IF 101: An Overview of Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss

An Introduction to the Hottest Nutritional Theory on the Interwebz

IF 101: An Overview of Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss

 

INTERMITTENT FASTING may well be the most discussed dietary concept on the Internet right now.

Like many other “breakout” diets, intermittent fasting (IF) is growing by leaps and bounds; however, unlike most of the other diets, IF is gaining ground despite that the practice challenges many long-help assumptions about nutrition.

In fact, practicing IF forces you to eat in direct opposition to those assumptions, and that—along with the results—it what’s generating all the buzz.

Before we get into the why and the how, let’s first discuss the basics of the what.

(NOTE: Don’t feel like reading? No problem. Scroll down to the bottom; I’ve got a short video completely covering everything in the post.)

What is Intermittent Fasting?

The most accurate definition is the simplest one: IF is merely alternating intervals of not eating (fasting) with times where you are allowed to eat.

Or, to use IF parlance, you alternate a fasting period with a feeding window. How long each will be tends to vary heavily, depending on which intermittent fasting protocol you select—and there are several.

Each method of intermittent fasting will be discussed in a later article, but for now, it’s enough to mention that the differences come from expanding the fasting window. The fasting period on specific plans can range from 16 hours all the way up to 36 hours (with several stops in between), and each of those specific plans will have benefits.

It’s also important to note that every one of us does some form of fasting, whether you realize it or not. The least technical-while-still-being-accurate definition of fasting is simply “not eating,” so anytime you’re not eating, you’re fasting.

Most of us aren’t on a structured timetable of meals where the window of fasting is constant, so rather than fasting intermittently, we’re fasting haphazardly—and there’s no benefit there.

The exception for most people is sleep. When you’re sleeping, you’re fasting; therefore most of us have a fairly rigid fasting period of 6-8 hours per night, until we eat in the morning. It is for this reason, by the way, that our morning meal is called “breakfast,” as you are literally breaking your overnight fast.

Which brings me to my next point.

The Most Important Meal of the Day? Intermittent Fasting Science Tackles the Insidious Scourge of Breakfast!

Breakfast is sort of a hot topic in the IF world, and in fact seems to be the first point of contention for people looking in on intermittent fasting from the outside. Don’t we need breakfast?

Intermittent Fasting proponents tend to say no…which flys in the face of much of the dietary advice coming from every authority from Registered Dietitians to MDs. IF peeps don’t give a shit, though, because these dudes hate breakfast.

Here’s why: for years, we’ve been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In fact, many people are often scolded by their physicians for skipping breakfast—particularly people who are embarking on a plan to lose weight.

There is some credence here, by the way: a study conducted in 2008 showed that participants who ate a calorically dense breakfast lost more weight than those that didn’t. The espoused theory for the results was that the higher caloric intake early in the day led people to snack less often and lowered caloric intake overall.

The value of that study has been questioned for many reasons, not the least of which is that despite the fact that roughly 90% of Americans eat breakfast, close to 50% of Americans are overweight. If eating breakfast is the first step to weight loss, then clearly something else is going wrong.

More evidence seems to support the breakfast idea, though. There are some epidemiological studies that show a connection skipping breakfast and higher body weight.

Of course, proponents of the breakfast theory are quick to suggest that most people are simply eating the wrong breakfast, as quick n easy meals like Danishes and doughnuts, which can lead to weight gain.

However, the crux of the breakfast study is ultimately that a larger breakfast leads to lower overall caloric intake. That is, the argument for a larger breakfast ultimately boils down to energy balance; if that study is reliant on the position that weight loss comes down of calories in versus calories out, then the make up of the food shouldn’t matter. If we’ve learned anything from Mark Haub’s Twinkie Diet, it’s that you can eat garbage and lose weight; clearly, something else is going on.

The only real argument that breakfast crowd have is insulin sensitivity. As a very basic note on what this is and why this matters the more sensitive your body is to insulin, the more likely you are to lose fat and gain muscle. Increasing insulin sensitivity almost always leads to more efficient dieting.

Getting back to it, supporters of eating breakfast declare that as insulin sensitivity is higher in the morning, eating a carbohydrate rich breakfast is going to have the greatest balance of taking in a large amount of energy without the danger of weight gain.

Intermittent Fasting Breakfast Skipping

Intermittent Fasting Guys HATE This Movie, And This Breakfast Eating, Insulin Resistant, Rag-Tag Group of Mismatched High School Archetypes.

This brings us back to IF. You see, insulin sensitivity isn’t higher “in the morning”; it’s higher after the 8-10 hour fasting periods you experience if you sleep. Or more specifically, insulin sensitivity is higher when glycogen levels are depleted; as liver glycogen will be somewhat depleted from your sleeping fast.

Intermittent fasting takes that a step further: it seems that extending the fasting period beyond that 8-10 hours by skipping breakfast (and therefore further depleting glycogen) will increase insulin even further.

Insulin sensitivity is also increased post-exercise (due to further glycogen depletion in addition to other mechanisms), and so I feel it makes to most sense to compound benefits by training in a fasted state and then having a carbohydrate meal or shake, maximizing the already potent effect of your para-workout nutrition.

Ultimately, this all means that there’s nothing special about breakfast and no need to eat first thing in the morning—the first meal you eat to break your fast will be exposed to the benefits of increased insulin sensitivity.

On the other hand, I’ll take my tongue out of my cheek long enough to say that there’s nothing inherently evil about breakfast, either; that is, even if you practice some form of fasting, you can still eat breakfast. Remember, the more important part is the length of the fast, not the time of the fast. Skipping breakfast just happens to be the easiest way to implement a fast.

A discussion that mentions skipping breakfast—or any meal, really—will invariably lead into a discussion of meal frequency, which leads me to my next point.

On Frequency: Intermittent Fasting Crusaders Battle the Myth of Six Meals

And now we come to the last and perhaps most important point.

It seems that over the past 15-20 years, hundreds of diet books have been printed, and no two were identical. In fact, some of them have been in direct opposition to one another.

Calorie-restrictive plans like Weight Watchers certainly don’t agree with plans like the Atkins diet, the first iteration of which allowed dieters to at all they want, as long as they kept carbs low.

Similarly, carb conscious plans generally call for products like yogurt or cottage cheese to be used as portable sources of protein, but many plans to reject dairy products altogether.

Despite the incredibly disparate natures of so many of these diets, the one thing that has been consistently suggested in most books published over the past 20 years is the frequency of meals.

If you’ve read a diet book, seen a nutritionist or hired a personal trainer at any point during that time, you’ve probably been told that in order to lose weight, you need to eat 5-6 small meals per day. (Note: this suggestion is sometimes phrased as “3 meals and 2 snacks.”)

This style of eating, commonly referred to as the frequent feeding model, is popular with everyone from dietitians to bodybuilders, and has been repeated so often for so long that it’s generally taken as fact.

Which it isn’t.

In fact, the reputed benefits of eating small meals more often have never been scientifically validated.

The first and most commonly cited of these is that eating frequently “stokes the metabolic fire.” Put less colloquially, the theory suggests that since eating increases your metabolic rate, the more often you eat, the more your metabolic rate will be elevated. That’s true, but it doesn’t lead to more fat loss—in fact, it’s been scientifically borne out that there won’t be a difference at all.

When you eat, your metabolic rate increased because of the energy required to break down the food you’ve taken in. This is called the Thermic Effect of Food, or TEF. So, while you’re be experiencing energy expenditure due to TEF every time you eat, the net effect is no different regardless of how many times you eat, as long as the total amount of food is the same.

You see, TEF is directly proportional to caloric intake, and if caloric intake is the same, at the end of the day, there will be no metabolic difference between eating 5-6 meals or 2-3. In fact, as long as the total calories are the same, you can eat ten meals or one meal, and you’ll still get the same metabolic effect.

Further, one study has shown that eating more frequently is less beneficial from the perspective of satiety, or feeling “full.” Which means that the more often you eat, the more likely you are to be hungry—leading to higher caloric intake and eventual weight gain.

Intermittent Fasting guru Martin Berkhan has summarized this study, it’s meaning, and the effects of such things quite well, but suffice it to say that it seems people who eat larger meals less frequently take in fewer calories and are more satisfied doing so.

A smaller number of meals obviously fits well into fasting protocols—if you are condensing the amount of time you’re “allowed” to eat into a small window of 4-8 hours, having more than 2-3 meals becomes impractical at best and impossible at worst. My clients who practice IF eat 3 meals (not counting a post-workout shake, which they consume on days they train with weights).

Calories, Hormones, and Eternal Life (Okay, Not Really): The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Obviously, above and beyond the debunking of long-believed myths, there are numerous benefits to Intermittent Fasting that make it so popular.

Firstly, as we’ve established thus far, people who practice IF eat less frequently. In addition to feeling hungry less often, and more full when they do eat, these people benefit in terms of practicality and logistics.

After all, eating fewer meals means fewer meals and/or buying fewer meals. In addition to saving you time (and, probably, money), this also means that you exposed to flavors less often, and are therefore less likely to get bored and eat something you shouldn’t.

We’ve also mentioned that eating less frequently tends to result in eating fewer calories overall, but that’s a pretty important point so it bears repeating: eating less frequently tends to result in eating few calories overall.

And speaking of caloric restriction: that brings us to another benefit. IF plans that require full day fasting drastically reduce your calorie intake, so if you are using a style of IF which requires you to fast for 24 hours twice per week, you’re reducing your food intake by about 30%. It’s not hard to see how that would lead to weight loss.

Going a little further, by restricting calories, you’re forcing the body to look elsewhere than the gut for energy, which can encourage cellular repair. That is, a cell will turn to its own damaged proteins for energy. While that cycle would be bad in the long term, keep in mind you’re only fasting for “brief” periods; when you eat again the cell will use the new cell-stuff replace the old cell-stuff that’s been consumed. All told, this phenomenon—which, again, stems from caloric restriction—can generally help prevent both disease and age.

For something more specific: one study out of the University of Utah showed that people who fasted just one day per month were 40% less likely to suffer from clogged arteries.

While there’s certainly a lot to be said for caloric restriction, it’s important to keep in mind that intermittent fasting isn’t just about eating fewer calories—there are also hormonal benefits that lead to improved body composition.

For starters, there’s the improved insulin sensitivity that comes with fasting, especially when paired with exercises, as we’ve covered; however, fasting has other hormonal benefits, including (but not limited to) an increase in the secretion of growth hormone (GH).

Growth Hormone has a myriad benefits—a discussion of which in full is beyond the scope of this writing—but for our purposes it’s enough to say that the more GH your produce, the faster you can lose fat and gain muscle. Additionally, GH tends to offset the effects of cortisol, which is (in part) related to belly fat storage; so it seems likely that fasting can help you lost belly fat, at least indirectly.

Still not satisfied? Well, if you need another benefit, fasting reduces inflammation as well, which can have implications for improved immunity as well as increased fat loss.

I cover most of this information in my intermittent fasting video here:

YouTube Preview Image

Intermittent Fasting Wrap Up: 

The most important thing to remember about Intermittent Fasting is that it isn’t a “diet” it’s a way of eating, a nutritional lifestyle that will allow you to reach your goals in an efficient and convenient manner, and then hold onto your physique one you achieve them.

