All You Need to Know About Intermittent Fasting

There are several dietary plans that you can adopt for healthy living and intermittent fasting is certainly one.

Intermittent fasting simply implies a dietary plan whereby you spend long hours in a day fasting and you follow-up this fast with a short period of eating.

For example, in a 24 hour window, you spend 16 hours fasting, then 8 hours eating either one or a couple of large meals or a few small meals.

Another popular type of intermittent fasting goes by the name of ‘alternate day fasting’. This type of intermittent fasting is one where you fast for a full day (i.e. 24 hours) then you spend the following 24 hours eating as normal.

Whichever type of intermittent fasting protocol you choose to adopt today, you should know that this type of dietary plan offers tremendous bodybuilding and general health benefits that will be highlighted in this post.

Why is Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan Popular?

The popularity of intermittent fasting is rising amongst the bodybuilding community because of the research backed and anecdotal claims that intermittent fasting can –

  •  optimize the period of fat oxidation in your body,
  • boost your overall energy levels,
  • reduce the amount of insulin released into your body,
  • and promote good health and longevity.

The History of Intermittent Fasting

The idea of intermittent fasting is not a modern development. In fact, historians have pointed to the fact that famous Greek philosophers, physicians, and writers like Hippocrates and Plutarch had indicated the importance of fasting to one’s general health.

In the case of Plutarch, he is credited with the quote –
“Instead of using medicine, better fast today” while Hippocrates once wrote that “To eat when you are sick, is to feed your illness”.

In more modern times, Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers was credited with saying that “The best of all medicines is resting and fasting”.

However, the intermittent fasting protocol as we know it today is believed to have been made popular in the world of competitive bodybuilding by Martin Berkhan who is reverred as the godfather of intermittent fasting.

The Principles of the Practice of Intermittent Fasting Diet Protocol

The practice of an intermittent fasting dietary plan involves a predetermined plan of action to spend a fixed period of time in a 24 hour window engaged in fasting and then utilize the remaining hours in the day eating to nourish your body.

As mentioned already, there are quite a few variations of the intermittent fasting protocol that you could adopt today, but perhaps the most prevalent amongst bodybuilders is the 16 hour a day intermittent fast followed by 8 hours of feasting on healthy, nutritious meals.

Typically, when you embark on this variation of intermittent fasting, you may decide to eat between 1 and 2 large meals within the 8 hour window for eating.

Alternatively, rather than eating large meals in the 8 hour a day feasting period, you may decide to consume a few small meals during this time-frame.

Also, as indicated earlier, you may decide to dedicate a full day to fasting and then follow this up with a full day of eating.

Ultimately, you will have to decide which intermittent fasting protocol suits your health, nutrition, training, recovery, and lifestyle demands.

Are there Limitations and Restrictions to Intermittent Fasting?

The truth is, the only limitations and restrictions pertaining to intermittent fasting is the time-frame that you allot to your fasting and feasting.
Other than this, there are really no special restrictions and limitations that you should worry about.

Of course, you may place restrictions on the type of foods you decide to consume during your feasting time, as processed or refined foods should be avoided as much as possible during this time. Ideally, your food intake should only consist of healthy meals and drinks.

To this end, you may stick with either a flexible dieting or IIFYM nutrition framework that ensures the foods you consume are all structured to meet your respective daily dietary demands in terms of your daily calorie count including your macro and micronutrient requirements.

What is also important to note is that an intermittent fasting protocol does not necessarily have to come in phases. But what you could do is synchronize your intermittent fasting protocol with your specific training schedule.

For example, if you are on a 6 week weight training regimen, you could also run an intermittent fasting protocol for 6 weeks, then plan for your normal eating to coincide with the end of your 6 week strength training plan.

Is an Intermittent Fasting Protocol Ideal for Everyone?

It is fair to say that intermittent fasting is not for everyone. However, if you fall into the category of those people with a very busy schedule, but who prefer to consume between 1 and 2 heavy meals per day rather than several small meals spread throughout the day, you may want to consider adopting an intermittent fasting dietary plan.

Intermittent fasting is also ideally suited to that category of people trying hard to refrain from consuming unhealthy foods like processed and refined foods, and who want to effectively manage their eating habits to avoid overeating or binge eating.

In addition to this, an intermittent fasting protocol is perfect for anyone working on a strict diet and training regimen. If you are looking to maintain a specific calorie count during the day, then an intermittent fast may be what you need to help restrict your daily calorie intake.

Bodybuilding Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

It is worth mentioning that there have been studies conducted to verify or dispute many of the anecdotal claims positively pointing to the efficacy of intermittent fasting in promoting both cutting and lean muscle mass gains.

But for the purpose of this post, we are tempted to sway on the side of anecdotal evidence provided by many anonymous bodybuilders through an independent survey conducted by us.

#1. Cutting Benefits

The finding from an independent survey of 100 people that have followed a traditional intermittent fasting protocol of 16 hours fast and 8 hours of feasting suggests that intermittent fasting is perfect for any bodybuilder running a cutting program for subcutaneous and even visceral fat loss.

As a matter of fact, it was gathered that those bodybuilders that were on an intermittent fast tended to lose as much as 3.5 lbs of body fat more than individuals running a similar training program, but on regular eating patterns.

#2. Lean Muscle Mass Benefits

Intermittent fasting can help improve your body composition, muscle tone and vascularity. This is according to the survey we conducted involving a total of 100 active bodybuilders that have either tried out intermittent fasting or were currently on this diet protocol.

#3. Intermittent Fasting improves General Health

The bodybuilders that participated in our survey all pointed to the fact that their general health and wellbeing greatly improved with their intermittent fasting protocol.

Many said that their digestive system improved with less constipation concerns. Others said they felt lighter on their feet and that their overall mood had suddenly improved.

It is therefore no surprise that many proponents of intermittent fasting hold onto the belief that intermittent fasting can greatly promote good health and longevity.

In conclusion, it is important for anyone wishing to start an intermittent fasting protocol to consult a professional. This could be a dietician or nutritionist, a general physician, or an experienced bodybuilder. While it is possible for intermittent fasting to promote good health, fat loss, and lean muscle mass gains, it is important to know if you are an ideal candidate for this type of dietary plan.

People suffering from chronic ulcer and other digestive problems, may not be best suited for an intermittent fasting protocol, except they have been cleared by their physician. If you want to chat with an IFBB PRO on how intermittent fasting may be best suited to your training needs, you can do so for free right here at Anabolic Coach today.

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