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Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting Explained

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting, often shortened to I.F. is the process of fasting on a semi regular basis. The traditional approach to using intermittent fasting would be to to take a day off from eating every 48 hours. Simply explained this would mean you eat as normal on Thursday and then not eat on Friday but resume eating as normal on the Saturday, before again fasting on the Sunday. In this way the  Intermittent Fasting  schedule is restricting calories over the week by having periods where you are not consuming food.

Intermittent Fasting – Making It Work For You

Strict Intermittent Fasting as described above will produce weight loss, but in my view is too restrictive to follow long term. I myself find that fasting on the weekend would be impossible, and of course with the every other day fasting routine, you are going to have a day on the weekend that clashes with your fasting day. I believe that we have to fit our diet around our lifestyle, not our lifestyle around our diet. The key to using fasting for weight loss is flexibility. As you will see on this blog, I have experimented with my own intermittent fasting times .  You can see the results of how much weight and body fat I lost  in this post  Intermittent Fasting Fat Loss

Intermittent Fasting What Works Best ?

Many who use intermittent fasting  to control their weight do so using a condensed eating window .  In my own experience I have found that a flexible intermittent fasting schedule will help in reducing body fat and help with keeping weight off. As we are all individuals with different daily lives, it is important that you use I.F. in the best way for you and not be restricted by any rules.  Read my post Intermittent Fasting What Works For You For more details. Also please remember that if you are  fasting for weight loss calories still matter

My weight loss success has been achieved by not depriving myself of the foods I love, and by allowing enough flexibility in my use of intermittent fasting over the long term. After trying different variations of I.F. I am of the opinion that the results achieved by fasting 24 hours once or twice per week ( In my case I use 2 ) are the best for both losing weight and keeping it off  for the long term. Read my Eat Stop Eat Review for more  detail on this method

Update On Using  Intermittent Fasting  - I have kept the weight I lost off  now for more than a year than 2 years. I also lost a further 10lbs on 2010 from my original target. Now in 2012 I stay around  73 and 76 kilo range, usually 74/ 75 kilos.

For me, the easy way to not only lose weight, but to keep my weight under control is with an intermittent fasting diet .

 

Sill have question on Intermittent Fasting and weight loss ?  Check out my fasting for weight loss Q.A page here 

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  • http://www.projectswole.com Project Swole

    How do you feel about the Leangains approach to I.F.? You commented on a post of mine about fasting back in 2009, and while I never intended to put down I.F., you defended it anyway and opened my eyes about the possibility that fasting really could be useful for fat loss. Since then I’ve been studying many strategies for I.F. In particular I like the Leangains approach and was just wondering what your thoughts are on it.

  • http://RetiredDieter.com Dave

    Hi Steve,

    Yes I remember that comment, glad to see you have looked into I.F in more detail. As you can see I am very much a convert. For me the results I have had in terms of fat loss speak for themselves.

    In relation to Leangains, again I think the results Martin gets are impressive. I would say leangains is aimed more for someone training in the gym, there is a large amount of information on post workout nutrition for example, which was not the big focus for me.
    I personally do not feel it is the best fit for me. Martin has a feeding window that does not include mornings, and I prefer a more flexible approach. My view is all methods of IF work, it’s just a case of taking what works best for your own lifestyle.

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  • abby

    Yeh this is not new . Muslims have been fasting for centuries and the prophet Mohammmed advised people to fast twice a week in adddition to the month of Ramadan requires by the followers of Islam. Dah, If god already gave it as a commandment then it must be good.

  • Nex

    I’m about to start doing Intermittent Fasting and I have a question I hope you can help answer.

    If I take a protein shake before workout while fasting, would that considered breaking the fast?

    I’m going to fast from 8pm to 8pm, and my workout time is usually around 4-5pm.

    Your feedback is much appreciated.

    • Dave

      @Nex, yes if have a protein shake this would be breaking the fast.

