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How to Start Intermittent Fasting and Kick Hunger Aside

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Intermittent fasting has taken over the diet and nutrition world.

And fast. (Sweet pun.)

As I write this, I’m experimenting with the Warrior Diet — a fasting strategy that revolves around eating one meal per day.

And as I look back, just two years ago I lived and died by eating six small meals per day.

These days, everyone is quick to write and talk about the methods and research behind fasting.

But what’s often overlooked is the most fundamental part of the journey: how to start.

How I started

I wish I has a grand story detailing the hardships I faced when starting intermittent fasting, but, sadly, I don’t. My fasting journey didn’t blossom from a grand experiment (like most of my interests do), it blossomed from necessity.

After breaking my foot during a tricking session, I was on crutches for two months. Being a phys ed teacher, this sucked. My days consisted of crutching back and forth between the weight room, the gymnasium, my office, the lunch room, and the rest of the school grounds. The broken foot became immeasurably swollen inside of its cast and my healthy foot quickly became overworked and just as painful. So the hours I wasn’t working, I was on the couch hating life. And I would starve before I could motivate myself to endure the discomfort of hopping around to cook a meal. Bye bye breakfast.

It was tough. I loved breakfast. Hell, to this day I love breakfast. One of my favorite cheat day feasts is cooking a monster breakfast. Not to mention, omelettes are my favorite food. Back in my younger days, when I worked at 5:00AM, I awoke at 4:00AM just to cook and eat breakfast because I couldn’t live without it.

Now, of course, I live without it. Regularly. And even to the point of only eating once in an entire day. Here’s how you can too.

Fasting gurus

It would be a sham if I didn’t mention Martin Berkhan, Brad Pilon, Ori Hofmekler, and John Romaniello. All four of them have influenced my fasting habits, and I’ve experimented with each of their methods.

And I guess I should also preface with this: I’m not saying intermittent fasting, eating once per day, or doing any of this stuff is necessary. People have seen results for years following principles in stark contrast to intermittent fasting. It’s just like GOMAD and other nutritional tools. It’s right for some, not everyone.

Although I’m going to detail more reasons in the follow-up to this post, I fast because it fits my lifestyle. Through experimentation, I found that I’m ultra productive during a fast. And the past week — my dive into eating only one meal per day — has shown encouraging performance and physique benefits.

The logistics

Breakfast eaters and frequent feeders see fasting as a daunting task. They hate hunger from a comfort and state-of-mind standpoint.

Despite some puported benefits of fasting (boosting growth hormone, being better for body recomposition), one that’s now widely accepted is that the body doesn’t eat your muscles away to nothingness in times of hunger. And to start fasting, hunger is truly the only hurdle.

So if you want to fast, first assure yourself that you won’t starve to death and that you will indeed feed and live another day. This is difficult, as both hunger and eating patterns are ingrained behaviors and you’re violating your “set” internal feeding clock.

But the body is adaptable. It will change its interworkings to better deal with hunger if it has to. And so the first step to fasting is adopting the right mindset. This is kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy. William Thomas, a now deceased sociologist, has his own theorem that says: If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences. If you’re one minute into a fast, suffering from hunger, convincing yourself of impossibility, and obsessing over food, you’re not going to get very far. Just try to relax and tell yourself that eating isn’t a big deal and that you won’t starve to death.

The natural fasting progression

Start with Martin Berkhan’s 16/8 scheme. The numbers 16 and 8 stand for the fast and feast durations, so you fast for 16 hours and feast for 8. Most opt to break the fast at 12:00PM and eat until 8:00PM, but you can move the eight hour window to better fit your lifestyle. Just don’t hop around. If you pick 12:00PM – 8:00PM, stick with it daily.

Keep in mind, however, if you eat breakfast at 7Am, your last meal will be at 3PM. And people struggle sleeping on an empty stomach, usually succumb to snacking. That’s why most people prefer the 12:00PM – 8:00PM window.

If you wake up at 7:00AM and break the fast at 12:00PM, you’re only fasting for about five waking hours  But for people that live for breakfast, this will be an eternity.

You can conquer these five hours by going cold turkey. But just like smoking, few people can handle it. Here are some alternatives.

The best way to forget about hunger is to literally put yourself in a position to forget about hunger. Keep active during your fasting window and put yourself in a situation where you can’t eat. Hell, sleep in if you have to.

Before I truly began intermittent fasting, I was student-teaching under a teacher that didn’t eat lunch. So I got used to eating a big breakfast, having nothing but an apple for lunch, coming home and lifting, and then having a bigger dinner. I didn’t have a choice. Not exactly intermittent fasting, but I was forced to alter my eating patterns around my schedule.

So if there’s a way — if even for a day — you can force yourself to go without eating during your fasting window, you’ll see that it’s not so bad. It makes future fasts easier.

In this same line, schedule a ton of things to do. The day of my first ever 24+ hour fast went like this: I slept in, golfed, lifted, and then went to batting practice. It was 7:00PM before I even thought about food. A cup of herbal tea went down the hatch, a few episodes of The Office entertained my brain, my head hit the pillow, and food never glitched my radar.

Subtle tricks

Back in March, I met John Romaniello at the Arnold Sports Festival. Knowing John was a fasting proponent, I tried sparking a conversation about coffee because nearly every fasting guru is a coffee addict. The punchline here is that John doesn’t drink coffee and my conversation starter was shot down, but the reality is still that most fasters are coffee drinkers because it (along with teas) can blunt hunger.

But you have to be cautious with sugars and creams as technically these negate the whole premise of fasting. And you also have to monitor how caffeine affects the quality of your sleep.

Another hunger helper is sugar-free gum. Although I’m not a huge fan of gum, it has saved me during a few longer duration fasts. Just make sure you test out different brands. Some gums tend to get “hard” quickly, which is like making your jaws do squats for hours.

Another trick: chew on and eat ice cubes. Cheesy, but it works.

For those hardcore breakfast eaters, try adding whey into your morning coffee (as a creamer of sorts, I can give the “recipe” to those that want it). This prolongs it’s hunger busting effects even though it negates the whole nutrient deprivation part of the fast.  It’s a useful beginner trick, but don’t get addicted. Know the means to the end. (It is delicious though.)

