Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss – Amazing Benefits!

This article on intermittent fasting is going to be informative and will, hopefully, convince you to try it out for yourself. We’re going to cover a lot of material in this value-packed article. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy! Make sure and leave a comment at the end if you have any questions.

5 to 7.

That’s the number of meals the average dieter eats every day when trying to lose weight because that’s what they’re told to do.

It’s “promotes weight loss,” apparently.

It’s how I started my fat loss journey, and it’s how most people start.

However, research has shown that the number of meals you have each day has NO effect on weight loss or fat loss. [1] [2]

Does eating 5-7 meals per day work?

Yeah, it does, but it makes dieting a whole lot harder than it needs to be.

That’s where intermittent fasting comes in.

In this post, I’m going to break down intermittent fasting, and it’s terrific benefits and why I’ve been following it for a couple of years now.

First, though, I have to say things weren’t always this way….

How I Got Into Intermittent Fasting

A couple of years ago I was, like you probably, eating meals out of Tupperware and having 5-7 small meals every 2-3 hours.

One day, while I was eating steamed broccoli and skinless chicken breast (classic…), I was surfing around YouTube and found a video that would forever change the way I approached dieting and my life (seriously…).

Up to this point, I was following any fat loss advice I could find from fitness magazines and bodybuilding dot com.

I didn’t see much results with any of it, and I had it up to HERE (my hand is very high up… like very high).

The thumbnail read something like “Why Breakfast is Making You Fat!”

I almost spit out my breakfast out…

Why… that’s the most important meal of the day!

For the first minute, I was seriously in shock that someone could attack breakfast.

until the video started to make some damn sense.

And that’s what I want to share with you in this article.

I want to knock some sense into you as that video had done for me 😀

A Quick Background on Intermittent Fasting

What exactly is intermittent fasting (IF)?

It’s not a diet necessarily (like paleo, ketogenic, or high-carb), but, more of a style of dieting.

Although there are many approaches to IF, the underlying principle is the same:

Restrict the amount of time you’re eating every day. 

Our ancient ancestors had no choice but to follow this style of eating every day.

Hunt all day, and feast on 1-2 large meals at the end.

We live in a time when this is no longer necessary, and we can choose when to eat.

As I said above, I used to eat small meals every 2-3 hours, so this was entirely odd to me.

But, I eventually gave IF a try.

Now I only eat within a specified period, that I’ve set for myself, that lasts for 8-9 hours (more on the “how-to” of this later).

In a nutshell, intermittent fasting is a style of dieting that allows for bigger meals, easier fat loss, and more freedom to eat like a king (or queen).

Let’s go over how IF allows you to do this.

Research on Intermittent Fasting

The complete list of all of IF’s benefits is still to be determined; however, we know that it does the following, thanks to the informative TED Talk by Mark P. Mattson, Ph.D. who eloquently paints a vivid picture of the vast benefits that Intermittent Fasting ensues.

Valuable Ted Talk Worth Watching on Intermittent Fasting

Mark (from the video above) does talk slowly, so I do recommend speeding up the video.

This picture (taken from the video above) is especially interesting because it gives well-organized detail to some of the main benefits of IF all in one image.

Another way to look at the benefits of intermittent fasting that is less scientific is to see this scenario with “Bob” below:

Bob vs. Pablo – Intermittent Fasting vs. Traditional Dieting

Let’s say Bob has to eat 2100 calories to lose weight (if you don’t know your calories for weight loss or how to calculate them, I put a section at the end of this article to help you out with that).

Bob listens to all fitness advice that he comes across.

He believes that you MUST eat 5-7 small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism from slowing down.

Poor Bob.

Here’s what Bob’s day looks like:

Bob’s Daily Schedule

Daily Calorie Budget: 2100 calories

  • 8 am Breakfast – 500 calories (1600 calories left)
  • 11 am Small Snack – 250 calories (1350 calories left)
  • 2 pm Lunch – 700 calories (650 calories left)
  • 5 pm Small Snack – 250 calories (400 calories left)
  • 7 pm Dinner – 400 calories (0 calories left)

Feeling at the end of the day: Still hungry & not satisfied.