      • Nex

        Thanks for the reply :)

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  • Michelle

    Hey Nex, you should try taking a BCAA (branced chain amino acid) supplement before your workout. I use one that has zero calories but still the building blocks of protien that will help you to build and repair muscle

    • Dave

      Hey Michelle,

      I know Martin Berkhan at leangains uses BCAA, he explains it in his lean gains guide here http://www.leangains.com/2010/04/leangains-guide.html here is what he says in his guide on fasted training

      Fasted training

      Training is initiated on an empty stomach and after ingestion of 10 g BCAA or similar amino acid mixture. This “pre-workout” meal is not counted towards the feeding phase. Technically, training is not completely fasted – that would be detrimental. The pre-workout protein intake, with its stimulatory effect on protein synthesis and metabolism, is a crucial compromise to optimize results. The 8-hour feeding phase starts with the post-workout meal.

      Sample setup

      11.30-12 AM or 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA
      12-1 PM: Training
      1 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal of the day).
      4 PM: Second meal.
      9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

      Calories and carbs are tapered down throughout the day in the example above

  • alessia

    Hi. when you started fasting did you have issue with your stomach growling really loud? if so, did you find any method that worked for you to help?

    • http://RetiredDieter.com Dave

      @ Alessia,

      Yes it would growl every now and then, and it still does ! I tend to usually just have a glass of water, or an americano coffee, 5 to 10 minutes and I find it passes. I have used intermittent fasting now for so long am I used to it and know that it will go away within a short time.

  • alessia

    Ok Thank you! also, lately i havent been able to control my hunger. i was supposed to fast yesterday and only made it to 12 and began to eat. and today i tried again and only made it til 3 /; i been fasting since june/july and it was very easy for me, but suddenly i always feel the urge to eat… and im gaining weight because of it. and i try to eat more bc of the stomach growls. they happen durring class — extremely embarassing!

    • http://RetiredDieter.com Dave

      Just make sure you drinking enough fluids Alessia, often what we take for hunger is actually that we are dehydrated. This is very often the case first thing on a morning. A glass of water before doing anything else makes quite a difference. Actually Brad Pilon posted about this back in November , you can read it here http://bradpilon.com/weight-loss/breakfast-diet-hack/

      When you only made it to 12, was this because you were smelling food ? say from work colleagues etc ?

      • alessia

        yes actually, me and my friend went to starbucks to just get unsweetened iced tea and she ended up getting a muffin, and kept giving me a peice here and there /; i also tried taking coconut oil, but the day i took a tbsp of it i ate more then i ever eaten before.

    • Rachael

      Hi Dave

      I have the same problem as Alessia. I’m 5’6″ and I started the every other day fasting diet (EOD) in January 2011 and and lost 60 lbs by August/September 2011. Then suddenly I’ve been eating and not been able to fast anymore. I have 20 extra pounds to lose (coming from 240 lbs – 180 lbs, then going up to 184 lbs and fluctuating between 182 lbs and 184 lbs since Christmas). I did Mons, Weds & Fris as fasting days, but now I start out fasting and like Alessia said by noon, or by 6pm the lastest, I’m eating. Luckily I’m not taking in junk, but still I NEED to fast properly again. Help!!!

      • Dave

        Rachael, just so I am clear on this when you say you did Monday Wednesday Friday, did not eat anything at all on these days ? so last meal was late Sunday for example, then Breakfast on Tuesday was the next meal ?

        • Rachael

          That’s right, and I did great on it for some time but now I can’t seem to get back my resolve to stick to it.

          • http://RetiredDieter.com Dave

            Hi Rachael,

            well personally I have never done fasts where I go a full day without eating on a regular basis. The maximum I do is 24hrs, but this is say from 6pm to 6pm, so in effect I eat dinner one day, then nothing up to dinner the following evening. I would find the EOD method too restrictive, and I think this also what you may be finding. My advice right now would be to work on smaller fasting periods, ever 16/8 like Martin Berkhan does in Leangains, or Eat Stop Eat with 1 or 2 24hr fasts per week. At the end of the day, its the calories that matter. You have about 8,400 per week to work with, which is about 1200 per day, you could work a fasting routine around that, but there is no need to do it how you were in the past. The reason you have not stuck to it, is simply because, long term it’s not flexible enough.

          • Rachael

            Thanks D

  • Ken

    Hey Dave and friends,

    I am 6′ 4″ and was 372 pounds in June of 2009 and dropped down to 280 in January of 2010 after that I started road cycling quite a bit which resulted in me increasing my food intake, halting my weight loss.

