Some information on my approach from Jamie Hale’s book.

…Intermittent fasting involves a period of fasting followed by a period of feeding. Studies on intermittent fasting and human subjects has shown positive effects on health indicators, including insulin sensitivity. These studies often involve long periods of food deprivation followed by a very large meal; one example being a 24 hour fast followed by eating the daily calorie allotment in one meal. By doing this, the test subjects lost more body fat, and actually gained lean mass, in comparison to a regular meal pattern. Keep in mind that these individuals were not even lifting weights in the first place; this suggests that the one-meal-a-day eating pattern had positive effects on body composition, possibly by impacting hormones or gene expression. However, I feel strongly that such extreme measures are not needed to in order to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting for those wishing to improve their body composition.

The Intermittent Fasting protocol for lean gains and fat loss, aims to take advantage of the powerful fat burning properties of the fast and the nutrient partitioning effects of short term overfeeding, in order to reduce bodyfat and increase lean body mass. Therefore I have devised a system, through trial and error, which involves a short fast in combination with weightlifting and overfeeding, in order to achieve lean muscular gains and fat loss. I have significantly improved my body composition with this seemingly “controversial” way of meal patterning, and several others has had the same success. Those that convert from a typical high meal frequency eating regime to the Intermittent fasting protocol seldom go back to their old habits of obsessively eating every second hour, yet never really feeling satisfied. I will briefly describe some guidelines I use in order to put this diet in a contextual framework.

The Intermittent Fasting protocol consists of two phases; the fasting period and the overfeeding period. The basic idea behind this protocol is to provide nutrients at a time where they will be used for recovery and repair, being the post workout window. In order to receive the benefits of nutrient partitioning, the protocol consists of a fasting period, lasting 16 hours. This means you initiate your first meal 16 hours before eating the last meal on the night before (which is easily done by skipping breakfast and lunch). Thus, ideally all eating is done within an 8 +-1 hour timeframe. Most do well with 3 meals, some may even prefer 2 or 4. To some this may seem daunting, as some will assume that hunger will be an issue, but this is anecdotally not the case; the fast has strong appetite suppressant properties, which is partly explained by increased catecholamine output during the fast. Contrary to popular belief, there is no proteolysis during this period. You do not need to worry that you will be “burning” muscle tissue during the fast.

The fasting aspect of the diet has several positive effects on lipolysis, partly mediated by catecholamines and growth hormone release during the fast. Besides acting as an appetite suppressant, the catecholamines provides a stimulant effect; you will most likely feel like you have more energy and focus than usual (in this state any other stimulants, like caffeine for example, also has a more potent effect in comparison to being consumed on a full stomach)..

After fasting for 16 hours, one breaks the fast with a meal whose macronutrient profile differs depending on if it´s a workout day or a rest day. On workout days, one breaks the fast with a moderate sized pre-workout meal, providing adequate carbohydrates and protein. After the workout, you will consume the largest meal of the day and proceed to eat once your calorie quota for the day is filled (this quota is your maintenance intake + a certain % depending on your goals). Carbohydrates are favourable to consume in this meal. You may split meals how you see fit, but you should keep the eating window to 8 hours, including the pre-workout meal. My day may look like this for example:

  • 4 pm: pre-workout meal
  • 5-6: workout
  • 7-12 pm: post workout meal, and the rest of calorie requirements for this day. This is the overfeeding period of Intermittent Fating. After the last meal, the fast starts again in order to initiate the first meal at 4 pm the next day (these hours will be dependent on your own schedule, and times used here are merely for illustrative purposes). In order to have a steady supply of amino acids in your blood during the fast, I suggest the last meal consists of whole foods and slow digesting protein (meat or cottage cheese for example).

On rest days, the calorie intake will differ from your workout day. Depending on goals, one may tailor the calories to either fat loss, weight gain or improved body composition…

For more information about Intermittent Fasting, and the forthcoming collaborative book project with Lyle McDonald, please visit Leangains.com or www.bodyrecomposition.com