You have probably heard about it already; it’s on facebook, it’s on the news, you can hardly miss it – a “new” form of diet (not “dieting”) that allows you to control your eating habits while not depriving your body of anything.
I tried out some concepts already, like 6 meals a day, 3×3 courses, low carb in the evening etc etc. (Never a diet though – In my opinion it’s pretty stupid to deprive your body of “whatever” for two weeks, just to crave it even more after that time. Sorry.). But you might have already noticed from the introduction- I love intermittent fasting! And I will come to the why in just a second, but let’s get some facts straight first.
Remember, I am not a nutritionist – what I mention here is only what I have learned myself and what I have uncovered through personal experience. There is no guarantee that it works the same way for anyone else, nor is this any kind of medical advice.
Intermittent fasting basically means that you leave a certain period of time between your meals – that’s called a fasting window. How big this window is varies – there are different models of intermittent fasting the most prominent ones being:
- Lean gain (16:8), a 16hour fasting window followed by an 8 hour eating window. Example: you have lunch at 13 o’clock, that means you can eat your, of course, very balanced meals until 21 o’clock. From then on you don’t put anything in your body except for water, black coffee, herbal or green tea. Anything over 50kcal will break your fast and we don’t want that! Berkhan Martin invented this style of fasting and his site is super informative, so if you desire more information read on here!
- Warriors diet, you eat one meal per day (omad) at approximately the same time. That means you have a fasting window of approximately 20 hours. You deprive your body, on purpose, of calories, also when you train. During the day you can have raw vegetables and fruit, as well as, of course, water, and tea (no sugar!) en masse. Ori Hofmekler invented this sort of diet and you can find more information here.
- 5:2. – The Fast Diet. This form of Intermittent Fasting was invented by Michael Mosley. Again it is more of an eating pattern than, as already mentioned above, an actual diet – you eat 5 days of the week normally (that is, the amount of calories that you need on a normal day) and 2 days you eat only 500-600 calories. Look for further information here.
For either way of fasting it’s important that you don’t eat for at least 12 hours – because only after that the beneficial effects on your body start! These inlucde
- it can help to reduce your insulin levels
- it reduces your body fat mass – if you train, it’s not necessarily about the weight, but about the amount of body fat you have. If your goal is weight loss though, it can help as well!
- it decreases inflammation in your body
(for this post I used healthline.com as a source – if you google “intermittent fasting” you will find various other sources that support these arguments!)
For more info on the benefits of intermittent fasting (and training in a fasted state) I love watching Thomas DeLauers videos on youtube.
- Why do you love it though?
Sure, as you can very well see, the health benefits are great. I mix the above mentioned styles, and I do “cheat”. Mostly, I’d say 5 times a week, I do the 16:8 diet. It is quite easy for me, because I am usually not hungry for breakfast, so if I manage to stop eating before 21:00 making it until 13:00 isn’t much of a problem. If I have long days of university I occasionally do omad too. Shoving food senselessly into me, 2 hours before I have planned a great dinner anyways, isn’t exactly my version of responsible eating, so snacking some vegetables and going for a full blown dinner later is the much better option in my opinion.
The only method I’ve never tried is the 5:2 type – I am personally not a fan of not eating properly at least once a day, and basically, I also just don’t want to do it!
- How can you cheat on this diet?
Well there are some ways to cheat – basically, whenever you don’t keep the fasting window you set for yourself. But really, it’s not a big deal!
If I have lunch with my boyfriend and he comes home at 12, well then we eat at 12 and to hell with that one hour that I missed for my complete cycle. If I’m with my parents for the weekend and we have meals 3 times a day, well that means a two days break! You can always go back to your preferred cycle and you won’t loose any of the benefits afterwards (though it is common sense that if you cheat 6 out of 7 days, the benefits will stay correspondingly low).
Eating is supposed to be fun and your diet should be well suited for your body, lifestyle and eating habits. I wouldn’t let food cycles dictate when and how I can eat, but I find that keeping this 16:8 cycle regularly gives me a lot of energy, I’m in a better mood, and I enjoy my food even more.
- But what about training! How can you work out when you don’t eat?
Funny thing. It doesn’t affect my strength a lot. It does affect my performance when running – I tire out more quickly. But for strength training I didn’t notice any downsides, quite the contrary – most of the time I perform better and feel stronger afterwards, when I trained on an empty stomach. However, I am sure this is something everyone has to find out for him/herself.
- So is intermittent fasting the perfect thing for me too?
Only you can answer that. Basically, there is no harm in trying it out, toy around with the different styles, with different times maybe, do is once or twice a month, or two weeks in a row – you will see how it feels and as with anything else- diet, training, lifestyle –
listen to how your body responds.
It always has the right answer.