Lastly, if you’re struggling with a 16/8 fasting scheme, suck it up. If you wake up at 6:00AM, you’re only fasting until 12:00PM. That’s six hours without food. How spoiled are you? Grab some haunches and just do it. If you can’t survive six hours without sustenance, how do you expect to survive the zombie attack?

The 24 hour fast

After adapting to the 16/8 fasting regime, pushing your hunger boundaries is easier. You may never want or need to fast for 24 hours. But in the name of experimentation, I think everyone should. For the record, a 24 hour fast isn’t a full day fast. It’s a 24 hour fast from your last meal. So if you eat dinner at 7:00PM, you wouldn’t eat again until 7:00PM the next day.

When it comes to fasting, I sometimes see myself as Kramer in “The Dealership” episode of Seinfeld — seeing how far I can drive a car that’s listing empty on the fuel tank. (My fasting record is 46 hours.)

24 hour fasts are mentally challenging. But here are some GameGenie codes. (And don’t forget the the “Subtle Tricks” section above.)

For a first ever 24 hour fast, eat a bigger “cheat-y” meal the day prior. Not only will you be fuller longer, but you will give yourself some psychological backing to justify your fast. For example, “I ate slop yesterday, so I’m fasting today.”  It’s an admittedly unhealthy mindset, but it works. (Note: this is somewhat like John Romaniello’s Feast-Fast method, although he recommends a longer fast.)

The downside: If you’re aiming to cut calories, this “cheat meal” neglects the benefits of the 24 hour fast by filling up on them the day prior. Use it as an introductory technique to transition your body into longer bouts of hunger.

The best way to break into 24 hour fasts has nothing to do with coffees, teas, cheat meals, or any “special” modality. No, the best way is to simply adjust your feeding schedule.

The wrong way to handle a 24 hour fast is to have your last meal at 8:00PM the night prior. This means you have to survive all morning, all afternoon, and into the evening without food. That’s a long day. Fix it with these two tweaks.

First, eat your last meal at 3:00PM – 5:00PM the day prior to the fast. You will spend more waking hours full. Eating at 8:00PM means sleeping on a full stomach. Sleeping on a full stomach wastes waking hours of satiety. By moving the meal to 5:00PM, hunger is moot for the rest of the day and the fast is broken earlier the following day.

Second, make that 3:00PM – 5:00PM two meals combined into one. So if you’re used to eating at 12:00PM, 4:00PM, and 8:00PM, combine the 8:00PM meal with the 4:00PM meal. You’re eating the same amount of calories and the increased satiety will carry into the night and morning.

It shakes out like this: Wake up, 12PM meal, 4PM meal (combination 4PM and 8PM meal), start fast, sleep, wake up, 4PM (one meal), sleep.

Beyond 24 hours

Fasting beyond 24 hours is an adventure. If you have the psyche and dedication, you can pull-through using the same strategies above. But it’s is less about secret tactics and more about commitment.

For a long time I fasted 40+ hours every week (and actually saw gains). It was per John Romaniello’s Feast-Fast method, which is basically the strategy I listed for those struggling with 24 hour fasts: having a large cheat meal the day prior. But my cheat meal was very cheat-y and the fast spanned an entire day.

I grew tired of the slight dysfunctionality associated with gorging into oblivion and following it with extreme deprivation. (Although, for a long period of time, I enjoyed it greatly.) Eventually, food became alcohol. I needed more and more and pushed to get fuller and fuller, which led to food hangovers — waking up to dry mouth and grogginess. (This is an entire post in itself, and if people are interested, I’d actually love writing about it.)

But I still fast for more than 24 hours at times. But it isn’t structured and I let hunger be my guide. (More on this in an upcoming post.)

Conclusion

This post was inspired by a recent 46 hour fast in which I had zero hunger. And, lately, people have been asking about my nutrition habits, so this was an appropriate preface seeing as how I now only eat meal per day.

Hardcore faster’s are adapted to hunger. Hell, some fasters (like me) thrive in states of hunger. I’m more productive, more focused, and more alive. But those with little experience will struggle because breaking body’s rhythms takes time. After being prescribed intermittent fasting, a few of my clients get lightheaded and struggle finishing workouts. This is normal — some aren’t meant for it.

For others, hunger isn’t an issue. Fitting in calories, however, is. Some can’t eat larger infrequent meals. I, as well as most hardcore fasters, don’t fall in that boat. I can easily eat a 12 egg omelette, three chicken breasts, and heaps of vegetables — a typical “off day” meal for me.

Living and thriving with hunger is easy once you break the barrier. If nothing else, fasting puts you in tune with your body by helping you listen to and tame hunger. And that, I think, is the biggest luxury of them all.

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161 comments… add one

  • Sashwat Dharel April 30, 2012 1:56 pm

    Would this method of eating from 12am to 8pm for football players?

    Reply
    • I think you mean 12:00PM. And to answer: it depends on what your schedule is like. I’m going to be getting into some of the problems for IF for athletes in my upcoming post.

      Reply
  • Anthony, the LeanGains approach to intermittent fasting is a very easy setup for the beginner to start with. I love Martin’s method…and his madness :)

    I’ve tried the Warrior Diet in the past, but found better results with Pilon’s Eat.Stop.Eat. Sometimes enjoying two days out of the week that are free from worrying about eating can be stress-reliever.

    -Mitchell

    Reply
    • I’ve done ESE too. TBH, I find the 24 hour fasts followed by smaller meals to be a bit daunting. But with bigger meals I’m relaxed because I know I’m going to be fuller. Just a quirk of mine.

      Reply
  • Park Firebaugh April 30, 2012 5:18 pm

    Great article! I was a big breakfast guy and my first attempt at leangains style 16 hour fast failed. Then I found myself at my son’s swim meet where I didn’t have time for breakfast that day. I didn’t feel too hungry so stretched it out until after noon. From that day forward I’ve been fasting. Excessive amounts of black coffee in the morning helps. I was pretty lean before so why eat this way? I’ve always wanted to see if I could get shredded like the bodybuilders in the magazines, but I couldn’t. Even when I was racing bicycles and doing hundreds of miles of cardio every week, couldn’t do it. Now I do no cardio and after doing a daily 16 hour fast for almost two months, I am cut and vascular. It’s scary how easy it was to pull off.

    Reply
    • Yeah, I think that’s really the biggest benefit. Beyond everything, it’s realizing that hunger isn’t going to melt every fiber our being away.

