How To Start Intermittent Fasting
At Zen Dude Fitness, we use intermittent fasting almost every single day. Today, we'll help you decide whether intermittent fasting is right for you as well as clear up some information on the benefits and requirements.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting does not change what you eat; instead, it changes when you eat. It's a period of time when you are consuming absolutely no calories and then a smaller window where you consume your daily requirements of macronutrients. Basically, you're splitting your day into a feeding window and a fasting window. We fast for about 16 hours and feast within an 8 hour window of time, with fasting starting at 8pm and ending 12pm (noon) the following day.
How Does It Work?
The body's primary fuel source is glucose, which you get from carbohydrates. This fuel allows you to perform daily functions such as eating, breathing and exercising. The 'fed state' is defined as the time when you are eating. During this period, it is hard for the human body to burn fat because it is so concerned with burning glucose. Your body enters the 'Unfed state' about 8-12 hours after your last meal. In this period, your body has no glucose to burn, so instead it burns stored fat. Intermittent fasting isn't about decreasing the amount you eat, but simply timing the food you eat in one day into a smaller window so you have a larger window for your body to burn body fat.
Why Should I Intermittent Fast?
We use fasting to enhance our workout routines and to just make things simpler. For us, it's also practical because it's easy to split our nutrients into two delicious meals so we don't have to carry around a bunch of Tupperware everywhere we go.
Intermittent fasting also offers a range of health benefits including:
- Accelerated fat loss
- Increased muscle mass and growth hormone levels
- Decreased body fat
- Optimized hormones which result in a faster metabolism
- Extended lifespan
- Convenience and flexibility
- Greater insulin sensitivity that allows your body to better process carbohydrates
- Improved cardiovascular health and protect against brain diseases such as Alzheimer's
Is It For Me?
If you have trouble with overeating or often find yourself binging on food, intermittent fasting is a great way to curb this habit. It's also ideal if you want to spend less time thinking about food and food prep. At Zen Dude Fitness, we love eating feasts and chowing down, so combining all our meals into two large portions or one small portion and one super large portion is perfect.
There are some people who shouldn't fast. If you are under 18 years old, pregnant or a competitive athlete, fasting can present obstacles that are disadvantageous to your health, so best to just keep doing what you're already doing.
Can Women Fast?
Intermittent fasting is great for both men and women, although women should start with a few minor adjustments. Females who fast over a long period of time can experience hormone imbalances. Our recommendation to women is to have a shorter fasting window. Start with a longer eating window of 12 hours eating and 12 hours of fasting. See how your hormones are, and if everything is all good, then you can increase to 10 hours of eating and 14 hours of fasting. Intermittent fasting offers benefits to both men and women, just make sure to listen to your body and make the necessary adjustments.
Won't I Be Really Hungry?
The first two to three weeks you'll be really hungry, but there are several ways to blunt that sensation. Use caffeine in the morning, drinks lots of water and know that it's normal to be uncomfortable at the beginning. The first 4-6 weeks are difficult before the behavior becomes more natural.
It might seem overwhelming at the start, but over time your body will adapt to the new eating schedule. Just pick two days to start and slowly build up to 3 the next week and to 4 days a few weeks later. The point is to go about it slowly so your body can adapt, burn fat and keep you satisfied and not craving food. You can stay motivated by joining our 4-week challenge and using our Facebook group to stay accountable.
How to Start Intermittent Fasting:
When starting an intermittent fasting regimen, you can pick from three different types:
- 16/8: You'll spend 16 hours per day fasting and eat your macronutrients in an 8-hour window. You can start by eating your first meal at noon followed by dinner at 6:30. Make sure to finish eating by eight and then don't eat again until noon the next day.
- Eat stop eat: With this method, you spend 24 hours fasting one to two days per week. When you get off the fast, you can start eating regularly.
- Warrior diet: This fasting option features a 20-hour window of fasting and 4-hour feed. It's not our personal favorite, but for some people, it's a great choice.
You can use a combination of these and still get great results. You can find more information about the different fasting windows here and focus on what works well for you and your life. We do a combination where Monday through Friday we do a 16/8 fast. On the weekends we don't do any intermittent fasting so we can enjoy time with friends and family or out on the town. We occasionally throw in a full cleanse with a 24-30 hour fast during which we only consume water, green tea and black coffee.
Maintaining Muscle Mass When Fasting
If you want to create a Zen Dude Fitness physique, we recommend taking BCAA in the morning to maintain an anabolic state while you’re fasting. This ensures your muscles get the nutrients they need to maintain your mass. Since BCAA are the building blocks of protein and protein are building blocks of muscle, this supplement keeps you on track to your fitness goals. While fasting you aren't getting protein so taking BCAA replaces this protein loss. Take 5 grams in the morning and another 5 grams before your workout. Take what the Zen Dudes take with BCAA from Athletic Greens, which is the highest quality we've found on the market.
And that’s it - your full guide to intermittent fasting. It really is very simple, and you’ll find that your life gets drastically easier. Best thing to do is get started and readjust as required.