Since I've practiced intermittent fasting these past few years I no longer eat a traditional breakfast, or anything for the matter before 11am.
Over the past few years I have worked with numerous people who have wanted to attempt intermittent fasting. They practiced it in a variety of ways. Some have shared their stories, while others have inquired about the basics to see if it was for them.
When I first started intermittent fasting it was to get as lean as possible. After about a year my goal was to add some size, but also to keep the conditioning I had… going from 185 on average to 200lbs goal achieved via intermittent fasting.
You are reading that right. Getting shredded with intermittent fasting was rather simple. You can also gain lean quality muscle size with this approach as well. I am living proof.
How was I able to do this? By not making the 3 most basic mistakes I see numerous other people making when they dive into the world of intermittent fasting.
Don’t get me wrong, like anything it’s a learning process. The biggest thing for me was that I am able to live my life a little more freely due to intermittent, as opposed to my old Tupperware eating every few hours life. For anyone not super familiar with intermittent fasting already here is an original article I wrote a few years back on the basics.
Here are the 3 most basic mistakes to avoid if you wish to be successful when intermittent fasting.
Mistake # 1 – You Fear Being Hungry Even A Little Bit
We all get hungry. That’s just a part of life. Whether you practice intermittent fasting or eat out of a Tupperware container every 2 hours like clockwork, you will be hungry from time to time.
I remember hearing the phrase years ago when trying to put on size: “if you're hungry it’s too late.” This idea was based off the concept that your body might jump into some crazy catabolic state if you start to feel a strong hunger sensation.
I am here to tell you from personal experience that being hungry for a few hours is ok. All of your muscle will not disappear. I am living proof, as are hundreds of others out there who practice intermittent fasting and carry around decent muscle size.
I am 6’2 about 200lbs on average all year round. (Or bigger) I have been eating this way for years and have done nothing but gain quality size. Typically once per week I fast a full 24 hours just to clean my system out completely. And guess what? My muscle still remains intact.
Trust me guys, all your hard work will not vanish if you take a few hours off from feeding. The reality is that your digestive system could use a break from digesting food every second of the day.
You can go 16-18-20-22-even 24 hours without food. Your body is an amazing machine that can and will adapt to various conditions. Short term fasting like this, for let’s say 16 hours, will not cause major muscle breakdown. There are numerous studies out there that show this.
I typically train fasted as well – no food pre-workout at all depending on the day and the training session/type. Sometimes I even wait a few hours post workout to have my first meal.
Although post workout I typically get nutrients in within an hour or so – the point I am trying to make is being hungry is normal and ok. Don’t fear the hunger. Think of your body as a fat burning furnace. It burns fat until you start shoving food into it. This might help cure the fear.
Mistake #2 – You Are Eating Junk Food A Majority Of The Time
Like any nutritional plan, whether it be intermittent fasting or the standard 6-8 meals a day bodybuilding routine, if you eat processed junk you will not be successful in the long run. They say you can’t build a million dollar body from the dollar menu, and this really is 100% true.
If you struggle with fat loss while using intermittent fasting, odds are you have some issues with the quality of your macros and/or the amount of them you are consuming. You can’t eat 2 bags of Oreos to break your fast and think it’s ok, since you fasted for 16 hour and are “starving”…it doesn’t work that way.
With any nutritional plan your best bet is to start small with what I call simple stupid. If it runs, swims, flies, grows from the earth, eat it. If it’s in a bag or a box leave it. This works for just about any nutritional plan and intermittent fasting is no different. I am not saying you have to jump head first into the Paleo train, but eating meats, veggies, and healthy fats typically works for me and my clients.
Intermittent fasting is not a pass to just eat shit all day because you're eating in a smaller window. With anything it’s what you put into it – fill your body clean quality whole foods you will look like Rambo, fill it with sugary processed trash and look like a large number of the current population.
I will say this again there is NO nutritional plan where you can eat a majority of junk foods and look your absolute best – organic, fresh, clean, whole foods will build you up to your full potential…but on that note a few cookies or slices of pizza won’t kill you either, in moderation of course.
Mistake # 3 – You Are A Clock Watcher – Waiting To Binge
Let’s say you start with the standard 16-8. Fast 16 hours eat 8 hours. If you sleep 8 hours a day and stop eating 4 hours before bed – and wait 4 hours before eating, you really are only awake 8 hours of your fast. In reality it’s not that long to go without food, and honestly that is what fasting is about in a sense: learning to “go without”.
Not to get all philosophical, but there is a lot to learn about yourself, your dedication and drive, from fasting on a regular basis or making it a way of life. However, many beginners become clock watchers just waiting, planning and thinking about their chance to eat again because they are worried they are “starving.” You're not starving. Your body can go days without food.
The reality is you are bored, or fixated on a meal. If you can see past the 16 hour window and just focus on your job, training, your family, and your life you will do much better right off the bat with intermittent fasting. If you sit and watch the clock, waiting and thinking about food, of course you will drive yourself crazy and magnify the feeling for wanting to give in.
At first it’s a hard transition from going between one meal every 2 hours after waking up to sleep to nothing for hours and hours. Trust me, after about a week you will fine. Just live your life.
Pre-occupy your time with things that matter – there is much more to live than food prep, cleaning Tupperware, and eating every 120 minutes. You will probably find you are more productive with intermittent fasting then your standard nutritional plan.
On this same note don’t feel you must fast all 16 hours each day exactly. If you make it 14 hours on day one, great that’s a start. Maybe day 2 you go the full 16 hours. Maybe you become engaged at work or on a family trip and don’t eat for 18 hours…the point is intermittent fasting is intended to make your life easier, more efficient and make you a lean, ripped, sexy beast.
It’s not meant to hold you prisoner to a clock or an eating schedule. That is the beauty of it – don’t be a clock watcher – plan your fast. Eat when it’s over. If you are hungry or extend it a few hours if that fits your lifestyle better. The point is you make intermittent fasting fit your life, not the other way around. You now have the flexibility to make those decisions and not be a clock watcher in fear of losing muscle, going catabolic or whatever other fear is instilled in your for missing a meal.
I hope if you guys decide to jump into the intermittent fasting world you will do so with full force. For me it has it taken my physique to another level, but from a health standpoint as well.
I feel like a rock star, and am the strongest, healthiest and happiest I have been my entire life. Having the flexibility to travel, attend events, train, or whatever I choose to do and not have to worry about meal prep and going “catabolic” is worth more than anything.
It’s not for everyone but it just might be for you. Give it a shot and remember start small and progress as you get more comfortable with the intermittent fasting lifestyle.
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