Of While IF isn’t for everyone, nor is it a perfect plan, it’s certainly an effective way to lose weight.

In addition to the hormonal benefits inherent in the practice, you’ll also feel more satisfied with your food, feel hungry less often, and probably save some money on food!

Moreover, you may live longer…if, you know, you’re into that.

So, even if you never try IF, you can at least appreciate that it’s forced the industry at large to re-evaluate the “truths” we tend to cling to.

Perhaps it’s for this reason that Intermittent Fasting seems to be generally received with appreciation and acceptance, while low carb diets, Paleo eating and the “Twinkie diet” all have people on both sides of the line either praising or lambasting them.

That is, Intermittent Fasting is well received once people see the research—and there’s a simple reason for that: it works.

Next time, we’ll discuss the various methods of intermittent fasting, touching on the theories and reasoning behind each protocol, as well as the fitness professionals popularizing each on.

UPDATE: Part Two: Intermittent Fasting 201, gives you a breakdown of the most popular intermittent fasting protocols.

And for the most popular questions regarding IF, check out this post covering Intermittent Fasting FAQs.

If you’re interested in the hottest Intermittent Fasting program on the web, check out Fat Loss Forever – it contains ALL of these benefits and more.

Okay! Time to sound off! In part two, Intermittent Fasting 201, I give a break down of YOUR favorite forms of IF, but I need to know what they are.

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. He occasionally writes things on his blog and rants on Facebook.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.edwards123 Andrew Edwards

    Awesome well balanced article Roman avoiding the usual quasi-religious fanaticism that lots of nutrionalists fall back on

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      Thanks, bru.  Glad you liked it.  The next few posts will be more in depth, but I thought this was as good start.

      • Saray

        It was a great start! I just found this article (2 years late perhaps) as I was researching IF for an article I was writing. I’m glad I found it as your style is so thorough and answered questions such as, ” What about breakfast.” that other articles didn’t touch on. I’m impressed.

  • Anonymous

    I loved when I fasted as part of the Extreme Fat Loss Diet. I was worried that working out at the end of my fast-day would be hard, but people asked me where I got all my energy! I was jumping up and down between exercises and was just giggling and smiling. I would definitely incorporate this into my diet, and I am looking forward to reading part 2!

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      A lot of people report that, actually.  The feast/fast model that eventually got incorporated into XFLD was my first experience with fasting.  (well, outside of cutting weight for wrestling!). I believe it’s the same for most people.

  • ash

    Great start to Part 1. I take it Part 2 will be more or less chronicling your adventures into IF? I hope so. It was neat reading JBs personal experience, but would love to read yours. everyone’s journey is going to be different.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=765218528 Guillermo Andrés Obando Palaci

    It was indeed a good start, to be honest I’ve never read anything else regarding IF other than the comments that Roman does every once in a while. Now this got me really interested on it… in the other hand, I am not a fun of skipping breakfast, but I am willing to give it a try for the sake of saying goodbye to those little love handles that are driving me nuts.  Can’t wait for the second part of this article. Good Stuff Roman!

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      Thanks man =)

    • ltlgeneral64

      Roman’s info is awesome! Another source to look at is Dr. John Berardi’s study of IF. I am very excited to see the expert nutrition community finding IF as an alternative to eating more frenquently. I don’t feel hungry ALL day long and it was a struggle for me to try to eat that often…

  • C Blok

    Like! I’ve had some extreme results with IF. I use it combined with HIT cardio and have seen some amazing results on VO2 max. and weightloss. One of the “perks” of 24/36 hour fasting is that a “clean” colon does a lot for people’s energy levels too.

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      Very good point – lots of perks.  Another is that even low doses of caffeine help get you amped up.

      • Fcafalcons8

        Very, very true..especially on game days!!

  • http://twitter.com/HawkinsTwittORR Jonathan Hawkins

    Great article as always Roman! Hopefully this goes towards helping people understand IF and getting through the myths.

  • rich

    roman, what are your thoughts on the need to supplement with casein or BCAA for the prevention of muscle loss during fasting, are they neccesary or is it only as insurance? 

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

       Of the two, I would much prefer taking BCAAs.  Overalll a better experience.  Insurance, not completely necessary. 

    • Tom

      I agree with John.  I have had no need to supplement.

    • Remo

      Note that studies have shown that if you take in any amino acids during then fast, you will be negating the life-extension benefit of fasting. The cells will not scavenge the internal waste products. The study I read saw this effect with as little as 3 grams of amino acids.

  • Tyler Wall

    Roman, I prefer the Leangains protocol more or less, as that is what I was introduced to back in March.  I hadn’t read Eat Stop Eat until about a month ago, but don’t plan on trying it out anytime soon as LG suits me quite well.  I generally feed for 6-8 hours (therefore fasting 16-18).  I enjoy eating large meals and freaking people out!  I train totally fasted (except for a dose of BCAAs) and just house the food afterwards.  Also, I carb cycle on my training days.  I think IF can help many people but its still not for everyone!  Some manage just fine on 6+ meals a day and can stay shredded.  Thanks for the article, I hope there will be some more discussion on it!

    • Hooded Beast Child

      I follow very closely to this protocol (16/8) except that I workout in the afternoon at 5 so, I’ll have 2 small meals before weights/sprints and then the beast feast.  I did 6-7 small meals for almost a decade.  I’ll never go back.  My body composition has changed completely in the last 5 months.    My girlfriend did XFLD in August and kept the once a week 24 hour fast as part of her lifestyle.  She is basically doing ESE at this point with a feast/fast like Roman has discussed before; Saturday is cheat day, Sunday is 24 hour fast.  She is down 37 pounds and has increased her bench/squat/deadlift every single week since then.  

      My favorite side benefit of fasting is the intense satisfaction you get from devouring large, hard earned meals.  I noticed this especially on ESE, which is what I did for 2 months before leangains.  After working out, it was like I was this ferocious wolf that had just smoked a big fat joint.  The food was so delicious and intense and I was able to eat incredible amounts and get leaner.  Since fasting, my slow cooker has been where 75% of my food intake comes from.  Meat and veggies!

      • Mcrthrj

        There’s absolutely no hunger involved? Low blood sugar?

      • Baldurharaldsson

         When doing once a week 24 hour fast, let’s say my cheat day is Saturday, do I fast on Friday AND Sunday??

      • Bob

        “After working out, it was like I was this ferocious wolf that had just smoked a big fat joint.” Nice visual-imagery! :)

  • Dave

    Great stuff, Bru. I’ve experimented with some IF before, using different durations, times of day, workout times, fasted cardio, etc. with pretty good results. Can’t wait to read your take on the different methods!

  • M Tyse

    cannot read  please think about going to a white background

  • terry

    16/8 with fasted training has really worked for me. Might try pushing it to 17/7.

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      I like it.  Mainly because I like sevens.

  • Ruck

    I’ve been waiting on this post!  Thanks for another great read Roman!  I am currently on my seventh week of my own little spin on fasting.  I was always a chronic breakfast skipper.  Normally I don’t get even remotely hungry until 2:00 in the afternoon, so in that case, I was already following a leangains model of fasting.  In order to get more from fasting, I actually shortened my eating window down to around 5 hours as well as incorporating a weekly cheat day on Saturday (during my eating window) and then a fully 24 hour fast on Sunday.  7 weeks in and 22 lbs down.  Not too shabby!

    The biggest thing I have noticed with structured fasting is that I am much more in tune with my body and what it needs.  For example, excess carbs or sodium show up on my body almost immediately (BLOAT).  And as for calorie restriction, in my experience it is far easier to stay in a calorie deficit as long as protein is my main priority.  As long as I get my 200-300g of protein a day, I don’t have enough room in my gut to shove in any crappy food.  I’m not intentionally going “low-carb”, but this way of eating lends itself to it fairly easily.

    I just wanted to give you my two cents on my experiences.  Thanks again for another great article and I look forward to more in the future!

  • Paco

    I am a believer since I read Brad Pilon. I’m currently doing intermittent fasting twice a week with huge success. Very hard at the beginning (the first two times I fasted) but once you are used to that awful sensation you get along fine. I honestly think IF (once or twice a week)  is the best “diet” you can live with forever

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      That’s really the best thing about IF – it’s adaptable to your style.  Nice!

      • Martin Nieuwoudt

        I have been doing the Leangains protocol for about 4 weeks now, and after 20 years of 5 – 6 meals per day I will also never go back.I have lost a lot of bodyfat , and it seems that I have kept all my muscle mass.Huge benefits for me is less food preperation, and the bigger meals which leaves you satisfied even when on low calories.

  • Kirpal

    Nice post man.  I tried IF for a month.  I would fast until noon and then eat until 8pm.  Protein, veggies, and fat only, then after my workout, I’d have carbs with protein.  It’s Jason’s Renegade Diet (only available to his inner circle members).  It is good, but for my schedule it was inconvenient.  I know that sounds weird but I’ll explain.  I like eating eggs as an omelet, overeasy, or scrambled.  With IF I’d break the fast with a shake but I’d have to take hard-boiled eggs with me to eat at work and I hate eating them like that when they aren’t just boiled.  Also eating them like that gets disgusting after a while, I found anyway.

    What I do now is have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and shake after my workout. And then fast on Sunday.

  • http://thewallenway.wordpress.com/ Daniel Wallen

    I just posted a blog about intermittent fasting last night too. Jinx!

    I like to do a simple full fast day after a cheat day.  Since I often have food hangovers post-cheat and cannot even think about breakfast, it’s an effective and efficient way to detox my body.  I love workouts on these fast days, too–I set several new PR’s in a mile run while fasted. 

    I’m on a muscle building phase now, so I have been eating over maintenance on workout days (5 day split routine), having one “eat whatever” day where I don’t sweat it, and then fasting for the majority of my day off (Sunday) to hopefully avoid “bad” weight gain.  I’ll usually eat breakfast, but refrain from eating until the next morning.  I have only been playing with this for two weeks, so I may need to change it up–we’ll see. 

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      Double jinx =)

  • Conrad

    Leangains and Eat Stop Eat are the best sources out there.  The breakfast study showing people lost more weight when they ate breakfast did not specify that they also lost proportionally much more lean mass than the night feeders.  In essence they became proportionately fatter.

  • Tasha

    I’ve tried various IF methods. I think IF makes a lot of sense. A daily fasting window was effective for sure, but I found it hard to stick to for the long haul. A weekly 24-36 hour fast is my preference. I just came off a 36 hour fast and I feel fantastic. Fasting is not easy. I think a lot of us fear hunger. Fasting taught me that being hungry is okay. I will not die or faint or lose all my hard-earned muscle. I feel lighter somehow, like I’ve given my body a chance to balance out and take a break from constantly digesting. A lot of people that have never voluntarily or consciously fasted might think that fasting drains you of energy, but it really is invigorating. Being hungry creates adrenaline. Makes it hard to sleep, but it feels good! Thanks for the article. Looking forward to the next one!

  • Shaunspare

    Im a big fan of warrior diet style (20 hour controlled 4 hour feed) and 16-8 on weekends with one or two 24 hour fasts .works great

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      I like your system – using various styles of IF when it works for you.  Nice.

