IF 201: A Look at Four Popular Intermittent Fasting Protocols

A Breakdown of the Most Popular IF Variations

 

Today, we’re going to get in depth about the most popular Intermittent Fasting protocols. Before we begin, in the last article about intermittent fasting, I gave you a brief primer on the practice.  In that article, we covered a definition of IF, as well as some of the general aspects of practice that are consistent along various types of IF.

To briefly summarize, let’s look at what IF is – essentially, abstaining from food for a predetermined period of time, ranging from as little as 16 hours to as long as 36 hours (sometimes longer, just not generally in practices in the fitness industry).

The benefits of IF vary from hormonal management to caloric reduction and decreased hunger, and which benefits are prioritized will be dependent on which “type” of IF you use.

In this article, I’ll give you a complete analysis of the most popular intermittent fasting styles currently discussed in the fitness world, benefits and drawbacks, as well as my own personal experience.

Given that the most obvious difference between each of these methods is the length of the fasting period, that is how I’ve organized them; below, you will find each listed from longest fast to shortest.

Got it?

Great.  Let’s get going.

And the Top Four Intermittent Fasting Protocols Are….

Feast/Fast

SUMMARY: The feast/fast model, which I’ve been using consistently for close to 8 years, is my own small contribution to the community, and my very own addition to the world of intermittent fasting protocols; although its inception had nothing to do with the benefits of fasting.

Some time around 2004, I noticed that while I was getting a ton of benefit from cheat days in terms of fat loss and mental reprieve, the “digestive aftermath” wasn’t pleasant.  If I cheated on a Sunday, I would pay for it Monday in terms of intestinal distress.  Not only would I be in the bathroom more than I wanted, but my stomach would hurt and eating was a huge chore.

I had come from the old school bodybuilding mentality of, “if you fall off the wagon, get right back on, immediately. The old way of thinking essentially stated that even if you had a cheat meal/cheat day, if you didn’t go back to your regularly scheduled meals, you’d do more harm than good.  In my case, this meant a bowl of oatmeal and several eggs first thing in the morning.  After a night of eating pasta, ice cream, brownies and steak (yes, all at once), this last thing I wanted to do first thing in the morning was eat.

Intermittent Fasting Protocols: feast/fast

After some time, I discarded the bodybuilding “rules” and started pushing my first meal of the day back by a few hours…then a few more.  Eventually, I stopped eating altogether.

Any my results got even better.

This eventually worked its way into the way I practiced Cheat Your Way Thin, and, from there, the Xtreme Fat Loss Diet.

I’ve written about this both here and here, so let’s move one.

BENEFITS: When I started looking into fasting (mainly to justify my not-eating), I came across a few different reasons why the feast/fast worked so well; some had to do with fasting, obviously, but there is some stuff that has to do specifically with the cheat day as well.

Like any style of fasting, removing food for an extended period of time can lead to fat loss, because it often leads to lower caloric intake. Pretty simple.

However, the reason this works well is because it’s coming on the heels of a cheat day.  Again, I’ve written about this before, so I’ll be brief.

The abridged version: when you’re dieting, leptin levels drop, which slows down fat loss. When you overfeed (cheat), leptin levels get bumped back up, increasing rate of fat loss.  Putting a fast fat after a cheat, therefore, does two things:

  1. Prevents any fat gain from the caloric spillover of eating, oh, I dunno, 14,000 calories worth of ice cream by creating an immediate deficit.
  2. Elevated leptin levels from the cheat prevent stagnated fat loss, allowing the hormonal benefit from the fast (explained HERE) to proceed uninterrupted.

More than anything, this is just a practical approach, and was created to alleviate discomfort. I started using this method before looking into science of any kind; it just happened to work.

DRAWBACKS:  There are a few here.

There first is that in order for this to be applicable, you have to have a cheat day—can’t exactly do a feast/fast without the feast.  Some people don’t like cheat days (I know, weird, right?). I made a pretty compelling argument for the inclusion of cheat days here, but if you don’t like them, you don’t have to use them.

From there, the main drawback is that you’re really looking at a 32-36-hour fasting period.  If your last meal on your cheat day is before bed (assume 10PM) on Sunday, and you don’t eat at all on Monday, your first meal is breakfast Tuesday morning.  For a number of people, this has proved to be a pretty difficult thing to do.

I believe that with some practice just about anyone can abstain from food for an extended period of time with little discomfort, but for a lot of people, the idea of going without food for a day and a half is a bleak proposition.

For these people, I let them keep the training wheels on for a few weeks: I’ll allow people a small dinner on Monday night, to take the edge off of the hunger.  This won’t detract from any of the hormonal stuff, it just adds in some calories where there weren’t any before.

HOW (AND WHEN) I USE FEAST/FAST: I am a big fan of cheat days, so I use this method nearly every week.  I like my cheat days to coincide with Sundays—because, call me crazy, but I like wings and nachos when I watch football.

This means that Mondays, I don’t eat AT ALL. I think this is a good fit for most people – Monday happens to be the busiest day for most people (myself included), and so if ever there was a time where it helped to free up a few hours by not eating, this is it.  Also, since people are busier, they tend not to realize they’re hungry.  Overall, this is a fantastic combo that works very well for most people.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS:  Again, this is my method, so I can’t really be objective here, but it’s worked well for me in the past, and all of my clients who have tried it.

 

Intermittent Fasting Protocols - eat stop eat24-Hour Fast (aka Eat-Stop-Eat)

SUMMARY:  A 24-hour fasting period is essentially what it sounds like: if your last meal is at 8pm on Monday, then you simply do not eat again (at all) until Tuesday at 8pm.  This can be done 1-3 times per week, with 2 being the most common iteration.

It’s impossible to talk about 24-Hour fasts without talking about Brad Pilon and his book Eat-Stop-Eat, which is the definitive book on this style of fasting.  ESE has been around for several years, but Brad continues to publish updated versions with more science whenever he can.  It’s a well-researched book that also happens to be well-written.

Brad was one of the first people talking about IF, and his approach to it is one of “lifestyle, not diet.”  Brad discussed much of this in an interview I did with him, which you can read here.

BENEFITS: The 24-hour fast works well for a number of reasons. The first of these is that it is easily adaptable to any lifestyle, and it’s very hard to screw up.  The only rule is “don’t eat” for 24 hours.  As mentioned above, this is much easier than a 36 hour fast, especially for those new to it.

Secondly, like most methods of fasting, the abstinence from caloric intake for large periods of time is going to be a large part of the reason for success.

For example, if you generally eat 2,000 calories every day, that’s 14,000 calories over the course of a week.

If you remove two of those days, you’re eating 4,000 calories less.  Without any other changes to your lifestyle, you’d be on pace for over a pound of fat per week. Even if you “compensate” and eat a little more on the days you’re not fasting, you are still going to wind up with a fairly substantial caloric deficit.  Add in some exercise, and it’s not hard to see consistent weight loss.

Caloric manipulation aside, this style of fasting works incredibly well because of the affect that fasting has on your overall hormonal environment.

More specifically, when we talk about fasting, we’re really going to talk about two hormones: insulin and growth hormone.

With regard to insulin, it seems that the less often you eat, the less often you raise insulin levels.  This is not surprising, obviously.  It’s even less surprising that this would lead to fat loss, since we know that chronically elevated insulin levels make it very difficult to lose fat.

Therefore, if you’re eating less often, you’re going to have less insulin issues—even if you’re eating the same foods in the same amounts.  (This, by way, is a pretty strong argument against the popular frequent feeding method of 5-6 meals per day).  However, while fasting and infrequent feeding helps to control insulin and keep it low, that’s not enough to stimulate fat loss…unless growth hormone is present.

That is, if insulin AND growth hormone are both low, there isn’t a huge effect on fat loss.  And so, while insulin management is important, growth hormone management is even more important.