      Fasting has also done some wonders to my physique, but I have to wonder if it’s just me getting smarter, carb cyling, or the fasting. Don’t know if I can narrow it down.

      Reply
  • Great article! I agree that people need to “suck it up” if they can’t deal with some stomach growling.
    I’m a big fan of Brad Pilon’s research and fasting strategy.
    If people are feeling light-headed during a 16 or 24 hour fast, they really need to check their carb intake for the night before. You shouldn’t be having drops in blood glucose unless you are processing glucose into their fasting day. How high does a person’s insulin need to be to cause a blood sugar drop so many hours after eating?
    I’m leaning more toward a Primal Blueprint/Paleo lifestyle. You seems to gravitate in that direction too, Anthony.
    There are so many ways to fast. I like John Romaniello’s strategy of fasting, undereating and then overeating as well.
    I think doing a mixture of them all is the most comfortable way for me.
    I followed a fasting day with a breakfast of an omelet with veggies and some turkey bacon and black coffee. Lunch was an avocado salad with asparagus and lettuce. Then I had a big dinner with chicken massaman curry and a small amount of brown rice.
    I break some paleo rules still, but I’m losing fat and feeling great!
    I highly recommend that others take your lead and learn about all the different IF lifestyles so they can mix it up until they find what works for them.

    Reply
    • I don’t know the answer to your insulin question. Out of my ballpark for sure, and it’s largely individual.

      I have some beef with the whole Paleo lifestyle. I follow it to a point, but I also respect the cultural advances haha. I think I need to write a post on that. Seems like we share a lot of commonalities.

      Reply
  • Awesome! I’ve been doing this naturally and its good to see i’m on the right track! Great advice, re-inspired :)

    Reply
  • Great article Anthony, I’ve been doing one 24 hour fast a week for 7 weeks now and find it pretty easy to do. Problem is I was eating my last meal Sunday night at 8pm and not eating until Monday night at 8. I’m going to try to make my last meal Sunday at like 4pm so I don’t have to wait until 8pm Monday. Thanks for the quick and easy tip there!

    Reply
    • Yeah, small tweak and can help tons!

      Reply
      • Is there any DISADVANTAGE to diong your twenty four fast ( with the last meal at 930 p.m) in other words, if I fast from 930 pm until 930pm (while sleeping on a full stomach) can I still lose weight ??? I am losing weight eating HEALTHY combined with eating like shit somewhat too, even running 5 miles with frequent meals DIDN’T do this

        Reply
        • Not enough detail…

          You need to tell me what you plan on eating at night after your fast and how much that compares to what you normally eat.

          Reply
  • I’ve experimented with pretty much everything from Pilon to Berkhan to Hofmekler for the past ~9 months. Warrior diet was pretty difficult for me, but I found leangains and Pilon’s methods to be relatively easy to follow.

    I even worked up to busting out a 36+ hour fast once a week for 2-3 months, which, as long as you (as you said) keep yourself busy, it is hardly noticeable.

    Big fan of fasting, and will probably always include it in some form or fashion within my diet.

    Reply
    • ‘Tis the new wave. Any particular hang-ups on the Warrior Diet? Or just hunger?

      Reply
      • Mainly hunger. I found it difficult to get all the necessary nutrients in as well. Eating 3000+ calorie meals is definitely doable (I have an abyss for a stomach), but getting everything I needed in one meal was just hard to do. I had to resort to eating more calorically dense stuff and that just didn’t jive with my stomach after a while.

        Reply
        • This is actually going in my next post. Just drafted it. About vegetables becoming an eyesore because they’re so high in volume and so low in caloric load.

          Reply
  • I like how you mentioned the larger meals aspect – for some, it’s a struggle. But for others, who are “big eaters” – it’s like the miracle sent from above after forcing themselves to comply with the 5 -6 mini meals a day for years, which basically meant never really feeling satisfied [for me]. I’d rather have three mid size meals or two large meals and feel super full, hands down. Psychologically fasting has provided a huge relief for me. I can eat my big ass meals and feel fully and happy and move on with my day with no worries.

    Reply
  • Nice. I’ve been fasting on and off for years now (including the Warrior plan when it first came out), and in addition to all the other benefits often talked about, I just like the “light” feeling of not always being tied to a table or filled with digesting food.

    And I also think it’s not for everyone or every goal, but it’s certainly a tactic I feel everyone should experiment with at least twice (because the first time will probably suck).

    Reply
    • Yeah, I think it should be experimented with. And I agree most people will hate it at first because they are conditioned to eat upon hunger (or even before that). How did the Warrior Diet go?

      Reply
  • Great post Anthony. I have no problems fasting and don’t really notice the hunger. Like you said above, black coffee works a treat.
    Quick question though, IF for gaining muscle? Worthwhile or is it better to follow a more traditional approach (clean bulk) and then switch?
    Thanks,
    Cameron.

    Reply
    • I think IF can be used to build muscle, definitely. Use IF, carb-cycling, and calorie cycling, and you’re riding into the sunset.

      Reply
      • Cheers. Thanks Anthony.
        I’m going to give it a shot. I fine it much easier not to eat in the morning as I’m up early and traveling to work on the train.
        Carb & Calorie cycling as per your previous posts?
        Thanks again.

        Reply
  • At the tender age of 55 (56 in August), IF has me leaner now than I was when I graduated highschool.

    As an aside, I believe in the healing power of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. ;)

    Reply
    • Hah! Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are amazing for sure. Not something I’d take down daily. But given the chance on the cheat day, I’m game. And cool to hear about IF doing good things for you.

      Reply
  • Thanks for the article Anthony and for everyone’s input in the comments. I attempted my first 16/8 cycle from Martin about 7 months ago and only made it 2 weeks. I found that I was overcompensating during the 8 hour window (all psychological, I’m sure) and I actually gained some fat, even while on a pretty rigorous lifting regime. I am one of those big breakfast eaters (was eating breakfast while reading the post ;) but I love the psychological component of going without a bit more then a full belly in the AM. I started reading the Warrior DIet last week and will also look into Pilon’s methods…

    I’m mainly interested in IF for body recomp and mental toughness in an age of lazy/soft minded thinking and habits. I’m naturally 11-13% bf and want to use it to take me down to a consistent ~8% bf with no cutting/bulking/cycling. Anthony, I’m looking forward to your next post on the Warrior Diet and would love to hear some stories on the 40+ hr fasts you mentioned in the post…
    Thanks again!
    -Ryan

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment, Ryan! I’m working on the post now. Trying to mesh my personal experience with some practical matters. We’ll see how it goes!

