Updated Sept. 6th, 2013
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting (I.F.) is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting and non-fasting. There are a few different popular types (you may have heard of ‘The Warrior Diet’), but for our purposes please think of I.F. as purposefully skipping breakfast. Of course, there is a little more to it that, but for now, please think of it in those terms.
What are the benefits?
- Lack of hunger while dieting
For a person looking to lose weight, this is one of the biggest benefits offered by I.F. as opposed to other dieting systems. Skipping breakfast allows for bigger, more satisfying meals. After a few days of starting the diet, the body’s hormones, notably the hunger hormone, ghrelin, get used to the new eating pattern and adjust accordingly so you no longer feel hungry in the mornings.
For the dieter, I.F. offers something very unique, in terms of enjoying physically and psychologically satisfying meals while losing weight. The absence of hunger and cravings are also a welcome feature when using I.F. for weight loss. Contrary to popular belief, the fasting phase has a suppressive effect on hunger. Hunger pangs may come, but they disappear quickly, to be replaced by a sense of well being and total absence of hunger. -Martin Berkhan
- Increase in mental focus and concentration
During the fast, your body releases more of the stimulant hormones, catecholamines. Mental focus is increased, productivity goes up, and you’ll feel more involved in whatever you’re doing. Most people find this particularly pronounced during the last 4 hours of the fast. – Your morning time at work.
- More stable energy levels and improved mood
With fewer meals, your blood sugar levels will be kept more stable, leading to more stable energy levels and less mood swings.. Also, not having to worry about meal timing is a welcome relief from the irritable feeling that is often found by those used to dieting by eating many meals throughout the day.
- More fat burned
Though by far the most important things for fat loss are the energy intake for the day and macronutrient intake, fasting can help shift stubborn fat and explains why people can get exceptionally lean without cardio work.
A full list of benefits and including links to the relevant clinical studies can be found on Wikipedia.
What is ‘Leangains’?
Leangains is a type of I.F. pioneered by Swedish nutritionist Martin Berkhan. It was put together based on scientific research on fat-loss, muscle building, his own experimentation and the actual experience of working with hundreds of clients over the last 6 years.
While some nutritionists or trainers get stuck in their dogma, or are quick to jump on the latest fad to make sales or exploit our ignorance for profit, when enough solid new research comes along that suggests an improvement can be made with the method, Martin incorporates it and make the amendments necessary. It is this lack of ego and objectivity that has made the Leangains method so spectacularly effective for thousands of people. I would highly recommend you check out his blog, leangains.com.
Want to give it a try?
Drawing on my experiences working with clients I’ve written guides on this site to show you how to do it. A lot of love has been poured into the articles and I really hope you can have success on your own like thousands of others already.
Questions welcomed in the comments on any page. Thanks for reading and good luck!