Part one of this mini-series outlined the general theories and overall benefits behind intermittent fasting (IF), this second part will outline the differing methods to each of three of the most popular protocols.
As stated in part one, lengthy periods of fasting provide various health and physique benefits. Fasts varying in duration can provide more flexibility to make intermittent fasting accessible to anyone, whatever your schedule.
The three methods I will discuss have been painstakingly designed and researched by their authors – I have provided links to their websites where you will be able to purchase the original product for a (normally) reasonable price. I have tried to provide a good outline of the methods to use as a base allowing you to go on and research the original material should you want more detail.
You will notice I haven’t included any calorie calculations for any of the protocol, there are two reasons for this;
1) Most of the people responsible for the differing methods of IF like to steer people AWAY from calorie counting, these are flexible structures designed to be followed forever rather than fad diets relying on equations and numbers.
2) Calorie calculations are highly controversial and require a whole post to themselves. For people interested in calorie calculations head over to John Romaniello’s take on it here, it’s the best I’ve read.
Whichever IF protocol you may choose to follow, these nutritional ‘boxes’ should be ticked;
Fast Length – 16-18 Hours (6-8 hours feeding window)
Frequency – Daily
Best For – Anyone and everyone – fat loss/muscle gain/performance/general well being.
This type of fasting (popularised by Martin Berkhan) is my favored method. The number of meals in the feeding window is flexible and can be altered to fit your daily routine, three normally works best.
16/8 fasting provides all the benefits to insulin sensitivity and growth hormone described in part 1 which lends itself well to people who train.
From a practical point of view, this structure seems to make most sense. First and foremost, it’s performed daily which is important for habit building It will quickly feel like the norm and won’t seem like such a big event which is sometimes the case with 24 hour fasts.
Assuming you’re in bed for roughly 8 hours, this leaves 8 waking hours of fasting and an 8 hour feeding window. As discussed in part 1, larger and less frequent eating windows tend to lead to a better level of satiety and therefore less likely to overeat.
The main drawback to this type of fasting would be timing issues if you train in the morning. The 16/8 protocol recommends getting most of your calories in post workout, which could cause practical issues if you train at (for example) 7am, have your first meal at 9am and therefore have to start your fast again at 5pm. Not eating during the evening is a big problem for some people.
Wake Up – 7.30am
First Meal – 4pm (Protein, veg, fruit and complex carb)
Second Meal – 7pm (soon after training), similar in composition to the first meal but larger
Third Meal – 9-9.30pm (lean protein, fibrous veg and fat source)
Bed – 11pm
For more layout options see here
Fast Length – 24 Hours
Frequency – 1-3 x per week
Best For – Fat loss/general wellbeing
The ‘Eat Stop Eat’ protocol has been strongly linked with an improvement in insulin response, even after only a small number of fasts. It’s beauty lies in its simplicity, don’t consume any calories for 24 hours once or twice a week, and the rest of the time go about your normal routine. This method will automatically slash calorie consumption by up to 30%.
Fasting for a full 24 hours is hard for a lot of people, which makes the idea of fasting twice per week for this amount of time quite stressful and therefore less likely to stick to the protocol for any length of time.
This type of fasting doesn’t generally lend itself to muscle or strength gaining phases and will causes complications if a person needs to train on their fasting day.
Monday -‘Normal’ calorie intake (at or just below maintenance) till 8pm, then start fast
Tuesday – Fast until 8pm, then a meal containing lean protein, green veg and a small amount of carbs
Wednesday – ‘Normal’ calorie intake (at or just below maintenance)
Thursday – ‘Normal’ calorie intake (at or just below maintenance)
Friday – ‘Normal’ calorie intake (at or just below maintenance) till 8pm, then start fast
Saturday – Fast until 8pm, then a meal containing lean protein, green veg and a small amount of carbs
Sunday – ‘Normal’ calorie intake (at or just below maintenance)
Frequency – Daily
Best For –
Fat loss/can be tailored to muscle gain.
The Warrior Diet calls for ‘grazing’ or under-eating throughout the 20 hour fast, and a 4 hour window where you consume the majority of your daily calories in one or two meals. The period of under eating allows for a few SMALL meals containing ONLY lean protein and raw vegetables and sometimes fruit – the onus being on keeping blood sugar as stable as possible.
The Warrior diet is built around the belief that our ancestors ate in this way for thousands of years before us and therefore our body should be better able to process calories when consumed in this manner.
Provides all the benefits of the other IF protocols and provides some mental relief in that snacks are permitted through the day.
In my opinion the snacking approach could be the downfall of this protocol – it is giving the user a lot of choice and room for error.
7am – wake up
8am – 1 scoop protein with water, 2-3 carrot sticks
1pm – 1 SMALL chicken breast, SMALL handful blueberries
6pm – 1/2 tub low fat cottage cheese, 2-3 cucumber sticks
7pm – TRAIN
8pm – 1 large meal containing protein, complex carbs and some fats
11pm – Small meal – protein based dessert
As you may be able to tell, I’m a huge proponent of IF and I genuinely believe the majority of people will benefit from some sort of fast.
Each one is potentially as effective as the other, the important thing is to choose the one which best fits your lifestyle. Now you’ve got a basic understanding of the most popular structures, pick one and have a read around it.