      Reply
  • Hi Anthony, very informative article. i have done the 16 hour fast & felt great teaching classes while just being on coffee! i guess the body as a complicated system needs to be watched and studied carefully in order to take any of this fasting/feasting things in the long run. still, your article is loaded with great info & i love your writing style. keep it coming coach

    Reply
  • Anthony, Excellent post. I’ve been IF using Berkhan’s 16/8 approach for several months – sometimes more strictly than others.

    I’m like you and LOVE, no seriously LOVE, breakfast. I end up just making breakfast for lunch instead. That way I get to IF and still enjoy breakfast foods.

    Reply
  • I love your blog Anthony so thanks! Re the fasting article I have tried all the types out there going, haha all work. I also enjoy eating so usually do the whole 5 to 6 meals. For me the real benefit to IF has been when I go on vacation, as I like to drink alcohol and eat fatty carb rich foods with zero training so the IF helps me keep a handle on calorie intake.

    Reply
    • Thanks Sam. I think it’s just the fasting in general that helps with that, not necessarily the concept of intermittent fasting. There are tons of people that think IF means they can eat slop, but most people can’t get away with that.

      Reply
  • The main reason I’m into IF is my body simply abhors carbs in the day. I used to have a sandwich for breakfast, but it would be accompanied by comatose-like sluggishness. And most breakfast menus don’t have protein choices. I also don’t have a problem eating huge meals, so fasting is le awesome for me.

    I saw a reader had a question about IF for football players and thought I’d share what works for me. While I don’t train for football per se, I play a sunday league soccer game once per week, while my training is 3-4 times per week on Wendler’s 5/3/1.

    My diet is loosely based on Kiefer’s carb backloading protocol. My schedule looks like this:

    Training days (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday)
    6am: wake up
    11am: protein with fruits
    5pm: protein with fruits
    7pm: training
    8.30pm: post-workout meal (fast food meal or just a high-calorie meal in general)

    Rest days (Tuesday, Sunday)
    6am: wake up (I sleep in on Sundays)
    11am: protein with fruits
    5pm: protein (lots) with whatever

    Game day (Saturday)
    8am: peanut butter sandwich (4 slices of bread, 2 tablespoons of nut butter) and black coffee
    10am-noon: game
    1pm: post workout 1 (burrito or fast food)
    7pm: post-workout 2 (plenty of protein and some dessert)
    10pm and after: alcohol (if I’m out with friends)

    I find that I need to eat something before the game. I don’t know if I have low blood sugar, but I tend to get dizzy spells if I play soccer fasted. I also don’t do well on fasted training in the morning.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the opinion here.

      It depends on the goal, really. And personal preference. Doesn’t matter if carbs and fats inhibit GH release if eat pre-workout (they do), if you can’t stomach it, you can’t stomach it.

      Reply
  • Great post Anthony,
    While IF does seem to be a popular topic these days its good to see a rationalized and realistic opinion on the subject. I personally got into of a suggestion by a few friends and than just dove head first into The Warrior Diet. Like you I was already an inadvertant IF follower due to time constraints and work so the transition to a more finite schedule wasn’t too difficult. I’ve been on it now for a little over six months and thruthfully I don’t think ill ever go back to three squares or worse the six meals I was packing away when I was trying to gain. It is mostly the freedom of not having to worry about food and eating till a concentrated part of your day that makes it so worth it. Hunger is motivating and the satisfaction of huge meals make it easier to appreciate. I will definately say that Ori’s ideas are great but I believe it takes a good deal of customization. Everyone is different and to stick rigidly to one system is not the best bet. This is especially true when you have one person who is a triathelete, another who is a bodybuilder and than just a regular person trying to lose a little weight. All things said and done I highly support IF and suggest most people give it a chance for a month or so, see if its for them. Yet again great article, I would love to see some more on the subject. Especially the niche areas for IF; trying to build muscle, high activity atheletes, managing to get lots of calories with low energy density foods and so on.

    Will D.
    PS: Never mind the punctuation and spelling errors, this was written on my phone

    Reply
    • Thanks for the reply, Will. I have a post coming that touches on a few niche areas, but not all. There’s a lot of niches, haha! I found the WD to be tough. But, as you said, everyone has their own ticks and tocks. It’s up to you to find the right clock!

      Reply
  • WD was OK for me, but ultimately, I found obsessing about eating once a day to be no better than obsessing over eating at any other frequency. WD, to me, seems arbitrary in that its entire purpose is limiting.

    It was all right to try, but I had already been doing fasts for up to a couple of days at a time, so it didn’t really teach me anything new.

    In the end, I found that I do best to keep things flexible. I tend to eat a couple of meals most days, and that works for me. But if I wake up and want to make a fucking omelet, I start cracking eggs.

    Reply
  • Hi, I’m interested in IF to lose weight, plus not having to make breakfast or ack myself lunch everyday, i can sleep just a little bit longer…lol. I have been doing slow carb diet, but having to eat such big breakfast it’s getting to me…the only thing about slow carb diet is that I’m never hungry, and I get one major cheat day per week and still lose a little weight every week. I have read EatStoEat, Fast 5 and leangains, fasting seams easier tan I thought it would be, so gave it a try last week just to gain 3 pounds. I like IF, it’s ideal for my lifestyle, I just don’t know how I could make it work for me I order to lose the 10 lbs I so desperately want to lose. Any advise? Does this not work for women as well as it does for men?

    Reply
    • Well Mary, it works for everyone. But you have to make sure you aren’t overcompensating with the calories. IF isn’t a gateway to eat more. It’s a gateway to eat LESS FREQUENTLY. That’s about all.

      IMO, a big cheat meal, if your goal is a loss, is always going to hinder progress. I know Ferriss recommends it, but I disagree. Big cheats are fine, but they will put a chink in fat loss progress unless you fast or do something radical after to compensate for the huge caloric load.

