As discussed in part 1, there are many different protocols which you can trial when it comes to implementing IF, however finding the one which works for you is often a case of trial and error and just because one approach may not work for you, it doesn’t mean the overall concept cannot still yield results in some form, some people just do not get on with IF as a strategy whilst for others it is their go to fat loss strategy.
The commonalities between IF and a more standardised balanced calorie restriction diet for weight loss are they both control calories, there is an emphasis on food quality and regular exercise also helps with results too. But these are pretty much the basis for success with any dietary plan.
What you’ll find with IF is that regular fasting does make it easier to maintain a lower body fat which is predominantly down to the fact you have the power to reel things in for a few days should you spiral out of control on a binge, it is also a great way to manage hunger too which is important to not only getting into great shape but also staying fit and healthy. Having said that it has not been proven to automatically produce better results than a conventional dieting approach.
Once you dig into the IF community you’ll see many different approaches portrayed as the best, as with any dietary intervention ‘best’ is very much down to the individual's preferences and ability to adhere to the plan is key.
An introduction to the different protocols:
Warrior Diet (20 hour fast, 4 hour feed) - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Warrior-Diet-Biological-Powerhouse-Explosive/dp/1583942009
On this plan, you would fast for 18-20 hours each day and then have a feeding period of 4 hours. But The Warrior Diet is about more than just fasting, there are specific foods based around Paleo to eat during the feed window and in some cases, small amounts of these foods can be eaten in the fasting window too. It also stipulates to exercise during the fasting period to utilising exercises such as bodyweight training, squats, and presses along with short high-intensity exercise. This is not a once a week protocol but one aimed at a longer period of time, over say a few weeks or even months, however, some individuals prefer to stay on this plan indefinitely.
5:2 Plan (5 days normal eating, 2 days under 500kcals/25% of daily kcals)
This version of IF involves having 2 days per week with a lowered calorie intakes and eating normally or at maintenance calories the rest of the time. It has become one of the best-known formats due to the media attention it gained, however, it does come from a scientifically evidenced based background.
Meal Skipping (Random)
Don’t fancy dinner or breakfast? Fine, just skip it and fast. Way back when we were roaming the land hunting and gathering our foods we didn’t all break for lunch at 12 pm, we ate more randomly when food was available, which is very different today when food is available for most of the world's population pretty much all of the time. This method also includes a more Paleo style diet too, much like the Warrior Diet.
Leangains (16 hour fast, 8 hour feed)
Martin Berkhan is the lead guy on this protocol with an extensive blog covering all things fasting from types of exercise to preferred alcohol on a fast. As per the name, the emphasis is on gains too so there’s a leaning towards a higher protein diet with carbohydrates being cycled and the use of fasted training with the majority of your nutrient intake post workout.
Alternate Day Fast - ADF (36 hour fast, 12 hour feed)
The basics of this plan are to eat every other day during a 12 hour window, so you would eat within a 12 hour window during the day, fast overnight and throughout the next day, you would then wake up on the next day and eat during the 12 hour window. Healthier food choices are encouraged however this is not classed as critical.
Eat stop eat (24 hour fast once or twice a week)
This is a full 24 hour fast once or twice per week, with an emphasis on eating healthier with higher protein meals and minimal processed foods. There is no set days in which you must fast and the rest of the week is flexible, the time you start the diet is also not deemed as important either. Some people will eat breakfast and then fast until breakfast the next day, whereas others will fast from dinner until dinner the next day. The premise here is to create 2 big windows of calorie restriction so your overall weekly calorie consumption is lowered.
As with all of these different protocols, there are many similarities, from having an eating window, emphasis on choosing healthier foods during your feeding window and creating a calorie deficit over a period of time. All of them require compliance to a plan to achieve results too, again like any plan you choose to follow in order to achieve results.
Fancy giving IF a go? Keep us updated if you do, we'd love to hear how you get on. As always, any questions we can help you with then feel free to email email@example.com