Changes in our lives cause stress.
Getting retrenched. Selling a house. Getting divorce – All stressful to one degree or another.
Well, adding a new weight-loss program to an already busy schedule can be stressful. A shock to the system. There’s a new routine in place – and some of us have a hard time adapting to new routines.
We all know people who’ve started a similar program or that, only to discover that it was too hard, too unforgiving, and too regimented.
Intermittent Fasting Adapts to Your Life, Not the Other Way Around
Unlike a typical weight-loss diet, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that focuses on when you eat rather than what you eat.
It does not revolve around calorie restriction or food choices. Rather, it’s more about optimization of your fasting and feeding window so that your body gets better at using the calories it has consumed (more on that in a minute).
The Different Types of Intermittent Fasting
The 16/8 method involves fasting every day for 14 – 16 hours and restricting your feeding window to 8 – 10 hours.
There’s no specific amount of meals that are allowed within the feeding window as long as you’re within your calorie budget.
This method is also known as the Leangains protocol 1, and it was pioneered by Swedish fitness expert Martin Berkhan.
It’s generally recommended to start your fasting period at night and break your fast by noon the next day for adherence reason, as most people prefer to go to bed in a fed state. Plus, social gathering often takes place later in the day.
Women are encouraged to fast for 14 hours in the beginning before deciding whether to move on to 16 hours, because they were reported to experience slightly more adverse reactions to fasting than men.
Low-calorie beverages such as water, coffee, and other zero-calorie beverages are allowed during the fasting window.
The 16/8 method involves daily fasts of 16 hours for men and 14 hours for women. The feeding window is limited to 8 – 10 hours during which there will no be restriction in meal frequency, so long as you keep it within your calorie budget.
The 5:2 diet involves eating regularly 5 days of the week while restricting your calorie intake to 1/4 of your normal calorie intake, which is about 500kcal for a woman, and 600kcal for a man for 2 days of the week.
This diet is also known as the Fast Diet, and it was popularized by British journalist Michael Mosley.
You can choose whichever two days of the week you prefer as the fasting days, as long as there is at least one non-fasting day in between them.
For example, you might eat normally every day of the week except Tuesday and Friday. For those two days, you eat 2 to 3 small meals totaled up to 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men.
The 5:2 diet, or the Fast Diet, involves eating 500–600 calories for 2 days out of the week and eating normally the other 5 days.
Eat Stop Eat
Eat Stop Eat is a type of intermittent fasting which involves fasting for a 24-hour period, once or twice per week.
For example, by fasting from dinner one day to dinner the next day, you have completed a full 24-hour fast.
You can also choose to fast from breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch.
Similar to 16/8, water, coffee, and other zero-calorie beverages are allowed during the fasting window.
This is an extreme version of fasting that most people should only consider doing after they have tried out other intermittent fasting methods.
Eat Stop Eat is an intermittent fasting method which involves one or two 24-hour fasts per week.
As the name implies, you fast every other day of the week.
There are several different versions of this method – You can choose to have 500 calories only during the fasting days, or a 24-hour fast every other day.
It is worth noting that you may go to bed ravenous multiple times per week, which can result in a lower level of adherence to the program.
As such, it’s not recommended for those who have just gotten started with intermittent fasting.
Alternate-day fasting has you fast every other day, either by not eating anything or only eating a few hundred calories.
The Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet is like a hybrid version of intermittent fasting and paleo diet.
It involves eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day, before ending the day with one huge meal at night.
Basically, you fast for 20 hours of the day and feast at night within a four-hour feeding window.
This diet’s food choices should consist of mostly whole, unprocessed foods.
The Warrior Diet involves consuming a small amount of vegetables and fruits during the day, before finishing off with one huge meal at night.
One Meal a Day (OMAD) Diet
OMAD is the hardcore cousin of Warrior Diet – Instead of fasting for 20 hours a day, you extend the fasting period to 23 hours in a day.
It’s great to challenge yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone, but apart from that, I don’t see any reason why anyone would want to fast for such a long period of time in a given day.
It’s just simply unsustainable for most people in the long run.