Which brings us to the very predictable point: The effect of fasting on growth hormone is incredibly important.

Your body releases GH pretty consistently, but researched has shown increased secretion of growth hormone in three specific instances:

  1. During/immediately after sleep
  2. After exercise (as little as 10 minutes)
  3. During and immediately after a fast

Looking at these three things—all of which are thoroughly discussed in Pilon’s Eat-Stop-Eat—it’s not hard to come up with a “best of all worlds” scenario.

If you produce a lot of GH while sleeping, and you product it while fasting, then the obvious way to combine these is to continue fasting after you wake, allowing for prolonged GH secretion; from there, exercise will allow for increased production in addition to your prolonged secretion.

Overall, this maximizes both the presence of GH and its effect; and in addition, the elevated GH in combination with the low insulin is a deadly one-two punch to your body fat.

Finally one of the main benefits of both this style of fasting and the book itself is the incredible flexibility of the program and the ease with which you can adapt it to your lifestyle—you can fast any day you like, and can move it around at will to suit your social life, which is important.

DRAWBACKS: There aren’t many here.  The main problem that clients of mine seem have here is that 24 hours seems like a long time to go without food; however, this is not unique to 24-hour fasting.

That said, there are some people who seem to have genuine problems with abstaining from food for significant length of time—in particular, people with low blood sugar seem to have an issue.  If you fall into this category, you may want to tread lightly.

The only other real problem here would be for people who don’t want to miss out on post-workout nutrition but find the need to train on fast days.  This can be alleviated by either moving your workout to the end of the fasting period, or simply scheduling your off days and fast days to coincide.

HOW (AND WHEN) I USE 24-HOUR FASTS: This is a style of fasting I tend to use when I get very busy and have to train in the evenings.

Also, I use this pretty much any day when I have to go out to a large social dinner and am not going to be watching my diet.  For example, if I am going out on a Friday night, I might make my least meal Thursday at 8pm.  Then, at dinner Friday, I’ll get to eat a lot of food, perhaps enjoy dessert, and be fine, even if I go out after and eat again.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: While this type of fasting is suitable for more than “damage control,” it works well for me in an occasional fashion. However, for many of my coaching clients, this is a sort of “every other day” approach that works well with them.

More than anything else, I frequently finding myself referring people to Pilon’s book as a an IF primer, and a good resource for understanding a lot of the science behind why fasting work, and I’ll make that recommendation here: check out Brad’s site and book for more info.

 

intermittent fasting protocols - the warrior diet20-Hour Fast (aka Warrior Diet)

SUMMARY:  The Warrior Diet was the first type of structured fasting that I tried.  I initially read about it in an interview with the author, Ori Hofmekler on T-Nation back in 1999. I tried the diet for the first time in 2002.

Simply, the diet is, in theory, a 20-hour fast followed by a 4-hour feeding period; as the name implies this is inspired by the nutritional habits of the warriors of antiquity, who certainly weren’t in the habit of eating six meals per day.

Instead, warriors in cultures ranging from Roman centurions to the Spartan elite subsisted on one to two meals: a large meal in the evening and (sometimes) a small meal in the morning; according to the author, that is.

The diet itself is modeled after this type of eating schedule; however, it’s worth noting that this is often criticized for not being “true” IF.

That is, in most cases, while having a small breakfast and a large dinner will probably work for weight loss, there may only be 8-10 hours between them…which, some people posit, isn’t long enough to get the benefits of fasting.

Moreover, during the fasting part of the day, the diet allows for mild consumption—you’d be allowed to eat a few servings of raw fruits and vegetables, and a few servings of protein (protein shakes included) if needed/wanted. These are kept quite small. Having said that, some fasting purists understandably maintain that Warrior Dieting, should you choose to exercise these options, is not fasting.

In practice, however, most people skip the small meal and simply have one large meal at the end of the day.

BENEFITS:  Much like a 24-hour fast, a 20-hour fast allows you to reap the hormonal benefit of increased growth hormone.  And, like all fasting, generally will result in fewer calories being consumed.

The benefit that is unique to this type of fasting is that you’re generally eating one large meal and, therefore, the make up of such a meal isn’t as important as you might think; as long as you get adequate protein, you can eat “junkier” foods and still do well.

Moreover, having only one meal makes life pretty simple, and less thinking means less screw-ups.

DRAWBACKS:  On the flip side of that coin, once again we’re running into the issue of hunger; and again, this isn’t unique to Warrior Dieting.

The main drawback in my experience comes from the meal itself—trying to get all of your calories in a single meal means that meal is, by necessity, quite large; so large, in fact, that eating it often leads to discomfort.  This is why many people turn to less wholesome foods: getting in 2000 calories of chicken, veggies and rice isn’t nearly as easy as getting it in chicken wings and French fries.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: A generally good dietary practice, and certainly easy to follow.

One criticism often made is that the points are made via story and anecdote, with very little in the way of scientific evidence to support the arguments. While some IF authorities dismiss the Warrior Diet based on that, I feel it should be respectfully acknowledged, given that it was the book that got people taking several years back.

Moreover, while the book does lack in science, it’s truly an enjoyable read. The author has a very engaging writing style and adding to the fun is the fact that he was an editor for Penthouse.

Plus, if that wasn’t cool enough, as mentioned earlier, this diet is based on the eating habits of awesome warriors–including Aragorn, son of Arathorn, Heir to the Throne of Gondor, of the Lord of the Rings fame.

Seriously, check it out. In this video, Aragorn debates the merits of Warrior Dieting vs. Frequent Feeding with Pippin:

YouTube Preview Image

 

16/8 Fasting (aka LeanGains)

SUMMARY: Popularized by Martin Berkhan, Leangains or 16/8 is a style of IF where the fasting period is 16 hours, and the feeding window is shortened to 8 hours; during this time, users may eat as few meals as they like, with the most frequent iteration being three meals.

intermittent fasting protocols - leangains
Designed specifically with training in mind, and mean to to be used for such, the 16/8 method has specific post-workout suggestions and recommendations, and, in nearly all ways, is the most sophisticated form of intermittent fasting.

Berkhan is great in terms of showing his research, his clients get excellent results, and, if the rumors are true, he is one of the few people aside from myself who liked Final Fantasy 6 better than the inferior but infinitely more popular FF7.

BENEFITS: In addition to having all of the benefits inherent in other types of fasting, the 16/8 methods is a stand out because it offers an advanced level of hormonal management.

While something like 24-Hour fasting or Alternate Day Fasting will give you these benefits, these methods are not for daily practice, whereas 16/8 is.  This means that you arte going to have a daily increase in GH, which leads to greater effects.

Moreover, daily practice (obviously) means that you’re eating the same way every day; this means that you don’t experience ups and downs in hunger, as with some other forms of fasting.  (Put another way, some people experience difficulty with fasting for 24-36 hours because they do it infrequently; not an issue with daily practice).

Going from there, there is also the benefit of hunger management. A number of studies have recently shown that larger, infrequent meals are better for satiety than small, frequent meals—so you’ll be fuller, longer.

DRAWBACKS: There are very few drawbacks to this style of IF, and these mainly come from scheduling. You see, from everything I’ve seen and read, the LG protocol is MOST effective if the workout is performed in a fasted state, and the meal that breaks the fast is immediately post workouts.

For some, execution can become a little impractical; for most people, adhering to that simple rule forces them to shift the feeding window to inconvenient times.

I find that most of my clients are able to workout either in the morning (roughly 6am, before work) or in the evening (6pm), after work.

Given that we want to have a 16-hour fasting window that ends with the PWO meal and begins an 8-hour feeding window, you can see how either of those times present some issues. For example, let’s look at 6am. In order for this to work as your first meal, your last meal is going to be at 4pm (allowing you to fast for 16 hours for your next feeding window).

