“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”
How many times have you guys heard this phrase? Because I know personally, I have heard people say breakfast was the most important meal countless times.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my eggs and bacon. But I now hold off on breakfast foods until LATER on in the day.
If you haven’t heard of intermittent fasting before, sit tight and read on..
What the hell is Intermittent Fasting (IF)??
Simply put, intermittent fasting is a style of meal-timing and dieting that revolves around restricting your eating window for a prolonged period of time and then eating a whole day’s worth of food during a short feeding window.
In other words, hold off on eating first thing in the morning, drink JUST coffee or some other zero calorie drink with caffeine, and reap MAJOR benefits.
Intermittent fasting is one of the main components alongside the ketogenic diet that has allowed me to achieve a lean physique maintaining awesome energy, while still eating foods I like such as donuts and candy (I have a major sweet tooth).
Many studies have shown that it can have VERY powerful effects on your body AND brain, and may even help you live a longer life. It isn’t necessarily a diet program, it is actually described as a “pattern of eating”
Let’s look at the philosophy of intermittent fasting from an evolutionary perspective.
When humans first roamed the earth thousands of years ago, they actually had to hunt for their food. This means that when they first woke up, they had to spend the first few waking hours searching for their next meal. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors way back when didn’t have a Shop Rite or Super Walmart to stock their fridges with food.
“So what are you trying to say?”
During the fasting phase, humans have become naturally more energetic and driven because hunting for their first meal was their first priority upon waking up.
This means that by utilizing intermittent fasting, one is MUCH more productive and energized by actually skipping breakfast. During my fast, I am able to productively complete a full days worth of work AND even get my workout in before touching any sort of food.
The bottom line is intermittent fasting has been used YEARS before the fitness industry popularized the concept.
Can You Pair Intermittent Fasting with the Ketogenic Diet?
Let’s just say that intermittent fasting and the keto diet are like peanut butter and jelly. They work so well together that it simply wouldn’t make sense to do just one of them and not the other.
There are several reasons why they pair so well together.
By eating a high fat low carb ketogenic diet, your body stays fuller for prolonged periods of time. Gone are the days that you are hungry every 2 to 3 hours. By following an intermittent fasting protocol, it is much easier to eat at a calorie deficit and not be hungry 24/7.
IF and the ketogenic diet work synergistically and you will begin to experience fat loss as well as stabilized energy better than these other crash diets that you’ve tried.
Let’s look at another perspective on how keto and IF are like the inseparable couple.
By not eating anything for a prolonged period of time, you are restricting your body of any carbohydrates. And as we know, you MUST NOT eat any carbohydrates in order for your body to begin burning fat for energy via ketosis.
The benefits you begin to experience in ketosis are similar to those you experience while intermittent fasting. The moral to the story is, if you are experimenting with the ketogenic diet, I highly recommend intermittent fasting as well.
Some of the benefits of IF include:
- Lose weight faster – with a drastic drop of insulin, you’re body begins to burn fat at a much faster rate
- Increased human growth hormone – higher levels of growth hormone induce fat burning and muscle gain
- Helps protect against diseases – such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease.
- Improves your metabolism
- Induces autophagy – the process where your cells begin to eliminate waste material and repair themselves
- Saves a tremendous amount of time – for the super busy folk who don’t have time to eat 6 meals a day.
- Helps with productivity and energy
- and obviously, you are able to reward yourself with satisfying larger meals during your eating window.
What’s going on inside the body during fasting?
By restricting any sort of caloric intake during your fasting period, your body is searching for other sources of energy. This is why intermittent fasting is like the sidekick of the ketogenic diet. It is much easier to reach a state of ketosis when you are utilizing IF.
This means that during your fast, your body is literally burning off your body fat because it is deprived of carbohydrates.
After about a week or two of intermittent fasting, your body’s hunger hormone (ghrelin) begins to adjust.
You will experience hunger and may become irritable but if you stick it out, your hunger hormone will regulate and you will find it to be much easier to go prolonger periods of no food without feeling like wanting to kill someone.
“So is IF suitable for anyone and everyone?”
There may be some complications for those who are adapting intermittent fasting.
I’ve been utilizing intermittent fasting and have many clients who also preach its benefits.
A small percentage of people who have tried to adapt IF simply couldn’t do it.
If you’re obese and just hate any form of physical activity, intermittent fasting will benefit you greatly.
But, if you are in a major caloric deficit, you may experience extreme hunger after 10 to 12 hours of fasting and just won’t be able to complete the full fast.
There has also been some evidence that a miniscule percentage of women won’t benefit from intermittent fasting.
Besides that, I believe intermittent fasting should be incorporated into MOST peoples lifestyle.
Popular Intermittent Fasting Methods
Let’s now dive into the most common methods to begin intermittent fasting and how you can incorporate it into your life.
1. The 16/8 Method: LeanGains (recommended)
This method of fasting was popularized by Martin Berkhan. I personally favor this method the most and recommend it to all my clients. I put my own twist to this method to cater to mine or my clients lifestyle.
