• Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting refers to a way of eating where you go without eating (fasting) for a large portion of the day and consume all of your calories within a certain window of time.

There is no one way to practice intermittent fasting and it's important to remember that not everybody who does it weight trains (I still find it hard to believe that people who don't weight train actually exist), but for those who do it's most commonly done with a 16 hour fast followed by an 8 hour eating window, more commonly known as leangains.

Intermittent fasting is great for those who have a small calorie maintenance level as it means you're not grazing over small 200-400 calorie meals, but rather three larger meals which actually keep you satisfied after eating them.

Studies have also shown intermittent fasting can help:

- Preserve muscle

- Decrease body fat

- Lower blood pressure

- Increase alertness

- Keep your metabolism strong

But one of the main benefits is the freedom it gives you with your eating.

Traditional diets advocate eating every few hours. This means you're continuously thinking about preparing and eating food, if food is always on your mind you're going to want to eat it all the time.

Intermittent fasting allows you to forget about food for a large portion of the day, allowing you to focus your attention on other things. It also gives you the opportunity to be more lenient with calories when going out for dinner with friends (if your friends like going out for breakfast then find new friends).

How it's done

For convenience sake you should fast during the night when you're sleeping (you're not going to feel hungry when you're not awake). You should continue your fast through the morning and break it in the afternoon. This means your last meal of the day is usually around 8-9PM, coincidentally it's also your largest meal of the day.

This is perfect for those who don't like eating breakfast, it's also the easiest meal to skip as you tend to not wake up hungry after going to sleep eating such a large meal.

Martin Berkhan outlines three examples to the leangains approach depending on when you train:

- One pre-workout meal (3-4PM workout)

- Two pre-workout meals (7-8PM workout)

- No pre-workout meal (6-7AM workout, fasted workout)

One pre-workout meal

12-1 PM: Pre-workout meal consisting of 20-25% of your daily calories
3-4 PM: Workout
4-5 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal of the day)
8-9 PM: Final meal of the day

Two pre-workout meals

This is ideal for people who work a 9-5 job.
12-1 PM: Pre-workout meal consisting of 20-25% of your daily calories
4-5 PM: Pre-workout meal, similar macos to the first
7-8 PM: Workout
8-9 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal of the day)

No pre-workout meal

This is for people who train very early in the morning. Keep in mind that fasted training isn't for everybody and it's recommended by Martin to consume BCAAs before and after your workout.
6 AM: 10 grams of BCAAs
6-7 AM: Workout
8 AM: 10 grams of BCAAs
10 AM: 10 grams of BCAAs
12-1 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal of the day)
8-9 PM: Final meal of the day

Key points to keep in mind

- Your macros should be the same whether you follow intermittent fasting or not

- Whole unprocessed foods should always take priority when planning the foods you're going to eat

- Your last meal of the day should include a slow digesting source of protein along with vegetables high in fibre, this will help keep you full during the fasting period

- Consuming zero calorie foods are allowed during the fast

- Your fasting and feeding windows should always be consistent

- Eat less calories on non-training days

- Your first meal of the day on non-training days should be your biggest

- Your last meal of the day on training days should be your biggest

- It can be done for both bulking and cutting purposes

- It's not for everybody, consult a doctor or nutritionist before starting intermittent fasting

Read more about the leangains approach on Martin's website.

Boring disclaimer warning

This article was written by a Muscle Mayhem staff member. The information on this site is provided in good faith. Consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. All opinions expressed on this site are our own. Always seek professional advice before engaging in any physical activity or diet.