Unless you have been living under a rock you have probably heard about intermittent fasting. Stop eating food for a few hours a day and BAM! You have found a magical solution to lose that extra fat and live healthy forever, right?
Yes. And no.
For humans it is not natural to eat all the time. In animals it´s called grazing. Look at some animals who are grazing and you will notice that they are not only fat, they are usually prey for stronger animals. Humans developed to be at the top of the food chain so it makes no sense for us to be constantly grazing. We are predators, not prey.
Intermittent fasting comes with a lot of benefits. Not eating for a longer time makes your insulin levels drop which helps to burn body fat. The cellular repair increases, making your skin appear younger. Human growth hormone that is responsible for building muscle may increase. It lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes if practiced correctly. Inflammation in your body may decrease due to enhanced resistance to oxidative stress. Some studies even claim intermittent fasting may help preventing cancer, heart diseases and Alzheimer´s Disease.
But that´s not the only reason why you want to try intermittent fasting. After you developed the mindset of a superhero you will want to develop the body of a superhero as well. And this is were the practical benefits of intermittent fasting are getting interesting.
If you have less time in a day to eat the chances that you are going to eat less rise. Putting yourself in a caloric deficit required to lose weight will be easier once you get used to the fasting window.
Don´t make the mistake of thinking that you can eat whatever you want and lose weight as long as you fast 16 hours a day. 3000 calories are 3000 calories no matter what time of the day you consume them.
Intermittent fasting is only a tool in your toolbox for weight loss, not the ultimate solution. But as long as you stay in a caloric deficit you will lose fat. That´s for sure.
As discussed earlier intermittent fasting raises the levels of human growth hormone in your body. Building muscle while practicing intermittent fasting may be difficult at first but it is absolutely possible if you want to gain muscle and still reap the health benefits of fasting. However, it is not the best idea to only eat once a day if you want to build muscle so choose a shorter fasting period of no more than 14 hours a day. We will talk about feeding windows later.
If your athletic performance is not affected by your fasted state I´d recommend to eat your first meal and break your fast right after your strength training. That is, if you strength train in the morning.
If you usually train in the afternoon or evening you will want to eat your last meal of the day after your workout and start fasting for the night. Make sure your body gets all the nutrients it needs to repair the damaged muscles.
Unless you are a beginner with less than 6 months of weightlifting experience you will need a caloric surplus to build muscle. Eat more frequently during your feeding windows and track your caloric intake if you´re new to the game. Your body needs calories to grow.
If you are more concerned about fat loss or the other health benefits of fasting choose your feeding windows accordingly. The most common way of intermittent fasting is to fast for 16 hours and eat within 8 hours. That is great for beginners.
After a few months you may want to switch over to 18 hours of fasting and a feeding window of 6 hours. Maybe you have heard of the Warrior Diet that requires 20 hours of fasting and a feeding window of only 4 hours, making it hard to squeeze in more than two meals a day. But that´s not the best way to start intermittent fasting for beginners.
Not eating for such a long time requires a lot of willpower. You only have a finite amount of willpower to use in a day. The good news: You can train your willpower like you can train a muscle. The more you use your willpower the more willpower you will develop.
20 hours of fasting may be very hard in the beginning but it will also develop the discipline you can then transfer to every other aspect of your life. Willpower and discipline are essential for becoming a superhero. You can train your mind and body at the same time by fasting!
For those of you who are already on their way to become real superheroes I have a challenge: Fast for 24 hours and get all your daily calories in one meal. After 24 hours of fasting even a simple meal like scrambled eggs will taste like the best meal you ever had. If you can go without food for a whole day you can really call yourself a superhero!