Bodybuilding Diet – Intermittent Fasting
Have you heard of Intermittent Fasting?
Believe it or not, it’s another type of bodybuilding diet
This bodybuilding diet technique is growing in popularity with healthy eaters and dieters. Here’s the 101 on how to use intermittent fasting to get shredded.
There are lots of variations on intermittent fasting (IF) from the Lean Gains approach, to the 8/16 eating window, to the 5/2 diet and also Eat, Stop, Eat. All of them take a slightly different approach to fasting, but they all have one thing in common: the technique of manipulating food intake to provide a short period of fasting.
The IF type of fasting can range from 16 hours (including sleep) to 24 hours or more. Here’s a how to:
16/8 fast (also known as Lean Gains) : Fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8 hour window.
For example, you would finish eating at 8pm, sleep overnight as normal, and fast for the first part of the day, until midday. You then eat between midday and 8pm again. This is a daily practice and an approach you adopt as your everyday, regular way of eating.
24 hour fast (this is the type of intermittent fasting used in the Eat, Stop, Eat approach): fast for a full 24 hours.
You can choose the time frame, but most people do it by having their regular final meal and fasting for 24 hours after that, as it’s often easier to begin the fast with your sleeping period. So, if you ate your meal at 8pm, you would then sleep, and fast throughout the next day, eating again at 8pm. You can use this approach once or twice a week. Drink water during the fast.
20 hour fast (this is used in the Warrior Diet approach): this uses a 20 hour fast and a 4 hour feeding window.
This can be one large meal, or two to three smaller meals and snacks. Most people fast overnight and during the day, and then have their eating window in the evening as this is more sociable and helps promote deeper sleep.
Whichever approach to IF you choose, the benefits are said to range from appetite control, to fat loss and hormone optimisation. Let’s look at some of the most common benefits of following an IF diet protocol.
Control of hunger and cravings
People who do intermittent fasting report less hunger than people who follow a regular schedule of mini meals and snacks. One reason may be because you get to eat larger meals as an intermittent faster (fewer meals in a shorter time frame naturally leads to larger and more filling meals). Another reason may be that fasting helps control ghrelin, the “hunger hormone”.
Better mental focus
IFers report feeling more mentally alert and focused whilst fasting. This could be because the body naturally releases catecholamines during fasting periods. These are hormones which help stimulate mental clarity. People who fast for short periods of time say they feel more focused on work and are more productive. This is particularly true in the mornings, for people who perform intermittent fasting by delaying meal one until midday or later.
Stable energy levels and moods
It’s thought that fewer meals lead to more stable blood sugar levels, although this differs from person to person. Some may find going too long between meals leads to dips in blood sugar and mood. However, IF does take away the pressure of having to prep, plan and think about lots of mini-meals every day, and this in itself might lead to better mood!
Fat burning benefits
This is the one which tempts most gym goers to try intermittent fasting. It’s thought that fasting for short periods (16-24 hours) can help the body to burn more fat for fuel, and can help break through fat loss plateaus, as it encourages the body’s energy systems to metabolise stubborn fat stores, even without cardio.
What’s the most common form of intermittent fasting for bodybuilders and gym goers who want to gain muscle mass, retain lean tissue and lose serious amounts of body fat? It’s the short daily fast, usually in the form of skipping breakfast and pushing back “meal one” until later in the day. This usually coincides with morning cardio, creating the perfect opportunity for fasted cardio for further fat loss.
Just be aware that fasting is interpreted by the body as a stressor, so it may not be suitable for people with high levels of cortisol and other stress hormones. Get your other stresses under control first (emotional, lifestyle, sleep, training, coffee intake) and then it might be time to consider intermittent fasting for fat loss.