Intermittent fasting is a diet that has been popularized over the past 5-10 years. In this episode of Sheer Strength, Josh asks, “Does fasting and body building go together?” He also looks into the five most commonly used protocols, how to supplement, and what to eat when you are in your ‘feed.’ If you want to know the health benefits of fasting, and if you can actually achieve the physique though significantly reducing your caloric intake, then this is a great episode for you.
Top 5 Protocols
1) Lean Gains by Martin Berkhan
This plan is Josh’s favorite and is best for dedicated gym goers who want to lose body fat and build muscle. Males fast for 16 hours; eat for 8 hours. Females fast for 14 hours and eat for 10 hours. Throughout the fast, you will be having a lot of whole unprocessed foods and can consume anything that is calorie free (sugar free gum, soda, black coffee or tea, etc.) How many calories you have depends on your goals.
Pros: Most days, meal frequency is irrelevant so you can eat when you are hungry and eat when you want in an 8 hour feeding period.
Cons: There are specific guidelines of what to eat, especially in relation to when you’re working out. You need to structure your eating around workouts.
If you can’t schedule your feed to when you’re working out, you may find this tough to stick to.
2) Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon
This is the most famous intermittent fasting diet because it is used by people who don’t frequently work out and are looking to reduce weight. This involves 5 days of regular eating and 2 days of extremely reduced calories (under 500 calories a day for 2 days a week.) This plan involves portion control throughout the week but is non-restrictive. You are essentially creating caloric deficit by fasting.
Pros: No restrictions on what you can eat on this diet.
Cons: A lot of people will overeat on the non-restrictive days.
This is a great program for people who aren’t specifically into working out and want to drop a little weight, but don’t want to destroy themself through diet. Josh thinks this plan is flawed as you eat what you want, and it doesn’t track calories.
3) The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler
This is best for devoted people who like following rules. This involves fasting for 20 hours, and eating in a window of 4 hours (eaten at night.) The fasting phase is about under-eating. During the 20 hour fast, you can have small servings of raw fruit, vegetables, or lean proteins. This is meant to maximize the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response). Eating at night also helps the body produce hormones and burn fat during the day. The order in which you eat specific food groups matters so start with vegetables, proteins, and fat, and only then if you’re still hungry should you tack on some carbohydrates.
Cons: The strict schedule and 20 hours of fasting is harsh. Josh is dubious of this diet because he doesn’t believe you’ll get maximum performance in the gym being on this diet.
4) Fat Loss Forever by John Romaniello and Dan Go
This method takes the best part of the Warrior Diet, Eat Stop Eat and Lean Gains, and combines them all into one plan. You also get one cheat day per week, followed by a 36 hour fast. The remainder of the 7-day cycle is split between the different fasting protocols. It is suggested you save the longest fast for the busiest days to avoid focusing on hunger.
Cons: If you have a hard time handling cheat days in moderation, this might not be for you as you will massively overeat after fasting.
5) Up Day Down Day by James Johnson
This is also known as The Alternate Day Diet or Alternate Day Fasting. Eat little one day, and eat normal the next. On the low calorie day, this means 20% of your normal calorie intake. For women on a 2,000 calorie diet, your down day will be 400 calories. To make down days easier, Johnson suggests meal replacement shakes. However, only use the shakes during the first two weeks of the diet. This diet is aimed at people who aren’t serious in the gym.
Pros: Great weight loss results.
Cons: Josh thinks you should use a whole food diet rather than a shake, and that you probably won’t maximize fat loss on this plan. The extreme caloric deficit for half the week will have a negative effect on your training performance. You will lose muscle on this program.
How to Supplement When You’re on Intermittent Fasting
- BCAA: To ensure you have useable fuel, take 5g pre-workout and 5g during the workout. Josh prefers a drinkable one or tablets.
- Creatine: 5g a day every day to help keep strength nice and high.
- Caffeine: When you are on low calories and feel tired, get a strong double espresso. It will help with fat burning. You can also use it to curb your appetite in your fast.
Health Benefits From Fasting
Josh asks, “Is fasting really that healthy to do?” Numerous studies suggest decreasing our caloric consumption can extend our life and stay disease free. Fasting also helps increase insulin sensitivity and helps realign hormone levels. When you are fasting, there is a drop in IGF1, which has been shown to be favorable in anti-aging. Dr. Valter Longo does a lot of work on fasting to help reduce cancer, help with chemotherapy, and keeping the body youthful through fasting.
Josh uses fasting when he’s had a period in his diet that hasn’t been so great and he’s put on weight. He chooses to do a 6 hour window of eating from 12pm to 6pm and splits that up into however many meals he needs (at least three meals.) If you are stuck, can’t get to the next level of leanness, and you want to maximize you muscle, he advocates you give this diet a blast and play around with the protocols to suit you. Make sure you supplement and take a multi vitamin.