  • Jakefor3

    I’ve had good luck with Joel Marion’s Big Breakfast Diet, as included in your FPFL 2.0 program.  It’s actually HARD to eat that big of a breakfast for me.  Your body kind of naturally goes into low maint. mode when you’re not eating meals all the time.
    Roman – in future articles – I’d like to hear of the hormonal benefits of the cheat day/fast day schedule, plus knowing when to add an additional fast day or if extending your fast is preferred instead.  Why can’t you cheat for 2 days and fast for 2 days?  Etc.

    Thanks again!

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      The hormonal stuff with feast/fast.  Got it! Will cover =)

  • Ajescobar7

    I’m actually on my 3rd day of the 16/8. I like it, but I get really full after my meals and it is harder for me to eat more calories.  I’m about to start “mass” phase and will probably have to increase to 4-5 meals as I like this sort of feeding style better.  Don’t know how IF would incorporate to mass building.  First day (Sat) was ok up until I go to hour 12.  The next day I was perfectly fine.  I seem to concentrate more on what I am doing instead of constantly occupying my mind with “food in 1 hour.”  Really like this aspect of IF and how I can dedicate more time on more important things like my finance exam in a couple hours.  -Here I am reading this, hope this doesn’t negate my previous claim.-  My question is how this could incorporate with mass gsining.  Granted, gaining mass is simply increasing the caloric intake and possibly doing less sets/reps (not really imo).  I think I would feel weak at hour 15 of my fast. Don’t know. 
    Great article buddy. Really enjoyed reading this. Read on twitter you posted it and skipped learning about payback period to read this. Thanks for the info and hope to hears parts 2, 3, 4, 8(sideways)

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      Much appreciated on the twitter love.  I’ll cover mass gain with IF in a later post!

      • David

        Where can I find that post?

  • Ted

    Great stuff, Roman. I like how you compare Martin Berkhan and all the other IF guys’ contributions to science with Newton’s at the end. ;) Quite a compliment.

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      you dare respond to my sarcasm with sarcasm!? Do you bite your thumb at me, sir!

  • Peter

    Really great post. There are tons of benefits to deliberately imposed longer periods of fasting. Not the least of which is easier weight loss.

    I found Eat Stop Eat to be a great method but have also gotten great results with 6-hour long daily eating windows. I forget “whose method” that is. For me that basically just meant having lunch and dinner and then not eating anything before lunch or after dinner.

    One or two 24-hour fast per week, per ESE, work best for me. I’ve done 36-hour fasts too but that’s harder to maintain.

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      I’m big on the 24-36 hour fasts, sometimes longer.

  • Amanda Aller

    Great summary.  I – like some of the other commenters – enjoyed John Berardi’s article on this topic and it’s excellent to read the same material from a different author with his own personal spin.  A couple of years ago I began IF when I read Eat Stop Eat.  For 8 months, I fasted for two days of the week, and, as can be expected, I lost a ton of weight – probably the best I have ever felt about my body.  However, it was *really* tough to stick to for me, I would just feel crazy by the end of the fasted days.  Since then, I have gotten into a long term relationship and am cohabitating.  Living with someone and enjoying the experience of preparing and sharing meals was the final nail in the coffin for IF for me… However, it was always in the back of my mind because it made great sense and was so effective when I was doing it seriously.  When I read JB’s article last month, I realized that there were lots of ways to incorporate IF, and that I didn’t only have to follow the ESE philosophy of entire fasted days.  In the last couple of weeks, I have been experimenting with a quasi-Leangains protocol of not eating until about noon or 1pm, as I am often not hungry until then anyway.  It’s been really easy to do, and, that feels great – like I cut out a meal (breakfast) I was eating more out of social obligation than hunger.  I still haven’t gotten to a place where I am working out in a fasted state, because I genuinely do not feel that I have the energy to do it – I know this could be psychological – before I eat something.  So, that is the next experiment, as I know it would accelerate fat loss.  Thank you for adding to the canon of intelligent, straightforward, helping-us-sort-it-all-out posts/articles on IF.  As a holistic health coach, I see the possibility for IF to benefit many of my clients, and, I feel much better recommending it to them than what I see as restrictive dietary regimes they are intended to follow every day (low adherence, low results, low self-esteem as a result).  I would love to read more here about the benefit of following up a cheat day with a fasting day, and what the benefits of that would be, as well as carb cycling combined with IF, which I am also beginning to consciously experiment with.  Thank you again for a great article!

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      All great stuff here! I’ll touch on some of that in future posts.

      You do bring up an interesting point – I imagine it WOULD be hard to co-habitate with a mate when doing IF.  If they’re not doing it also as well.

      I’ll definitely do the cheat/fast combo, but I covered a bit here:

      http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com/blog/intermittent-fasting-101/

  • Garry

    Great article Roman….I’m very interested by the fact that I have Type 2 diabetes and can see some benefit that IF may have. I don’t take insulin (just 1 pill/day) and I exercise 4-5 times per week. I personally think that I’m borderline diabetic because my readings aren’t high. If IF, along with exercise and decent diet, will keep me where I should be, then I don’t see the negatives. Perhaps there are factors that I’m not aware of. Would love to get some feedback on this and look forward to Part 2. Thanks.

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      Well, this is a bit beyond the scope of my expertise, but I would venture to say that the more you control insulin, the better you’re likely to be.

      Fasting is one way to do that, but I’d definitely work with your doctor, or a Diabetes expert who has worked with fasting before.

  • Mateo

    Love IF, and I first heard about IF from Brad Pilon not that other guy you mentioned but I never thought that Brad was the creator of the idea IF. As long as people are benefitting or deriving something useful from the information I think that is the most important thing. Also I think that the more individuals there are that speak to a subject the better because people are receptive to information from people they relate to or in how that information was presented by that person. Someone may read about IF or any other fitness advice or on any subject for that matter and it won’t register with them, but then read about that same subject presented by another person and be in complete agreement. It’s all in the presentation and the presenter.

  • Stew2310

    I am a fan of the full fast day on Mondays after my cheat day on Sunday.  I struggled with it the first couple of times but now I have no issues.  I eat 5-6 meals with carbs around my workouts and P/F meals for all other meals Tuesday thru Saturday, then on Sunday I eat whatever, whenever.  Monday all I consume is BCAAs and H2O.  Works well for me so far, been doing it four weeks and am down about 7 lbs. no strength loss at all.  I feel really good, I would even say better than before trying IF.

  • Shaun

    What’s your thoughts on taking/not taking BCAA’s during fasting?

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      I prefer to take BCAAs when fasting, but I don’t feel that not taking them is going to be so detrimental that it would render the fast useless in terms of fat loss, or dangerous in terms of muscle loss.

      BCAAs help and are super cheap, so may as well use them.

  • Scott

    Great article! I have been on an IF plan that involves 20 hrs of fasting with 4 hrs of eating toward the end of the night. I personally love it, it helps with the cravings I get, and I don’t feel as guilty jumping into those carbohydrates. On that note, I have 2 questions regarding IF. What is your take on doing long spurts without eating and your body going into “survival” or “fat storage” mode? Also,  how long can you stay on an IF “diet”, specifically the 20hr/4hr ratio I’m on now? I would love to actually stay on this for a long time, but would there be long-term effects? 

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  • Mraguzin

    Great Article. I’ve tried to talk to some people about the benefits of  IF and they look at me like I’m nuts. I have been using it very successfully for a few months, so it does work. I tend to use different methods, depending upon how my week looks, hence the flexibility of it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=527795003 Samuel Olguin

    I do a 24hrs fast per week , twice if I’m looking forward to really losing fat. I usually do it on Mondays after a cheating day (or weekend).  Other than that I pretty much always skip breakfast, so you could say I always workout on a “fasted” state ( from ~12 to 36hrs) I never feel the lack of energy and have been able to improve my workouts every week.  To me it’s great because it fits my lifestyle, being a college student I’m able to go out with friends and have regular dinners without worrying about it. Also, it taught me the difference between real hunger or just a mind thing.

  • Chris H

    I’ve been running a LeanGains style 16 hours off 8 hours on for about 6 months and it’s been working really well so far. Prior to this I followed the Sunday fast I found from Dr Brad Campbell (as you suggested also). I’ve found by following LeanGains I can still cheat my arse off on Saturdays and simply eat in the usual hours Sunday (slightly lower carb, higher fat) and do no damage what so ever, which is great. I must admit my ridiculous metabolism may have something to do with it too though haha.

  • Rocky

    Real good stuff! I can agree with feeling fuller with less meals. Im STARVING when I have to eat little meals all damn day..

    The only problem is that whole no carbs and fats at the sane meal theory kinda just gets blown out if the window with this approach.

    Was also wondering if you could still build muscle with this kind of approach?.

  • Tuco

    really like IF, i vary with 16/8 and 20/4 (also the feast/fast which i love, both days, the feast is self explanatory, although gotta admit i tend to eat till i’m a bit uncomfortable hahahahha, and on the fast day i can go through a lactic acid work out, hiit, and liss with no problem).
    but there are a few details in this article i gotta correct, first you have less meals, but they are bigger, so you don’t save money or time. and also cause they’re bigger, you don’t eat less calories, UNLESS  your whole diet is on a calorie deficit, in IF you don’t just “erase” meals 1,2,3 and leave 4,5,6… you compress those 6 into 3.

    by the way really LOVE your site man, really awesome stuff, and you’re funny as hell hahahaha
    love and snuggles from Chile

  • Karl

    Awesome explanation. A lot of what you touch on is on the weight loss side of things… are any of the follow up articles going to delve into using IF to gain muscle while maintaining low BF%? I am coming off a shoulder surgery and am down a serious amount of muscle. I want to try IF for an extended period of time but I need to put on muscle. Oh the confusion… haha

  • Ylwa Eklund Falk

    AWESOME! This is one of you best posts in a long time. Not that your always great, but this one was stand out. I really look forward to the post on IF and lean mass gain as this is my primary goal right now while still being able to minimize fat gain to come out with a better starting point for my next contest prep.

  • Marie

    Awesome introduction article. It helps newbies to IF get the gyst of it and perhaps tweaks their minds into wanting to possibly give it a go. My first experience with IF was the XFLD. It was easier than I thought, gave me PLENTY of energy along with the lactic acid workout in the morning. I now use this method once every couple of weeks. My question to you (and knowing you, you’ll probably answer it in the next part(s): fasting with BCAAs vs fasting with good ol’ plain water, which is better or do the consequences vary at all? Thanks much! wi-giggle and wi-five!

    • Marie

      oh darn, I asked a question already answered… next time I’ll read the other comments first ;)

  • Dom

    Interesting thoughts, like to hear more

  • Julian Crooknorth

    Great article Roman, I have been looking forward to your
    posts on IF.  I would like to read about
    your experiences with IF, hopefully it will be in the upcoming posts.  Do you have any experience with IF and
    gaining lean muscle, if so I would love to read about it.  I’m trying to gain some muscle and I just
    feel that I am eating all the time and if you could incorporate IF with muscle
    gaining I feel the break from eating would do me wonders.

    Looking forward to hearing about your adventures with IF.

  • Ben Bruno

    Great post! I’ve yet to try IF (even if it’s not necessarily the most important, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day), but I think I’m going to have to give it a run sometime soon. I look forward to the next post.