      Reply
      • Thank you for the reply, I appreciate it very much. I’m giving 16/8 IF a try, I started today…I am terrible at counting calories though, I find it to be very time consuming and it’s not something that makes me happy. Do I have to count calories on IF? I really find IF something I can live with and not be miserable.

        Reply
        • No matter what eating plan you choose, you have to be somewhat conscious of your calorie intake. For most everyone, this means spending at least a few weeks getting familiar with HOW MUCH food you eat and the resultant caloric hit.

          Reply
  • Shelton Matsey May 7, 2012 3:55 pm

    Great article and just in time as I just started Leangains over the weekend. So maybe it was fate that I caught your article as I am making it through day 3. I am waiting for my body to adapt so hopefully soon.

    I was wondering if you could share that coffee recipe as I don’t drink coffee, but many of my clients do and that may be a great alternative for them instead of a bunch of cream and sugar.

    Reply
    • Thanks for reaching out Shelton. I’m in the midst of making a video about some food things. I’ll be sure to mention it.

      Reply
  • I love fasting. I used to feel groggy halfway through the day–but I replaced the small, six meal-a-day schedule with two really huge meals, and there’s been a huge improvement. The physique benefits are there too, but mental clarity is my favorite benefit.

    Reply
  • You hinted at potential problems with an athlete following Martin Berkhan’s version of IF. I have been interested in his material for a while and would love to give it a shot. That being said, I don’t only lift for physique, which isn’t an issue really since he professes at least based on his workout designs to pursue strength, and since all his testimonials include pretty nice strength increases along with physique development. On the other hand, I do practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in addition to lifting. If one were to follow his feeding protocol for morning workouts (weights 6am), and they have their skill work/specific physical preparedness in the evening (within the feeding period 12-8), do you see a problem following his approach?
    Any other thoughts why IF (primarily concerning 12-8 feeding window) would be less appropriate for an athlete?

    Kindly,
    Miro

    Reply
  • Hi Anthony!

    Love your articles! Didn’t think I would find help for skinnyfat people like me until I saw your blog. Liberating! Whew! haha!

    Anyway, just few quick questions. I think I would want to try IF but do it 16/8 first. So for the 8 hours you feast, what do you eat? Is there a calorie intake target that needs to be met? Is it the same on training on/off days? Thanks a bunch sir!

    Reply
  • IM starting the 16/8 but its starting to look like i wanna do the warrior diet but what can you recommend to eat all at once? Today i had 6 chicken wings, 2 chicken breasts, 2 baked potatoes, bout 4 cups of brocolli and green beans. ANy suggestions on what i should be eating on warrior diet? thanks!

    Reply
  • Can I drink beer on warrior diet? Lol seriously? Thanks

    Reply
    • You can do whatever you want, JJ. As for whether or not you can drink beer and see the results you want, well, probably not. Then again, I don’t know about what you want so I’d need more details.

      Reply
      • Im 5’11 220 and I simply wanna lose about 20 pounds and get healthier. I’m eating 3 chicken breasts 2 potatoes lots of broccoli spinach and green beans . I drank about 6 beers and included it into my caloric total. What u think? Your site rocks!

        Reply
        • I think you should get rid of the beer. Thanks for the kind words.

          Reply
        • Wine has a much lower carb content, and even though I used to LOVE my beer before starting IF, I find it much easier to have only one or two glasses of wine instead of the whole 6 pack of beer, and the carb load is much much lower. I’m saving my beer for the cheat day I take on Saturdays and it works great for me so far.

          Reply
  • Hi there!

    I hope you share some advice! I’m thinking of doing Intermittent Fasting as well and trying to find something that would suit my needs.

    what about this plan:

    Eat breakfast 6.30am

    WHOLE DAY NO FOOD

    Eat Dinner 7pm

    - this I do everyday accept on the two 24h fasting days.
    On those days I would:

    for example: last meal Saturday 7pm – FASTING – break the fast at 7pm Sunday

    The same I would do for: last meal Wednsday 7pm – FASTING – break the fast at 7pm Thursday

    Is this plan good enough to see results??

    Thanks,
    Regards
    Alex

    Reply
    • That’s basically the Warrior Diet. It tends to cause some mental disturbances in some people — cramming food down their throat even though they’re full. It does work for some though, so that’s up for you to experiment with.

      Reply
  • Howzit, Anthony! Great post as always. And thanks for all your work specifically for the Skinny Fat Brohirrim. Your blog is like a map to the six pack and muscle treasure, or so I hope. :D

    I’ve got a couple of questions;
    • Is it wise to do any type of exercise during the 16 hour fasting period? Hill sprints in my case.
    • What are the implications of following the 16 hour fasting/ 8 hour feasting scheme only certain days of the week? The other days incorporating all normal meal times (breakfast, lunch, supper) plus snacks in between. Would that be okay?

    My scenario: Say I aim to fast from 20:00h up until noon the next day. I’m lifting weights 3 times a week after work (16:00h); Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On these days plus the weekend I can certainly follow the 16/8 scheme. The days in between (Tuesday and Thursday) I try to go for sprints outside right after I get out of bed in the morning. Can I go for sprints in a fasted state and not eat anything up until noon? I don’t deem it wise.

    What do you suggest I do?

    Reply
    • Hey man, thanks for being here. I hope it is your map :)

      1) Depends on what you’re doing it for?
      2) Depends. I’d personally go with one or two 24 hour fasts instead of meshing 16/8 and regular patterns. You get the benefits of fasting with less frequency with the 24 hour bit.

      I wouldn’t sprint fasted for weight loss. It will interfere with your strength work. If you want to lose the fat, opt for incline treadmill walking or some lower intensity work. And then don’t eat anything until noon.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the reply. :D

        I’m pretty much a pregnant straw; skinny all round with a bloated stomach. So the goal is to lose belly fat and then gradually try to build muscle once I’ve got a flat stomach. IF seems like something I can do, since I’ve never had much of an appetite in the mornings anyways.

        Okay, so I’ll keep my strength training as is. Maybe sprint once a week in the afternoon instead. I walk to work and back and most Saturday’s I go hiking, so that could count as my lower intensity work. Think I’m ready to attempt IF then. The templates you prescribed in one of your other posts look great. Will definitely incorporate that as part of my meal plan.

        Thanks for the help!