Bob goes to sleep hungry.

Poor Bob…

Now, let’s look at the guy she tells you not worry about, we’ll call him Pablo:

Pablo has to eat the same amount of calories as Bob, but Pablo knows about intermittent fasting.

Here’s what his day looks like:

Pablo’s Daily Schedule

Daily Calorie Budget: 2100 calories

  • Wake up at 8 am fast until Noon – Drink coffee during this time to suppress appetite (2100 calories left)
  • 2 pm BREAK-FAST (1st meal of the day) – 500 calories (1600 calories left)
  • 5 pm Medium-Sized Meal – 500 calories (1100 calories left)
  • 7 pm FEAST – 1100 calories (0 calories left)

Feeling at the end of the day: Can’t eat another bite and VERY satisfied.

Both dieters are still in the same caloric deficit, but one was left satisfied and one was left unsatisfied…

I know what you’re thinking:

“You want me to starve myself until lunch?!”

That was my reaction when I first read about intermittent fasting.

Back then, I hadn’t truly grasped the role this form of dieting would play in my fat loss efforts.

I was eating like Bob when I should have been eating like Pablo!

With an eating schedule like Bob’s, there’s little, to no room to eat life’s most enjoyable foods.

My small meal, high frequency, eating career ended after deciding to give IF a try for a week.

Once I started learning how to implement intermittent fasting into my diet, I was hooked because I knew it was the key to being able to sneak in more cheat meals and still lose fat in the process.

Here’s how you can do the same.

How To Implement Intermittent Fasting To Your Everyday Life

Note* This method of intermittent fasting applies to both men and women, however, the schedule is different. In the next section, I will go over the schedule for women.

I eat only 2-3 meals per day, when I’m cutting, because that’s what I find most enjoyable.

You might enjoy 4-5 meals or maybe one huge meal.

It all comes down to personal preference, but I will show you the most common and accessible way to structure your day with intermittent fasting.

This meal structure is one of many. It utilizes only two meals per day:

Intermittent Fasting Meal Structure:

Two Meals Per Day

  • Fast for the first 4-6 hours upon waking.
  • During this fasting period, you are only to drink water, and/or 1-2 cups of coffee and/or sparkling water (coffee and sparkling water suppress hunger).
  • You’ll break your fast with a Large Meal A.K.A. the Feast (about 1000-1400 calories).
  • 4-6 hours after the Feast, eat a smaller, second meal (about 400-600 calories).
  • Implement two fruit snacks wherever you see fit for your remaining calories (this means, you can have an apple if you’re getting hungry a couple of hours before the Feast, or a couple of hours before your second meal. An apple helps stave off hunger a couple of more hours).

That’s all there is to it.

You can switch it up by having the smaller meal first and having your feast at night.

You could also get rid of the two fruit snacks if you don’t get hungry and use those calories (usually around 100-200) in your meals.

Again, this is only one of many meal structures for IF.

What About Intermittent Fasting For Women?

Unfortunately, intermittent fasting affects women differently than it does men. [1]

If done incorrectly, or for prolonged periods of time, some of the problems intermittent fasting can cause for women are the following:

  • Irregular period intervals or a complete loss of period (amenorrhea)
  • Problems with sleep
  • Changes in ovaries size
  • Check Psychological issues such as depression or anxiety
  • Check Mood swings
  • Check Issues with digesting
  • Check Fertility problems
  • Check Heart issues

All of these problems are of hormonal nature, and this is because all the hormones are very much connected.

When only one of them starts to behave out of the ordinary, it will cause a change in others.

However, this long list of potential problems shouldn’t discourage you to enjoy the benefits of the intermittent fasting just because you’re a woman.

If you approach your fasting with knowledge and discipline, it can help you without any problems.

The Crescendo Method of Intermittent Fasting

Because of this, women should only fast every OTHER day.​

That’s why I want you to start off with the Crescendo Method of Intermittent Fasting.