Right off the bat, I see three (theoretical) problems arising here.

  • This first is that having your last meal at 4pm can present some social issues, at least if you ever want to have dinner with your friends or family. (The exception is Sunday “dinner” in any Italian household, which for some reason inexplicably begins around noon and ends just after sundown.)
  • The second is that your feeding window is going to coincide almost minute for minute with your workday, making it difficult to eat your meals, let alone enjoy them.
  • The third problem is that a good number of you fasting hours are after your feeding hours have ended. I’ve said in other articles that in my experience, it’s often very clients who try to have  ‘cutoff’ time for eating aren’t successful.

That said, if you’re looking to try 16/8 and can only work out in the AM, it’s certainly doable, just be aware of this going in.  And, of course, this “problem” is really only applicable to certain people.

Like any other style of eating, make it work for you—within the rules of the system.

HOW (AND WHEN) I USE 16/8: This style of fasting fits very well with my life, because I work from home.

For me, it’s very easy to plan my meals and workouts around one another, and making last minute changes isn’t a problem.

Most days of the week—usually Wednesday through Saturday—I do some form of 16/8.  I like to workout anywhere between 12 and 2pm, so I just judge my last meal the night before based on when I’m going to train the next day.  Sometimes I’ll wind up with an 18 hour fast instead of 16, but, again, this is really no big deal.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Of all intermittent fasting protocols, 16/8 is probably the most sophisticated, in terms of both intention and execution. While most fasting is effective mainly because it prevents you from eating, the Lean Gains style is really about making your hormones your bitch. Which is awesome.

This style of IF is best for serious folks and those who are already lean; and, again, this is the ONLY style of IF that was designed specifically with fitness-oriented people in mind, and therefore yields exceptional results for folks who train consistently.

It’s worth mentioning that Berkhan is one of the guys most responsible for the “IF movement,” and spent years arguing against ideas that many fitness pros (myself included) thought were “fact.”

All in all, he (along with Pilon) is a big part of the reason guys who weren’t talking about IF last year are talking about it this year. So, while he didn’t invent IF, I feel I should give him a wi-five.

If you haven’t already, please check out his site here.

 

INTERMITTENT FASTING PROTOCOLS WRAP UP

That’s about it!  You now have a very firm overview of the most popular types of Intermittent Fasting, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each.  If you’re looking to try an IF plan, simply choose from those above, and read up on them.

While all of them are effective, the most important thing is to choose the one that fits in best with your lifestyle, and give yourself the greatest advantage.

One final point: specifically because IF is not a diet, it lends itself well to nearly anything that is a diet. That means that you can practice intermittent fasting regardless of your nutritional restrictions or preferences—it doesn’t matter if you’re a low carb-er, a Paleo dieter, lactose free, vegan, or anything in between; you can simply apply the IF system of your choice to your current diet.

This is because intermittent fasting is 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.

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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! If you’re NEW to IF, leave ANY questions below.  If you have done IF before, leave your experience – let’s here it!

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

    Another great well balanced article on the major IF protocols. Well done Roman

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

       Much appreciated bru!

      • Vamsee Raj

        Peace bro, I wanted to know if it’s okay to wait 2 hours after training to break the fast. I’m doing a leangains style 17-7 fast. Specifically would like to know if it affects muscle mass in any negative way. Thank you.

  • Tcopley

    Very informative. Great job, as always!

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

       Thanks! Glad you enjoyed =)

  • Tyler Carter

    I find it significantly more difficult to fall asleep on an empty stomach (enough so that I don’t eat if I need to stay awake for a double shift at work/school), isn’t that a notable drawback to some of these protocols?

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

       Not generally…most people are feeding in the evening. I personally sleep like a baby, since my last meal is a pretty big one at 10ish and I’m in bed at 11.  Zzzzzz.

  • Matt Kittoe

    One piece of advice I have for would-be IFers is if you have ANY junk food in your house, THROW IT AWAY.  Once I was nearing the end of my fast and realized I had some Swiss cake rolls in my freezer from a previous cheat day.  At that point my willpower had fallen to oblivion and my belly rumbled with ravenous hunger.  It was a fierce battle, and Little Debbie emerged the victor.  What a bitch.

    So please, do yourself a favor and ditch the Ding Dongs. 

    Oh, and FF6 is one of my all-time favorite games.  FF7 was great and all, but it took the games in a direction that ultimately ruined the series for me.

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

       “Ditch the ding dongs” is sage advice =)

      I agree regarding FF, btw.  The series was never the same after 7. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/bill.pairaktaridis Bill Pairaktaridis

        Well, in all fairness, I think FF9 was pretty awesome. Unfortunately, it was the last “fairy tale” FF…

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

          I never played FF9.  No idea why, though.

    • Kristin

      I had to reply Matt! You are so right! How can you have such willpower for 24 hours only to taint it with junk food? I have teenagers and it drives me mad so I try and hide it….I know they don’t need it either, but I do allow a few things….so if that pop tart sneaks out….I am bound to break off a piece….it is such a bitch!

  • Joe

    For the 24 hour fast you can always have bcaa’s before and after working out in place of your pwo meal. This lets you remain in a fasted state and still have the amino’s to feed your muscles.

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

       Excellent point, Joe. Thanks for bringing it up!

      • Jonn

        Hey man I’m 17 years old i weight 120lbs and I’m an ectomorph, I’m curious about IF, i want to gain weight but stay as lean as possible…. whats your opinion, do you think IF and ectomorphs trying to bulk mix or is that just going to make my life harder? Thanks

        • http://www.facebook.com/donovan.garner.54 Donovan Garner

          You should check out the experiment Nate Green did with John Berardi at http://www.biggersmallerbigger.com. You could probably benefit greatly from the first part of the program.

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

    16/8 would be a fun experiment, but like you mentioned, it doesn’t work in my daily life.  At all.  When I’m working from home, I’ll give it a shot.  I’m a fan of the feed/fast, which I found from you, Roman.  I hated eating breakfast the Sunday after a cheat and came to love my Sunday fasted lactic acid workouts.  Also, no cooking = more time to blog, watch football, and play Arkham City.  Pretty much, you made my Sundays kick ass for 2 months.  Thanks for that.

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

       Football + Arkham city is an amaaaaaazing Sunday

  • Arturo

    Another great article man. Currently on a 48+ fast right now. Actually I’m on hour 19. Didn’t really want to, but have to. Prepared myself with a major cheat day yesterday. I’ve tried different variations of this and like the idea. I’m currently on high calories, so I don’t do much fasting right now. Throw in a 24hr here and there, but when I diet down, I’ll be incorporating this stuff all the time. My concern is fasting while trying to bulk… tips? Thanks again.

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

       the main thing would be you need to get adequate calories. 

      For most people, the difficulty comes with not being “able” to get enough calories, because it’s “hard” to get XYZ number of cals during a small feeding window.

      The answer, like with any other issue of this kind, is simply to eat calorically dense but “low volume” foods so you can get more energy without killing hunger. 

      And, if possible, get more liquid calories.

      • Arturo

        Thanks Roman.

      • HJAllen

         That was one of my main concerns of the FFL Warrior diet day.  How to fit all those calories in one meal??  Liquid calories is an excellent suggestion!  I certainly don’t want to eat junk food and then feel AWFUL!

  • yannick noah

    great article roman! nicely structured and easy to understand. plus i like it because you touch on people’s busy schedules and convenience in practising them. also you discussed your own experiences in using them.

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

       Thanks, Yannick, glad you liked the article.  Tried to be as balanced as possible.

  • Rocky

    Any of these work well for muscle building? Or is it just a fat loss thing?

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

       They can be used for muscle building as well. 

