Intermittent Fasting and Fat-Loss, everything you need to know. . .
Anyone who has done any reading on fitness or weight-loss is likely to have heard the term Intermittent Fasting. But what is it, how does it work and most importantly how can someone use it if they are looking to lose some weight, drop some body fat or just maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Intermittent fasting is a term that describes periods within your day where you “fast” (eat nothing at all) and then feed (eating your daily calories spread out between as many meals as is practical). The times in which you fast or feed are often referred to as windows, so for example I could decide that I will fast from bed time (sleep is included in your fasting window) until 4 hours after I wake up. If I sleep for 8 hours (like all good boys and girls should) then my fasting window is 12 hours and my feeding window is 12 hours.
Of course that is just an example. You can be as extreme with this method as you would like with some people choosing to have a 20-22 hour fasting window and a 2- 4 hour eating window. I personally don’t think this is practical and in terms of spacing your calories out (especially protein) it’s certainly not optimal. The most common split you will find is a 16 hour fasting window and an 8 hour eating window but if you want to try Intermittent fasting I suggest playing around and finding what works best for you.
So that’s what it is, but why do it? Firstly I want to say that fasting isn’t magic. There are a lot of people out there that would have you believe that intermittent fasting will turn you into a demi-god of fat burning, anti-aging and energy. Whilst that’s not quite true, it can be a great way to strategically ration your daily calories. Let me explain. We have covered in an earlier article that the most important part of fat loss is creating a calorie deficit (you can find that article here). But how you spread those calories throughout the day is a really personal choice and doesn’t affect your weight-loss as long you remain in a calorie deficit. If we have 2 people that both diet on 2000 calories per day we can spread their calories out very differently and still see weight/fat-loss over time as long as their total daily calories remain under 2000.
How should you use it? Well taking the example above I would identify which is your favourite meal of the day/time of the day to eat and allow yourself your feeding window and more of your daily calories around that time. I’ll use myself as an example so you can see how I use fasting when I’m trying to drop body fat:
I usually have between 7-8 hours of sleep and then when I wake up I will have around 1 litre of cold water and a small black coffee. I won’t eat my fist calories until 4-6 hours after I have woken up. My daily calories are around 2,250 and my favourite time to eat is dinner. I know that if I don’t save myself a decent amount of calories for my dinner I will be hungry and tempted to eat which will take me over my calories. So I will save myself around 1,250/1,500 calories for dinner and throughout the day I will eat 750-1000 calories spread over 2/3 small meals (mostly protein and veg). I finish eating around 1-2 hours before bed which means my fasting window is between 13-16 hours and my eating window is around 8-11 hours.
That’s how I use it, but the great thing is that you can adapt it to make it suit you. If you love breakfast then you can do the opposite to me and as long as you stay within the daily calorie total you will lose weight. Try it out and see want you think! To workout a starting point for your daily calories to lose weight, click here.
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Captain Felix Deer joined the Army in 1985 and served in a number of Training Officer roles, qualifying as a Unit Fitness Officer in 1986. Since leaving the Army in 1994, Felix has sold property, built houses and flown airliners for a living, but has always maintained his keen interest in Fitness.