  • ALEXANDER

    As i’ve stated on your facebook.. I am a huge fan of the IF 16/8 protocol.. it has done near miraculous things for my personal body comp’… I personally do a daily 16/8-20/4 split with periodic 36 hour fasts.. mental clarity is another note worthy addition..NO I do not have a cushy job, and low paced lifestyle… I have been doing the superhero workout, final phase abs, IN ADDITON to 3-6 HIIT/crossfit sessions, MMA trianing, Tae Kwon Do, run a business (natural foods store…), and going to medical school…  most of these activities are done in the fasted state..

  • Anonymous

    Hey there Roman – 

    First time posting on here, can I just say you’ve been a fucking inspiration to a small lean guy who has grown from 185lbs to 220lbs and guys like you have been instrumental in me getting that right. Shame you’re not in the UK to train me…

    My question on IF is how it works for guys focussed on growth, not leanness. I’m pretty lean, but desperate to bulk up. It’s happening, slowly, but my bodybuilder PT is convinced the 6 meals plan is best for me to really grow seriously. How could/should IF work for bulking? Or is it only good for cutting down to look like you in those awesome pics?

    Keep up the EXCELLENT work, mate.

    Ric

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      Hey man,

      Thanks for the kind words, means a lot. 

      I’ll definitely do an entire post talking about gaining muscle with IF. 

      To put it in brief, the main thing to consider is satiety.  I think that hormonally, IF might have the edge over eating 6 meals, so in terms of endocrinological benefit could be better.

      The problem is, skinny guys get full faster, so may have a hard time putting the calories down in 3 meals.  6 meals might be more practical.  Will cover it in full.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks man, wd love to hear ur views. Plus, I’m damn STARVING by morning, kinda think given my need to bulk I should eat at every opportunity. Old-fashioned? Or right?

        Kinda think you must have done SOMETHING right given that amazing body, but kinda worried that IF will be a weird fad to be honest….

        Ric

  • Ron Hansen

    I do 18/8 Monday through Friday Weekends it’s a 20/4 or 1 complete 24 hr fast

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      I assume you mean “16/8.”  18/8 is 26 hours =)

  • Jnmayer

    The Lean Gains style of fasting is awesome
    16 hours fasted / 8 hours fed
    You get to eat satisfying real meals.
    Just got back into it and within weeks you see phenomenal results.

  • Nyk03

    Definitely intrigued. Part 2 will make or break this for me…

  • Darryl721

    There are two forms of fasting that I practice; a 16-18 hour fast followed by an unlimited amount of food ( The Warrior’s Diet” and then there’s fasting for one or two 24 hour periods over the week

  • Dpesci1

    Good Stuff Roman:
    Was never a huge fan of breakfast anyway….yuk……!
    Just too freakin’ early to face food…..and I like to face food plenty…just later on thanks,
    like after a glycogen depleted killer workout!

  • Christopherkimple

    I have follow IF for 2 months now, and I have found that when I train fasted I have more energy and don’t feel as sluggish as if I were to eat 2-3 hrs before.  Also since I started IF i have grown to love Scivation Extend, a intra/ post workout powder.  If you read Martin’s site he suggeests consuming 10 g of bcaa’s as soon as you wake up, then every 2-3 hrs after that until your 8 hour feeding window.  I suggest you take a look at his site, I was a must eat breakfast guy until I looked at his site, everything he talks about that goes against what you’ve been taught all your life about nutrition/diet is backed up by links to the research studies.

  • Adroes

    Cool article John, great info as always. Usually the thought of
    Fasting causes my inner soul to howl at the moon but you have
    Just about sold me. You have a knack for taking a few paragraphs
    To say what most authors say in a small novel. Love ya work!

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      Thank you so much for the compliment, Androes.  That means a lot to me.  Good luck with the fast =)

  • Rhonda

    By fasting do you mean refraining from eating and drinking water or  are you allowed to drink water?

  • Tlahui

    I did some fasting (probably the wrong way) and I ended up losing 1kg of muscle, gaining 1kg of fat, and somehow sick for almost 2 months. Yet, I know this was probably due to my lack of knowledge, rather than the fasting itself. So please, post the second instalment asap! :)

  • Unathomsen

    Love your article, can’t wait to hear more.

  • Brad

    I tend to fast on weekends not for a set time but just long enough to become truly hungry, not boredom hungry, usually this means I follow a Warrior Diet style protocol eating usually one larger meal per day, this way I can go out with my friends and family, because it really is all about the reduction of calories isn’t it? :)

  • http://twitter.com/copeFIT Adam Copeland

    All that talk from this summer about fasting got me onto it John. Now I swear by it. Much easier to maintain leanness over the long haul, at least for me. Also fasting is the perfect compliment to cheat meals and cheat days, and I love my cheat meals. Keep up the great work

  • Beansprout

    I recently read John Berardi’s paper on his self-experimentation with a number of IF protocols.  He got amazing results with a number of them.  I also respect that he says it does take a bit of experimentation to figure out what works for YOU.  I have been doing a combination of a 18/6 or 20/4 fasting/eating window with a one day a week 36 hour fast.  I have felt amazing and gotten some serious results.

  • Mike Echague

    I bought Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat and followed it starting from a 12 hour to an 18 hour and eventually a 24 hour fast once a week. The results are good. My abs are starting to show (and I haven’t seen my abs since high school) but I don’t appear to have lost muscle (my weight and strength stayed the same). I guess bottomline is: if it works, then go for it. However I asked Alwyn Cosgrove, and he doesn’t recommend this method for people who have a history of eating disorders.

  • Nige

    Great post!
    I’ve been IFing since May this year and it suits me down to the ground. Logistically it has been brilliant and I continue to get good results with it. I use the 16/8 window as suggested on Leangains and in the last 2 months I have incorporated 1 24hour fast per week (Eat Stop Eat). I rate it highly but have stopped talking to people about it as it freaks them out a little! My wife, who is in fantastic shape (after having 3 kids) tried it for a month and it wasn’t for her. No dramas, different approaches for different people. So long as you can stick to whatever approach you have and it complements your lifestyle, and gets results, go for it!

  • Cisco

    good one Roman, looking forward to the second part …

  • http://www.facebook.com/eklundcorp Fredrik Eklund

    Really good stuff man. 

    Always doing the “fast-after-the-feast” thing (24 hours), and it’s working quite well for me. 

    After all the talk about IF and weight loss, it would also be cool to hear more about IF and building lean muscle mass. Any benefits to that equation? 

    Also, I’ve been thinking about another thing; while I assume most people would agree that having a great body will lead to more sex, would more sex contribute to a greater body? 

    Not talking so much about the caloric deficit from the sex, but rather hormonal stuff (without knowing too much about it, I would assume that sex kicks up testosterone levels a bit?). 

    There might be a lad or two out there who would be interested in knowing :)  

  • Tyler Carter

    I do a 36 hour fast a few times a year as a stoic exercise. I’ve had success with feast-fasts (using a 12 hour feast and a 24 hour fast, but no BCAA’s) combined with a low carb diet for the purpose of improving body composition, and doing so without losing any strength. I look forward to part two, I hope you’ll go into more detail of life extension methods, protein cycling, and frequency of fasts, along with your thoughts on protein regulation.

  • K_strauser

    I am so happy to see that you are hitting on this subject. I have tried the Alternate Day Diet, which keeps your calories below 500 every other day. It does work! I would like to see more ideas though so please….more information!

  • Terra

    hey Roman! interesting article, as always! Until I read your part 2,  I’m not clear on whether you mean a water-only fast or a fresh juice fast? I’ve been doing a 1 week per month juice fast, combined with a one day per week juice fast for the other 3 weeks. For this, I combine fresh-pressed juices, especially greeeen juices, with herb teas, miso in hot water, coconut water, or if I need it a green smoothie. It works well for me, as I can weight-lift and dance hard during the fasts;  with that strategy and a vegan raw-food lifestyle, I’ve lost 6 inches from my waistline and a lot of poundage and am getting pretty toned. I am not good at a straight water fast, because I get headachey and weak, I suppose from too-quick release of toxins.
       I also usually only eat fruit or a smoothie for my break-fast, eating mostly in the evening and after a workout….   Anyway, I’m looking forward to your next article on the subject.
    As always, I am your devoted fan!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VNVAB5IA4KODHVER4FYDVWHUKE howard

    is there a connection between breakfast and cravings cause i feel like days i don’t eat breakfast i don’t have them later in the day.

  • Rkruger

    Great artical lots of debate in South Africa about intermittent fasting
    I am definitely going to try it

    Ronnie

  • Imagrammy

    Thanks, Roman, for this info.  I just started the 24/7 Fat Loss program, which includes a day of fasting.  The fast day has been particularly hard for me, but now I know why it was included in the program, and I’ll work harder to stay fasting for the entire period.  I’ll be looking forward to more enlightenment on IF>

  • Sandy

    Hi Roman,
    For some reason your blog posts don’t seem to be coming through properly, I get bits and pieces, such as titles but none of the content, which I’m really disappointed about as I love your blog posts. I find them really informative and fun. I don’t know if ti is a problem your end, or if anyone else has mentioned a problem, or if it is a problem my end. Hope you can help. My email is sandratoddington@yahoo.co.uk if you wouldn’t mind emailing me about it i would be very grateful. Thanks Sandy

  • diego

    interesting article… IF has something i have always been interested in, however i am an athlete who, most of the time, trains twice a day (am/pm) so it doesnt seem to fit my lifestyle. maybe i will try it in the future when i am less active with regards to my sport and strength training. the closest thing to IF i have gone to is by doing a 24 hour fast after cheat days. i have always done good during the fast. have lots of energy and good workouts even without food throughout the day. this is what leads me to believe that i can do IF successfully. well maybe in the Future, will see.. cant wait for the next part. keep it up roman!

  • Larafds

    VERY NICE!!! Looking forward to hearing the forms of IF!!

  • Ray

    I am following a IF plus carb-back loading right now I am trying to put on some weight without completely losing my abs.  It seems to be working well.  I think the hormone response from the fasting and skipping breakfast is keeping my body fat relatively low while I put on some muscle.

  • Shib

    Been doing for 7 months based on first hearing about this from Jason Fergguia  and then Chad Waterbury doing most days 14 to 16 hours actually today it will be 15. I normally train 11:30ish so I normally eat 60 to 90 mins before I am to train… I believe BCAA and some form a Probiotics is most important to the IF…
    OH by the way I’m 58 and trained since 14 so I have seen everything over the years, so far this system is very good , especially in light that B’Fast is my favorite meal. I still eat my oatmeal/protein/cantaloupe before training days and have 6 eggs on non training days when I break the fast. I use Athletic Greens every morning as well…
    Energy has been excellant and strength has not suffered at all

  • Jameson Wolff

    I’ve done the 16/8 hour fasting protocol and it has worked to get myself very lean, as long as my nutrition was precise. My only problem with it was micro nutrient partitioning (getting enough frequent doses of water soluble vitamins and other nutrients) and getting enough fiber from vegetables in 2-3 meals. (No easy task)
    That’s why I probably won’t recommend it to my clients for long term living. But simply adding in another meal or two seems to make these issues easier.

