There are many different approaches to intermittent fasting, but this intermittent fasting guide lays out the most effective approach by far. In fact, my Aggressive Fat Loss Program implements this strategy. Unfortunately, most other approaches overcomplicate your eating patterns making fasting a burden on your life. For example, having to stick to a precise fasting and feasting window can be very difficult. Some other styles of fasting utilize longer fasts lasting 24+ hours.
I have been utilizing what is laid out in this intermittent fasting guide for four years now! It has been hands down the most effective nutrition hack I have ever come across. In this article, I will be explaining how intermittent fasting is the ultimate fat loss, muscle building diet and how you can make it as enjoyable as possible.
I don’t know about you, but fasting for 24+ hours is just not fun. I believe in making intermittent fasting as effective and enjoyable as possible. This intermittent fasting guide is the solution! Push your first meal later into the day. This is when you maximize the benefits of fasting while making it work with your body and your natural instincts. Let me explain.
Intermittent Fasting Benefits
A huge component of learning how to do intermittent fasting is getting used to skipping breakfast and extending your overnight fast into the day. By doing this, some pretty remarkable things happen. Growth hormone levels rise, this helps preserve muscle mass and shifts fuel metabolism to fat burning.
Furthermore, insulin sensitivity in the muscles increases, this sets the perfect storm for lean muscle gains. By having improved insulin sensitivity, you can better direct carbs into your muscle stores and away from fat storage.
Now if you were to eat first thing in the morning, you would miss out on these incredible benefits. As well, cortisol peaks in the morning. Eating with elevated levels of cortisol can trigger post-meal hunger.
This is why many people find it much easier to control their cravings when they utilize intermittent fasting. Now, on the other hand, fasting for long periods of time is far from ideal. Fasting for 20+ hours will deplete liver glycogen shifting you into a catabolic state. This is when training performance may suffer and muscle building will be impaired.
We want to optimize catabolic and anabolic activity to support a lean and highly muscular physique and get the best intermittent fasting results possible. This means that we want to withstand enough time in the fasted state to experience heightened growth hormone levels, improved insulin sensitivity, and increased fat mobilization without becoming too catabolic.
Therefore I recommend keeping the fasting length in the ballpark of 14-18 hours. Some people will prefer longer fasts and other people will prefer shorter fasts. I have experienced great results with both protocols.
Does Fasting Agree With Your Natural Instincts?
We’ve all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that we should eat light at night if we want to be lean and healthy. It still pains me to see how widespread this mythical nonsense is.
The truth of the matter is that humans have evolved to eat sparingly during the day and feast at night. In fact, breakfast is a relatively recent phenomenon. The idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day has largely been pushed by cereal companies to increase the sales of their food products.
If you look at the ancient Greeks, arguably the finest people to ever live, physically and mentally, they ate but two meals per day (lunch and dinner). They were obsessed with digestion and to eat more often was considered a form of gluttony.
By skipping breakfast and eating big and satisfying meals, dieting becomes far more enjoyable than ever before. This is because you are eating in accordance with your genetic code, not against it.
Most people tend to function the best fasting during the day and eating more food later in the day. This is because fasting triggers the sympathetic nervous system, this keeps you alert, focused and energetic. When you eat big meals, especially ones with carbs, you shift your body into the parasympathetic mode.
This makes you feel relaxed and sleepy. By utilizing intermittent fasting your work productivity during the day goes through the roof and you have deep, restful sleeps at night.
But won’t eating big at night cause me to store fat?
You’re kidding right?! The only way to experience true net fat gain is to be in a calorie surplus. This is when you take in more calories than your body requires. As a result, your body stores the excess calories in your fat and muscle stores.
So as long as you’re eating less calories than your body requires then you’ll be experiencing net fat loss each day, even if you eat a giant meal before going to bed.
What Is The Importance of Calories & Macros?
It’s important to note that this intermittent fasting guide emphasizes proper nutrition. If you’re eating a poor diet and not paying attention to what you eat then fasting will do very little for you. So it’s important that you emphasize healthy meals while being accountable over your total calorie intake.
That said, I have found that intermittent fasting makes eating healthy easier than ever before. This is because you start to crave natural wholesome foods like animal protein and veggies. On top of that, you’re only eating 2-3 meals per day so dieting is a breeze, you barely even have to think about it.
