2-Week Fitness Challenge: Intermittent Fasting
This is a 2-week challenge to those who are trying to lose more body fat and drop a few extra pounds in a short amount of time. It will be a tough one but you will get noticeable results.
For those of you unfamiliar, Intermittent Fasting has become a popular diet protocol over the last few years. There is a wealth of knowledge out there that you can find on the internet regarding intermittent fasting but to name a few, check out what Precision Nutrition, Lean Gains, or Mark’s Daily Apple have to say about it after reading this if you want more information.
Proponents for intermittent fasting all seem to be in agreement that it definitely has an affect on building lean muscle and decreasing body fat %. Below is a list of some of the other health benefits:
- Boost metabolism for fat loss
- Reduce inflammation in the body
- Lower insulin levels, increase human growth hormone (HGH)
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Reduce risk of heart disease
- Reduce blood pressure and cholesterol
- Remove waste material from cells
- Increase testosterone
- Extend lifespan
A few years ago, after hearing “intermittent fasting” being referenced more and more often by people in the fitness industry, I decided to do a short 5-week experiment on myself first before coming to any conclusions. I went with the LeanGains approach, which calls for an 8 hour period of eating, followed by a 16 hour period of fasting. So for example, you eat your meals from noon to 8pm, then fast until noon the next day. Workouts are to be done in a fasted state, followed by breaking the fast post-workout.
There are a few things I can tell you from my 5-week experiment:
First, I dropped almost 1% body fat per week. My diet (primarily Paleo) and my workouts (primarily high intensity followed by or including strength training, never more than an hour total) were Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday I took off to rest and recover.
Second, I will warn you that you will be a little moody during the first week because you will be hungry and low on fuel in the mornings.
Third, the moodiness goes away after the first week or so and you won’t even really think about being hungry, it just becomes routine.
I will say that I generally encourage people to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full, and so personally I probably wouldn’t do this long-term as I am just not sure that it would be sustainable for most people, but for those of you who really want to push it for 2 weeks and accelerate your results, this challenge is for you.
I am challenging you to start by fasting only on training days. You don’t have to fast every single day of the week unless you want to.
More Rules & Guidelines:
High Protein & Vegetable Meals: During the 8-hour eating period, eat a lot of protein (meat, poultry, fish) and vegetables (focus on greens).
Fasted Training: Train on an empty stomach.
Nutrient Timing: On training days, break the fast immediately post-workout with a high protein meal or shake. Your biggest meal should come right after your workout.
The concept of intermittent fasting in my opinion is fairly inline with the Primal Theory and the Paleo Diet. Thousands of years ago, hunter/gatherers didn’t have the luxury of being able to have 3 square meals or 6 small timed out meals a day. They ate when they found food. Sometimes that meant going for long fasted periods. Sometimes it didn’t. Research shows our ancestors were most likely in much better physical shape than we are now. They had to move, walk, run, climb, sprint for their survival or to catch dinner, and lift heavy things for short amounts of time at high intensities in order to build, and get where they needed to go. Foods available to them were animal meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruit.
Today our culture is much different. We don’t move all day to get to and from places. We commute on trains and buses, we take elevators and escalators, we sit and stare at computers, we go home and sit and stare at TV’s, we eat crap food that is processed, injected, genetically modified, and has all kinds of toxins and preservatives in it. We repeat the next day.
Combining this challenge with whole nutritious foods with yield the best results.