Simply put, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you focus on consuming all your calories within a given window. You ONLY eat within this window, and once this window is over you are to remain in a fasted state. A fasted state implies that you are consuming ZERO calories. During this fasted state you will be limited to water, black coffee, diet sodas/juices, basically anything with zero calories is fine to eat. This article represents a fasting plan, you can read more about general IF here.
There Are Multiple Approaches to Intermittent Fasting
If you have looked into intermittent fasting at all before, you are likely aware that there are different variations.
The most common variation of IF is to have a 16 hour fasting window and an 8 hour eating window. This variation usually works the best for people who have busy day to day lives. If you tend to get hungry quickly, this is probably the best choice for you too.
A slightly more challenging variation of IF involves an 18 hour fasting window and a 6 hour eating window. Obviously this variation is going to be harder because you’re consuming no calories for a longer period of time. If you can get past the mental side of this variation, I would definitely recommend it. The longer you fast, the faster weight is going to come off, but you should be careful with this. Being in a fasted state for a long period comes with the risk of losing muscle mass. More on this will be covered at the end of the article.
Perhaps the most intense variation mentioned in this intermittent fasting plan PDF is the 20:4 variation. For 20 hours in a given day, you are consuming no calories. I truly do not recommend going this route, but if you are looking to burn fat in a rapid, but stupid way, then go for it. It is ESSENTIAL that if you choose to go this route, you consume lots of protein. At least 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. If you’re depleting your body of protein for 20 hours each day, you’re likely going to lose mass. Prevent this as much as possible by supplementing with enough protein and including a BCAA stack.
Worth Mentioning - Fasting Complete Days Once in a While
You may prefer to just fast for a whole day every once in a while. This is perfectly acceptable, and actually has some health benefits. Fasting is a sacred practice in many religions, and it is common to partake in prolonged periods of fasting. Remember, however, that it’s crucial to get a lot of protein in you right after you break your fast. It’s also worth mentioning that you have a higher likelihood to binge eat after a long fast. Stay strong and don’t go overboard on the food!
Visualizing Each Variation of Intermittent Fasting
16:8 Intermittent Fasting Times**
Eat? Yes or No
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
5:00 PM to 9:00 AM next morning
18:6 Intermittent Fasting Times
Eat? Yes or No
11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
5:00 PM to 11:00 AM next morning
20:4 Intermittent Fasting Times
Eat? Yes or No
1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
5:00 PM to 1:00 PM next morning
** Represents our recommended intermittent fasting variation.
A Quick Note About Fasting and Catabolism
Catabolism refers to muscle being broken down (think of a cat breaking down muscle). When your body is in a caloric deficit and depleted of protein, muscle is the first thing broken down as a reserve. Generally speaking, your body should be perfectly capable of fasting for 16-18 hours. I always recommend consuming food with protein immediately after you break your fast.
Performance athletes, and bodybuilders in particular frown upon intermittent fasting as a sustainable nutrition program. While intermittent fasting itself is fairly easy to maintain, it is not suitable for elite competitors. People competing at a high level need a constant influx of protein to prevent atrophy by all means. If you compete at a high level, chances are you are fueling yourself as soon as you wake up and consistently throughout the day.
Closing Thoughts- The Choice Is Yours
At the end of the day, intermittent fasting is a personal decision. The positives greatly outweigh the negatives, and there are many variations to choose from. You could choose to do intermittent fasting in cycles, or year-round.
In my opinion, intermittent fasting makes the most sense when you are trying to drop your body fat to supraphysiological levels. Employing intermittent fasting when you are roughly 10% bodyfat will definitely make it easier to reach single digits.
Remember that intermittent fasting is not contingent upon the foods you eat. You should of course try to keep your diet as clean as possible, but you are essentially just changing your eating pattern.
Download The Intermittent Fasting Plan PDF For Free!
I know what you’re thinking, this information might be a lot to take in. Because of this, we’ve provided you with all of this information in our intermittent fasting plan pdf. You can download this PDF below and have it saved for easy access whenever you need it. This also gives you the option to print the information and keep it around at home.