Lastly, with each meal you will have plenty of calories to work with, this gives you a ton of options for incredible and downright satisfying meals. In addition, it affords you the luxury to be able to eat out at restaurants without blowing your diet. What’s more, fasting makes it damn easy to incorporate treats into your meal plan without going over your calorie numbers.
So understand that as far as fat loss and muscle mass is concerned, the calories and macros matter. I recommend thinking of fasting as a way to make everything more enjoyable while also realizing some of the incredible physiological benefits that fasting provides.
How To Do Intermittent Fasting
So how do you quickly adapt to skipping breakfast and get used to intermittent fasting?
How do you best set up your diet with intermittent fasting and how to structure your meals?
The reality is that with fasting, you shouldn’t be counting down the hours before you get to eat. Instead, you should feel a heightened sense of focus, alertness, and energy.
On top of that, you should feel a certain level of liberation from not having to eat constantly throughout the day.
Let’s dive into the 6 rules of effortless fasting.
Rule #1 – Forget about the Eating Window
A lot of people have difficulty fasting because they are early risers. They wake up around 5 or 6am and try to fast until the early afternoon because they think they need to adhere to some arbitrary 8-hour feeding window from 1pm to 9pm. The reality is that the game changes depending on what time you rise in the morning. If you wake up earlier, you should be having your first meal earlier. Conversely, if you sleep-in like I do, you should eat later in the day.
The power of fasting comes down to spending a good chunk of the day in the fasted state. This isn’t about some arbitrary feasting window, but rather a tailored approach of eating 4-7 hours after you typically wake up. For example, if you are out of bed by 5am, I recommend having your first meal around 10am-12pm. Alternatively, if you wake up at 10am then I suggest having your first meal around 3-5pm.
4-7 hours is a perfect amount of time to spend in the fasted state each waking day. The sweet spot for me seems to be about 6 hours and some days I’ll push it further. But I recommend listening to your body’s feedback to determine when you should eat your first meal. Some people may prefer to fast well into the day, others will prefer to eat just 4 hours after rising. Whichever protocol you find more enjoyable is the strategy I encourage and keep in mind it may change overtime.
Best of all, because you’re not trying to adapt your life to some feasting window, you don’t have to worry about eating your meals at the same exact time each day. If you have to have your last meal earlier or later than usual, it won’t make a lick of a difference. Keep it simple and keep it flexible, fasting should enhance and liberate your life, not control it.
Rule #2 – Use Caffeine Strategically
If you’re not currently taking caffeine/coffee during your fasts then you are missing out big time! Caffeine is much more powerful when ingested in the fasted state. Moreover, caffeine serves to enhance many of the effects of fasting. Caffeine stimulates the metabolism, blunts appetite, increases energy levels, elevates fat mobilization and also heightens mental alertness. Not to mention, coffee is associated with plenty of positive health benefits.
That being said, I recommend strictly limiting your caffeine intake to the fasting portion of the day. If you drink plenty of coffee throughout the day, you will become more and more desensitized to the effects of caffeine. This will diminish the hunger blunting and energy-boosting effects of caffeine. Reducing caffeine to the fasted state and only the fasted state makes fasting downright effortless.
My advice is to drink 2 cups of black coffee during the fast and at no other point in the day (my absolute favorite is Fasting Fuel). If you want a hot beverage later in the day then go with some herbal tea.
If you hate black coffee then I recommend sucking it up. Within a few weeks, you will grow a fondness for black coffee that will trump just about anything else.
Rule #3 – Workout Intelligently
Intermittent fasting workouts should be based off low volume strength training to build strength and muscle, like in my Aggressive Fat Loss Program. If you want to burn some calories, low-intensity walking is your best bet, which has a neutral effect on appetite. If you want to do some conditioning work, limit it to short sprint/interval sessions lasting up to 20 minutes.
There’s no need for any additional training on top of this unless of course you’re a competitive athlete and need to do skill work for your sport. Drawn out interval sessions, circuit routines, and high volume workout sessions will burn a bunch of energy, rendering you ravenous during your fast. Moreover, these forms of training are completely unnecessary in nature and will only serve to retard your progress from your much more important strength and muscle building sessions.
If you want to do additional exercise, it should be light to moderate in nature. In this case, I’d recommend focusing on having fun or learning and honing a skill, rather than trying to destroy yourself in the gym. Recreation sports and yoga or martial arts are great options. Some intermittent fasting exercise I would not recommend is cross-fit, p90x and hour long-running sessions.