    Anyway fantastic article Roman, glad to see you’re solely up to date with the latest stuff,
    Cheers

    Jameson Wolff
    http://www.facebook.com/JamesonWolffFitnessSystems

  • Karen

    My first intro to fasting was with 10+ days of Mastercleanse, once or twice a year. I always felt GREAT once I got past the first couple days. The anti-inflammatory and healing benefits of fasting have been touted for centuries.

    I know we all gravitate to what works for us and supports how we want to eat anyway. I love this method and am having great success with it! I find it flexible, easy to adapt and even “sort of do” when on vacation or not focusing on results at all, and I have maintained results over the past year better than I ever have before.

    I am so relieved to have the 5-6 mini meals a day off my radar as that was always a struggle for me and not my natural tendency. IF is definitely for me!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1117567052 Amber Toth-Carrion

    Thank you so much for posting this! I cant wait to see part 2!!!

  • Loni

    I was wondering when you were going to talk about IF. You wrote it wonderfully as always with your refreshing sense of humor. I fast a bit more regularly than what twice a week and been doing it for more than six months, I’ve gotten leaner, and can better tell if I’m really hungery or thirsty. And my energy levels are great.
    Looking forward to your next Article on IF!

  • http://twitter.com/abigbat Paul Scott Canavan

    I’m intrigued by this. I’ve been training for

  • Hamzax7

    Eat Stop Eat 24 hour fasts twice a week, seperated by a cheat day :D
    Also sometimes the 16 hour leangains method

  • Paul

    Keep up the good work Roman. People like you are the reason we stay sharp. You’re becoming a legend. Can’t wait to read part dos. When do you think it’ll be finished?

  • Steve W

    Hey Roman. Another great post. 

    I find it somewhat annoying that some readers of leangainz assume Martin somehow invented IF. I am very glad you put that comment there. Yes he has definitely helped promote it and yes he has evolved his weight training formats around it, and i like his thinking around it, especially for bodybuilders. 

    BUT Considering that humans have been undergoing periods of fasting for millions of years, our genome is adapted for it, and that the likes of Art de Vany, and Robb Wolf were talking about various IF protocols for use in fat loss and muscle sparing strategies other than just a pure life extension model (traditionally research around IF tended to look at protein fasts and caloric restriction for life extension) for a long time BEFORE leangainz as you call it existed, and I would tell any “you must give credit to Martin or die” naysayers to go jump. As far as I know, Art de Vany is the first fitness blogger who really got stuck into this, followed by Robb Wolf. Both of whom strike me as more intelligent – and considerably more humble – than Snr Martin, and neither of whom try to claim that they invented the idea! (ahh…hello, Martin fanboys?) They would rather open the forum for discussion and experimentation, than be a retard about the whole thing. Both of whom have also produced written works for publication, whereas Martin has contented himself to date with bagging other people’s products, which he tends to do publicly. SIGH. Martin, you are doing good work on your blog, why degrade yourself?  So, thank you Art de Vany, for first bringing IF to my attention. Onwards on upwards, and the end of that conversation. 
    The point is moot. Roman this is a great post. I have personally found IF to be an excellent tool, but it is not the be all and end all, doesn’t work for everyone, can actually be a really bad idea in some circumstances, and no doubt now is about to blow up and become a very publicly discussed tool in the health and fitness arsenal. 

    Thank you Roman for writing this post, as always with a humorous and un-assuming style. I look forward to your next installments and seeing some of the ways you utilize IF with your clients. 

    Steve 

  • Patric

    I’ve tried IF once as part of the final phase of  the MMARipped Camp – and while I was worried on account of everything from muscle loss to being grumpy I trust my trainer and stuck to it. I havn’t really decided if it’s for me or not in the long run (I’m already at a single digit body fat per cent age anyway), but those three days (not consecutive, mind you) convinced me. It works, and I had no problem hitting the weights, not killing my girlfriend, or studying. It actually felt good not having to bother with food at all. A lot easier than following a strict meal plan for sure.

  • http://evilcyber.com Evilcyber

    “The value of that study has been questioned for many reasons, not the least of which is that despite the fact that roughly 90% of Americans eat breakfast, close to 50% of Americans are overweight.”

    That doesn’t mean that they are overweight *because* they eat breakfast.

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      True.  It also does mean, though, that the simple act eating breakfast isn’t enough to help keep the pounds off.

  • Reedricksr

    Once again another great article having intrigue and science to support what may be best for the results!
    I’m looking forward reading about the types of IF and finding the one with ice cream that works best for me :)

    Thanks again
    Rick

    • Shawna Brown

      Yes! Please design a plan that includes ice cream

  • VinceH

    Wow…I really enjoyed reading/learning about IF. I have never heard of the concept before today. I tend to stay away from such ideas, that so often seem to come and go in rapid succession. I was just realizing how much better I feel and how “more connected” to my body I feel on days I control my food intake similar to what you talk about. I am looking forward to reading and learning more about the idea of IF. Thanks a bunch!

  • Shawna Brown

    Intrigued. Like some of the other folks who have commented, i have a slender build with longish limbs. Hard enough to gain muscle and shape. Ive eaten more food then i thought possible so that now i start to panic at the first signs of hunger pains.
    So…. really curious about what kind of IF plan would that body type require? Always good to try new things…….as long as it includes ice cream :)

  • David Goddard

    R

    Roman
    A great article which makes me feel a lot more committed to the practice of
    intermittent fasting – just a wee question.

    ?Does the consumption of BCAA on fast days – as advocated by Joel Marion in
    XFLD – add to the cell repair benefits of the fast by providing an abundance
    of  ‘new’ stuff during the fast to replace the consumed ‘old’ cell stuff
    that has been consumed as energy?  Is the expense of BCAA really justified?

  • mattias sørensen

    This is insane.. I can’t believe it :S This could save me (my wallet) and my body (still chubby) Going to read next part for sure. 
    great reading :P 

  • http://www.facebook.com/shredchris Chris Martins

    Interesting post, to say the least. I do believe intermittent fasting is a very simple answer to a life long problem for a lot of people. And it works a lot better in our lifestyles than eating 6 meals a day, that’s for sure. 

  • Ross

    Great new article on TNATION Roman!

  • Ray

    Im not sure if it is my computer or what, but the text is showing up the same color as the backdrop. I had to cut and paste into word to read it. Just a heads up.

    • David Goddard

      I had this problem using Internet Explorer – on Roman’s advice I now open his blog using Firefox and all is well.  Hope you can cut and paste this to read a remedy

  • Ray

    I for one think that IF is a very natural way of eating. 24hr fasting is tough for me. Its a battle of will my head versus my stomach. The IF method I used today– Yesterday was Shake day under XFL(Joel Marion)–I did HomemadeTurkey Free Veggie chili instead with Amino Acid Pills— Woke up light and hollow this morning. Ate Oatmeal with Honey and Blue Berries and then two Eggs and 1 slice of Natures Own Double Fiber toast (500 Cal 30g of Protein, in sync with Carb Cycling) then around 10 had a 4oz of Chicken Breast at my desk, then for lunch 3 huge Plates of Salad with light dressing and 3 slices of pizza– I’m 145lbs so that gives me about 1500Cal by 1pm now I am fat and full, I have an Insanity workout when I get home a post workout shake (Coffee/Water/1 scoop) and 5 Amino Acid pills to finish off my day at 1800Cal… right now I don’t feel like eating a thing. My protein goal will be reached, my carbs are in the right time bracket. — Personally, IF works better for a desk jockey like me. Big Breakfast, Big Snack before the A.M. meeting, Social lunch– a liter of water throughout the afternoon, Workout, shake, water till bed, Amino Acids and sleep. — Rinse and Repeat.

    No real measuring, storage, transport problems. I eat till I feel comfy then quit. I do log it into Myfitnesspal.com though…just because you (Roman) mentioned that food journals are a good method to hold ourselves accountable, and myfitnesspal.com is iphone free has a great library and has graphs.

    Bottom Line— Yoda, soon teach me I hope you will!

    Ray

  • jeremy

    Just stumbled across your site. Great info, and wonderful article! I will definitely wait for Part 2. Can’t wait! I’m looking into this sort of dieting/lifestyle to lose some weight and life healthier!

  • Bachreric

    Nice article Roman.  Have you prescribed IF with any of your clients who are looking to add lean mass? I see the benefits most definitively for fat loss but in terms of providing enough kcals in such a short window to bulk up seems much more difficult. 
    You will be glad to know that the idea of stoking the metabolic fire all day is being challenged in some Undergrad. Exercise Science programs.
    Keep up the great articles!

  • Rob

    John,
    Do you have an ETA on Super Hero Fatloss?   I loved the first program.  I got great results and learned a lot. 

  • Steve

    Great article! Just ’cause I love ya Roman, a little proofreading goes a long way. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christian-Baker/1244863433 Christian Baker

    Schweet article, I’d like part 2 to offer different methods and their advantages e.g. fasting 1 day per week VS 1 day per month and also how it impacts recovery e.g. I would be sh*tscared of fasting the day after a brutally damaging workout.
    Can’t wait for the next installment ;-)

  • Poet145x

    Hey great read, i found most of the information necessary in this pdf
    http://www.precisionnutrition.com/intermittent-fasting.
    For anyone looking for more information its about a guy who tries different variations of the intermittent fasting and its pretty cool to see the way different methods affect him.

  • Dean Leach

    Ahhhhh FASTING, a great topic.  My hero, the late Life Extension specialist, Paul Bragg comes to mind.  He & that the one…mucusless diet guy are AWESOME.  Mcfadden too. 

  • Tuco

    hey roman! really excited here, tomorrow i’m starting XFLD… also i’m doing it on IF mode (20/4). I’ll get back with the results.

  • Collin Messer

    The thing about IF is that its extremely easy to follow. I mean heck, tons of people skip out on breakfast anyways, why not design that into your eating plan. I do 12-8pm feeding window. The only time I start feeling hungry is between 11 and 12…. when I should be feeling hungry. And I loved moving from a conventional diet to IF and leaning out without changing any of my calories.

  • Will

    Hi, John Romaniello   I sporadically read your articles.  My comment: I understand why you shorten to Roman – business reasons, but don’t forget the remainder.  I have a long-time friend who has the last name Cammarata – no, not related to the famous orchestra leader,  In fact, his parents came from Sicily AND he is ONE GRAND FRIEND.  Like you, he is well educated and intelligent; he is not a ‘muscle buff’ but is a fine looking man about 6’2″”.   When I ‘tune in’ to “ROMAN” I am always (well, usually) happy to see that very handsome face, and think of it mounted on top of that wonderful body.   What more could you want?   This  inspired me to lose 52 pounds since May  (NO exercise) and counting.  When I am over physical problems and can exercisr, maybe I can ‘shape up’ a bit more.  At any rate just your being there is an inspiration to me.  Please continue to be an inspiration to your followers.  PS – pleast lose the chinwhiskers…..   Will

  • Trumpeter247

    I’ve been doing IF for a while, now I’m trying out longer fasts. I’m at hour 38-hours right now and going for 72-hours.

    I did one recently that lasted 48 hours and it felt friggin great.

    I have previously been able to maintain a one-meal-day pattern for a week.