The OMAD Diet involves fasting for 23 hours during the day, before consuming all your calories in 1-hour feeding window.
My Experience with 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
I first came across this eating pattern while I was on Reddit. There was a subreddit (a forum dedicated to a specific topic) that focus on intermittent fasting, and it was flooded with reviews and testimonials that swore by it.
Soon, it started gaining popularity on social media, and I’m seeing more and more fitness personalities that shared and endorsed this eating pattern on Facebook, Instagram, blogs and other media outlets.
After hearing so much about IF around the health and fitness world, I’ve decided to give it a shot.
I decided to choose the 16/8 method of Intermittent Fasting because it seemed to be a method that fit my lifestyle the best.
You see, I have a tendency to get ‘hangry’ if I spent too much time in a fasted state. That strikes off many eating patterns from the list.
A Day in the Life of an Intermittent Faster
My working hours are between 12:00 PM and 9:00 PM, and the structured daily schedule gives me a sense of control as I start my feeding window during working hour.
I would normally wake up, have a cup of black coffee (yes, you can have calorie-free drinks during the fasting period), and train early in the morning from Monday to Thursday.
I would then break my fast in the afternoon and end my feeding window by the time I finished my work.
Since I am already fasting every night when I go to bed — although for a shorter period of time, all I have to do is to stop eating after I wake up to prolong my fasting window.
I also like to have a few cups of hot green tea at night as it helps to wind down after a hectic day at work.
Intermittent Fasting Guide: My Diet Meal Plan and Training Schedule
|7:00 AM||Wake up + a cup of black coffee (AIK CHEONG Kopi-O FTW!!!)|
|8:00 AM||Drive to gym. 5-15 minutes before workout -> ingest 10 g of BCAA (I use Scivation BCAA - Taste good and light on my stomach, which I felt was perfect to be taken pre-workout)|
|8:30 – 10:00 AM||Training -> 1.5 litre of plain water + 10 g BCAA|
|10:00 AM||10 g BCAA|
|10:00 – 11:30 AM||Drive back home, reheat the meal that I have prepared during the weekend, cook 1 and a ½ bowl of brown rice using my mini rice cooker*, and drive to work once everything is ready|
|12:00 - 1:00 PM||The “real” post-workout meal (largest meal of the day). This marks the beginning of the 8-hour feeding window|
|4:00 - 5:00 PM||Some snacks in between|
|8:00 - 9:00 PM||Last meal before the fast begins. Thaw the meat that I have prepared during the weekend by moving it from the freezer to the top shelf|
* The portable mini rice cooker makes it easy to measure the rice content for one sitting. It also serves as a food container, so you don’t have to clean up a rice cooker AND a separate food container.
My Diet Menu + Macronutrient Intake
1) First I will have to determine how much protein I need in a day.
The optimal protein intake for those who engaged in regular resistance training activities has been thoroughly discussed in this article2. To summarize it for you:-
there is normally no advantage to consuming more than 0.82g/lb (1.8g/kg) of protein per day to preserve or build muscle for natural trainees, and that has already included a mark-up, since most research finds no more benefits after 0.64g/lb.
And here’s the calculation:
1.8g x 84kg: 151g of protein a day
2) Next, I will have to split it evenly into several meals throughout the day.
|Food Name||Protein Content|
|10g of BCAA||~ 10g of protein|
|10g of BCAA||~ 10g of protein|
|10g of BCAA||~ 10g of protein|
|200g of chicken breast (meal prepped during the weekend)||62g of protein|
|1 and a ½ bowl of brown rice||10g of protein|
|2 scoops of whey protein||40g of protein|
|1 scoop of whey protein||20g of protein|
Total amount of protein in a day: 162g protein
Once protein intake has been taken care of, I will fill in the remaining calories with either carbs/fats, so long as I remain in a deficit/surplus, depending on my goal at the time.
I have previously written an article explaining why I’m not a huge proponent of clean eating, and that’s also the reason why I have only listed where I got my protein sources from.
Of the three macronutrients, protein is the most important component for both muscle gain and fat loss.