The only thing that changes with this is that you only follow the directions from the section above, EVERY OTHER DAY.

For example, you would fast on Mon/Wed/Friday and on the other days eat normally (with breakfast) for the first 2-3 weeks of fasting.

Once you’ve done it for more than 2-3 weeks, feel free to add an extra day of fasting.

Here are some more general guidelines that all women should follow when doing intermittent fasting:

  • Do NOT fast longer than 24 hours at a time.
  • Do not fast on consecutive days (especially if you’re brand new to fasting)
  • Drink lots of fluids during your fast (water, sparkling water, coffee, herbal teas, etc.)
  • Check Do NOT perform any vigorous exercise such as HIIT or strength training on your fasting days (only light cardio or yoga)
  • Check On non-fasting days, do your most intense workouts. If you want to lose fat faster, do it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

When Women Should NOT Fast

You should not even try to experiment with IF under the following circumstances.

  • If you’re pregnant: With everything said earlier you should know better than to make your body think that you’re starving while being pregnant. You should concentrate on the new energy needs of your body.
  • You have previously had eating disorders: If you’re not good at keeping a balanced eating schedule, this method can cause all sorts of problems for you.
  • You are suffering from chronic stress: Stress is very energy consuming for your body and fasting is best done when your body is in a state of balance already.
  • You have problems sleeping: Fasting can challenge any of your life rhythms, so it is never a good idea to start it if you’re already having problems with these issues.
  • You are entirely inexperienced with diet programs and working out: This method can be very hard on your body, and you should always try to do as much research about how you plan to lose weight. You have to take into consideration your physical shape.

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting Backed By Science

IF is not magic, let’s be clear on that, but it can certainly feel like it once you’ve been doing it for a while and especially when you start seeing results.

Studies on Intermittent Fasting

Here are some of the benefits of intermittent fasting that have been backed by countless studies:

  • Fasting has been shown to improve biomarkers of disease, reduce oxidative stress and preserve learning and memory functioning, according to Mark Mattson, senior investigator for the National Institute on Aging, part of the US National Institutes of Health. [2]
  • Growth Hormone (GH) increases when in a fasted state. [3]
  • Autophagy occurs while fasting; it is the body’s way of renewing the cells and getting rid of all the worn out cells in the body. Autophagy is the primary driver of anti-aging (longevity). [4] [5]

The Ted Talk video from earlier explains a whole lot more benefits of intermittent fasting such as:

  • Reduced inflammation
  • Increased brain performance, memory, and focus
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Increased insulin sensitivity
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • And much more. [6]

Although these benefits above are great, it’s not really why I do it.

You can’t really measure the above benefits unless you’re in a lab hooked up to a bunch of wires.

Let’s now rather talk about the benefits you can see in your day-to-day life.

The Actual, Day-to-Day Benefits of Intermittent Fasting That You Will Encounter

Let’s look at the benefits of Intermittent Fasting that I, and thousands of others, find useful.

There are three main ones:

1. Hunger Control

Because you’re limited to a specific eating window, the chances that you’ll feel full during the day increases significantly.

IF enthusiasts eat 2-3 meals per day and the first meal always packs a lot of energy.

A typical fast ends 4-6 hours’ post waking up.

As a result, the first meal usually tends to be a BIG meal.

Terry Crews, who also does intermittent fasting, likes to have his “feast” as his first meal as he explains in the video below (at the 45sec mark).

You can do the opposite as well (having the FEAST at the end of the day, which I prefer), as I have demonstrated in the above examples.

A 1000+ calorie meal is not surprising in the least for the first meal which is usually named The Feast.

You can expect it to satiate your hunger for hours until the next meal(s) come around.

What’s terrific is having room for another ~1000 calories (more or less) to play with.

This is unheard of for non-fasters!

The leftover calories can be postponed to the final (second) meal or spread out into to a second and third meal.

Individual preference selects the prior options.

Either way, the results are the same: fullness.

That’s a complete 180 to the traditional style of dieting.

Zig when everyone else zags.

Meal frequencies of six “healthy meals” per day tend to be short-lived because it leaves you feeling hungry all day. 

