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What is intermittent fasting?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 08, 2010 at 2:15 PM

This attempts to refine and elaborate on a question posted back in February. My question is prompted by a December 5 posting on the Perfect Health Diet website, which discusses a 500-calorie salad in the context of an intermittent fast (the recipe includes spinach, cranberries, and coconut oil). The salad is included as part of the fast (I believe "breakfast").

I recall reading a secondhand comment attributed to Martin of Leangains that said he allows a small amount of cream (less than 50 calories' worth) during fasting.

What Intermittent Fasting protocols do you find most useful for weight loss, athletic performance, and/or general health and well-being? Do these techniques include any caloric intake?

(For what it's worth, my fasts are of two varieties, both essentially skipping breakfast and lunch. In one version, I have a bit of heavy cream in coffee in the morning; in the other, I drink tea only (no calories). In both cases I have dinner as normal. The latter version seems to feel more "correct" to me. But I have no real data.)

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on December 08, 2010
at 08:03 PM

typo - please remove *how* in the above

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on December 08, 2010
at 08:02 PM

Right? seems silly "How do I not fast while fasting?" Little off topic, but I like how your viewpoint of fasting in regards to doing without.. I feel like this can be applied with positive benefits to many other aspects of life.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on December 08, 2010
at 05:46 PM

i hear you. but as far as cutting the fat goes, paleo got me from 280 to 254 with no loss of lean mass in about 3 mos while leangains has gotten me from 254 to 243 in about a month with no loss in lbm. it's a great way to cut.

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on December 08, 2010
at 05:26 PM

It's really tough - and that's with even a roughly estimated LBM of about 130. This is one case where I'm going a little non-paleo with the addition of a protein shake. But I'm definitely gorging on cottage cheese at night.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on December 08, 2010
at 04:55 PM

i do the leangains fast also and love it. i've been doing the fast everyday and usually do a 20-24 hour fast once a week. how is your protein intake going? i have 205 lbm and have problems getting in 200g of protein in the 8 hour window.

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5 Answers

2
Bdcb2101fd3f1853cfd645094d8ad086

on December 08, 2010
at 04:43 PM

I typically fast 14 hours per day; the leangains approach is 16 hours a day; the old Robb Wolf style intermittent fasting was, I believe, 18 hours a day.

My "fasting" is from after dinner (done eating by 6:30 pm or 7:30 pm) until after training the next morning (breakfast by 8:30 to 9:30 am). I still eat three meals per day. Occasionally, I extend the IF to 16-18 hours. I find that creating a baseline of a DAILY fast of well more than 12 hours makes the occasional longer fast much easier.

If I do consume calories during the fast it is typically less than 100 calories, and the calories are 100% protein (i.e. BCAAs and/or Glutamine) pre- and sometimes post-workout.

Yes I am fully aware that such things are not "paleo." A paleo version of what I do would be to eat some lean meat pre and post workout, e.g. no more than 2 oz. of very lean chicken breast (= 7-14g protein, which is like 28-56 calories).

A small number of calories, from protein if you are working out, from fat if not, will likely not ruin the benefits of the fast. The benefits, after all, come from: increased HGH output, increased insulin sensitivity, and increased fatty acid utilization.

If you only consume 28-100 calories during a 14-16 hour window, and you also work out during that window, you're still in a "fasted state" which is just another way of saying you're starving yourself.

Physiologically, there is very little difference between zero calories and radically low calories.

1
9e1dedf12f6ee75b7fe460960971fd21

(624)

on December 08, 2010
at 05:09 PM

Fasting can rightly mean differnet things. There was a study showing weightloss with just reduced calories on two 'fasting' days a week. And, many people think that juice fasting is a good idea, i.e. drinking piles of sugar.

When I fast it is partly about 'doing without' (i.e. exercising restraint in a time of excess) and not just for physiological reasons. So, when I do fast I go 'all the way' and don't have any calories during the fasting period. Eating something really healthy, like the salad the perfecthealthdiet guy made, is interesting. But you can just eat that salad during a normal feeding period.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on December 08, 2010
at 08:03 PM

typo - please remove *how* in the above

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on December 08, 2010
at 08:02 PM

Right? seems silly "How do I not fast while fasting?" Little off topic, but I like how your viewpoint of fasting in regards to doing without.. I feel like this can be applied with positive benefits to many other aspects of life.

1
50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on December 08, 2010
at 04:28 PM

I would venture to say that the salad would negate the effects, mainly due to the cranberries. I have also been trying to apply a leangains approach, and noticed I have better results with little to no cream.

I think ideally, there would be no consumption of anything other than water. But this just seems like it takes a lot more dedication with minor added benefits.

I am definitely still tweaking and adjusting to see what works best for me. Trying to get my last 5 lbs off. Been spinning my wheels here for about a month or two

1
07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on December 08, 2010
at 03:03 PM

I've stopped having cream or even half & half in my coffee for my fasts, and I find following something approaching leangains has worked well - in fact I think it's working better than my previous fasts where I would still consume heavy cream or half & half.

Granted, I feel a little more hungry from time to time, but I recently busted through a plateau I had been having trouble with.

I'm also making sure I prefer protein over fat (yes, heresy!). An example day (yesterday, in fact) had about 40% of my calories from fat, 10% from carbs, and 50% from protein.

And for the record, this plateau busting fasting only lasts from about 9:30pm to about 1:00pm the next day, give or take.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on December 08, 2010
at 05:46 PM

i hear you. but as far as cutting the fat goes, paleo got me from 280 to 254 with no loss of lean mass in about 3 mos while leangains has gotten me from 254 to 243 in about a month with no loss in lbm. it's a great way to cut.

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on December 08, 2010
at 05:26 PM

It's really tough - and that's with even a roughly estimated LBM of about 130. This is one case where I'm going a little non-paleo with the addition of a protein shake. But I'm definitely gorging on cottage cheese at night.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on December 08, 2010
at 04:55 PM

i do the leangains fast also and love it. i've been doing the fast everyday and usually do a 20-24 hour fast once a week. how is your protein intake going? i have 205 lbm and have problems getting in 200g of protein in the 8 hour window.

1
7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

on December 08, 2010
at 02:39 PM

Someone posted this link to Intermittent Fasting 101 the other day. I really liked the information.

http://www.fitnessspotlight.com/2008/02/27/intermittent-fasting-101-how-to-start-part-i/

They also have a free ebook, I didn't download it yet.

When I fast, I do have coffee and/or tea. My coffee usually has a little bit of milk or cream in it. I don't think it affects the fast at all.

I fast when I am trying to fix some bad eating habits that have crept back in, to get me back on track. Or I fast when I am specifically trying to lose body fat. I would do it one day a week for 14/16 hours.

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