      • Daniel

        How so? Just throw in a cheat day with density – > fast -> return to normal mass gain routine?

  • Emilybowsher1

    What is the lowest you have been able to get your bodyfat % while having the cheat day/fast day?

  • Marie

    My first experience with IF was with Xtreme Fat Loss Diet in June 2011. I found it to be relatively easy to incorporate the Feast/Fast into my lifestyle and continue to do so.

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

       Cheat days make everything more bearable, don’t they!?

  • http://www.jameskerrison.com/ James Kerrison

    Have you heard of  Mike O’Donnell (The IF Life and The 2 Meal Solution) which is similar to the Leangains approach (although I think Mike is a little less stressed than Martin!)

    His take is less about the eating window (16/8) and more about having lunch and dinner (not snacking and not having breakfast)

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

       Yes, would have mentioned it but the post was getting pretty long.

      He certainly is less stressed than Marty ;)

  • guest

    Hey Roman, I loosely follow the leangains IF protocol. I’m currently having a preworkout meal of carbs and protein(~500cals) about an hour and a half before lifting. My memories from XFLD make me reluctant to believe I’ll be stronger fasted:/ Is it just one of those things I’ll have to try and see if its for me? Or do the hormonal benefits really give strength benefits? I follow Bill Starr’s 5×5 btw. 

  • Ben

    ever read up on Scott Abel’s “cycle diet” ??? 

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

       Hey Ben – sorry, I haven’t heard of it.  I like Scott’s training stuff, so will check it out.

  • Daniel Aipa

    I’ve never done any IF before, but after reading a couple of your articles along with others.  It seems it may be a good time to experiment with it.

  • Daniel

    So if u have 3x maintenance, and do a 24 hours fast after with a lot of exercise you prevent any spillage?

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

       Yes; although to be honest “spillage” isn’t really something most people would need to worry about.

      • Daniel

        Is your maintenance temporarily increased or something?, because I’m trying to figure out how those 5000 extra calories would be burnt during the fast day even with a lot of exercise :P

  • Kujo

    I’ve been doing 16/8 for about 1.5 years now.  My feeding window is 1-9PM.  I’ve never trained fasted, and prefer working out in the evenings (I work 9-5, so I have to, but even when I wasn’t working for a while, I still kept the same schedule).  I just prefer having big ass meals PWO in the evening.

    I honestly can’t see myself eating another way.  I love Leangains.

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

    Roman i protocol that isnt specificaly metioned is the :deplete-feast-fast how does this compare in terms of fat loss/pure badassery?

    • Daniel

      Damn,  being depleted before a cheat  = 2000 extra calories of ice cream lol

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

         Ha! Correct – lots of extra ice cream.  But, to Andrews point: it’s not a different method, just a more advanced version.

        • Roberto

          Hi John. On your workout days Would it be ok to eat pasta say with tomato sauce for dinner in the correct qty following your charts for phase 4?

          • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com Roman

            Yeah, that’s fine.

  • Ylwa Eklund Falk

    Boy have I been waiting impatiently for this one since your first IF post :). Nice work! I’ve personally started to incorporate 16/8 after coming off my contest prep. I love it and I feel like I get great results even though I work out in the afternoon. 

    While I know that Martin often argues for the benefit of exercising in a fasted state, he also provides other templates to make 16/8 fit into you lifestyle successfully. He has a very thorough post on his website called “The Leangains protocol” that both discuss his philosphy on training and provide you with options for how to make your eating window fit into your lifestyle successfully. I personally follow his approach for afternoon workouts, since I usually work out around 4-5 PM, have my first meal around 1 PM, my second after my workout at 5:30 and my last one at 8:30. Works great! If I on occasion work out in the morning I follow the protocol for that, outlined in the same post.

    This way of eating has been like “coming home”. What I found to be the hardest during my diet was not the calorie deficit or the foods I ate, it was having to eat 6 times a day. I felt like my mind was  constantly on food and when/how/if I should/could schedule my next meal. It was draining and just got me more stressed. I’ve also never been much for breakfast and I have no problem to go for longer periods of time without food, but when I eat, I want to eat. The fewer, smaller meals I have, the hungrier I am and the more cravings I have. Leangains have almost completely eliminated this and I plan to stay on this method for my next contest too. My next step is to incorporate 1-2 24 hours fasts during my week.

    I look forward to you next post on IF (although I always look forward to your posts), pwetty pweaze make that one on muscle building and IF. Snuggles

  • Anna Smith

    Great post Roman! Do you take BCAAs when your fasting? I show horses and there is always stuff going on and good food friday, saturday, sunday. Is there any way that I could eat friday and saturday and fast sunday?

  • Anonymous

    A great roundup here John – I personally favour the leangains method. It just slots in to life so easily and allows for a lot of flexibility..!

    • Tymurds

      I agree.  Been doing it since March and its very easy to do.  Some days are 14 hour fasts, others are 18.  No biggie, plus I like eating very large meals (I don’t like to snack).  
      @John – What are your thoughts on macro percentages?  I carb cycle on my training days, high pro everyday and higher fats on off days (a la LG).  It works fine for me but everyone responds differently..

  • Glenn

    I’ve been doing 16/8 for a while, and it is great. As mentioned in your case Roman, now that I work from home and can train during the day it works heaps better: gym at 11am, break-fast at 2pm, finish dinner around 10pm. I’ve found with this timing you don’t even get hungry until it’s time to eat. Good summary of techniques, I’d definitely recommend them as a nutritional protocol.

  • kennychin

    I’m new but very interested.  I know my insulin is my problem judging by the love handles and back fat I carry.  Thanks for the review of all the types.  I’m thinking the Eat Stop Eat might be the way to go for me.  Twice  a week would be no problem if I can get used to the hunger initially.  Thanks again.  I gave it a retweet.

  • Dazzaupreme05

    Great article-ive tried most of these IF protocols, and while admittedly I do enjoy my feeding times, adjusting to these isnt terrible-except when there is nothing but cooking shows on and a coffee pot is on in the apt ALL THE TIME! But I didnt know much about the Warrior Diet, so once again I learned a ton!

  • JES2008

    There is also the Fast-5 model of IF by Bert Herring.  It is basically a 19 hour fast with a 5 hour eating window.  And while you can choose whatever five hour window that best suits your lifestyle, the one that Dr. Herring usually recommends is 5pm to 10pm.  This allows for eating dinner with your family and is more socially adaptable on a long term basis.  Other than that, it’s also very unstructured.  Nothing is off limits, but after a couple weeks, most people naturally gravitate towards healthier food choices.  Also, many people work out just fine in their fasted state and find they have lots of energy despite it.  Those into hardcore exercise usually time their workouts to end right before their window opens, as well.  And because the time frame is consistent from day to day, there really is no hunger in the fasting period.

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

      Good point; it’s very similar to Warrior.  I don’t have much exposure to f5, which is why I didn’t include it.

    • http://twitter.com/LowcarbNY LowcarbNY

      I concur. I’m a Fast-5 ‘ er and it suits me to a T. I could not stand changing scheules every day. I love the Binary mode of it. I’m not eating or I’m eating. . It is great to have my feeding window from 5pm to 10pm so that I can go out to dinner or a social gathering. And if I need to stretch it an hour or two earlier or later , for whatever reason, I just do that. There is no Fast-5 police force to arrest me.

      It works like I never could have dreamed it could work. I’ve lost 21 lbs in 5 week, I go to bed 100% satiated every day and I hardly worry about food all day long. What could be better? Oh, yea, I’m keeping it Low Carb too.

  • Tuco

    aweomse! i do 20/4 but not like the warrior diet (with snacks or shakes in the fast), i do it like lean gains but extend the fast form 16 to 20 hrs. Also ocassionally do the feast/fast (36hrs or more) if i have a social event.