        Reply
  • Hi i was on the warrior diet last year and lost 30 pounds in 3 months i go from 5 pm to 5 and i feel great. I Just had a baby so i had to stop but have started agian i love the feeling of fasting cause the hunger tells me im losing weight i find it real hard to sleep on the nights that im bad and eat during th day. I only eat a normal meal like portion such as two slices of pizza for my meal. I dont eat lots of sugar though no pop for sure. I cheat once a week with sweets though. Iv lost 10 pounds in two weeks so far this time.

    Reply
  • Hi I just want to know if I can take this fasting as a change life matter, I need to lose weight about 20kg. Is a good thing do fasting ?

    Reply
    • There are many ways to lose weight and there are many eating philosophies. Fasting is one of them and just “works” for a lot of people, both physiologically and from a lifestyle standpoint.

      Reply
  • Hello!
    Stumbled onto your site while looking for more info on IF.
    I used to be fat (over 220lbs in my teens) and I’ve always struggled to find a balance with food.
    I’m turning 30 this year and I’m proud to say that I’ve finally found my ‘fit’ self. I’ve learned to love exercise, especially running. I used to dread running during phys ed and now I look forward to it. The first time I ran a mile without stopping and without feeling like I was going to die, I literally cried. It was something I never thought I’d be able to do.
    Anyway, I count my calories every day simply because I’ve lost weight in the past and ALWAYS gain if I stop counting. I just love food too much. I’ve been eating 1800-2100 calories a day and exercising at least 3 times a week.
    I’ve also been eating smaller meals throughout the day, with dinner being my biggest meal since I like to feel full at the end of the day.
    Been reading about IF though and I think it’s something that would work for me.

    I now weigh 145lbs (and I’ve maintained for the past year), and I’m struggling to get to my goal of 130. During the past year I’ve noticed my body leaning out – I’m certainly more toned thanks to my running and strength training but I haven’t dropped not one pound (but I’ve lost inches!).

    It’s frustrating because I just want to reach that goal already. Do you think IF might help me get there? And I also have one more silly little question – I have no problem fasting, I know I can do it, but would it be ok for me to add just 1 tbsp of non-dairy powdered creamer to my coffee without it breaking the fasting spell in the mornings? I just can’t do black coffee :)

    Reply
    • Congrats on your progress. I’m not sure IF will be a magic potion for you, but if you are free to experiment no reason not to try it out.

      As for your stalled weight, stay positive. If you’re losing inches that’s what matters most. Scale weight is only one marker.

      As for the coffee — depends on if there is any sugar in it. I personally drink it black or tell people to do heavy cream or coconut oil.

      Reply
  • Thanks for this post! I’m on day 2 and I’m one of those people that love food! I love to eat clean and healthy but I love to eat! I work in a nursing home so I’m always round food! It’s quite a transition but I’m so determined! I go bout 17-6 cus of current schedule :) I drink lots of water tho so it prob helps :)

    Reply
  • What a wonderful post & blog. Just found it and will add it to my select group of bookmarks (under 10 pages, no kidding).

    As another user commented, I also have to work out before going to work, only time I have available in the week. I do 2 weight workouts, 1-2 runs and 2 swims. I am not to worried about gaining weight but would like to know if anything could go wrong if I work out and stay fasting for four more hours.

    Thanks for your diligent answers.

    Reply
  • Hi anthony, I have a quick question about the 24hr fast. I do it once a week, usually my last meal is Tuesday at 4pm until Wednesday at 4pm. Wednesday is my rest day and I usually consume 1800 cals that day (-600 calorie deficit). Will eating the 1800 calories in 1 meal,post fast, still be considered as a deficit? And will my deficit be too high (-24hr of eating+ 600 calorie deficit post fast)?

    Thanks,Chris

    Reply
    • Deficit isn’t meal sized dependent, so, yes.

      But I don’t get the second half of your question.

      Reply
      • After re-reading the 2nd question, I understand your confusion lol. My weekly calorie deficit is -2600. By doing the 24 hour fast, does it add to my weekly deficit, since I’m going 24hrs without food? And does eating the 1800 calories in 1 meal post fast negate the deficit creating by the 24hr fast? I hope that makes more sense.

        All in all, If i understand correctly, by going 24 hours without food, you’re creating an immediate deficit. My TDEE on a rest day is about 2450, so I assume that the 24 hour fast will create a “2450″ calorie deficit.

        Thanks again,Chris

        Reply
        • I think you’re thinking too much in terms of numbers. Numbers are a myth in nutrition. Your “TDEE” is an estimate and fluctuates daily. It’s a general gauge, but not absolute.

          You’re trying to think in terms of weekly numbers, daily numbers, AND hourly numbers.

          So a 24 hour fast adds to your weekly deficit as long as you still maintain a calorie deficit.

          Reply
          • That makes sense. Also, what exactly is considered “Overeating” after 24hr fast, eating over that days calorie maintenance?

            And, if I were to do 2x- 24hr fasts a week, while using the 16/8 protocol on my feeding days, eating at a calorie maintenance, would that still give me a weekly deficit?

          • I usually use over feeding with the context of a single day in mind. So wake up to sleepy time.

            Second question: depends on your calorie intake on your feeding days. I hate numbers though, so I’m no one to gauge “deficits.”

  • Hello,
    Today is my 4th day of 24 hour fast.
    I fast each day until 4pm and not eating until 4pm the next day.
    The black coffee helps.
    one small bowl of fruit or veggie at ll:30pm.
    I am not watching the scale so far just in congratulations of staying with the program each day. I am starting to feel better physically and mentally.

    I want to lose 40lbs in 4 months or something like that.

    Reply
  • Let’s just say, on the days were I feed, I will be eating at that days calorie maintenance. No surplus or deficit just 2x. 24hr fasts. And yea, numbers aernt always friends of mine lol

    Reply
    • I think the confusion is here: even if you 24 hour fast, you still eat that day. Fasting from 5PM one day to 5PM the next still leaves 5PM-bedtime to eat.

      Reply
      • Got it finally!! lol thanks alot Anthony. Out of curiosity, what does your post 24hr fast meal look like? Do you take in that days number of calories for whatever your goal is, or do you just have a small meal and go back to normal the next day?

        Reply
        • I fast 20-24 hours every day — I only eat once. So I just follow my Chaos Bulk guidelines.

          Reply
          • So pretty much the WD. Also, how often do you recommend cheat meals? Is 1hr of indulging considered a cheat meal or can someone just get a box of pizza w/ a side a call it a meal?

