As you have probably read in part 1 of the Intermittent Fasting article series, IF has several disadvantages besides the things that are good about it.
In general, IF can be a good tool if it fits into your lifestyle, which brings me to why I personally started IF and recommend IF to others…
Best restriction for some people
All types of diets is based on restriction of some sort. This is the reason why diets works, besides energy restriction, there are all kind of other restrictions, like fat for High-Carb-Low-Fat Diets, carbs for High-Fat-Low-Carb diets (e.g. Keto diet), processed ‘modern’ food like in the case of the paleo diet, or the time restriction for IF. Depending on your personality, some of the restrictions will work better for your than others. For me, time restriction works really well, as it is mentally easier for me to either eat or not eat, than have a little bit of food here and there. If I don’t set myself strict rules for when I am allowed to eat and when not, my brain will then try to find excuses why I should get something to eat right now. This is not only challenging for keeping up with my diet, but also for staying focused at work. When having food is not an option, like during my fasting window, the thoughts of getting something to eat don’t even cross my mind. This is what works for me, it doesn’t mean that it works for everyone.
Making Bigger Social Meals Fit Into A Weight Loss Diet
Often the clients that I suggest implementing IF as a strategy are those that tend to have bigger social meals in the evenings, ie eating out and not having prepared meals that fit their meal plan, thereby putting themselves at risk of exceeding their calorie deficit. A good strategy for them to save some calories for events like that in the evening, is to fast earlier in the day, for instance not to have breakfast.
Larger Meals Are More Satisfying
Another point to mention is that during a calorie deficit, which a person usually is in when they do IF as a means for weight loss, many people, myself included, prefer to have fewer, larger meals a day as opposed to many smaller frequent ones. In addition to this, as I am already at an advanced stage with my training, I want to consume most of my meals around my workouts (detailed explanation why it is more important for advanced lifters than beginners will come in my future articles). I usually train later in the day or sometimes in the afternoon, so I try to save my bigger meals for after my workout to support my muscle growth.
Shifting nutrient intake to the evening for a better body composition
Another benefit of shifting all my nutrients towards the evening is that research has shown that it is better to consume most of your protein later in the day (ref). This also applies to carbs; there is some evidence that shows that people that consumed carbs later in the day also found positive benefits for their body composition (ref).
IF saves time and increases efficiency
I have found that IF actually helps me to get more things done in the mornings and work more efficiently because I tend to do most of my important tasks before breakfast. Actually, as a result, it motivates me to get focused and not procrastinate, so that I could get what I need to done and finally have my breakfast!
Trying new exciting food without compromising the progress
Lastly, I have found that as I travel a lot and I want to enjoy my travel experiences by enjoying the local foods; IF has again proven to be an effective tool for saving and distributing my calories accordingly. So again, I have managed to save my bigger meals for the evenings when I go out and simply fast through breakfast.
Again the diet strategy works if you can stick to it and it fits into your lifestyle, not because one diet is superior than the other. Actually IF has several drawbacks when it comes to energy balance (decreased movement, and BMR), as I mentioned in the previous article.
But isn’t it hard to fast?
In the beginning, IF will be hard. I personally found this to be the case, because I am a breakfast person and it is my favourite meal of the day. By the third day however, I had adjusted to it. So how were these three days? I usually wake up at around 5:50am and try to have breakfast at 7:00. In this in stance, I just delayed my breakfast. So in the first day, I just had some tea and delayed it until 10:00 am. The next day, I delayed it again til I had it at 11:00 and then by the third day I was able to fast until 12:00. Doing it in this gradual way wasn’t that painful because you could positively push and motivate yourself by saying “Yesterday I did it at 10, so today I could do it half an hour or even an hour later”.
What about protein absorption?! Don’t you waste protein but consuming too much within a short time?
Isn’t there a claim (cough: myth!) that says it could be a problem if you consume most of your protein in this short window, because you can only really eat 30 g of protein at once, therefore the remaining will get wasted? Well, that is simply not true! For example, a study has compared the consumption of 40 g protein against 70 g of protein, and the latter outperformed because the whole body net nitrogen balance was higher (ref). The reason for this is that the 70 g meal caused the protein not to break down as much; to clarify, it wasn’t like the 70 g caused (muscle) protein synthesis to increase more than it would have in the 40 g meal, rather less protein was broken down. The concept of “total muscle gain” is based on a balance between muscle protein synthesis (building muscle) and muscle break down. Therefore (this will make sense now!), the breakdown was lower with the 70 g meal in comparison to the 40 g meal. As such, I do not have any concerns about consuming more protein later in the day.
Want to recap all the facts?
Then watch this video:
PS: If you want to make sure you are following the most optimum nutritional plan for your current goals and learn the tools to make your diet work for your lifestyle and not the other way around, then check out my Customized Macros Package!