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

       Nice! I love the flexibility. Thanks, Tuco.

  • Risto Uuk

    What kind of people or situations would you not recommend fasting for?

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

       Anyone with severe issues with hypoglycemia. 

      Also, anyone who has true emotional issues with food. 

      • Felisnondomesticus

        I have always been an emotional eater. I find that with IF (most often, a Sunday cheat/Monday Fast/Tues>Sat 20/4) I don’t think about food NEARLY as much, and it’s OK to eat a LOT of healthy food, which “sates” my binging urges.

        I also have wondered if the control of insulin helps control moods better, which in turn controls emotional eating better…hmmmm.

        By jove, Roman, I think we’re on to something here! Just found your blog and posts today, from Isabel del Rios. You are AMAZING!!!

  • http://twitter.com/nicholasritchey Nicholas Ritchey

    Wow, I’ve been playing with IF for the last 8 months and am writing a book on the topic. Just came across this post and our experiences (and adaptations) are just about identical (started with Ori, learned about Lean Gains, read ESE and started 16, 24 or 36h fasts after cheat day)! Birds of a feather flock together… guess I’ll have to become a regular reader of your blog!

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

       Hey Nicholas,

      Thanks for the comment and stopping by; happy to have you as a reader.  Would really love to check out some of your stuff.  Welcome aboard, and looking forward to your book.

  • http://twitter.com/BUnlimitedDenny Blake Denny

    Thanks for the article Roman, I have just really begun delving into intermittent fasting and have been looking at applying it to a few of my clients and have begun using 16/8 here and there, but have wanted to do more research on other options, so thank you for the summary.

  • http://www.sirenabernal.com/ Sirena Bernal

    Thanks for the follow up on this Roman.  I really liked how you gave real-world examples with how you fit it into your life. 

    I’ve been practicing IF for about 3 years…pretty much the time I started reading your blog :)

    Over the course of that time, practicing IF has taught me a few things:

    1.  We DON’T need to eat as much food as we think we do.
    2.  Most hunger is boredom and not knowing what do to with ourselves.  IF has taught me what REAL hunger is.
    3.  How to be more effective with my time.  Funny but true.  When you first start fasting you have to find ways to keep your mind occupied, and for me that meant finding productive things to do like reading, writing, meditation even. 
    4.  How obsessed we are with food in general.

    On a side note, practicing IF has actually helped my GI issues because I’m not force-feeding myself every few hours which, when you have GI issues can make things worse.  

    And, I’ve cut down my grocery bill by at least 40%.

    So IF can save you moneeeez.

    Cheers :)

    Sirena

  • http://twitter.com/j_maitlen Josh Maitlen

    Great article, but I have one quick question….During the fasted state, should I still take my CLA and fish oil supplements or will that break the fast and take my body out of the fasted state?

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

       I would save those until the end of the day, after you’ve broken the fast.

      • http://twitter.com/j_maitlen Josh Maitlen

        Thanks.  I’m really starting to enjoy this way of eating/living

  • Anonymous

    John,
    Have you read “The Alternate Day Diet” by Dr. Johnson? What are your thoughts if so?

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

      I’ve only read a synopsis of Alternate Day Diet; can’t comment too much on it’

  • Katy

    Thanks for that info, is really helpful.  Looking at what you write, are you combing 16/8 and feast/fast in the one week?  I’d like to try that.

    Is this a do-able scenario:
    Mon – Fri: 6am workout, PWO shake to break the fast, then breakfast and lunch, last meal being a protein shake at 3pm.  2-3 hours of specific Sports training in the evening. 

    NOTES: (I feel ill if I eat too soon before sports training,so last meal at 3 works for me.  Also, I never feel like eating after a great night time training session, so thinking this might be a really good way to fit in the 16 hour fast window).

    Sat: Cheat day, some afternoon sports training
    Sun: Fast day, sports training at 10am.

    Will this work?

    Thanks :)

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

       That would work perfectly Katy!

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  • John Arreaga

    awesome articles! something i needed as i was looking more into the IF system.

    question though….. if i wanted to follow the 16/8 system, does the fast have to be 16 or 8 hrs, or can it be somewhere in btwm? Thanks!

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

       It’s not 16 OR 8 hours…it’s 16 hours of fasting with 8 hours of feeding.  You could fast as little as 14 hours, though.

  • James

    What is your opinion on the Leangains protocol for people who train after work (5-6 PM) that has you taking in two small meals before you train and then a large one post workout?

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

       I think it’s a perfectly acceptable way to do things. You miss out on some of the benefits of fasted training, but, in all honesty, as long as you train hard and pay proper attention to your macros, you’re fine.

  • Micky

    great article…do you cheat/fast every week?

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

       Hey Micky,

      Yes, I cheat/fast almost every week.  Sometimes I don’t really need or want to cheat, though, so I skip it and just replace with an extra day of 16/8

  • Musashi

    Great read as always, thank you. 

    Now I usually do not post, but the hate Final Fantasy has gotten since FF7 has to stop. X was awesone and a much different game in a different era. I do miss the good ol days of FF6-7 but the music and theatrics in X were simply amazing and made the game so much fun!

    And gaming is the best way to forget about hunger on fast days :)

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

       FFX was good, but if you consider that the “best” game since 7, it’s still a pretty strong indictment of the way the series has fallen since then. Yes, the story was pretty good, and the music and graphics were amazing; however, the story in games like FF2/4j and FF3/6j is just superior in every way.

      Further, I think the game play in FF7 wasn’t always great, especially with regard to camera angles; the main problem being that often the gameplay and control was sacrificed in an effort to showcase the graphics and the “power” of the new machine. It was almost like Square was trying to justify moving away from Nintendo in favor of PS.

      • Musashi

        I know you are right…Im just a sad nostalgic chocobo lover who falls in love with every FF hoping the magic will come back…

  • Arno-nyms

    There is a Leangains.com approach for early-morning-fasted-training!

    Source: http://www.leangains.com/2010/05/early-morning-fasted-training.html

    Quote:
    “Here’s a sample setup for a client that trains early in the morning and prefers the feeding phase at noon or later.

    6 AM: 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA.
    6-7 AM: Training.
    8 AM: 10 g BCAA.
    10 AM: 10 g BCAA
    12-1 PM: The “real” post-workout meal (largest meal of the day). Start of the 8 hour feeding-window.
    8-9 PM: Last meal before the fast.”

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

       Awesome; I was going to include that but the article was getting long.  I will add in.  THanks!

      • bt

        Is there any problem if i do not take any BCAA after training in above leangains  approach.

  • steve kostoff

    Hey Roman,  I’m considering living VIA the 16/8 IF style.  But I do like my Sunday cheat day, and follow that with a 24 hour Fast (following your sage advice of course)

      Do you recommend incorporating the two together? 

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

       Absolutely – a combination of the feast/fast cycle and 16/8 is one of my favorite syntheses of IF protocols–this is included (with some other stuff) in the IF program I’m releasing in a few weeks.

      • steve kostoff

        Thanks for the quick reply dude, always appreciated.

      • steve kostoff

        One more thing (for now)…   From a trainers perspective, any recommendations on how to prescribe this stuff to clients? people you wouldn’t recommend this to etc.

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  • Joanne Price

    This is my 3rd week of the 16/8 fasting. Nothing after 8 and not before noon. I do my workout at 5:00 and eat at 6:30. Is the workout still going to be as effective at this time. I can’t go in the morning. Joanne

  • warrior diet

    Does warrior diet very similar to eat stop eat .. as i fasted for 20-24hrs everyday and have a large meal every night dinner. Fro example monday dinner at 8pm and i will not eat anything till tuesday 8pm. is it consider eat stop eat or warrior diet?
    Moreover fir the meal its consist of high protein  moderate fat and low or no carbs. All carbs come from vege / fibre

  • Briannelson89

    Just out of curiosity John, do you follow the same exercise routine for a fast day as it states in XFLD?