  • So i just started if this week and i have a question. WHY DO YOU KEEP SHOWING PICTURES OF FOOD? It makes ne so hungry… jerk. haha but seriously thanks for the info

    Reply
  • These articles are sweet, dude.

    Just signed up and starting to go through them all.

    Reply
  • Hey Anthony, I’ve been doing leangains cutting for 4 weeks now and drop approximately 1-1.2pds a week since the start (pretty lean to begin with). I weigh myself the same day everyweek while fasted for 16-17hrs, to try and get consistent #’s, but this week I woke at 2 pounds heavier!!! I didn’t cheat, and didn’t change anything. What the heck happened? Is this a sign of starvation or just a normal thing once in a while??

    Reply
    • Weight fluctuates on a daily basis, USUALLY anywhere from 1-5 pounds.

      In other news, weighing yourself sucks, so stop that immediately — especially if you’re already lean. And especially stop obsessing over two pounds. Your poop can weigh two pounds.

      Reply
      • Lol nice referral, but how am I supposed to track my weight/fat loss. Assuming losing fat while result in weight loss as well, isn’t the scale in someways necessary?

        Reply
        • If you’re already lean, use the mirror.

          Reply
          • Cool! Also, when calculating weekly calories, do you calculate the amount needed for the week then spread them out daily depending on your goals, or do you calculate each days TDEE individually? All the calculators seem to give you the weekly amount needed to maintain or whatever your goal might be.

          • I don’t count calories. I don’t weigh food.

            I embrace chaos.

  • hey anthony to tell you the truth i had a huge crush on you, i mean in this great article of yours! Lol. Kidding aside, i’ve been doing IF exactly a week now, i just gave it a shot and suprisingly my scale told me that I lost 8 pounds out of my weight already w/o even trying. I hate numbers so i don’t count my calorie intake.lol.. I just eat until I terribly feel satisfied! Sure most are water weight, Not quite sure if I’m doing this right as I was just starting. I do an hour of cardio in fasted state anyway with 20/4 approach… I’ll just keep going and will try to listen to my body! Thanks for this! All the best.xoxo

    Reply
  • Dude, you just blew my mind with this information. Are you saying that I can gain muscle and lose fat without eating 6 times a day? I love fasting. I hate breakfast. Fasting has always been my natural inclination but it contradicts traditional bodybuilding philosophy. Now I’m confused.

    Reply
  • What about those of us who workout in the morning? Is protein after the workout okay?

    Reply
    • I’d go with fruits + veggies + small rations of protein (hard boiled eggs, cuts of meat).

      Reply
      • Sorry, should have been more clear with my question. I am referring to the eating times. I like the idea of eating from 12pm to 8pm, but I workout at 5:30 in the morning. Would it be okay to have a protein shake after my workout and not eat anything else until 12pm, or would that defeat the whole purpose of the fast? Thanks again.

        -j

        Reply
        • It would technically defeat the purpose of the fast. Given your training time and life set-up though, you aren’t in an ideal spot. Perhaps you might be better off doing two longer fasts per week on rest days, or simply taking the protein shake and not worrying about it. And by protein shake I mean 100% whey, nothing else.

          Reply
  • Hey Anthony,

    This is a great Blog, thanks. I too am a PE teacher, and have adhered to the 5-6 meal a day thing. I have just started IF, and reading about the self-doubts you wrote about has affirmed that I am on the right track. I have been reading a lot about it the past few weeks, and decided to jump in and give it a go.

    Thanks again,

    Josh

    Reply
  • Hi Anthony,

    I have been trying to lose weight for over 6 months now. I run 6 times a week and for the past month and a half I have run over 30 miles a week only lost 5 lbs (30 lbs total). I eat only between 1000-1200 calories a day. I am super frustrated with my progress and want to lose weight fast. Do you think that fasting could help me? My only concern is will I have the energy to run when I havent eaten anything?

    Reply
  • I’m trying to lose body fat and cut up. Would fasting and continuing to workout help me cut body fat, build up, and get shredded?

    Reply
  • I eat one meal a day and only time I’m hungry is an hour before I eat. The key is to eat plenty of protein and fat in your one meal. Also, don’t STUFF yourself to the point where you feel like your stomach is going to burst. That’s the NUMBER ONE MISTAKE people make while doing One Meal A Day. They think they have to eat everything in the freezer. Personally, I eat two pounds of meat (usually a mix of steak, chicken, pork) and a VERY generous portion of leafy greens and it hits the spot. I stay in fat burning mode without feeling any fatigue whatsoever.

    P.S. Whatever works for me may not work for you. YMMV

    Reply
    • Yeah – I agree. But I think that the “eat everything in sight” is a hurdle that takes time to come to terms with. I had trouble with it in the past.

      Reply
  • Hi Anthony,

    What type of bodyweight workouts would you suggest if i were to fast between
    11pm to 7.30pm ( being a Muslim in the fasting month)?

    Is there any specific timing to do workouts before you break the fast, or we can just do workouts upon waking in the morning, and break the fast in evening?

    thank you

    Reply
    • Depends on what you mean by “workouts.”

      As for body weight, uhh, anything that’s challenging?

      Reply
      • i dont know for you, but for me, it’s quite challenging.
        the breakdown are as follows (in sequence):

        1) jumping jacks x 120
        2) prisoner squat x 60
        3) normal pushup x 50
        4) dive bomber x 50
        5) mountain climber x50
        6) spider pushup x50
        7) pull up x10
        8) knee raise x30
        9) leg raise x10
        10) skater hop x25
        11) handstand (wall assisted ) pushup x100
        12) pull up 10 chin up 10 knee raise 30 leg raise 10
        13) jump squat x20
        14) diamond pushup x100
        15) plank 10mins (change between one hand one leg and side plank each minute)

        but it seems that my weight doesn’t fall off, although i break my fast ( with a date/ sip of water) only 9 hours after the routine done.

        thank you for your advice :)

        Reply
        • You need better exercises…or more volume with good exercises…or a barbell.

          Chin yourself to death. Push-ups, dips, pistols. Then get into gymnastics exercises. Get out of the box.