For the other two, I prefer keeping it simple by filling in the rest of the calories with whatever I feel like eating on the day itself.
Treating myself with a ‘mini cheat meal’ every day of the week helps with diet adherence and keeps my sanity in check.
If you are interested in meal prepping but clueless about how to get started, check out my meal prep guide where I shared some of my own meal prep ideas that are anything but boring!
My Training Routine
|Monday: Chest and Triceps||Tuesday: Back and Biceps||Wednesday: Shoulders and Triceps||Thursday: Legs|
|1. Bench Press|
2. Incline Bench Press
3. Decline Bench Press
4. Tricep Bar Pulldown
|1. Upper Back Row|
2. Seated Row
3. Seated Lat Pulldown
4. Straight Arm Lat Pulldown
5. One-Arm Preacher Curl
|1. Lateral Raises|
2. Front Raises
3. Rear Delt Flyes
4. Tricep Bar Pulldown
2. Hamstring Curl
3. Calf Raises
** Please swipe right to view the full routine if you’re on mobile. **
All exercises are performed in 8 sets of 6-8 reps.
Drinking a lot of water really helps with suppressing my appetite, and that’s crucial in the morning as I perform heavy lifting in the gym.
I definitely do not want to go to a gym feeling hungry, because the last thing I want on my chest day is my neck getting pinned underneath a barbell while I was doing decline bench press.
Not only that, but I noticed that staying hydrated throughout the day helps me to maintain a good mood and keep my mind sharp while I’m at work.
It does take some time to get used to this schedule, and another habit that helps me to stick to this lifestyle is to break my fast at the same time every day of the week.
The hunger hormone in our body named ghrelin adapts to our habitual meal pattern, meaning we tend to get hungry at the times we normally eat3.
Keeping the feeding window constant throughout the week has helped me tremendously in feeling satiated throughout those grueling workouts.
Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day?
The eating-breakfast-first-thing-in-the-morning argument is based on the notion that insulin sensitivity is higher in the morning; in layman’s terms, the calories you consume are used more efficiently.
However, it’s important to note that insulin sensitivity is higher “in the morning” due to the fact that you have spent the past 8 to 10 hours in a fasted state while you’re sleeping. Intermittent fasting amplifies the effect – Extending that fasting period increases insulin sensitivity even more4.
Is It Right for Me?
I can cite all the academic research that I want in this article, but the only way to find out if intermittent fasting is the right fit for you is to experiment it on your own.
After all, what worked for me might not work for you.
That said, if you do want to try it out, here’s what I can recommend based on my own experience:-
a. Ease into It
If you have the habit of snacking mindlessly all day, and you suddenly throw the switch and eat nothing for the next 16 hours, you’re doomed to fail. DOOMED.
Instead of going cold turkey on intermittent fasting, you ease your way into the eating pattern with a 14:10 protocol. You still fast every day – you just fast for a shorter period of time.
b. Don’t Beat Yourself Up if You Mess Up
There will be times when you struggle to ignore your rumbling stomach.
Then you start shoveling all the foods in sight and you ended up overeating as a result.
Don’t beat yourself up – remember that all of us do not possess superhuman willpower, and none of us are capable of sticking to the IF lifestyle all year round.
Never be discouraged and don’t let one indulgence derail you from your pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. Pick yourself up, stick to the game plan the next day and you’ll be good to go.
Have you tried intermittent fasting before? How was your experience? Feel free to share it in the comment section below with those who are eager to try it out!
1. Martin Berkhan (2010), The Leangains Guide. Retrieved from https://leangains.com/the-leangains-guide/
2. Menno Henselmans, The myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal protein intake for bodybuilders. Retrieved from https://mennohenselmans.com/the-myth-of-1glb-optimal-protein-intake-for-bodybuilders/
3. Julie M Frecka, Richard D Mattes (2008), Possible entrainment of ghrelin to habitual meal patterns in humans. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18187517/
4. Elizabeth F. Sutton, Robbie Beyl, Kate S. Early, William T. Cefalu, Eric Ravussin, Courtney M. Peterson (2018), Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes. Retrieved from https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1550413118302535