    So far with all of this experimentation my metabolism isn’t suffering… and actually I don’t expect it will.

    I think the plateaus people hit and [usually] mistake for problems with their metabolism is just them needing fewer calories because their now lighter. Yes I suppose you could say your metabolism is “slower” but that could also be translated, “My body doesn’t need as much energy as it used to because it’s 20lbs lighter now”. Losing 20 lbs (obviously depending on your activity level) could mean needing [approx] 300 fewer calories per day just to maintain body weight.

    SO if you cut 300 by calories per day and lose 20 lbs (after a year or so) you’re going to level out 20 lbs lighter and then slow down and eventually stop dropping, but you’ll need to stay at that new reduced calorie level to not put it back on again.

    Or if your more aggressive and cut 1200 kcal per day and lose it in 5 months and then come back up you can’t come back up 1200 kcal and not expect to regain at least SOME of that weight, but if you only came back up 900 kcal you should be able to hold right about at that 20 lbs lighter weight.

    So it’s all math. Not meal timing, macro-nutrient ratios or miracle supplements.

    The only eating experiment that I tried at all recently that went terribly wrong was following the, “never be hungry” advice in order to bulk and put on muscle mass. I put on mass alright (it was all fat–by definition if you’re getting fat you’re not using that energy anyway, so I wasn’t using that food to build muscle if it just turned into fat, right?); when I cut back down to my previous bodyfat % there was no increase in muscle that couldn’t have happened without the “bulking” phase.

    I guess my point is that there is a lot of nutritional advice out there that is BS. The only science on it and the only thing that MOST people should be worrying about is the calorie deficit. I will admit that there are a FEW other things that do matter, but mostly only to those in the lower ranges of body fat, i.e. that of figure competitors. The rest of use just wont see significant results  from these things, at least until AFTER we cut the calories low enough to get [probably] sub 10% body fat.

    IMO the whole 5-6 meals-a-day is just more opportunities to get in calories that you probably don’t need anyway

    The advice that you shouldn’t mix carbs and fat doesn’t make any sense because you’re body is storing sugars (that it makes from foods), not dietary fat and ultimately if you want to cut body fat you just need to dip your calories lower than you’re using and your body will get it’s energy from the fats, so what’s wrong with storing your food in fat cells for a little while, you can get it back out later, it’s all just energy.

    Low carb is BS too, protein will cause an insulin response. And you can overeat ANYTHING and it will become fat.

    Take away message: no matter how you do it, low-cal, IF or no plan at all, if you want to lose a few pounds or dozens just get less food in than energy you’re using. The only thing that I’ll add to that is as you get lighter you NEED fewer calories because it’s less work to get your body from place to place. That’s the only common “metabolic” slow down.

    So people, keep it simple and good luck.

  • rehana

    i just started fasting as a part of 24/7 4 day diet program and having read about ESE, although i haven’t actually read it.  it was really hard mentally the first time.  now it’s just hard.  i focus on the benefits of a day without having to think about food, other than missing it.  i normally have a ton of energy, so i don’t think i have any more on fast days like some people describe.  my only issue is that i don’t sleep well fasted. that said, it seems like it’s working.  will weigh in and measure soon.

  • Anonymous

    Looking forward to the rest of the articles.  What will be interesting will be to read how the IF protocols do more than just manage a calorie restriction.  Reading this article I was left with an impression that at the end of the day IF brings about fat loss through calorie restriction. I know it is a bit more than that, and will be looking forward to your take and advice on it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/haleighrochelle Haleigh Lanham

    Thanks for the article. I am training for figure competition and find it impossible to do the 5-6 small meals thing, so I’m thinking about IF. I’ll be looking for part 2. 

  • Rosspickering

    Great post Roman, very well put.

    Ross

  • Rich Samera

    Great read, Roman!  I’ve heard a lot about IF and am curious to see the other types of it.  This helped break some of it down for me simplistically.  Can’t wait to read part 2!

  • Kari

    But… I lovelovelove breakfast! I wake up going “Nom?!” Does that make me a girl? Well, actually, I am a girl. So that should be ok, then.

    On the more serious note, I’ve tried IF and it was not at all for me. I get light-headed and honestly feel quite miserable when I’m fasting. I do sometimes experience that last burst of energy, but it feels more frantic than energic, really. Like my body is trying to tell me something (I believe I can hear this little voice saying: “Ok, just get this sh… done, and quickly, and then gimme fooood.”) And, seriously, I’d like my brain to function a bit beyond that.

    Another aspect is how IF (and any other very strict or specific diet/nutrition plan) can mess with people’s heads. I’m serious. I’ve struggled with my relationship with food, so I should know. Emotional eating galore. Guilt. General misery. I firmly believe that listening to the body and practicing mindful eating (oh, just google it already) can lead to a leaner, healthier and more balanced life. Not to mention happier, if anyone is into that.

    And exercise is non-negotiable. Of course.

    Any thoughts?

  • Amber_bolwell

    I’m trying IF now. I’m on my second day I chose to eat between 7am and 12pm then fast for the rest of the day. Only because I like to eat in the morning and I have always hated to eat at night. Does this time frame matter?

  • Poblanomichael1

    Hi…my name is Michael Rodriguez Poblano …fasting I do it all the time with noproblems at all. Doc says I’m healthy as a horse & strong as beast. I’ll go without eating for 4 or 5 sometimes maybe a small snack between that time but nothing big… I might lose spitted weight 2or3pds but all I need to do is eat healthy for 1or2 days & my weight is back on…lean mean Muscle mass. I’m 5’9, 178pds. I also can go for days without no sleep. I reutinely stay up from 2to3 days with no sleep eat Maude 2 or3 small meals..& do an intense, exhoustive work out routine up to 2. To 3 times daily..on top of that I’m 44 yes old..I look lie I’m in my late 20s early 30s..I need to work on my cardio spittle but other than that I know of no human being, no entity, no one that can keep up with this rutine without a major body or brain malfunction LOL. Ill do over 1000 push ups in sets of 100s toss 40 pound dumb beep in air, catch & toss left & right100 times in sets of 20s to 30s twearl 98pds on curl bar 10 right 10 left & a lot of other little knacks that work for me…though I wouldn’t regimens this type of workout to anyone very intense little rest between sets ..ill do burst sets, managed sets, intense sets, discipline sets, & so on……all depends how my body feels or reacts to what type of weight routine I’m about to feed it..anyway keep up the good work..need any info on my routine just holler at me..later.
    Peace out
    Sincerely, MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ POBPANO.

  • mattyrob_oo7

    The best part is the “Note on Influence and ‘Credit'” explanation.  Well said, good sir.  Well said.

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  • Neal Putt

    A very thorough article, but I didn’t see anything about the efficiency of digestion when comparing frequent meals and eating smaller amounts at each meal versus more infrequent meals where a person is likely to eat a larger meal.  Is their a difference in digestion efficiency?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ironbear138 Barney IronBear Shannon

    I lost 70lbs through a combo of Paleo and IF.

    Peace~Barney
     Everything Strength
    IronBearFitness

  • Brian

    Hey Roman,

    Could you implement IF into XFLD 25 day program?

  • http://www.facebook.com/JaysonGaignard Jayson Gaignard

    Roman, awesome post. When I first heard of IF, I was a little uneasy. But you made some great points in your post! Looking forward to seeing the results first hand! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1258981808 Lisa Popa

    Hi John-

    I just read this blog in a brand new quest to learn about I.F.  I’m trying to figure out how to work it into my schedule.  The problem is that I work from 3pm-11pm in a “sterile” environment.  I only have certain windows where I can be in a ‘food allowed” area (6:30pm and 9:30pm).  I workout in the early afternoon, usually around 11am.  I’m hoping in part 2 you could give me some tips on how to make I.F. work for me.  If not, I’m hoping you could direct me to the right resources.

    Thanks so much!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lukebren67 Luke Brennan

    Great article Roman, I have been enjoying the benefits of IF, since reading Mark Sisson’s book some years back. Its become an integral, rewarding and natural lifestyle choice and cannot recommend it enough.
    Looking forward to Part II
    Luke

  • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

     Hey Salle,

    Did you read the bottom of the article?  It says:

    Note on Influence and “Credit”: Here’s
    what happens every time someone publishes an IF article: all the
    fanboys come out of the woodwork and start lambasting the author—“OMG u stole all of dis from Martin at leengainz! How abt credtitt!!?” 

    And, here you are, proving my point.  I’m not sure if that’s irony, serendipity, or just stupidity. 

    Martin is mentioned.  And will be mentioned when I write about various methods of IF.  Thanks for the lulz, though.

    Respectfully yours,
    The Fat Fuck

    • Felisnondomesticus

      Your restraint is as prodigious as your biceps and your knowledge of all things nutrition and kinesthetic.

  • Joe Black

    I loved the article, just getting into this IF business and looking forward to reading more about it.

    FYI: You had a few typo’s in your article, which interfered with the flow and takes away from the message a bit…sorry I’m a bit of a freak about that kind of stuff. Keep putting the word out there. I think you’re helping a lot of people, including myself…..

    Thank you for giving back to the world.

  • nickjaa

    Fucking fuck yes. I love fasting so hard, been doing 24 horu ones twice a week or 33 hour ones (like from dinner sun to breakfast tues) once a week for over a year now. I love it, holy shit. And so much energy on fast days, I always hit personal bests when I’m fasting. I first started fasting after reading your feast->fast article way back when, which got me reading other material. THanks so much, John

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  • Hallraker

    i would love to try IF but i have lots of questions about the hows the whys and the whens got any advice on where i can get the proper information to start Intermittent fasting?

  • Nattie1969

    It’s pretty early in the a.m. here so I may have missed it. Do you think hi protein works best with fasting? Am already on low carb, 2-3 meals daily (I rarely get hungry) and never eat breakfast. 45 lb loss.

  • Jpapas

    John, you wrote :”Further, one study
    has shown that eating more frequently is less beneficial from the
    perspective of satiety, or feeling “full.”  Which means that the more
    often you eat, the more likely you are to be hungry—leading to higher
    caloric intake and eventual weight gain.”

    Why would it lead to “a higher caloric intake and eventual weight gain” when you have a preset caloric deficit and specifically scheduled meals throughout the day?

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

      Your question makes the assumption that people count calories or plan meals.

  • Jpapas

    John, you also said “The most important thing to remember about Intermittent Fasting is that it isn’t a “diet” —it’s a way of eating, a nutritional lifestyle
    that will allow you to reach your goals in an efficient and convenient
    manner, and then hold onto your physique one you achieve them.”

    In my opinion, “IF” is not a nutritional lifestyle, it’s just a lifestyle experiment. It doesn’t fit with every person out there nor it will benefit all. The fact of the matter is that IF may work simply because of the caloric deficit that is created, nothing more – nothing less.

    I loved how Dr. John Berardi Ph.D. (i am sure you have heard of him), did his intermittent fasting experiment for a while, documented everything, and then went BACK to his old nutritional lifestyle ;)

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

       Um, yes, I’ve “heard of him.”  I’ve slept on his couch. 

      • Felisnondomesticus

        What’s the matter, you didn’t qualify for the guest bed? LOL!
        Your retorts are keeping my interest in this subject matter at an all-time high!

