You may have heard of this in recent news or read about it online. It is no surprise that it has become rather popular amongst all kinds of people. But what you first need to understand is that this is not just some mere “diet” plan. No, this is what is known as a schedule for eating food. The basic idea behind it is you are allowed to eat during a certain period of the day, followed by a fast (other than water) for the remaining time. Some common schedules include the 8:16 fast, the 6:18, and the 4:20. Others include the 5:2 schedule, 24:0 twice a week, and the Warrior schedule. That probably seems like a foreign language to you, so each are going to be broken down and explained, with their benefits. If you are looking for a simple, manageable, and a way to alleviate the fat loss process, this is for you. If you are trying to build muscle this is for you. If you simply like eating bigger meals and struggle to keep yourself under control in between them, this is also for you.
Let’s start with the 8:16 schedule. And notice how the word “schedule” is used, not “diet.” This is the most common starting point for intermittent fasting. In essence, you can eat for eight straight hours of the day (however you want to split it up), and then for the other sixteen hours, you do not eat or drink anything other than water. Note that you are going to be needing a lot of water for this to combat any hunger you may have while in a fasted state.
The 6:18 is more for intermediates who have utilized the fast for at least two or three consistent months. It is the same principle as the 8:16, only this time you only eat for six hours of the day and fast the remaining eighteen. The same concept applies for the 4:20. Eat four hours of the day, and fast for twenty. With the 4:20, you’re probably looking at two big meals. With the 6:18, you are looking at two to three medium sized meals.
Next comes the 5:2 schedule. You would be eating normally as you always have been for five of the days, while for the other two, you would limit your caloric intake to about 500-600 calories. Then we have the 24:0, which is a complete twenty-four-hour fast for one day of the week. So if
you ate a meal at 5:00 pm on a Wednesday, you would not be able to eat until Thursday at 5:00 pm. This is definitely a difficult method, and it is one that would not be recommended until you have roughly a year of consistent intermitted fasting experience. Finally, there is the Warrior schedule, which allows you to fast during every day, and eat a huge meal at night. Similar to the 24:0 approach, this is not recommended unless you have about a year of experience behind your back.
So what does all this amount to and mean? Well, first off, none of this matter unless you can sustain a long-term schedule and approach for yourself. If you believe you can maintain any of the schedules previously mentioned over the course of the rest of your life, then by all means go for it. Some fitness professionals agree with these techniques, while others shun them down. Don’t listen to any of them. Listen to yourself. If you can sustain any of these approaches long term, and still get the calories you need to fit your diet, then go right ahead. But the key here is, and forever will be meeting your caloric needs.
If let’s say you have calculated your macronutrients and calories required to either lose weight, lose fat, gain weight, gain muscle, or maintain your body composition, and you want to utilize one of these approaches, you very well can do so. For the basic 8:16 approach, this would likely mean divided your day into three meals and then a snack. If your caloric needs happen to be 1800 calories per day, then you would be roughly eating 400 per meal and 200 as a snack. So let us say you wake up at 9:00 am and break your fast at 9:30 am, then you would want to eat 400 calorie meals again at 12:30p pm, and 3:30 pm. You would finish your day’s allowance of eating at 5:30 pm, and from then on, you would not eat anything or drink anything other than water. Some say you can drink black coffee since it has nearly no calories, but this is just another excuse to give in to cheating and add sugar or cream. Stick to water. It will fill you up when you think you are hungry.
The same applies to all other schedules. You divide your day up however the schedule permits and divide your total calories per day by however many meals and snacks you choose to have within that eating period. For the more extreme schedules like the Warrior schedule, you would be required to eat one huge meal of whatever caloric intake you need for that day. This is favored by those who love eating huge meals because you now have that freedom, and it is rewarding to eat big at the end of a long day.
You might be wondering what the benefits to all this are? To answer that question, we shall begin with self-control. By entering into these scheduled eating patterns, you have no choice but to control your body during the fasted state. You cannot eat anything, and that requires a lot of willpower. But more than likely, after the first few days of adjustment to the patterns, you will not even feel hungry any more. The unique thing about our body is that it self-adjusts to what we provide for it. That means that when you consistently do an 8:16 or 6:18 plan, you won’t even feel hungry in between because you are training yourself to eat only within that time frame.