Here is the gist of this method:
- You must fast for 16 hours per day and no less. This means absolutely NO food, EXCEPT for coffee, tea, and other non-caloric drinks.
- You have 8 hours every day to eat.
- Ingest a moderate amount of protein and high fats. (this keeps you fuller for longer periods of time along with retaining muscle mass)
- Your post-workout meal should be very big, around 50% of your daily caloric intake is recommended.
Some key points from the Lean Gains website:
- “The fast is the perfect time to be productive and get things done. Don’t sit around, get bored and brood about food.”
- “Meal frequency during the feeding phase is irrelevant. However, most people, including me, prefer three meals.”
- “The feeding window should be kept somewhat constant due to the hormonal entrainment of meal patterns. We tend to get hungry when we’re used to eating and maintaining a regular pattern makes diet adherence easier. If you’re used to breaking the fast at 12-2 PM and ending it at 8-10 PM, then try to maintain that pattern every day.”
- “Here are the supplements I recommend everyone to take on a daily basis: a multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D and extra calcium (unless day is consumed on a regular and daily basis)
- “For fasted training, BCAA or an essential amino acid mixture is highly recommended. However, if this feels like too much micromanaging or simply questionable from an economic standpoint, you could also make due with some whey protein.”
2. Eat Stop Eat Method
This method created by Brad Pilon is very simple:
- Once or twice a week, fast for 24 hours. Start it whenever you want just make sure you don’t eat for the full 24 hours.
- Break your fast with a regular meal. Don’t try to make up your calories you would have eaten the day of the fast.
- Exercise frequently.
This method is more for people who want to gain some of the benefits of intermittent fasting but at same time are not too worried about their body (losing weight or gaining muscle). A word of warning, fasting for a full 24 hours is pretty hard and isn’t recommended for the mentally weak.
3. The Warrior Diet
This is the method created by Ori Hofmekler:
- Eat one HUGE meal per day, preferably at night. You have only 3 to 4 hours to eat so you are looking at a 20 hour fast that goes with a 4 hour eating window.
- You can have small amounts of fruit and veggies during the day, but little to no protein until your nightly feast.
- Exercise should be during the day during your fasted state.
This method isn’t recommended simply because you’re eating fruits and veggies during the day so you technically aren’t fasted.
4. Alternate-Day Fasting
This is close to the Eat Stop Eat protocol in that:
- You eat normally one day having your very last meal at night.
- Don’t eat whatsoever the next day
- Start eating the following day at the time you had your last meal.
I would really only recommend this method to the people who are simply just looking to attain the therapeutic benefits of a long fasting period (20+ hours).
If you are trying to build muscle this method isn’t recommended because it requires you go to sleep on an empty stomach after fasting for a full day which could potentially cause muscle loss.
“Which method should I use for building muscle and losing weight?”
As stated before, the 16 hour fast followed by an 8 hour eating window is what I personally recommend along with many others.
Not only do you reap the major benefits of fasting this way, you also save a lot of time for other activities along with having a longer eating window compared to the other fasting protocols.
Here are some key points that has helped me successfully incorporate intermittent fasting:
It is a common occurrence to experience irritability, hunger, and plain out become a grump to those around you when first starting out with IF.
Follow these tips to help accelerate the transition to a ketogenic / IF lifestyle:
- COFFEE! – I can’t emphasize how important it is to drink coffee during your fast. Caffeine is known to suppress your appetite along with speeding up your metabolism. I like to have my daily dose of caffeine (usually 2-3 cups) during my fast. Once I have eaten, I don’t drink or ingest any more caffeine in order to keep my tolerance somewhat low. If you don’t like drinking coffee, caffeine pills are a great alternative.
- Take 10 grams of BCAA’s if you are training fasted – By doing so, you are able to retain your muscle mass and you still have all the energy needed to perform a full workout.
- Seltzer Water during your fasting phase – This is a little trick that I picked up through years of fasting, I found that non caloric seltzer water has helped me with the last couple hours of my 16 hour fast.
- Do all your productive work while fasted – It’s truly amazing how productive you can be while you are in a fasted state on top of being caffeinated. If you are in any sort of creative field, this is definitely the time you should be utilizing to get your most important work done. Not only are you able to focus more, it also keeps your mind off of wanting to break your fast.
- Following a low carb high fat ketogenic diet will make IF a lot easier to stick to. – By staying on the keto lifestyle, you will experience satiety while dropping fat. Restricting carbs through intermittent fasting will pair perfectly with the ketogenic diet.
So there you have it..
I have been utilizing IF for years and its been great. Not only does it have a ton of health benefits and saves me time, I’m able to eat practically whatever I want when I break my fast since I’m at such a caloric deficit once I have reached my eating window.
I’d like to hear back from you guys. Have you guys incorporated intermittent fasting into your ketogenic diet ? If so, how has your experience been so far?