  • Val

    Love the info! What do you recommend drinking during the fasting periods?  Anything ok besides water?

  • JL

    Roman,
    Great post. I have recently started IF and can’t wait to see the results. I just hope I’m doing it right to maximize my potential to get cut. I have recently, in the last year, lost 50lbs with the help of Vic Magary and I feel great… Now I’m looking to get lean and ripped. I work from 6:20am til about 2pm everyday and, like I said, I wanna maximize my potential. If you have any suggestions, of how long I should fast or when I should break the fast, I’m all ears. Thanks Roman. I love reading your posts.

    JL

  • Peter Heesbeen

    I just lost 50 lbs in 5 months training with 5/3/1 and not using any particular diet, just not eating so much. Now, however I notice that I’m plateauing fat-loss wise. I’ve just started doing IF, using roughly 20/4 with just a protein shake in the morning and I love the huge meal I get to eat after working out. There’s some hunger during the day but it’s manageable and I usually eat my first meal after my 5 o’clock workout.
    The first 2 pounds in weeks are gone, and I can’t wait to see more!

  • Asad

    I have fated for three days by following eat stop eat protocol. My fast lasts from dinner to dinner once i get a hanf of it them Im sure I will include 16 hour window with weight training. However, I find that with 24 hour fasting window I do not have anough energy in the tank for rigorous physical actvity Im more or less left with brisk walking in 24 hour fasted state. These are initial days let’ see how it goes. One more question: is consumption of water allowed during fasted days as I did no drink a single glass of water n 24 hour window fasting. Evem i fast for religious reasons, it starts off in the morning with some sort of meal and it is broken off with some sort of meal at sunset. so of course, 24 hour fasting is not easy for those who have never fated in their whole life.

  • Emily B

    Thanks! Can´t wait for part 2!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nandalal-Nagalingam-Rasiah/616076641 Nandalal Nagalingam Rasiah

    16/8 IF timing with ad libitum carb, fat and protein consumption did result in a modest weight gain while gaining strength.  When the strength gains stopped, so did the weight gain, but attempts to incrementally cut calories (with independent carb manipulation) did not produce weight loss.  It may just be my genetic heritage (compartment overflow) but going low-med fat keto (with same 16/8 timing) works much better for fat loss.  I feel 16/8 IF is a good foundation for fat loss but not everyone will do so with the “high fat/low fat” days MB has recommended.  Ghee and coconut oil, IMO, are just too good to not eat on a daily basis.

  • http://twitter.com/PaleoRecipes4 Paleo Recipes

    Roman,

    For a few years now I’ve found that what works best for me is to eat breakfast and lunch, and then fast for the rest of the day until breakfast the next morning (about a 16 – 20 hour fast).

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_45TKQZ5SH6EHBYALIYEKFXTGYM NCtjc

    I tend to fast once or twice a week, but the longest I have ever gone was right about 30 hours. I usually do it when I am working, either at my job or out in the yard, so I burn a lot of calories, without eating and I end up taking in less calories than if I did not fast. This helps me keep my weight pretty much steady between 166 and 170. Though I AM trying to build muscle, and am suceeding to a small degree. I am, after all, 57, and do not gain muscle as fast as you younger bucks…

  • Tom

    I have used IF for some time now and find it super effective at getting me or keeping me not only lean, but it also allows me to maintain strength and muscle endurance.  Here’s how mine works:  Sunday night I eat a “cheat meal” of whatever I want at 6pm (almost always Naked Pizza!).  I fast until 6pm Monday.  I will eat a normal healthy dinner on Monday then a post workout meal/shake.  Tuesday I fast until lunch, then 4pm fruit, 5:30pm normal meal.  Wednesday I skip breakfast, but have an 11am apple, then normal for the rest of the day.  Thursday, Friday, Sat I go with 3 meals two light snacks of low glycemic fruit.  I train hard with multiple modalities.  This cycle of IF in the past cut my BF by almost 10% in the bodybuilder type 12 week leanout.  Now it keeps me under 9% with no trouble and I am not “naturally lean”.  Additional benefits include increased energy, I always have a nice feeling of “well being” when I fast as well and as I mentioned I have no issues with losing muscle strength or condition, however, I would not attempt to increase muscle strength on this program.  As we all know, there are no definitive answers : ).  Tweak here and there to personal liking and benefits!

  • Suffocating_soul

    long time reader, occasional poster.

    #1 John, I have implemented intermittent fasting  and believe in the VERY SUBTLE GH spike for fat loss, etc, however, dont slam the success of breakfast in correlation to the expanding waist lines of Americans (that 90% stat of Americans who CLAIM to eat breakfast is BOGUS and you should know that). Studies indicate it should be CALORICALLY DENSE. My close circle of family and friends SAY they eat breakfast – you wanna hear what it is? an apple and an egg, a bagel with coffee, a teenie weeny bowl of oatmeal with a banana. You know Americans eat like sh!t. These type of breakfasts are mini snacks for fit individuals so DONT BELIEVE THE HYPE.

    sorry for yelling.
    #2 I have read studies that show that the GH boost associated with fasting is so minimal that it hardly makes a difference in fat loss. I use it as a form of detox even though the beef I eat daily is organic and 100% grass fed. (Meat raises acidity in the body which as you know is inflammatory – I know I know, CLA in it is good).

    Getting back on track, have there been any studies using IF in controlled studies that tout its merits for fat loss or is this all theory?

  • Flexibull

    One quick question I am confused on that I hope you can clear up.  What do you propose for the individual who works out first thing in the morning (between 5-7 am start time) in respect to skipping breakfast as their post workout meal?  Thank you!

  • Kim Breske

    What is your suggestion for doing IF for people who have hypothyroid and get light headed when they don’t eat for longer periods of time?

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

       I would either:

      a) shorten the fast period or
      b) take in small amounts of protein and sugar (15g each) at the 6-8 hour mark

  • Raven

    Do you have any solution for people suffer a stomach disorder so they should not allow their stomach empty for too long? 12 hours with a help from medicine is probably OK, but 24 hours will be dangerous. 

  • Leafandryly

    Can IF also help with muscle gain? I have no need to lose any fat (I was 4.2% at last measurement) but I am going to start trying to put on some muscle soon and i am very curious about the concept of IF and muscle gain.

    • http://goodcookiebadcookie.blogspot.com/ Cookie

      YES! Cycle carbs and fat along with calories, keep protein constant (1 gram-male .8 gram female per pound lean mass is good starting point if you’ve never kept track). on lifting days eat high calories and carbs, low fat and on resting or cardio days, eat normal calories, high fat, super low carb (under 50 – I like 30)….eat your carbs from dinner on, if you’re IF’ing, and your first meal is noonish, eat lean protein and endless leafy greens for lunch, and from dinner on let the junky (fat free) carbs begin….because I am cutting, I shoot for a 20% calorie deficit on HIIT days, you should stay at maintenance and 20% surplus on lifting days….I should be more careful but don’t have time to figure it out (and that’s what it unfortunately takes for me), but I’m almost ripped :)

  • Nina

    I have a question I’ve not seen posted below (I think).  The IF 16/8 pattern seems very easy to follow eating-wise but my problem is this.  If I don’t get my workouts done first thing in the morning, there is NO time to fit them in later in the day.  My day is structured around my family and once they are up and moving, there is no time for me to check out of “service” to get my workout in until they are back in bed. So, how do I get to take advantage of the extended GH release from exercise in a fasting state (which I get now) AND the longer benefit by skipping breakfast unless I skip my post-workout nutrition? 

    Example of timing : My workouts are at 6am every day – brutal, I know, but otherwise they just don’t happen.  So my post-workout nutrition would been to be on board by 7:30 – 8am at the latest, depending on the workout I do that day.  Can I truly just back up my window of IF and eat from 8am – 4pm and fast from 4pm – 8am?  Will that truly work? 

    I’ve managed to lose 100 pounds on my own but have 30 more to get to my initial goal before I reassess but my BF% just won’t drop, no matter what I’m doing thus far so I need something to help me with this in a big way!  I’m working as hard as ever but I’m STUCK with a capital “S”.

    Thank you in advance for your help, Roman!

    -Nina 

    • http://goodcookiebadcookie.blogspot.com/ Cookie

      Nina – I do great with no post workout nutrition. I am 5am workout person and don’t eat till noon. When I initially started IF, I was always drining BCAA “shakes” before during and after my workouts, but I am currently very happy with my muscle size and strength, so I usually skip them unless I am starving in between the workout and first meal (rarely if ever). You don’t need to give your muscles protein immediately after the workout. Growth and repair happens while you sleep – as long as you give your body what it needs before you sleep, you’ll be fine. If you are interested in building muscle, the BCAA’s will be all the post workout you need, and I highly recommend Scivation X-tend (specifically watermellon madness-yum) for growth, stamina, and recovery. Just want to mention also that I always feel stronger and more focused training in the fasted state. Congrats on your HUGE weight loss! When I started IF, I was down about 90 – now I am down about 120 with less than five to go. Feels good doesn’t it! Also, I commented somewhere above regarding keeping your feeding window between 8-5 – please see if you can find it! Good luck with your ongoing fitness and nutrition endeavors!

  • Logan 24

    hey is skipping breakfast for a 13 year old a good idea,my family doesn’t think so sence I am a growing boy, I am not over weight and I play sports, I just want big muscles

  • esther

    love the article..question about the program how many days you need to exercise? thanks

  • Oddmozzie

    I have started IF by skipping breakfast – at first I thought I would be hungry all morning but it is not the case – this was a big surprise, as I have been a breakfast guy for these many years, I’m 60 yrs. old at this point – I am inspired!  I have a banana and 1 oz. of nuts about 11 a.m., my regular lunch about 2 p.m. (followed by a half hour brisk walk), and dinner around 6 or so – no lacking for energy throughout the day

  • Terradancer

    Hi Roman, really informative article, thanks! I naturally never like to eat when I first wake up- (-stems from wanting to do yoga or aerobics before I ever eat,) and often it is quite late before I first eat. That feels right to me, but I had thought that one should consume protein before lifting weights? It’s interesting that by not eating beforehand, I would boost my GH…. I’m definitely interested in trying. thanks, 

  • esther

    Hi…should i take bcaa when i’m fasting? and if i can, will it be in pill or on a shake? thanks in advance

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

       Yup, BCAAs are a total go.  I recommend this for everyone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anita-Kalyan/704743898 Anita Kalyan

    Great article, as always, will defo incorporate this method of eating into my weight and HITT training.

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

       Sweet! Lemme know how you do =)

  • AH

    Amazing!!  Absolutely Amazing!! Please let me know if I can still get my hands on that 10 day Meltdown report when I purchase the super FLF program.

  • Mr. Tea

    Really interesting stuff.
    I’ve got a question though – how would (green) tea affect the (16/8) fasting program? One cup in the evening, on in the morning?

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com John Romaniello

       Totally fine to have green tea.  Wouldn’t affect anything negatively, assuming you dont have too much in the way of milk/sugar.

  • LizzyB

    Roman, is the Rapid 10 Day Meltdown available on it’s own to purchase? I would like to give it a shot before determining if I can actually do an IF program. I just purchased Beyond Diet and saw your interview with Isabel which made me really curious about IF, but I that would mean I  would have to purchase your program as well. At this point, I’m not sure if IF or Beyond Diet’s program would be beneficial for me. 