Intermittent fasting is an incredible tool for staying lean, so make use of it! Focus your efforts on building strength and muscle, add some light activity like brisk walking here and there and throw in some short sprints if you feel so inclined. Other than that, well there’s more to life than exercising, and trying to do more intense training is only going to hamper your progress.
Rule #4 – Strategic Fruit Snacking
If you find yourself getting hungry before your first meal I recommend snacking on a piece of fruit. Fruit is very helpful in the fasted state because it helps to replenish liver glycogen. When liver glycogen levels become depleted from long fasts, a signal is sent to the brain that triggers hunger.
By having a serving of fruit when you get hungry near the end of your fast, you are effectively downregulating hunger signals. Moreover, replenishing liver glycogen helps to shift you back into an anabolic state.
The best time to eat fruit is on a relatively empty stomach when carbohydrate stores are low. This ensures that the carbs from the fruit are used to replenish depleted liver glycogen stores. After a big meal with carbs, your liver glycogen levels will be relatively topped off. Any additional fruit on top of this will have to be burned for energy or it will get stored as fat.
Therefore I recommend eating 2-3 servings of fruit per day to stave off hunger and then getting the rest of your carbs from starches like potatoes and rice, which are better at restocking muscle glycogen. I usually have an apple before lunch and dinner and occasionally a banana before bed.
Banana’s are higher in glucose so they do a better job at replenishing muscle glycogen than most fruits. Further, banana’s stimulate the release of serotonin in the brain, which improves relaxation and helps with sleep. What’s more, banana’s are a good source of magnesium and potassium, which promotes muscle relaxation, further enhancing sleep.
Rule #5 – Eat Big
If you’re switching to intermittent fasting then you’re going to have to eat much bigger meals than you’re accustomed to. If you don’t adjust the size of your meals accordingly, you will be very low in calories and nutrients and hunger will be pronounced during the fast. Alternatively, you will be tempted to snack on junk to get your calories up, which will likely lead to excessive calorie consumption.
Eat a big lunch and dinner so you’re full and satisfied if you skimp on these meals you’re at risk of becoming very hungry. In addition, you’re going to want to emphasize lots of protein with your meals to ensure you hit your protein numbers and to encourage satiety. When I go out to restaurants, I often order a double serving of meat. One of my favorite meals is to order a big burger (no bun) and ask for two patties. I get the burger topped with bacon and cheese and sweet mary mother of god is it ever good.
Another restaurant favorite of mine is to go to chipotle and get triple meat (only $4 extra), with rice, beans, veggies and lots of cheese. At first, expect to be incredibly full! In fact, nearly all of my clients, mention that they are extremely full despite dieting. Some even have trouble finishing meals! This is a good thing, this is the ultimate diet hack.
When you feel extremely satisfied and filled up while dropping fat, life is pretty damn good! If you’re trying to go too low in calories and eating just two modest meals per day, you’ll be in too big of a calorie deficit, and your fasts will be pretty brutal. So don’t be scared of eating more than what seems reasonable, you have my whole-hearted permission.
Rule #6 – Forget About It
Forget about the fact that you’re fasting. You don’t have to tell the whole world and your pet goldfish how long you’ve been fasting for. No one cares ;) Besides, it’s not really a big deal! This is how I believe humans should eat anyways, I think it’s crazy eating first thing in the morning.
So don’t think that you’re bending spoons with your mind all of the sudden because you’ve been fasting for a big chunk of the day. By not thinking about how long you’ve been fasting for and by not making a big deal about it, it feels completely natural. It takes the effort and will power out of fasting!
Learning how to do intermittent fasting ultimately comes down to taking action and trying it out in your daily life. I truly believe that this intermittent fasting guide is the best one out there. It took me a good 3 years to hone this strategy down! If you can save someone the pain and anguish then don’t hesitate to share this post with them :). Oh and BIG NEWS, I’m launching my new fat loss course. It’s a much more aggressive protocol than my warrior shredding program. This is if you want to step things up and lose fat at a faster pace.
It is a more extreme approach, but this is just about the most enjoyable way to handle rapid fat loss. For people that are already pretty lean, 8-15% body fat, it should be performed for only about 3-6 weeks at a time. For those that have more fat to lose they can do it for 12-16 weeks, before taking a couple of weeks to eat at maintenance.