One of the best things about this approach to nutrition is that you won’t have to worry about knowing when you are going to eat next or even thinking about food in general. You already have the plan laid out in front of you, you just need to have the ability to follow it. In turn, your
day will be simpler, and you can focus more on your work and getting things done. This approach is a lot easier than dieting. Most fitness people try and trick you into eating every two to three hours to keep your metabolism going, and then they try and get you to buy their fitness program for outrageous prices. The truth is it’s all about what works for you. Not everyone has the time to be worried about eating every few hours, and so that is why these intermittent fasting plans might be right for you. You choose when you want to eat within those eating windows and you are all set, free of charge. The problem with dieting is the word itself. People have long misunderstood what it actually means. You do not go on a diet. Your diet is your caloric intake, simple as that. “Dieting” is not sustainable over the course of your life. Dieting has a beginning and an end, which means that you will return to unhealthy habits once you are finished with it. Do not let the fitness industry sway your view on the matter. Intermittent fasting is the only free program you can find on the internet these days, and probably the most effective at losing weight in a user-friendly way.
Sleeping, as we all know, should not be forgotten. In fact, sleeping will most likely be your biggest ally when you adjust to this pattern of eating. Overnight, you are obviously asleep and therefore, you will not feel if you are hungry or not. Right when you wake up though, that hunger might kick in, or it might actually just be that you are thirsty. If your plan requires that you fast a few more hours before eating after you have awoken for the day, drink plenty of water right away to make sure you do not give in. A full twenty ounces is a good idea right when you get out of bed. Plan your fast accordingly with your sleep and it will be all the bit easier for you. The best fast is one that allows you to eat relatively after you wake up, but would mean that you end eating earlier in the evening the day before. Again, it’s all about what you are able to sustain for the rest of your life, for that is what nutrition is all about. It’s a lifestyle, not a two-month program!
Some people might be against this idea because it may seem like you are skipping breakfast. Wrong! If you love the foods you normally eat at breakfast, then eat them for lunch. But if you are eating a big dinner the night before, you will be amazed by how much energy you still have in the morning. Some might say that the Warrior schedule or the 24:0 is simply outrageous. They might think if you go a day without eating, you could risk your health. Wrong again. As long as you have water and the self-control to follow your technique, you will be fine. Fasting has been around since the beginning of all time. Many religions practice it regularly. You are not alone. In the end it is all a mental battle you face. Can you do it or not? The 8:16 or 6:18 might be the better option for you in you cannot go longer time periods.
Now none of this matters unless you are eating healthy food though. Intermittent fasting is not an excuse to eat junk food. Make smart decisions while using these techniques. Your body will thank you for it, and so will your brain. The research and data is out there as to what foods you should be eating, and what foods keep you full longer. One gram of fat is more-dense than one gram of protein or carbohydrate, and therefore will keep you fuller, longer. When combined with scientifically backed research as to what healthy food you should be eating, intermittent fast is almost flawless.
Now, how does this all help you lose weight? Well, the science says that when you are in a fasted state (normally 12 hours after eating), it is much easier to burn off fat from your body because your insulin levels are lower. The fasted state does not start until about 12 hours after eating, and therefore, it is best to also workout in a fasted state, followed by the breaking of your fast with a protein and carbohydrate filled meal. This is a major reason why those who are brand new to intermittent fasting lose weight right away. They normally are not in a fasted state, and therefore are not able to burn off fat as those who are. It is ideal that within the last hour of your fast, you work out before finally eating.
For building muscle, these methods of eating make it so easy for your body to remain lean while building muscle at the same time. To build muscle, you also need to be in a caloric surplus, and these methods also allow you to adjust to that. It takes almost three days for your body to burn muscle tissue. Since you are never going to be in that sort of fasted state, your body turns to fat storages. So, if you are worried you will lose muscle gains, never fear. It is simply not true.
In the end, these scheduled patterns of eating are really beneficial and may ease the fat loss and muscle building process. You must know that they should only be utilized if you are going to be eating healthy foods. And you should combine them with a normal workout routine. The process of intermittent fasting has been around since the beginning of all time, but it is just getting popular today. As more and more research becomes available to support it, you can be reassured that it is in fact something you should invest your time with. Trust the process, embrace the results, and start enjoying the lifestyle.