    I have gone though phases since then where I start cycling and put on between 4 and 10 pounds eating whatever I want and riding like the dickens. After a month or two of that, I stop cycling and start watching my food intake again which drops my weight down about 20 pounds at which point I lose resolve, hit a plateau or something and increase my food intake and start riding again to compensate — rinse and repeat. Fast forward, today I am 242 pounds (I am cycling, if I quit that it would probably go down to 230-238) and I have been in this same weight range for about three months — time to change that.

    I have found, oddly enough, that a full on water fast is easier than restricting portion size — easier to not eat then to eat just a bit; unfortunately, it can also make you less than productive in the work place after four days or so and is counter productive to training for a century. So the solution that I think will work for me is IF (probably?).

    I am on day two now and it seems to be fairly simple, I’m just concerned that I might be doing something wrong so I’m going to run what I’m doing by you all and please give me any feedback you feel is pertinent.

    I am consuming 1 meal of 1300 – 1700 calories between 6:45PM and 8:00PM consisting of Paleo foods + black beans (not every day on that). Five days a week, directly before consuming said meal, I ride my bicycle on an indoor trainer for between 40minutes and 1 hour (when my cyclometer Garmin Edge 500 tells me I have burned 1000 calories). Granted, I’ve only done this for two days now. I felt hungry but good all the way through to my post work out, at which point I knew food was imminent and I became ravenous. ;p

    For dinner tonight I had an apple (100), a banana (100), a hard boiled egg (100 had to get my BCAA!), two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (200), 1/4 cup of slivered raw almonds (200), 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and an avocado (300) on a bundle of red leaf lettuce with 4 skinless chicken thighs (500)and 20 steamed carrots (100). I round on calories pretty viciously but my mental math figures that out to be 1600 Calories.

    I would love to have some feedback and advice on what I am doing (… good thing I proofread, that said “foodback,” projecting much?).

    Thanks,
    Ken

    • Dave

      Hi Ken,

      First let me say congratulations on dropping from 372, that is awesome.
      In relation to your question, I don’t think you are doing anything wrong, so long as it works for you. I have played around with all types of I.F eating windows, and depending on circumstances I still change it up. The important thing is to find a routine that works best for you, and keeps you losing weight. If you like the fasting routine you are using, stick with it. If you feel it’s too restrictive, change it up, your weight loss routine should fit around what is best for you. Keeping calories around 1600 per day, and doing your cycling, you should have no problems dropping down. The time you want to start to take in those 1600 calories is up to you If you are burning more than you need, then you will be losing just fine !.

      hope that helps.
      Dave

    • Ed

      Hi Ken,
      To increase your weight loss, I suggest you look at doing high intensity interval training (HIIT).
      It takes up less time than what you are doing currently and will increases your metabolic rate so you will more calories for longer. If you google HIIT you will find all sorts of variations. The key is to do two/three different HIIT sessions a week, If you only do two, try to do a high intensity cardio session (30minutes).

      For example (minute – description – level)
      0-3 – warm up – 3/10 (the level is specific to you and not to the resistance on the bike)
      3-4 – High resistance – 8/10 (I increase my rpm as well as the resistance for this phase)
      4-5 – Recovery – 4/10 (i decrease my rpm as well as the resistance for this phase)
      And repeat so you do a total of 6 high resistance and recovery periods
      Follow up with 3-4 minutes of a cool down on the bike.

  • Fidelity

    Ken/alessia, i support your effort. Im trying to adopt IF into my lifestyle and whenever i thought i cant last for 24 hours, ill always come back to Dave’s blog for motivation. I dont count my calories, i just eat what i felt like eating when i break fast and im very sure i overate! I dont exercise except casual swims maybe twice a month.
    I have not seen any major improvement in the mirror or from my clothes sizes yet maybe its still too soon or my calories in is still higher vs out. I did a 6p-6p next day. I have not experiment with other eating windows cos the 6-6 works fine but im travelling internationally soon (asia to states) so i wonder what time my fast will be and if my body can adjust to doing a 6-6p in the different time zone..

    Ps-Big thanks to Dave who never tires in giving motivations and advices to all of us, even after 3 years!

