For the last two years, I have been following the Intermittent Fasting (IF) diet protocol, which means that I have been eating my meals mostly in evening (around 90% of the time). Therefore I have a fasting window of 20-22 hours and a feeding window of 2-4 hours. Why I chose to follow this diet protocol can be found here. If you still do not know, then I must tell you that there is no such thing as a magical diet protocol, not for health and certainly not for fat loss. Fasting offers the same health benefits as physical exercise and may improve your insulin sensitivity. Apart from this it won’t give you anything spectacular. Your health will get better if you eat nutritious foods, perform regular exercise, have a relatively low body fat percentage, drink enough water and sleep well. It certainly does not depend upon following a certain diet strategy. However every diet protocol brings something to the table and the most important thing is the sustainability of that diet. If you can’t see yourself following a certain diet protocol six months or a couple of years from now, do not even bother starting it, as you will eventually fail with it and revert back to your previous eating habits.
In this article, I am going to share the practical benefits which following IF has brought to me and how it has impacted my muscle building and fat loss goals.
First things first, I love food and I am a pragmatic and practical person. IF suits me perfectly because if I only get to eat in the evening, it means that during the day I can do what I need to do without bothering with preparing breakfast and finding a place to get my lunch. Now I wake up, drink two glasses of water and I am ready to start my day. You may wonder about my energy levels and mood considering I don’t eat in the morning. Now, this has turned out to be interesting! Before starting IF I was under the belief that being hungry makes me angry and not pleasant to be around, and I even did feel like this when I was hungry. Why??? Because in my mind, the feeling of hunger was perceived as being bad. Ever since I was a kid, I was convinced by the mainstream nutrition culture that *breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that hunger causes diseases and so on. So my moody behavior when I was hungry was caused by my perception of hunger and not by the hunger itself. When I realized this and changed my perception of hunger, I stopped being moody, angry and irritable. I could control my mood independent of my level of satiety. And this happened on the first day I started Intermittent Fasting.
*Adorian actually published a very interesting article about breakfast, about who might be a perfect candidate for it. He added some nice meal samples as well. Find out more: here.
I was ready for a big change regarding nutrition and fitness and that had a major influence on my adherence to Intermittent Fasting.
Now, you may ask yourself: “How can somebody say that he loves food and not eat during the day?” The answer can be found in the question itself. I certainly love food and that’s why I don’t like to eat on the run or under the pressure of a tight time and schedule. When I used to eat breakfast I was always looking at the clock to make sure that I left the house at the right time. And having lunch was even worse because eating on the run takes away all the pleasure of eating food. I actually hated it when I had to eat a sandwich on the streets in-between places I had to be.
So in the evening, when I am at home, and done with all my duties of the job, I can relax and enjoy my favorite food items in comfort.
Now, my IF protocol may seem a little extreme to some of you who are familiar with IF. There is the 16/8 hours IF protocol where you eat a few fruits at noon and a couple of big meals in the evening and that is a reasonable way of eating. But I have gotten used to my way of doing things and except on occasions like when I go home to my parents and I eat in a longer feeding window but otherwise I like to stick to my 22/2 hours IF style.
In terms of muscle gain and fat loss, IF did not impair my results in any way. When it comes to fat loss, IF it’s a pretty good tool to have because it helps you keep on track with the caloric intake. Plus it is quite hard to overeat when I only have one or two meals per day. I get full very quickly so it’s easy to hit my numbers. During these two years, I did not face any horrendous binge eating episodes where I would gain 10 pounds of fat in 5 days or something like that. My fat gain during my “bulking” months was around 3-5 pounds and hence was very reasonable.
Regarding muscle gain, my results were and still are good, like I expected them to be. And considering that I train in a fasted state, it is something which before IF, I could not imagine myself being able to do. Before starting IF, I used to believe that I will not have the required energy to train in a fasted state. Even though, when I used to train an hour or so after breakfast I felt sleepy during my workouts. In the last two years I have only trained in a fasted state and my energy is spot on. So are my strength and endurance. And eating around two hours after a hard workout is the best feeling ever because all the nutrients can be used to focus on recovery of my body.
Also, something that I noticed a few months ago, is that my skin is clearer than ever before. This effect may or may not be caused by IF, I certainly do not know for sure, but I have heard about it from other people that follow this diet protocol.
Finally, I want to tell the reader that I can definitely see myself eating in this way for the rest of my life, and the benefits that I have presented before you have convinced me completely to do so. It has proved to be the best meal management for me and my lifestyle.
A question I get asked a lot when I say to people that I do Intermittent Fasting is:
“What do I eat in the eating window?”
I am surprised every time by this question because I sense that they do not understand the protocol if they ask me that. So I answer them that I eat the same foods they should eat, the only difference is that I do it in a much smaller window than they do it. I focus on macronutrients, micronutrients and calories, depending on my fitness goal. So protein, fats and carbs sources and micronutrients. Different kinds of meat, bread, pasta, potatoes, fruits, veggies, etc. If you want to set up your nutrition based on healthy eating and really understand why is important to follow the nutrients principle you should read the articles linked below:
- Basics of Nutrition
- About Carbohydrates and Glycemic Index
- Everything about Breakfast
- Nutrition Myths
- How to Count Calories