitive your body is to insulin, the better the results you will get for weight loss and muscle building.
By consuming food, our body will produce insulin. When your insulin levels are high, it is harder for the body to burn fat. However, when you enter the fasted state, your body burns fat easier as your insulin levels are lower.
To put it simply, fasting will put your body in a fat burning state.
If you are ready to learn the ins and outs of applying intermittent fasting, follow along and I will show you how you can accelerate weight loss by using intermittent fasting. It will change your body and your life.
There are four common ways you can apply IF:
- The 16/8 method. You will fast for 16 hours and eat 2-3 meals in an 8-hours window.
- The 20/4 method. You will fast for 20 hours and eat 1-2 meals in a 4-hours window.
- The 36/12 method. You will fast for 36 hours and eat 3-4 meals in a 12-hours window.
- Eat-Stop-Eat. You will fast for 24 hours, once or twice per week, and on other days you eat normally (no fasting period).
For beginners, I would recommend you to first start with the 16/8 method. This is the most frequent way of applying IF and was made popular by Leangains. The 16/8 method was also the preferred method used by Hugh Jackman to prepare for his role as Wolverine.
By applying the 16/8 method, your fast ends with your first meal of the day after 16 hours. The fast will begin again after you have eaten your last meal for the day. For example, I will end my fast by eating at 11 am. 8 hours later, I will begin my fast again at 7 pm after my final meal for the day. Instead of eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar, with IF, you eat like a king during the 8-hours window. Feel free to try out the other 3 methods above as well and monitor how your body reacts to it. Research has shown that energy balance has an impact on the changes in body weight and composition.
If you take in more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. However, if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. This is the fundamental and long-standing law of the energy balance. To put it simply, you need to be in a caloric deficit to lose weight, even with the IF diet. To know how much food you should eat in the 8-hours window, you need to first calculate your daily calories and macronutrients intake and be in a caloric deficit of 10-20%. Click here to find out how to accurately calculate your targeted calories and macronutrients.
Training in a Fasted State
Research has shown that training in a fasted state lowers body weight and body fat percentage and will improve muscle protein synthesis. If you have low energy levels during the fasting state, I recommend you to drink some black coffee before training to give you the extra boost to push harder in the gym. You do not need to spend on a pre-workout supplement. A simple black coffee will work just fine.
Putting It All Together
With IF, you will find it easier to be in a caloric deficit than any other diets due to the short time window for eating. This will prevent you from overeating and gain weight. You might find it hard to adjust to the IF diet in the beginning, especially if you have been used to “freestyle eating” of consuming any food at any time you like, with no restrictions. It will take some adjustments for the first 1-2 weeks. Like anything in life, the starting is always the hardest, after that, your body will adapt.
Avoid going into starvation mode and eat much lesser calories than your TDEE, the safe way to lose weight is in a range of 1-2 pounds per week, if you think this is little, a month later you would have lost 4-8 pounds and a year later your total weight loss could be 96 pounds! (if you just lose just 2 pounds a week). Also, don’t be discouraged if one day, you ate for 14 hours and fasted only 10 hours. As long as you are sticking to the 16/8 method for 80% of the time, you will still lose weight, it is how you eat for the majority of the time that will determine whether you lose or gain weight.
If you are watching the final of a football game with your friends at home, go ahead and enjoy the pizza and beers, forget about the fast. What is the point of dieting if it makes you hate life?The fact is, there won’t be many “finals” in your week, the majority of your week are likely to be normal days where you can apply IF for 80% of the time and still lose weight.
Common FAQs related to Intermittent Fasting
Can I drink during fasting?
You can drink water, black coffee, tea and any other zero calories sweeteners.
Is skipping breakfast unhealthy?
The subject of skipping breakfast will always be up for debate and will remain a gray area. Some have said skipping breakfast is detrimental to health while others discovered skipping breakfast can cure ailments and contribute to improved health. Adjust your eating window accordingly. If you are a big believer in breakfast, schedule your 8-hours eating window from 8 am to 4 pm, and then begin your fast.
Does intermittent fasting work for women?
Yes! Sumaya Kazi lost 50 pounds in 8 months using IF. However, there is a caveat here. If you are pregnant, trying to conceive or had a previous history of eating disorder, it is not recommended to apply IF.
What are the main side effects of intermittent fasting?
Hunger is the initial side effect of IF. However, this is only temporary as your body are adapting to a new form of dieting. Personally, it took me a week for my body to adapt. Here’s a tip to ease into IF. On the first week of applying IF, eat your calories maintenance or TDEE to ease your body into getting used to the 8-hours eating window. For example, with reference to “Part II: Calories” above, I will eat my TDEE of 2,425 on the first week of IF, after which, I will drop it by down to 2,183 calories at 10% caloric deficit in the second week.
It is tough to start IF by immediately being in a caloric deficit, although not impossible, the body will find it difficult to adjust in the beginning.
What if I want to eat out with my friends at night? Seeing them eat and me not eating is a torture.
Cut them out, stop going out with them, say your final goodbye.
Here’s an alternative, if you know you will have a night out with friends, start eating at 3 pm and end your last meal at 11 pm. If you are having an early dinner with friends, start eating at 12 pm and end with the last meal at 8 pm.
You can always schedule the eating window and be flexible. Again, as long as you are following the principles of IF 80% of the time, you will lose weight. It is important to enjoy life as well. Exceptions – If you are 10 weeks out from a fitness competition, you should sacrifice in this period and put 100% in your diet and training to look your very best on stage.
If you have been trying to lose weight and have seen no results, starting today, give IF a go and you should notice substantial weight loss in the next couple of months. The only way to find out whether IF works for you is to apply IF and see how you feel about it. If you enjoy the feeling of fasting and having lesser meals throughout the day, then IF is best fitted for you. The best diet is the one that you can consistently stick to.
At the end of the day, regardless of any diets you apply, you will lose weight if you are in a caloric deficit. Personally, I feel IF is the best diet for cutting and losing weight because it will almost guarantee that you are in a caloric deficit given the short 8-hours window to eat. You are more likely to overeat and be in a caloric surplus if you have a 24-hours window to eat.
So go ahead and give IF a try.