  • dsha

    Hi,
    I’ve started IF today! Well, last night, I guess..I’m very hungry. Is it an obvious statement, as I’m not eating anything? Will it get easier? My plan is for 2x a week. I know a lot of it is psychological, but some is physical..
    I’d like to lose about 10 lbs and then maintain (I’ve lost about 20 already-not though IF)
    Anyway, thanks! (I guess the to the point answer is : Will the hunger pangs get easier to deal with/subside over time?)

  • dsha

    HI Dave,
    I just read a bunch of your question and answers from others, and got my answer..thanks!

  • dsha

    Did my first IF ending last night-down 3 today! I know its not fat to begin with, but its a start! It was tough, but not too tough. I ate a normal dinner. Note to self; dont drink too much wine after a fast! argg…thanks

  • Michelle

    Love this blog! I am just now going to incorporate IF in my weight loss plans starting this week. Is it best to start with one day a week for your body to adjust, or should I just jump in with two days a week? Also has anyone that worked nights had any experience with IF? was it easier to fast on days you were working? or did you find that left you too tired and weak? Thanks for any advice. :)

    Looking forward to results with IF.

    • Dave

      @ Michelle,

      Start with one, and see how you feel, bit it really is up to you, if after you have done one, you want to do another a few days later, then go for it. The only thing you don’t want is to feel it’s getting in the way of your normal daily routine.

  • Ruthie

    Hi Dave, I am considering giving IF a try. I am 5’1 and 141 lbs. I just had a baby 2.5 months ago. I run 45 min-1 hour about 3x/wk.

    I am STARVING today and I’ve had 895 calories so far. n order to last until dinner I am having warm chicken broth and it is very filling(for now). So my question is, can I have 1-2 cups of broth on my fasting days? There are only 15 calories in a whole cup. Isn’t that close enough?(lol) I am not breastfeeding.

    IF seems easy bc I am a very healthy eater! I don’t eat junk, and I don’t overeat. But my body begs for food if its at any defecit. So just fasting once a week plus the exercise might shed the lbs?? Plz let me know your thoughts on the broth.

    • Dave

      @ Ruthie

      15 cals per cup, if you have 1-2 cups is not going to be a problem. You could also try a something like the 16/8 fasting routine.

  • michelle

    hi im just wondering if i follow your diet and eat every other day about how many months will it take for me to lose 80-90 pounds?
    and also on the days i can eat what if i only eat fruit and veggies and water and really cut down my calorie intake will it cause me to lose weight faster then if i was eating my normal foods and also what are some workouts i can do to tighten my muscles as im losing the weight?

    and also im 5’5 1/2 And i weigh about 206
    and my goal is to weight 140 130 before summer break!!!!

    please help and responed as quickly as possible :)
    thank you

  • Chris

    Great post! I am starting a 16/8 fast approach. My question: how many days a week would you suggest I do this? Thanks!

    • Dave

      @ Chris,

      well the 16/8 approach which is what Martin uses at Leangains is every day. He does 16/8 all the time.

  • Nan

    Hi All,

    Just wanted to share a little secret. If you feel absolutely starved and you are about to give in, I’ve found that drinking a glass of lemon water will reduce the urge to quit your fast. I think the lemon acts an appetite suppressant. Try it and let me know if it works for you!

  • Chris

    I recently began researching IF.

    About 3 weeks ago I began a calorie restriction diet (About 2,000 calories per day).
    I am 5’11 and weighed 276. In the past three weeks I have lost 16 lbs. This is with a couple weekends where I let loose and derailed my progress a bit.

    In the past two weeks I have done two fasts with little trouble. Both of them, I began the day with an egg and ham wrap. About 500 calories or so, the majority made up of fat and protein. The first fast I went 26 hours and the second I went 30 hours. During the first, I ate nothing and only drank water. During the second, I ate nothing but did drink some Green Tea.

    I had a workout during the first fast and a workout after the second fast. I actually felt better during the workout while fasting than the one after. My body felt clean, lean and efficient. I did a Crossfit workout that had both weightlifting and cardio and honestly felt as good at a workout as I had in some time.

    I plan on sticking with 1 day a week for now.

    As a compulsive eater and someone who has always battled with bad eating habits, I find the experience very rewarding. I find myself evaluating my eating habits and being more cogniscant of when I think about food and why.

