Intermittent Fasting – What is it?
This is a very interesting, highly debated, and efficacious nutrition plan. The idea here is to condense the span of your caloric intake into a smaller window if time. This is not a nutritional change necessarily. WHAT you eat is not what is at stake here, predominantly, it is moreso about how fast you eat it. WHAT you eat in this newly shortened span, only adds to the benefits.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
For example, if you’re accustomed to eating 3 square meals a day between the hours of 8am and 8pm, that’s a 12 hour span. When you intermittently fast, you’ll squeeze those same three meals into a 6-8 hour span. Therefore, your basal caloric intake can remain the same, you’re simply putting a bigger gap between your last meal today and your first meal tomorrow.
What Does It Do?
The philosophy behind intermittent fasting is to give your body access to readily available fatty tissue to burn, that is only available when your aren’t processing, digesting, or absorbing food. When you eat, your body can take up to 12 hours to process a given meal. Therefore, you are pulling energy from the caloric content of what you’ve just eaten, rather than stored fats you already have in your tissues. So when you put a 16 hour gap between your last meal yesterday, and your first meal today, you’ve got a solid 4 hours where your body is utilizing stored fats for energy expenditure, uninhibited by food in your gut.
How Does It Affect Performance?
Now we are talking about nutrient timing, and depending on the athlete, this will vary slightly. However one maxim of performance that seems constant amongst athletes who have a regular training regimen in place, is that you can front load a good chunk your daily intake in the meal immediately after a good training session. Your body is starving and primed for nutrient absorption. You need to decide what works best for you in terms of when you train while intermittently fasting. Personally I like to train fasted because I do not have to worry about seeing my meal again during or after the workout, and I can REALLY reward myself with a big meal post-workout. Others prefer to have something in their stomach a couple hours prior training so they don’t come in lethargic and are able to maximize their session. The common denominator here is still condensing your caloric intake into a smaller window of 6-8 hours per day.
If you train like I do, on an empty stomach most days, and during your fast, your body’s only resource for energy to get you through the workout is fat. Please, DO NOT misunderstand me. If this information is revolutionary to you, this is not an excuse to starve yourself and fill up on garbage that contains no nutritional value after a workout. No, it is still important to put the right fuel in your body so that it is able to function optimally. It is indeed possible to mess this up simply because you only subscribe to the long fast with shorter duration of eating, and pay no attention to the kind of food you put in your body. So take heed, YOU STILL NEED TO PUT THE GOOD STUFF IN YOUR MOUTH TO GET THE MOST OUT OF INTERMITTENT FASTING!!
The Bottom Line
I like to treat my body like an experiment and try new things for a period of time to see how my body reacts before I take it as gospel and incorporate it as a permanent change. I recommend you do the same if the idea of intermittent fasting is new to you. After all, I was into preparation for my 4th bodybuilding competition before I figured out that it was an awesome way to burn fat more efficiently getting ready for the stage. Then again, I was CrossFitting for almost 2 years before I gave it a shot and found that it worked really well for how l like to train (earlier in the day, and on an empty stomach).
You’ve really got nothing to lose. Give it a shot and see how it works for you.