There has been a growing number of studies looking at the effectiveness of Intermittent Fasting (IF). Our previous article on IF reviewed some scientific literature that showed the effectiveness IF has on losing fat specifically. Since losing fat is nearly everyone’s goal, this makes IF very attractive. While we divulged the effectiveness IF fasting had on fat loss, we never really discussed the best method of doing it. When determining the best method of IF, we based it on the following factors:
- Total effect on fat metabolism
- Capability of maintaining diet long term
- Total impact on overall health
- Effect on exercise performance
Intermittent Fasting: 16/8 Method
We deem the 16/8 method of intermittent fasting one of the most effective methods out there based upon the criteria listed above. The method is extremely simple: You fast for a period of 16 hours and eat within an 8 hour window. This method is also referred to as time-restricted feeding in science. How can you employ this method around your workout routine and wheres the evidence that backs this up?
Exercise and 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
If you hit the gym, chances are you may be thinking about your eating window and how it might effect your workout. I personally have to be at work at 8am and really despise working out after work. This leaves me with one option: hit the weights in the morning. When I was thinking of doing IF, I really struggled with the eating window because I usually take protein and BCAA’s in the morning and if I started my eating window that early (6am), I would have to stop eating at 2pm. If I went to the gym fasted, I was concerned about not getting proper post workout nutrition and not performing well in the gym. In the end, I landed on an eating window from 12 noon to 8pm. Aligning your fasting window with your sleep is the most effective long term method. What about post workout nutrition and performance?
Since I was concerned about performance and nutrition post-workout, I decided to hit the journals and see what science might tell me. Ramadan follows a very similar time restricted feeding window that 16/8 does and it turns out, researchers wanted to know the exact same thing I did. They set out to determine if performance before they ate was hindered compared to after their meal. It turns out there was two very helpful conclusions. Daytime or evening training did not inversely affect the agility and power performances in a group of elite athletes during Ramadan fasting. In addition, they didn’t see any reduction in overall performance because of the fasting. Another side effect the study also revealed they lost weight! This is promising news for my feeding window, what else could we find?
Aligning Your Fasting With Sleep
We already said aligning your fasting window with your sleep is the most effective method by why? Two reasons: the first is when your sleeping you don’t think about food (well most of us don’t). The second reason is the bodies circadian rhythm.
The picture above shows the things that occur during the hours of the day that is dictated by your bodies circadian rhythm. Research indicates that aligning your fasting windows with your bodies circadian rhythm provides superior oscillations in circadian clock gene expression. This essentially means that all the mechanisms that make up your circadian rhythm will work more efficiently when combining your fasting window with your bodies natural processes. If you click the hyperlink above, you can also view a ton of other superior effects that intermittent fasting has on your overall health.
Long Term 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
Long term 16/8 intermittent fasting isn’t crazy. For many people, its only slightly modifying when they are eating. Much of the research points out that other methods of fasting (such as Alternate Day Fasting) prove “the problem of elevated hunger may provide too great a challenge” for a person to effectively maintain it long term. The best part about the 16/8 method is its not very challenging to maintain. It actually teaches you good habits about not eating just because your a little hungry. So how does someone get going with this?
The First Week of Intermittent Fasting
Ok so you decided to try out 16/8 intermittent fasting, where should you start? First thing to do is pick a fasting window. We suggest aligning your feeding window to end close to bed time. You can use our 12 noon to 8pm eating window if it suits your schedule. If you workout in the morning, we suggest only taking pure caffeine and ditching any pre-workout. If you workout during your feeding window then do what you like! Some things we experienced ourselves below:
- Increased urination (likely because there is no food to impede the water)
- Increased hunger during fasting window (duh)
- Increased satiety during feeding window (you get full really easy!)
Since the idea is to lose weight, you should also be going into a calorie deficit. It is always recommended you drop your calories only a couple a hundred per week. Its very easy to go into a high calorie deficit using 16/8 intermittent fasting because your eating window is so small.
- Wake up – 6am
- Take Caffiene – 6am
- Workout – 6:30-7:30am
- Have Lunch – 12 noon
- Snack – 3pm
- Dinner – 6pm
- Snack – 8pm
- Fasting Window – 8pm – 12 noon
This article should give you a great idea of why the 16/8 method of intermittent fasting is not only superior, but it should be easy to maintain over the long term as you reach your goals. The health effects of aligning your fasting window with your circadian rhythm has superior effects on health and it is advised to do this in the long term as well. The best part about the 16/8 method is the flexibility it offers. You can take a day off if you like. You can extend the fasting window out (16, 18,20 hours). A reduction in the fasting window will likely not benefit you but increasing it should cause no harm. One secret we left until the end, because of the enhance fat metabolism your body experiences from Intermittent Fasting, it provides you with greater diet flexibility (aka that pizza isn’t going to pack on fat). In combination with this article, read the related articles below to broaden your scientific knowledge on diet, exercise, and supplements.
- Eating small meals does not increase metabolism
- I want to lose weight: where do I start?
- Take caffeine to boost your workouts
- Can you build muscle while dieting?