And it completely misses the boat when it comes satiety and real satisfaction.

Say goodbye to the daily cravings that turn into binges on the weekends!

The traditional style of dieting tests your willpower, and as you may know, willpower never lasts long.

2. The Higher Caloric Budget Illusion

Pushing back the first meal of the day creates an impressive illusion.

At its core, fat loss is merely about remaining in a caloric deficit for a period until you reach your goal physique.

The keyword being: remaining.

The hardest part about losing fat, for the majority of people, is remaining in a caloric deficit.

Enter intermittent fasting and its advantageous illusion on satiety. 

This illusion creates itself by compressing more food into a smaller eating window.

Unlike traditional eating schedules, IF allows for more so-called “dirty foods” that would sound absurd to conventional dieters.

This allows for massive meals that leave you satiated.

Having a smaller eating window frees you from a traditional healthy diet and unlocks the possibility of having your cake and eating it too.

Instead of an apple, for example, how about a delicious serving of ice cream or frozen yogurt?

Try squeezing that type of cheat/treat meal into your traditional diet!The cost of having high-calorie foods in a traditional weight loss meal plan is rare and usually, comes when willpower has been exhausted.

One of two things happens next:

The diet’s over – “diets never work for me” is usually muttered – or back on the hamster wheel it is.

3. Higher Productivity

I use IF to this day because of this benefit.

Regardless if I’m bulking, cutting, or trying to maintain my weight, I follow intermittent fasting because of the dominant productivity flow it creates.

Everyone is always trying to increase their productivity levels but has yet to figure out the ultimate productivity hack yet that comes with IF.

IF, believe it or not, is the #1 contributor to getting shit done (pardon my French).

Imagine a world where you wake up and don’t think about food, or what you’re going to eat for breakfast.

You decided to give IF a shot, and you now have a solid 4-6 hour window to accomplish your most important task(s) of the day.

Whether you’re a stay-at-home entrepreneur or you’re working a 9-5 job, you won’t be thinking about food.

While you’re hammering away at your waking productivity hours, you’re going to be suppressing your hunger by drinking water, black coffee (no cream, zero-calorie sugar is fine, but straight black is preferable), or herbal tea.

You’ll be surprised at the amount of work you’ve done when it’s time to break your fast (BREAK-FAST!).

WAIT – Don’t Start Intermittent Fasting Just Yet…

I know you’re eager to start intermittent fasting after everything you just read but wait just a damn second.

There are some things you need to know about how to lose weight.

You can do fast intermittently 7 days a week, and still fail to see any results. 

The only way you will lose weight and see any success is if you’re in a caloric deficit. Period.

Let’s go over the fundamentals… because if you don’t have those down, then you’re SOL and no amount of fasting will save you.

Here’s How To Calculate Your Calories For Fast Weight Loss

First, you need to know your maintenance calories, otherwise known as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE, the number of calories you burn every day to maintain your weight).

Only then, can you begin to calculate your caloric deficit.

Step 1: Find Your Maintenance Calories (TDEE)

First, you need to know your maintenance calories, otherwise known as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE, the number of calories you burn every day to maintain your weight).

Only then, can you begin to calculate your caloric deficit.

Here’s the formula for women: 14 x your body weight (lb)

Here’s the formula for men: 16 x your body weight (lb)

For women, it’s 14 since their metabolism usually is slower.

For men, it’s 16 because it’s usually a bit faster.

Lyle Mcdonald introduced this approximation formula. Here’s what he said about his formula.

“In general, women or those with a ‘slower’ metabolic rate should use the lower value (14 cal/lb) and men or those with a ‘faster’ metabolic rate should use the higher value (16 cal/lb) as a STARTING POINT ESTIMATION for maintenance calories.

By the way, slower and faster above are sort of subjective decisions, usually based on previous dieting and relatively tendency to gain or lose weight. It simply represents inherent variability in the components of total energy expenditure.”

Editor’s Note

It’s important to note that any online calculator or different formulas are at best estimations.