          Reply
          • thanks ant,

            i’ve been following the instructions in your ebook on using barbells for deadlift and presses, it’s just that i do it once a week in the evening on a saturday, one hour before breaking my fast.

            would you mind to give any advice on gymnastics exercise? thank you.

          • You have to be more specific.

  • I just try to this kind of fasting, and i have one question..
    What if I smoke a cigarettes while do intermittent fasting?

    Thanks for help

    Reply
    • If you smoke, then you have no care for your body anyway. Stop smoking, then worry about the rest.

      Reply
  • Hi Anthony, I have been reading most of the comments here, (by the way you have an excellent article here) and I am very confused… :( and my question is: Is it safe to workout, meaning weight lifting and do cardio after it, fasted?, can you explain me what should be an advisable way to combined the IF with the workout training? I workout from 6 to 9 pm, monday to friday, and I really love the idea of starting it (IF), and adapt it as a lifestyle into my life, caan you help me with this please…??? Thanks in advance

    Reply
    • My first question would be: so you don’t eat anything during the day? Your first meal comes at 9PM, post workout? If not, then you aren’t really fasted when you train.

      Reply
      • I have not done the IF yet, I would like to, I may have made the wrong question, the thing is, based on what i told you, working out from 6 pm to 9 pm, what is the best way to do the IF, I mean to adapt it based on this situation (sorry for my english, I am trying my best to make myself understood)

        Reply
        • It all depends on your hunger tolerance. I can only talk from my experience, and that RIGHT NOW I’d munch on small protein rations and raw veggies at noon. Big meal post workout. That’s just me though given my goals and situation.

          Reply
  • Hi Anthony! I’m a hardcore skinny-fat guy 6’1″ height 170lbs weight and around 15% body fat. I just found out about IF and your website and was interested in trying Martin Berkhan’s 2 pre-workout meals and 1 post workout meals protocol. I have a 9-5 job so would be eating 1pm-9pm. Would you suggest this technique for a skinny fat guy?

    p.s. I’ve been bulking for a couple of months and was planning on starting my cutting phase next week but after reading your articles I’m thinking of going this way instead.

    Reply
    • Sounds fine, although I generally like to approach training in a more fasted state, so I’d be a little conservative with your second meal (which I assume would be pre-wo).

      Reply
  • Any dental professional would tell you to never, ever chew on ice. So hard on your teeth!

    Reply
  • Hey Anthony . I’ve been doing IF for about a year and a half and was wondering what you do for your cheat days exactly?

    Reply
  • Hey man,

    Great article! I have been experimenting with the 16/8 approach to IF and doing well on it but find I am very full and a bit uncomfortable after the first meal (I aim for two meals a day). Did you find that your body got used to larger portions over time?

    Cheers,

    Paul

    Reply
    • The stomach is living, breathing tissue. It gradually adapts over time. Aim for three meals if you’re uncomfortable, and then reduce when ready.

      Reply
  • great article, i don’t eat breakfast hardly anyway, gonna start if tried everything desperately need to lose 100 PDS. been watching friend fast a lot, it

    Reply
  • I am a 44 year old male, just under 5′ 10″ 185 lbs. I have been wanting to give a try at the 16/8 IF, my problem I currently get up at 4:00 am to workout before kids and wife are up and off to work, I have no problem with the fasting until 11 or 12, but my question is, from what I have read I should be eating something within 30 minutes of my workout, I usually have a protein/meal replacement shake and currently eat 6 small meals a day. If i am working out that early and not going to eat is it ok to drink a Modern BCAA + after my workout and still be considered a fast? If i do this I want to do it right!

    Reply
  • Motivating article. I’m currently experiemnting with a 16/8. I have some questions:
    Do I keep doing 16/8 evryday and make it my lifestyle ? or is there a template like do 16/8 6 days a week take two days off and repeat vs do 16/8 everyday and eventually switch to 20/4 ??
    Also
    When is the best time to workout for a 16/8 routine ?

    goal is to cut.

    Reply
    • The best time to workout is a loaded question because the actual question is: when CAN you workout? and then figuring out when is best according to your lifestyle and social and personal situation.

      I’d say, for both of these questions: you’re freaking out about things that don’t need freaked out about. If you want to fast daily, do it. If you CAN’T do it daily from some kind of psychological unhappiness, then, well, you can’t do it daily now can you?

      Reply
  • This was very informative…. But for God’s sake why the tantalizing pictures of food?

    WHY?

    Reply
  • Hi I am 27 year old female. And I am doing the Ese protocol twice a week. Would like to lose fat. And am not over compensating on the calories. I do strength training thrice a week and would like to do some high intensity training or sprint workout once a week to lose fat.

    Would love your thoughts on the same. If any tweaks required?

    Thanks in advance !

    Reply
    • Are tweaks required? I don’t know, how about you follow through with it for a month, see what happens, and then ask that same question?

      Reply
  • On my 3rd day of IF and in fed state from 11 am – 7 pm. I workout fasted but my workout window is between 3 – 5 pm. Wish I could go right into workout totally fasted but not a reality. I eat 4 eggs, a handful of strawberries, 20 0z. 1% cow milk and 1 scoop whey isolate to break fast at 11. Do you think this is light enough to be digested almost fully by 3 pm? Also how long does it take for the stomach to adjust to cramming 2400 calories into one meal?

    Reply
    • I don’t usually drink milk. I’d just go with some eggs, whey, and berries — that’s just me though.

      As for adjusting, that depends on you, not the Internet.

      Reply
  • Thanks for all your help Anthony! I absolutely love the quality of content you consistently put out!
    So I’m rereading this article and realized that I’ve had a couple food hangovers in the past month and it’s really messing with my morning times, but had no idea it was a food hangover til I read the symptoms you mentioned (Dry mouth, grogginess) Did you ever put out an article on food hangovers that I missed?
    If not, I would be so appreciative to learn what you have to say on the matter.
    Thanks again Anthony!

    Reply
    • There’s really no need for an article on them because just like any hangover, the cure is to not get drunk.

      Reply
  • I’ve been IF for two weeks. I want to put some weight on but obvious lean. Can it still be done with IF. I’m getting more
    Tone and defintion for sure but not sure if I can put it in with this method. I am
    Already lean anyway but want to put on around half a stone.

    Great article thanks :-)

    Reply
  • Sure just gotta’ eat. I recently went from 190 to 205 eating only once-twice per day.

    Reply

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