    Many thanks Brian

  • http://twitter.com/cavemansCode cavemansCode

    good man! for giving props to Martin Berkhan for opening a lot of peoples eyes about IF.

  • Jackie

    Hi Roman :)
    I started ESE a couple weeks ago and find it so damn easy! I like it lots.
    But I have a question. Should I break my fast with any particular foods? Like should I avoid sugar? Funny question since I’m trying to lose fat :/

    I LOVE reading you blogs and I’m about to link your site on a support forum that I’m active on. Thanks for your humor and insight :D

  • Kevin Culjat

    I started fasting this week and already like it alot.  I work out every day around 1:00.  I have a post work out protien and carb shake and then eat a meal around 8:00.  two questions.  Is the post workout meal OK or should I cut out the carbs until dinner?  Can I use a pre workout drink like Buzzerk for an energy pump a half hour before my work out or should I use only water until my workout is complete.

  • MaconJingCha

    Just out of curiosity – would this style (one of the above forms of IF) suit someone who works out moderately and is relatively seeing consistent success?  I ask b/c I’m losing about a lb a week and everything I’m doing – via Travis Stoezel – is working right along schedule.  Granted the gains in strength and endurance far surpass the loss in weight and inches; however, IT IS WORKING, so my questions is should I mess with what I’m doing and add this into my routine?  What say you?

  • Ashleypaigemathews

    Any suggestions on making this work for a 6pm workout? Schedule? Thanks

  • STkaczuk

    Hi!  I’m fairly new to IF, having experimented with fasts ranging from 8 – 48 hours.  I have two questions for you:
    1) What is the maximum time one should be (safely) in the fasted state?  I’ve heard talk about a 50 or 60-hour “threshold” where the metabolic rate does begin to decrease, and potentially negative hormonal effects could take place.  What would you recommend as a maximum?2) During the fasted state, the deficit of calories = a decrease in macronutrient intake = a decrease in micronutrient intake…. how do we account for the decrease (let’s say 20%) in all the vitamins, minerals ,etc that we’re NOT eating in the fasted state?  For example, if you chose to sustain a super-clean diet of 1500 calories per day, that would be a total of 10,500 “clean” calories per week.  Incorporating two 24-hour fasts per week and eating the same way, you’d only be consuming 7,500 good calories.  I guess what I’m trying to ask here is, does a person doing IF have to be even more conscientious of the calories they do consume while in a non-fasted state, to ensure that they are getting all the nutrients they need, whilst maintaining a calorie deficit?

    Sorry if this is confusing… any advice would be great!!

    Thanks.

  • simon gill

    Great article, started IF a week ago after reading it. One question though, i do crossfit and have heard/read that this isn’t a great modality of exercise to get rid of belly and back fat due to the increase in cortisol levels with this training modality, is IF a good way to counter this?

  • Hannes Kettunen

    Yo! How should I exercise while IF? I’m a broke student from Finland, so I tend to under-feed, how should I combine eating + exercise with IF for proper results?
    Thanks !

  • Yggy

    Thanks for this page.  I have been doing the Fast 5 (19/5) version of IF for a week now with some great results.  Eight pounds lost, down a pants size plus huge strides in appetite control.  I also think I am already noticing some reduction in inflammation.  Two years ago I lost 45 pounds on the Dr. Fuhrman Plan eating mostly vegan high nutrient food.  I actually ran a marathon last Spring.  Unfortunately post-marathon I struggled with some injuries and regained 30 pounds of what I had lost while still eating a high nutrient diet but not exercising nearly as often. 

    I am a year away from turning 50, and I need to find a life plan that will work for me as I age to take in less food.  I have always been an eater with strong appetites and portion-control has always felt like a prison sentence.  Before I lost the 45 pounds two years ago my fasting glucose was over 120.  Even after following the Fuhrman Plan it seldom dipped below 90.  I am hoping IF will be the key to insulin balance for me.

    I want to sensibly reintroduce more exercise and work my way into running again, although less frequently than before with more cross-training to avoid re-injury.  I have been walking more while fasting.  Any advice on where in the fast to start increasing the exercise?  Right before breaking fast or in the morning upon waking?  I am usually eating from 5 pm to 10 pm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Teichert/193304600 John Teichert

    Excellent articles on IF. I’m curious about your opinion on eating or drinking sugar-free things during your fast. I like to have some sugar-free hard candies and black coffee and/or tea with artificial sweeteners. While there is no sugar involved there are still very few calories. Does this affect the fast/hormone levels? I’m hoping the calories are too minimal to make a difference because it really helps curb hunger and boredom for that matter.

  • John

    Your description of how the 24h IF is applied effectively comes down to
    skipping breakfast and lunch (that is having dinner early one day, and
    late the next). This doesn’t seem to correspond to eating 4000 calories less if
    you do this twice a week.
    Cheers

  • Kiko23

    you are awesome.

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

      =)

  • mike

    I try to consume my last meal at 8pm,and do my workout at 11am so my post workout meal is about 12:30 pm. that means I’ve fasted for 16 hours. I have found my energy has improved, and I’m burning more bodyfat and the results are noticeable. Thank you for all your expertise on fasting and weight loss.

  • Sara Traub1

    My understanding is that fasting creates a surge of cortisol in the system, which if course is not a good thing. Please explain. Sara

  • Latinmami1067

    HHi guys! I am a boxer and I train 3x a day…I want to do the 24 hr fasting 2 maybe 3 times a week…may I still drink my.bcaas post workout? Will I be able to maintain my muscle definition with no protein and only bcaas on fasting days?

  • Andrew R.
  • Stef

    Nice article! I was wondering though if you do like a 16/8 protocol or feast/fast.. do you take some amino acids to prevent catabolism?

  • Amit Hossain

    Hey, i have a question. Doesn’t fasting force your body to en especially your feast/fast model. Andter “starvation mode”?

    • Dean

      I think your comment got messed up. Let me correct it for you.  “Hey, I have a question. Doesn’t fasting force your body to enter “starvation mode?” Especially your feast/fast model.

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

         That is a myth. Starvation mode takes DAYS.

  • Javarino

    Doing FLF now with great results so far. Have some questions that are not answered in FLF program booklets. How do I get them answered?

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

      Just email them to myself or Dan!

  • Casey-steele1

    can i use the 16/8 method  2-3 x week still good enough

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

       perfect

  • Clement

    As you well know, I’m a great supporter of IF, having practised it for a period of 2 years. It helped me overcome an eating disorder and re-establish a healthy relationship with food. I was extremely excited when you finally warmed up to the idea!

    For the past year, however, I’ve taken to a JC Dean-style flexible form of eating. I have 2-3 large meals per day whenever I need or feel like it, without really caring about the duration between meals. The focus is purely on meeting my caloric and taste buds’ needs.

    I feel that IF is more suited to someone who lifts heavy but doesn’t do a lot of conditioning. As a former soccer player and now martial artist, I do a fair bit of conditioning work in addition to heavy lifting. If I didn’t have a small meal before playing a soccer game, I would feel weak and faint. Perhaps it is because of the different energy systems used, but this personal experience told me that my lifestyle and fitness choices did not complement IF.

    Martin Berkhan has also written before that he seldom prescribes intervals or metabolic finishers in his clients’ programmes as he feels it hinders rather than aids their progress. The most he has them do is 45min of steady-state cardio. My experience is more anecdotal, but I still feel that endurance or strength-endurance athletes might not find IF a comfortable way of eating. That was the main reason I decided to change my way of eating.