These formulas above are just starting points to get you in the right track. As you’ll see in your own weight loss journey, you will have to adjust your numbers as you go.

For the remainder of this article, and the calculations, I’m going to use a female who weighs 160 lbs.

Let’s call her Amanda.

For Amanda to calculate her maintenance calories, it would look like this:

14 x 160 lbs = 2,240 Calories

If Amanda wanted to maintain her weight, she would eat, roughly, 2,240 calories per day.

Once you’ve calculated your maintenance calories, continue on to step 2.

Step 2: Calculate Your Caloric Deficit

Now that we have our Maintenance Calories, what you want to do next is subtract twenty-five percent from your maintenance calories, and you’ll get your caloric deficit numbers.

Here’s an easier way to do that:

Caloric Deficit = Maintenance Calories x .75

​​2,240 x .75 = 1680 Calories

Assuming Amanda wants to lose one to two pounds per week for the first two months and wants to lose an additional five to ten pounds she may need to adjust her caloric deficit again by repeating this calculation again (starting from maintenance calories).

In other words, eventually, everyone hits stagnation.

​​Remember, reducing your calories allows for weight loss, but it doesn’t take into account where that weight comes from. This is where the effect of macronutrients on body composition comes into play.

The WRONG Way To Lose Weight

Here’s what NOT to do when trying to lose weight:

  1. Do tons of cardio and only cardio.
  2. Starve yourself and eliminate foods that you like.
  3. Don’t eat enough protein.
  4. Don’t lift heavyweights.
  5. Lift light weights to see the “cuts.”

If you want to look weak, skinny, saggy or just look like you have no definition at all, then you would stop reading here and just reduce your calories.

However, I believe that is the exact OPPOSITE of what you want.

The Relationship Between Calories and Macros

Calories are only 1 part of the body composition story.

Calories are tracked to lose weight.

Macros are tracked to change body composition.

I go over how to track and calculate your macros in my book:

IIFYM: If It Fits Your Macros

This book goes over everything you need to know about nutrition for dropping body fat and tracking your macros.

​If you want to lose weight, get lean, and build the body you’ve always dreamed of without giving up carbs, fats, or any other foods that you like… then you want to read this book.

Combining IIFYM and Intermittent fasting is the perfect 1-2 punch for dieting 🙂

Definitely check it out if you have the time.

Rusty Did 18 Years of Intermittent Fasting

That’s the title of one of Rusty Moore’s article.

If anyone can speak on intermittent fasting, it’s Rusty.

If you have time, I’d highly recommend checking out his insightful article (and workout programs) on what Intermittent Fasting has taught him over the 18 years.

Recommended Reading:

18 Years of Intermittent Fasting by Rusty Moore

​Popular Intermittent Fasting Workout Programs

Bigger Leaner Stronger – Mike Matthews

If you’re looking for the best fitness book on planet earth (seriously), then you need to pick up Bigger Leaner Stronger by Mike Matthews.

Although the program doesn’t necessarily require intermittent fasting, Mike is not opposed to intermittent fasting and dieting or bulking.

It has programs for both bulking and cutting and only costs $7 (kindle).

He also has a book for women called Thinner Leaner Stronger which is the same price.

Leangains – Martin Berkhan

leangains workout

Martin Berkhan is known as the Godfather of Intermittent Fasting.

He was, in fact, the first person in the fitness space to talk about IF and its benefits.

He has recently come out with a new book, The Leangains Method, and it’s great.

It’s a 3-day workout routine that utilizes Reverse Pyramid Training and a very high protein diet.

My Final Thoughts on Intermittent Fasting

You might choose to follow intermittent fasting because of all the numerous physiological benefits you’ve heard about.

I choose them because of these main 3 benefits:

  1. The Hunger Control it Provides
  2. The Higher Caloric Budget Illusion 
  3. The Productivity Flow

I haven’t eaten breakfast in a long time.

Maybe it’s time for you to do the same.

Have any questions on Intermittent Fasting? What’s your favorite Meal Structure? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Don’t forget to share this article with your friends!

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