    I suggest to anyone feeling hunger pains to avoid sugar and carbs as much as possible the day before and to eat a meal high in fat and protein as your last meal.

    I aslo suggest to be careful with caffeine during the fast as I find the fasting itself causes a bit of stress and the caffeien ultimately adds to it. This can be an issue for me when trying to fall asleep.

    Anyway, just my experience. Good luck!

    • Chris

      Ps…. I 100% agree with previous posters…. Drink water constantly. This helps with dehydration, the cleansing aspect and also helps prevent hunger.

  • Leesa

    Hi! I was just wondering what your thoughts on ADF were (ADF here as in every other day)?
    I realize that your answers are mostly “whatever is right for you” and that’s my problem. Weight loss is a fight against my body, not with it. I am very dedicated but after a whole year of exercising 90+mins a day and eating > or = 1,600 calories, I have only lost 25 lbs. I am 5’10″, 160, female, 20 years old. This should not be a problem! But it is. I need a big shake-up. For someone that has a hard time losing weight, is ADF enough to break through into a big loss?

    • http://RetiredDieter.com Dave

      Hi Lisa,

      I know I do keep putting out the ” what works for you line ” but the reason for it is because it’s true. For example, for me ADF was too restrictive.I did not like that I am going more than an entire day not eating anything. It means I would miss the evening meal with my family, so it was not something I could stick with. And that is the key here, it’s got be what you can keep using.You fit the fasting around your life, not your life around the fasts. 26lbs list in a year is not something you should be frustrated about. You are 5,10 and 160, it’s not easy to get the fat off from there, it will be slow. There is no point me trying to tell you there is an easy route. The fact is you just don’t have a large amount to lose, so it’s going to be slow. If you exercise 90 minutes a day, I don’t think a day where you eat nothing is the best plan. You look at the leangains 16/8 routine, many people who do a lot of exercise tend to use that. I even adapted it for when I was doing my marathon training. Are you still losing weight on a month by month basis, or are finding you are gaining on recently ? If I have some idea of your current situation, I can help with a more targeted plan for you.

  • Hannah

    Hi Dave, have been reading your blog with interest and agree with many of your observations. I have (until a few years ago) been a long term advocate of a low carbohydrate diet and have delved into some of the hypothesis of Gary Taubes, including doing my own reading of the studies he cites. However, after my most recent baby and with some pregnancy complications (I was immobile for 6 months) I gained over 4 stone of weight and have been unable to stick with my old low carb way of eating, even though I still believe it is healthier not to eat refined carbs. I have tried intermittent fasting a few times this week and can envisage it being quite straightforward to maintain, so intend to try it over a longer period of time. My question is though…what about all the other possible health effects of eating refined carbs? Gary Taubes makes some rather convincing points in regards to the increase in eating of sugars and refined carbohydrates and diseases of civilisation (cancer, heart disease, diabetes etc) and these are not necessarily related to weight loss. After your reading and interaction with IF , in particular Eat Stop Eat and Anything Goes which do not suggest carbohydrate restriction, do you have any comment on this area? Gary Taubes writes clearly that science sustains certain myths around the calorie in/ calorie out theory of weight so from my perspective if John Barban and Brad Pilon have gone to university and studied nutrition/biology they will have been taught this same scientific orthodoxy, which from my analysis is flawed (especially the Framingham Heart Study). I don’t have a kindle or anything to read ebooks and don’t get along with reading long texts on my lap top so to read the ebooks I would need to make a big investment so i’d kinda like to know if it’s worth it for me! Can you tell me whether Barban or Pilon address these issues or whether they base their own theories on the calorie in/calorie out without the effect of insulin and on appetite and fat storage?

  • jethro bodine

    Dave, what if I combine leangains 16/8 with ese?

  • Our Lady of Shopping

    I tried out Intermittent Fasting a couple of years ago, right before Christmas. I was simply waiting until 3pm to eat, but after that, it was anything goes. I was really surprised to find that I lost about a dress size, even with eating sweets and my mom’s cooking and not counting calories at all. Also, for me, drinking TONS of water diluted with cranberry juice and keeping peppermint gum around helps the hours go by quicker. Recently I’ve put some weight on, because I didn’t keep up the IF, so I’m gonna do this again, because it was by far the easiest way to lose weight I’ve yet found.