    Also, I’ve experienced gastric discomfort if I fast for long periods of time. The 36h fast would have been an excellent addition to my lifestyle had this problem not arisen – I have a rest day and days which I don’t have any conditioning planned – and would have welcomed the break from food and chance to create a caloric deficit or perform form damage limitation after a sumptuous cheat day.

    Unfortunately, I would experience a sharp pain in my stomach if I abstained from food for too long – it may occur after as little as 14h or as long as 20h without eating, and sometimes not at all – which would be cured within an hour of breaking the fast. 

    Regarding my new eating patterns, my first meal is a meat-and-nut breakfast 3-4h after waking up. The other meal or meals consist of plenty of protein, fruits and a moderate intake of carbohydrates. My last meal is often 3-4h before bedtime. If I have martial arts or soccer training on the day, I have a small meal (included in my 2-3 meals per day) an hour before training. 

    Unconsciously, I find myself having a 14-16h fast every day. I just don’t experience my gastric problems now as they appear to manifest only if I don’t eat for long periods during my waking hours. 

    Is that considered IF? I don’t know, as I’m not consciously planning a period of time without food. I just know that I’m not hungry immediately upon waking up and I don’t like to go to bed with too much food in my stomach, so that’s how I’ve planned my meals. The most important lesson IF taught me was that I can enjoy food and eat delicious, filling meals. Now, thanks to it, I’m flexible with my eating patterns and habits.

  • Sandy

    IS AN IPAD/IPHONE TRACKER COMING OUR WAY?

  • bente_jente

    I am new to IF (although I tried it doing the XFLD), and I am trying to figure out which is better for me. I work out pretty regularly (5-6 times a week) mostly interval training, but also a little strength.
    I work 8am-4pm. I think 16/8 might fit me better w my eating window from 11.30-7.30, but I usually work out at night. My workout will then be either right before my last meal or after. There is no way I can go every work day without eating. 
    Maybe ESE would work better for me, but 24 hrs is still a very long time…… I might be able to go from lunch to lunch, but twice a week? I wond’t know… :D
    Any suggestions?

    Starting tomorrow.

  • Roj

    Thinking of trying ESE, but want to be sure about something.  Already able to fast twenty four hours at a time with no problem, so I doubt two will be an issue.  So with respect to the other five days then, maintenance calories and exercise?  Or something else with the remaining five?

  • Swiftsessions

    so can I do the FLF program if I have low blood sugar?

  • Baldurharaldsson

    Hey, I’m an eighteen years old boy from Iceland and it may be my lack of understanding the big words, but something made this article kind of blurry for me. I really like this idea of fasting but I don’t really know how to use it when I lift weights on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and do cardio on Tuesdays and Thursdays (I rest on Sundays). If you could help me with that, than I would be more than happy.

    1. Should I eat something and if so, what, pre/post workouts?
    2. Doesn’t this have any effects on my muscles? Doesn’t my body try to get, because of no calorie/energy intake, to get to my muscles for energy?
    3. I love cheat days, I have to have one, mainly because I like to eat something that I really like during my time watching football (in my case soccer, let’s not argue about the football/soccer dilemma, soccer is obviously more ‘football’ than then your idea of football) But again to the cheat days, are you saying that you fast before, eat high caloric food, and then fast again?Would really make me happy if you could find time to answer me.

  • Chris

    Great article Roman! I’ve been on the 16/8 for about 4 months and have seen extraordinary results. I train in the morning fasted and take BCAA’s before and after which help to avoid muscle breakdown. Would you recommend throwing in any sort of pwo shake or would that totally defeat the purpose of the fast? Thanks.

  • http://traineroutlet.com/ Gilberto Gaulding

    I don’t really believe in fasting when working out. My nutritionist says I need all the nutrients I can get. He also told me to take 5 meals a day instead of the regular 3. My workout is the TRX by the way.

  • ross13

    I love the idea of the cycling, I have technically done this for years. Some days higher and some lower..I just always thought the high days were “bad” and then it started a “bad” cycle! My only issue is, sometimes after a week of low cal dieting or low carb dieting, I cannot eat alot of food, and when I do eat it ( mostly carbs) make me feel sick the next day. I get low blood sugar and can feel pretty bad the day after a binge and i feel like i need to nibble on stuff to make me feel better. What would you recommend? A few 100 cal  low carb protein shakes throughout the day?  Also, would recommmend a schedule of binge..fast..no carb for 2 days, low gi for 2 days and hi gi for two days then repeat?

  • Ben Bergman

    I’ve done fasting a number of times over the years. Nothing is a better weight loss ideal. Its really one of the most disiplined forms of mental training you can do.

    http://powerandmight.blogspot.com

  • Steve

    Hey Roman, I love the 16/8 fasting with feast fast 1-2x per week. My question is regarding fasting. What restrictions are there on drinks. Can I still have coffee and various teas (green, black, herbal) during the fast or would that break the fast? Thanks and keep up the awesome posts.

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  • Micky

    FLF question: Hey roman for Friday warrior days (or Tuesday) do I need to get all 2500 calories from “clean” foods and hit each macro (carb fat protein) or it’s cool to go out to eat for that meal to hit calories for the day and not worry about fats carbs protein? Love the program so far

  • Marie Marie

    Help! I’ve tried fasting, but I get extremely shaky and feel like I’m going to pass out. What can I do?

  • William Wong

    John, i remember the warrior diet shows the idea of eating huge meal at night(and the effects of that on the brain, more relax, not as alert as during fasting in a.m. time), what do you think about Joel’s Big breakfast diet?( huge breakfast/ fast until next day’s breakfast)? i’m worry about the effects of having all the foods eaten in breakfast, and don’t know if it will make me more “sleepy” then alert during work….what is your opinion? is it good to flip the warrior from am-fast/pm-feast to am-feast/pm-fast? (i’ll do my workout 1st thing in the morning, in a fasted state). thanks for your time.

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  • Jonn

    Hey man I’m 17 years old i weight 120lbs and I’m an ectomorph, I’m curious about IF, i want to gain weight but stay as lean as possible…. whats your opinion, do you think IF and ectomorphs trying to bulk mix or is that just going to make my life harder? Thanks

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  • Sunil

    Where can I find book of Martin berkhan the 16-8 system?

    • http://www.facebook.com/donovan.garner.54 Donovan Garner

      Just head over to http://www.leangains.com. You’ll find most of what you need from Martin there.

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  • Jock

    John do you / can you training on fasting days ? What are pros and cons for it.

      • http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com Roman

        Thanks for that, Adam =)

  • Oli

    I’ve been trying to find an answer to this question everywhere but no luck so maybe you can help me.

    Due to work, social issues and such I have planned a program around my daily life that I find will be easy to stick to.

    Day 1 –
    Weight Training 6am
    Eat Normally
    Last meal is 9pm.

    Day 2 –
    Light Cardio & Core Workout 6am
    Fast until 2pm
    Eat two meals one at 2pm and one at 6pm

    Did my first Day 2 plan today. I just want to know is it ok to do my cardio workout and then remain in the fast for the next 7 hours or should I be looking to bring myself out of the fast straight after the workout?

    My goals are to shed the body fat without loosing the muscle mass I’ve worked so hard on the last 6 months.

    I greatly appreciate any feedback

    • sam

      But that’s the thing…unless you are 4% and under with body fat you won’t lose muscle mass. Starvation mode is a relative myth and with fasting for 24 hours will not put you into that. Think about it – we have fat for a reason, it’s the first go-to when we need it. Not muscle. Our bodies do everything they can to protect our muscles

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  • kasz

    I have been doing the 16/8 for a few months and it took me a while to see some results but then again i had a hard time figuring my macros and my workouts are basically p90x workouts, the real question is is it necessary to workout while IFing? i have been sick for that past week and i just continued basically the same meals but just havent worked out. I still weight the same and havent gained any fat in fact i think i got leaner….what do you think?