  • Guest

    if i need to stop eating for about at 16 hour window and eat for only about 8 hour window then couldn’t i have breakfast at 8:30 am, lunch at 12:30, and dinner at 5 after my workout and not eat till the next day at 8am and then i will be following the intermittent fasting basics (as long as i pick health foods)?  this time schedule is a pretty “normal” schedule and i would think it should work according to your philosphy but think many people eat like this (and exercise) and still don’t lose the weight. your comments appreciated!

    • http://goodcookiebadcookie.blogspot.com/ Cookie

      Hello, I am super experienced in a few different forms of intermittent fasting. Technically, your above plan would work. However, you would see greater results from skipping breakfast as the body burns fat (rather than sugar ((carbs)), or protein ((muscles)) first thing in the morning. If you wait to fast till after dinner, your body will first need to digest all the food you ate, which would take you to about bed time, where you will be sleeping, and thus not active, and not taking advantage of fasted activity in the morning. It has a lot to do with your sleep cycle as well. So if you worked the graveyard shift (like 12-8am), you should keep to a similar cycle – wakeup in the PM, skip your first meal, eat around 3am, then again around 7am….(depending on how many meals you eat). Your largest meal should be your last one, as you are about to go to sleep and your body will use the fuel for recovery, rather than storing it for later use (in the form of fat). Believe it or not, skipping breakfast on IF is recommended BECAUSE it’s easier – it allows for better diet adherance, and some kind of a life after 5. In my first experience with IF (leangains), I lost 20 pounds of fat, while simultaneously putting on muscle (scale went down 10 pounds) in about 6 weeks – effortlessly. I also follow a very low carb diet, and I think it definitely makes it easier because I am never hungry. You noted that many people eat like this and don’t lose weight – I think you’re refering to eating all your food from 8am-5pm – if that’s what you were referencing, I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that they are not losing weight simply because once you have been eating all day, when 5pm rolls around and it’s time to stop, you simply don’t – something will get ingested before ten pm. Additionally, in the end, a calorie is still a calorie, and if you eat on a “normal” schedule and you’re not counting them and staying below deficit, the weight will not budge. On the other hand, with IF, you can only stuff so much food in your mouth within that window, and while it might be easy to go overboard with the calories initially, eventually you will be much more in tune with your body and weather or not you’re really hungry. When I was doing leangains, I wasn’t even completely fasted in the mornings – I still drank 2 cups of coffee no sweetner with heavy whipping cream before my first meal. The fat in the heavy whipping cream helps keep your body in fat burning mode upon waking when you’re low carb dieting (I don’t know what it does for you otherwise), also to assist in the morning transition of not eating breakfast, you could have a tbsp of coconut oil which would do the same thing. I also tried to do one 24 hour fast each week back then. I would eat lunch, and then not eat again till after lunch the following day – this was easy for me and again I think it’s because of the low carb diet. I have since stopped doing that because I have been more focused on my training and performance. I have about 3-5 pounds to lose to be in the 16-17% bodyfat range, and think I may start doing the 24 hours again as my schedule allows to help. BTW, the fat in the morning (in addition to keeping your body in fat burning mode) helps you feel full even though it is only a little bit. Another shocker for you: I eat about 120-140 grams of fat a day and still lost body fat while putting on muscle. If you want to talk about it more, feel free to find me and message me on facebook – my user name is cookie bigness, or you can contact me through my blog: goodcookiebadcookie.blogspot.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Karas/100003222605624 Ryan Karas

    Incredible article!! Intermittent fasting has greatly changed my training, results and rate of progress.  Thank you Roman for the educating article.  Check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/revolutionaryfoods

  • http://www.facebook.com/hillary.coates1 Hillary Coates

    Thank you for the “light bulb moment” here!I have been on a mission to lose 15 pounds for over a year now and got to thinking after I read this. The time in my life when I was at the lowest body fat was when I was in school. During middle school and high school I never ate breakfast and almost always chose to do other things with my lunch break than eat. I was never obsessed with food and never felt hunger. Now I’m eating 5-6 meals a day, doing cardio until I’m going to die and I’m miserable and obsess over counting protein grams. I watch the clock for my next meal because the tiny one I just ate was not enough to do anything but wake up my tummy and leave me wanting the rest of the missing meal. All of this because I have fallen prey to the lie that my metabolism will drop and I will lose muscle. I’m going to go back to my roots and start eating like I did when I was young. Thanks for the great info.

  • http://profiles.google.com/zaker.jah זכריה 8

    thanks for this. i’ve fasted regularly for years but have had only my personal anecdotal beliefs until now. many people want to tell you it’s not healthy, so i’m glad that this information is becoming well-known.  

  • Leonardo4

    what IF sequence might be best for overweight people with type 11 diabetes?
    Thanks

  • Matt

    i have been against IF since the first time i heard about it.(funny thing is I was introduced by you John Roman) I think i will look into it more since you are  so adamant about it..After all I trust your work and you have never led anyone astray…here I go Sir Roman, Your Awesomness

  • Amy Musick

    Thank you for the information! I have read many of your articles on your site and I’m so excited about what I have learned! I will add your web-site to my favorites & be checking back frequently!
    Many thanks! Amy (:

  • Mbnichol

    Given the findings regarding insulin and leptin levels, would you assume this would be a good way to take off those extra 10-15 lbs a 55 YO woman has put on in the last 1-2 years? 

  • Aakanksha Jha

    This is the best article I’ve read about IF. It not only covers all aspects but also breaks the common myths revolving around IF. Well done. I have a question though. Does the body get accustomed to a diet pattern? And should we keep changing it? I was on Warrior diet for about 5-6 months and I had to stop because after losing about 6-7kgs during those months, I didn’t see any further weight loss even after I continued the WD. I recently started ESE diet and have been on it for almost 2 weeks now. So I was wondering if the switching from WD to ESE is going to make a difference or my body is already used to the effects of fasting?

  • LL

    You don’t mention anything about training fasted, that’s the crucial part for getting optimal lean a$$ results! I’ve been Leangaining & training fasted for 15 months, will neverrrrr everrrrrr go back to the 6 meals a day BS!

  • jack howard

    if i have a cheat day on Saturday should i fast on sunday ..or go back to eating my normal meals? and should i worry about bcaa or just fast and go back to normal on monday? thanks jack

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  • Giuseppe00

    Hi, I’ve been fasting for 3 days, first day, 18/6, lost 200 grams of weight, second and third day I put on 400 grams of weight each day, my diet is 1200kcals, consisting of milk, bran, whole rice, whole wheat bread, chicken, bresaola and a protein shake. Why am I putting on weight?

    • Jhana

      cut out the carbs. bran, rice and bread are bad for you. eat lots of vegetables! and get good protein. None of the lean stuff, fat is good for you. Check out Paleo, Primal Blueprint, or the the book, “Why We get Fat, and What to Do about it” by Gary Taubes.

  • Giuseppe00

    Hey, I’ve been fasting for 3 days, first day 18/6 lost 200 grams, next 2 days 20/4 put on 800 grams of weight, why is that happening?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7I7DX34VAUAPJDZKY7WVT2R2UU CherylR

    Like Jakefor3, I’ve had good success with big breakfast. I haven’t fasted that way yet but due to our natural circadian rhythm and what hormones are released in day and then the ones at night, I’m convinced that breakfast is crucial. Very light lunch (certain macros) and even lighter dinner (other macros). No IF for me. I know it works for lots of folks but I still would dispute that the hormonal balance is out of whack doing it. Most of us don’t eat breakfast for a reason (serotonin mostly) making IF attractive, and some of us have ravenous cravings at night (also serotonin). Obviously, if you take away a meal, such as with IF, you’re gonna lose or maintain weight. It is VERY hard to eat so much food in the a.m. but I’m getting used to it. But I’m also a girl, so that could be why I think this way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alex.chang.9250 Alex Chang

    What are your thoughts on supplementation during IF? Like “fatloss pills” or L-carnitine? Or any supplement with no calorie at all??

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  • Brent

    I personally have had greater success with far less effort with IF …i usually do a 22/2 on non workout days and 16/8 on workout days and Macro cycle Leangains style …on the weekends i eat whatever i want basically and have still continued to progress … Down to around 10% bf visible abs with no cardio and am the leanest i have ever been …… IF is simply great and can’t believe i didn’t try it earlier in life

  • Jaime

    First, I have a question: I am really enjoying Engineering the Alpha. As a woman, this is very enlightening . . . ;) Would you ever consider writing something, like some supplemental material or a blog post, maybe, that would adapt the book to what a woman would need? Maybe you wouldn’t want to presume what a woman is looking for or trying to achieve, but I personally would want to look very fit, very sexy, and have a very nice bum and a six pack. I like your way of thinking, and I don’t necessarily want another woman’s perspective. I’d actually rather hear what you have to say.

    Moving on . . .

    I love how you’ve expounded on the benefits of IF. Years ago, I thought I would try it myself. I had remembered how in high school, I never had a problem with how I looked, but never really ate breakfast, and I also knew I was prone to getting extremely hungry within an hour after eating breakfast whenever I did, which would only lead to an early lunch, which led to snacking, which led to more eating . . . So out of my own curiosity, I started skipping breakfast. I didn’t do anything else (besides not trying to go crazy later in the day, which was easy enough), and within 2 months, I had lost 17 pounds. At that time, I took it a step further and also skipped dinner, so basically I was fasting for 23 hours every day. I lost a lot more weight at that time, but I ended up stopping because I was finding it difficult socially when everyone else was eating at dinner time, and I wasn’t. I’m so glad you’ve broken it down for us so we can see why IF is good (and why it’s good for me to eat dinner!). I think in general, my body naturally wants to fast until the early afternoon, but this is finally the backup I needed to keep going with this. Oh, and another thing, IF makes me want to drink more water, which is a very good thing, too.

  • Aaron Brodkey

    Is IF meant for teenagers as well? Do you see any issues with a 17 year old such as myself implementing this? Thanks Roman.

    Aaron
    My Blog: http://fitandleanteen.com

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  • Kyle Reynen

    would it still be considered a fast if i make myself juice in the morning? just raw fruits and vegetables juiced? or would that be breaking the fast?

    • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com Roman

      Breaks that fast. Sorry bru.

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  • Joseph Piscitelli

    I always love your articles, informative and to the point. I ‘ve been doing IF, when ever I need to tighten-up. Works quickly, for when I need to cut-up my abs.

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  • Coach JC

    Good stuff! You recommend Athletic Greens. Do you take this in the am? I noticed in your book you mentioned during your 16 hours of fasting to drink water, tea or coffee… Will taking the greens in the am be ok or screw up the fasting? Thanks

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  • CB

    As a male, how many calories do you need to eat on this IF plan?

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  • James Mayo

    i fast everyday.i eat 1 meal,thats dinner.is this ok?ive been doing it for about a month and i feel good and have lost weight.

  • Berlin

    Is it ok to run half an hour or an hour while fasting? You see i run in the morning when i wake up, trying to do the fasting and my workout is at night, first solid meal at 1 pm. Is it ok to run while fasting? I’ll appreciate some advice

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