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What's winning the Internet today (09.03.13)

The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting

By / 09.03.13

What is it?

IF is not a diet, it's more of a dieting pattern.

In the most basic way I can put it, you are choosing to fast during certain times and eat in smaller windows. The three most common ways to do this:

1. 16/8 Leangains Program
Fasting for 16 hours of the day and eating during the other 8. A popular schedule is skipping breakfast and eating from around 1-9pm everyday.

2. 24-hour fasting once a week
Simply taking a 24-hour period away from food.

3. Warrior Diet
Fasting throughout most of the day, eating a few calories toward the end, and then eating a big meal right before bed.

Which of the three do I recommend?
I would start with the 16/8 Leangains program. You can throw in a 24-hour fast on occasion or when you have had a really poor eating day.

I have no issues with the Warrior Diet, I just have had a difficult time finding free quality content on it without the purchase of an expensive book. If there's someone who knows of some and would recommend the Warrior Diet, throw it in the comments below.

Why does it work?
I'll try and be as brief as possible in this section, but since some of you have the attention span of a 3rd grader on cocaine, here's the executive summary:

It optimizes key hormones while using your fat stores for fuel. Placing an emphasis on a scheduled diet plan will, for MOST, will lead to results.

Let's chat. Hormones are everything. When people say things like “he has good genetics” what they partially saying is that they have great natural hormones.

For example: A guy who produces 1,200 ng/dl of testosterone naturally has a MASSIVE advantage to a guy who produces 500ng/dl (both considered to be in the average range). The former is probably a natural mesomorph who can eat poptarts all day and look like the fucking hulk.

The only point I am trying to make here is that your hormones are VERY important. NOT THAT YOU CAN EAT POPTARTS ALL DAY ON THIS DIET.

Like I said in the last article, IF increases your growth hormone spikes by up 2 to 3 times a day.

While there is no evidence in the increase of testosterone, we do know for sure that testosterone is deceased while eating a meal. By decreasing the meals you eat per day to a small window, it is likely that your overall testosterone produced during the day will increase.

Insulin sensitivity will also increase causing your body to use food more efficiently.

More importantly, your body is more likely to burn fat because for the majority of the day it does not have a meal to pull energy from. During the time you're fasted, your body should be taking its energy from fat stores.

Finally, following a schedule like this is much easier that a particular “eat this, don't eat that” plan. Just telling yourself to not eat during certain hours of the day is easy. Especially once your ghrelin levels (what makes you hungry) adjust to the new eating schedule.

Macronutrients and calories
While being aware of the macronutrients and calories you are consuming is useful information, remember, it is not the end-all.

I have talked about my vendetta with calorie counting before and here's a brief refresher.

When you minimize caloric intake you will lose some weight initially. However, your body will respond by decreasing leptin and slowing down your metabolism. This is a vicious cycle and unreasonable for people with a lot of weight to lose because they will keep cutting calories until their metabolism is shot to hell.

So while you should always be aware of your calories, focus on eating nutritional foods instead of meticulously counting every gram of food you eat. If you simply focus on getting food from good sources and not from packaged processed materials, it will be very hard to exceed your caloric limit anyway.

Drinking
The only real issue with intermittent fasting is drinking. Alcohol has calories and you will not want to break your fast drinking till 2am.

The best solution is to work out which days you are going to drink and work them into your feeding period. For example, if you start eating at 5pm you can drink until midnight. 

When to workout
Scheduling your workout can be difficult, but there is a common school of thought with intermittent fasting- You'll want the majority of your calories to come post workout.

Therefore, you want to start your workout with a small pre-workout meal or train fasted (not that bad once you get used to it). Other than that, you can work your schedule around however you like. Deciding when to eat and when to fast is completely up to you. 

Common Questions:
Is it safe?
I'm not a doctor and nor do I play on the Brobible. But this diet is as safe as any common diet you see today.

What about going catabolic and my muscles, literally, being eaten alive?
It takes much longer than 24 hours for your body to go catabolic and use muscle for fuel. This myth is simply a production of supplement companies urging you to purchase protein shakes to prevent your muscles from withering away. It's not reality.

I thought breakfast was the most important meal of the day?
The reason this myth has been perpetuated is because people would haphazardly skip breakfast and gorge during the day to make up for it. It's not true.

Can I gain muscle on this diet?
Yep, IF actually promotes better muscle growth due to the increase in HGH. Just make sure you’re eating enough calories to grow.

See you next week bros,
Alex Nerney — Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Lord of BroScience.

Follow Alex Nerney's twitter HERE.

If you're in college, check out his newly updated fitness ebook program for college guys HERE.

For more detailed guides by other professionals, check out:

Nerd Fitness' Guide

Leangains' Guide

Mark's Daily Apple's Guide

HodgeTwins Channel (Less scientific than the others, but funny as hell)


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