Little and Often Vs Intermittent Fasting
By Myprotein Writer Jack Grant.
For years I followed the tried and tested method of eating 6 small, well balanced meals a day , you know , the classic body building way of life where you take on board protein ever 2.5 to 3 hours of each and every day.
I did it for as long as I could remember and combined with a good weight training programme I got good results. Then in 2012 I read a few online papers about the benefits of intermittent fasting (IF) and thought, what the heck, I’ll experiment and give this new (to me) dietary regime a go.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting calls for one to take on board all their daily calories during a restricted given period of time over a specific part of the day, known as the “feeding window”. Once outside this “window” you must refrain from eating all together. The theory is that all the time you are fasting your body will have no option but to use fat as fuel, thus resulting in lipolysis, the breakdown of fat and a decrease in body fat.
Having a small feeding window rather than “grazing” all day should naturally result in a lower total intake of calories, whereby scientists experimenting with IF have discovered that reducing calories in animals not only helped to reduce body fat but actually resulted in the test subjects living longer and healthier lives.
How to do Intermittent Fasting
There are various methods of fasting out there including the practice of going a full 24 hours each week without food but one popular includes a fasting period of 16 hours and a “feeding” window of 8 hours every day. 16 hours sounds like a long time to go without food but don’t forget bedtime is included in that period. During the feeding window u don’t go food crazy but simply have 2 or 3 well balanced meals.
It’s also important to do your weight training during the fasted period on an empty stomach so that, again, your body has no option but to use fat as fuel for the work out. To make sure muscle wastage and catabolism is prevented be sure to consume 5 to 10g of myprotein BCAA pre workout and, if I don’t feel as energetic as I need to be, a 200mg tab of caffeine pro, or for an all in one: Mypre.
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day right? But when it comes to building muscle and cutting fat, there’s quite a bit of research and science behind the whole idea that suggests having a traditional breakfast when you first wake is not necessarily the best way to go and that fasting for a period of time each day is a more natural state of affairs.
Its best to choose a time frame for your feeding period and stick with it but the actual times are purely down to personal choice and what suits you.
Intermittent Fasting Side Effects
Most people, like any diet, begin with the usual enthusiasm, however after a week or two intermittent fasting may bring some adverse side effects.
For example, side effects on intermittent fasting include headaches, feeling famished and fatigued, lethargic and weak in the gym and irritability during fasting periods.
Often the initial side effects of intermittent fasting means that after 9 or 10 days some people give up and decide the whole thing is not for them- reverted back to 6 small meals a day.
When I adopted intermittent fasting, I gave up after around 10 days due to negative side effects. Then about a year later, in early 2013, I was scouring the internet for something new to try to get me in shape for my summer holiday, when I stumbled across IF again. I decided to revisit the concept and see if there was anything I missed first time around.
Low and behold I spotted a report from a guy who when starting IF had suffered the exact same problems that I had experienced but went on to point out that these disappeared after approximately 10 to 14 days . reading this personal experience was enough for me to give it another bash and in march of that year I put myself firmly back on the IF wagon.
Again I suffered the aforementioned side effects but was pleasantly surprised when they miraculously melted away at round about the 2 week mark.
To cut a long story short I spent 5 months on the IF programme , training hard in the fasted state and sticking to my 8 hour feeding window and come holiday time in August I was probably in the best shape of my life.
Intermittent Fasting Doubts
Some people find the concept of exercising on an empty stomach quite scary and worry about energy levels etc. but, trust me, once you’re in the groove it actually feels great training that way and your body will become a fat burning Furness during that time.
What happens during holiday periods and special occasions?
Reverting back to having a hearty breakfast and a large evening meal so you can live a relatively normal life with family and friends is normal from time to time- afterall you’re not expected to work 365 days a year are you? And you certainly don’t want to sit and watch everyone tuck into breakfast only to then go off on my own at 3 o’clock in the afternoon in the search of some protein.
Holidays are normal but make sure you try and get back on track- It’s not a diet or experiment, it’s a lifestyle change that can massively contribute to staying lean and muscular.
But what of the little and often programme?
I’m not going to criticise or condemn it because I used it to build muscle and get in shape for years. It certainly worked for me and can work for you but, for me, intermittent fasting is the superior way of eating for lean muscle growth and fat loss. I also find it much more convenient to fit IF in around my average day. The little and often approach can be easy to manage on days off work but is it practical in your working environment to take a short break every few hours to wolf down a portion of chicken and rice?
The moral of the story there is more than one way to reach your goals, don’t be afraid to try something different or new and always give something a fair run before you give up on it.
Do plenty of your own research and then maybe give intermittent fasting a try?
What have you got to lose?