In this article I am going to review some of the commonly cited reasons people support intermittent fasting. At the end of the article I will tell you the hidden secret for why intermittent fasting is effective. If you don’t have time for my case building scroll down to the last bold lettered section to get the secret.
When people are first exposed to intermittent fasting they are excited about the prospect of experiencing the following benefits:
“* Increased insulin sensitivity, possibly resulting in superior nutrient partitioning as compared to traditional meal patterns; especially when combined with weightlifting. There are also several other health benefits, including improved blood lipids (scientifically proven).
* Possible to reduce bodyfat and increase lean mass through a cyclic calorie intake.
* No more obsessive thinking about food and worrying about eating every second hour.
* Very liberal approach to calorie intake in the eating window (8 hrs) and post-workout window; you can eat to your hearts content and still lose bodyfat.
* Increased mental focus, energy and productivity during the fast.
* Increased metabolism during the fast. Ironically, most people think it´s the other way around.
* Appetite suppression during the fast. This is particularily beneficial if your main priority is to lose bodyfat.”
Martin Berkhan wrote about this stuff years ago. In fact in one of my first articles I outline some of the earliest writing on the web that had to do with the use of intermittent fasting with weight lifting. While some fitness authors liked to make intermittent fasting out to be some type of magical practice, others approached intermittent fasting from a more scientific point of view and outlined the many benefits of intermittent fasting that have been supported by research.
Beyond the research there is a ton of anecdotal evidence to support the use of intermittent fasting as a diet strategy. Greg O Gallagher has a post about intermittent fasting where he lists the following 10 reasons he fasts. Most people who have experienced fasting would agree with the majority of what is on his list. Notable exception is #10 for most females.
“1. My Face Cleared UP! WOHOO
2. Breathing Conditions Improved
3. I Crave Healthy Foods
4. And I CAN COOK TOO!
5. I CAN EAT BIG A$$ MEALS and Get/Stay Lean
6. Getting Shredded is EASY With Intermittent Fasting
7. Bulking Up is Also Easy with Intermittent Fasting
8. Incredible Mental Clarity with Fasting
9. I Never Get Colds Anymore
10. I Now Wake Up with a PANT BUSTING BONER every Day!”
Greg’s reasons for intermittent fasting make sense, and I definitely think he is on to something with #3. He hits on what I feel is the most important aspect of intermittent fasting, but quickly moves to some of his other points. His site is focused on training and nutrition, and he does an awesome job of giving credit to Martin Berkhan while expending on his concepts and making them easily applicable to the everyday trainer.
Greg used these photos on his site to show the condition he is able to attain while bulking and cutting using the intermittent fasting protocols he teaches on his site. He also clearly knows what he is doing.
These are just a couple of examples of two popular physique trainers who have used intermittent fasting successfully with their clients and themselves to enhance their lifestyle and training. Though intermittent fasting seems perfect for physique athletes, it can be used by nearly anyone. The only people who really wouldn’t want to do too much intermittent fasting are athletes that are already having trouble getting in enough calories. If the goal is figuring out how to get enough calories into your diet, intermittent fasting will not be too helpful. Additionally people who have been intermittent fasting or dieting for a long period of time and need to restore normal metabolic function may need to follow a more restrictive eating style that has them ingesting some type of calories much too frequently to practice intermittent fasting. For everyone else intermittent fasting, even when done irregularly, can have some major benefits.
The main benefit of intermittent fasting
Even for non weight training individuals
Is that it can make nearly any food taste good
By re-sensitizing the taste buds to un-processed food
This concept is nothing new, but it is largely glazed over by the popular fitness media. This makes sense as “re sensitize your taste buds” is not a sexy tag line for any fitness or diet related product. The only fitness / diet authority I know that pushes this concept hard is Dr. Joel Furhman. He discusses quitting highly addictive foods all together. While I don’t really care to quite eating all of the foods he would label addictive, I do like to go without them from time to time. What I feel is even more important then completely giving up certain foods or not is the idea of actually getting hungry from time to time. Joel Furhman talks about toxic hunger when discussing people’s reaction to addictive foods. He says that people often think they need to eat when they are not hungry. I definitely agree with this.
Intermittent fasting can be used to break your addiction to certain foods by allowing you to enjoy less stimulating foods to the same degree you used to enjoy the really stimulating foods. Intermittent fasting does this by creating a true hunger for food. When the body gets really hungry it tends to be attracted to the tastes of much less stimulating foods then it would be otherwise. Foods that might normally be repulsive will all of a sudden taste good. This is one of the reason hardcore dieters can get so much satisfaction eating foods that other people consider “healthy”. Many people who habitually watch what they eat are able to enjoy some really strange food because of this. Whether or not someone wants to eat really healthy all the time, they can use intermittent fasting to make an otherwise bland food taste amazing.