  • kasz

    I f you have your cheat day in Sunday and don’t eat Monday would you have to workout Tuesday instead of Monday? Maybe a stupid question but I’m curious..

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  • steffan

    id like to just throw out there i fast for 20 hours every day and eat 4hours out of the day, and have been doing it for about 2 months or less and i also try to do cardio workouts every day, but iv lost 12 lbs so far. it works great for me. i do not allow any cheat days and i dont take any supliments at all.

  • steffan

    also if you need any workout ideas so to say i use the ideas from a book my uncle has. its called “convict conditioning” written by Paul “coach” Wade. its got some great workouts. and this diet from what iv researched about it helps build muscle faster. iv definitely noticed a difference. now if all people could do this diet America wouldn’t be so obese.

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  • ben jakeman

    yeah i follow the 16/8 via jason ferrugia’s spin on it, changed my life. simple fact

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  • melt

    What about pre and post work out drink during the fasting period?

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  • Ian

    Hey Roman

    16/8 is tough when I work. I train at 6:30 am, eat around 7:30am which means my last meal should be around 3:30pm.

    If i get home at 5 and eat then, I’m stretching it to a 10/14 fast. How effective will this be?

  • mK

    How do you think about ending a 8 hour window with a workout?
    LeanGain suggests ending the fast with a work out, but i have a job and the schedule doesn’t simply fit for me
    So i eat breakfast at 8, lunch 12, dinner 5 and then play tennis till 6pm..
    and i dont eat after that.
    i’m not sure if i can skip breakfast haha i was so much of a breakfast-person

    Thanks!
    MMK

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  • glenn

    am i still fasting in the morning if i have freash veggy juice from my juicer

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  • Derek

    To inform users about the 24 hour fast – I have been doing it since November 2012. I started off with a 40 inch waist, overweight, very unathletic and so forth..

    After following the 24 Hour Fast method for about 7 weeks with mixed cardio/HIIT/Interval Training and minimal strength training ( don’t ask why not.. I got to focused on the CUTTING part ) but I descended from a 40 inch waist to a 33 inch waist. I even had cheat WEEKENDS and still cut down.

    I now do it with strength training and cardio and my results are phenomenal. I have reached 12% body fat, 180 lbs, and can run my heart out. These methods are worth a try! I am living proof they work!

    Honestly though, whatever works best for you – in my opinion: 24 Hour Fast all the way!

  • jeremy

    do you do resistance workout during the fast period?

  • Swimmer963

    Thanks, awesome article! I’m trying to switch from conventional eating to an intermittent fasting lifestyle, although more for the fact that it apparently provides the same longevity benefits as calorie restriction–I’m actually quite happy with my current weight. It’s proving to be a challenge–I’m one of those people who needs to eat every 4 hours or I get cranky, and even when I get past that, I feel great for 2-3 days of 16/8 fasting and then I start feeling weak and dizzy, so I assume I’m mis-calibrated on how much I need to eat during the 8-hour window, and thus don’t get enough calories.

  • Brentman

    Funny i just read this and i have been doing this for around 7 months now … I do 16-8 workout days 22-2 on non workout feast on weekends and 24-28 hr on Monday…has got me down sub10% bf with little effort

  • Charles

    Hello Everyone, I usually start my fast at 8pm, sleep, and do my morning strength/cardio workouts between 5am-8am then continue my fast until about noon when I break it, sometimes a little earlier but basically thats my routine. Since I wait so long after workout to break my fast, Is there any negative effect to that wait? Or does it just end up giving my body more time to eat my fat!!!!

  • Cee

    If you only opt to eat one meal a day in a roughly 23/1 window, doesn’t this effectively fit the criteria for all of the IF styles mentioned? For example, let’s say I eat one large meal every day–Sunday through Saturday–at 6 PM. I’m full by 6:15 or 6:30 PM. (Large meal–but likely fewer calories than the daily recommended!) I fast (I don’t eat again) until 6 PM the next day.

    Isn’t this a 24-Hour Fast (aka Eat-Stop-Eat) every day–except without the limitation of 1 – 3 days to achieve more effective results? (I’m unsure what benefit there is to limit this to 1-3 days, unless it’s simply to make it easier for people who want to eat normally on the other days.)

    With the Warrior Diet, eating only at 6 PM every day also seems to fit into the 20 hour fasting and 4 hour eating window. (Only 15 to 30 minutes or so is used of the four hour window, but it still falls within it.) And the 20 hour minimum fasting window is met–but is actually surpassed to a roughly 23 hour window. Is the only difference that the Warrior Diet requires a *maximum* window of 20 hours to make it easier for people–or is surpassing that window to 23 hours simply the same diet with more effective results?

    Finally, just as on the Warrior Diet, eating once a day would also fall within the windows of the 16/8 (LeanGains). In short, are the main differences between these IF plans is that they explicitly define a maximum window–you must eat within 8 hours and you must fast no more than 16 hours, for example, in the 16/8 plan? If I simply ate once a day at the same time every day, wouldn’t the disadvantages you mentioned in terms of scheduling around work etc. be null and void because I’m not eating multiple times a day within extended multi-hour windows but rather only within one–and yet still reaping all of the hormonal benefits you mentioned of the 16/8 plan, and in fact, exceeding them? I feel that I must be missing some essential math here somewhere.

    I sense that these trademarked plans are strictly defined within these windows, and so referring to my 23/1 plan as the Warrior Diet or LeanGains with an extended fasting window would not only be confusing to some but wholly inaccurate, i.e. because “there’s no such thing; it’s explictly defined.”

    I’m so confused. So if anyone understands what I’m saying, then you’re probably even more insane than I! :) Thanks in advance.

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  • Abdelrahman

    Great Article I loved it But i have a Question for you a friend of mine recommend that i should train in the 8 hours window to not lose muscle so if i worked out in the fasting will i lose muscle as he says or what ??

  • Mandy H

    I’m a little confused as to what you eat during the feeding window, or rather, how often. I get that you eat to break the fast right after (or hour after) a workout, but during that 8 hour window (for 16/8), do you eat just the once, or three times a day, or just any eating schedule?

  • David

    are there any types of IF specifically for Muscle Gain?

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  • http://batman.org Grackos

    2 things; 1) FF7 is better than FF6 Roman 2) following your book, fest/fast isnt fasting for 24h, but 42h if the first meal of the week is Tuesday 2PM. I have done it for several weeks and its not easy, but its doable. And yes, you end up cutting the weekly calories by a lot.

  • Angela Ursery

    Nice summary; thank you for your work. Note that Berkman now states that even someone at 45% BF can benefit from LeanGains, a switch from his earlier position.
    And when you say it is for people who are serious, I do hope you don’t me humorless…;-)

  • Coach JC

    Good stuff my man! So have you found a way to make the 16/8 work effectively with someone that has to train in the am? You propose the problems above…any solutions besides to break your fast with your PW meal and not eating after 4pm? Thanks Boss!

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  • Dureza

    I gotta ask.. can I drink water during my fasting? people have their own opinions on this but I really wanna be sure.

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  • Donal

    Hi I am wondering if cheat days should be continued through the “Surge” and “Complete” phases of the “Engineering the Alpha program”. It was not clear to me if I should stop having weekly cheat days after the Adapt stage and just stick to 16/8…..or if a weekly cheat day should still happen every sunday right through the “Surge” and “Complete” phases.
    By the way, the whole program is going great for me.

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  • Emerita

    Hi – I just started IF and it’s been good so far. I am concerned because my only time to workout is in the morning, starting around 6:30pm…and my feed time is from 12pm-8pm. Would a post-workout protein shake be “breaking the fast”? Am I losing muscle by not eating after my workout? It would be really difficult to change my feeding time given my family and work.