Intermittent Fasting: What It Is And How It Works

Training and dieting are simple concepts complicated by idiots trying to make excuses or sell you something.

Unfortunately, said idiots are far too often found in the mainstream dishing out advice without bothering to check their facts or question outdated beliefs. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a topic as thoroughly chewed to bare bones as nutrition, yet not a day goes by that some eager asshole somewhere claims to have found THE ULTIMATE diet, writing a book on it and ripping off a considerable bunch of lazy and naive sheeple with the logic of a 3-year-old who believe anything worthwhile could be accomplished without true effort on their part.

Next logical step for her? Writing a training & nutrition book

There’s an overabundance of training and nutrition info out there, many sources saying completely contradictory things. Whom should you listen to?

Nonetheless, legit advice is still out there. The trick lies in learning how to filter through the many layers of crap surrounding the truth.

But that’s merely the starting point. You need to be willing to put that knowledge to work, fighting your way through trial and error in order to finally reap the rewards.

Personally, out of all the lies we’ve been subjected to fitness wise in the past couple of decades, the one about eating every few hours has got to be the foundation for most frustration – what with all the careful planning, preparing, packaging and timing of every meal I went through in the past.

How come we never bothered to stop and think about the validity of this theory for a sec? Instead, we kept on repeating a misbelief like friggin’ parrots until everybody was convinced it had to be true.

I’ve previously touched on Intermittent Fasting here. However, I doubt the mainstream media will pick up on IF for the next 5-10 years since it’s a relatively new phenomenon and we all know how slowly “already established” ideologies are to change.

(For the impatient ones among you longing for some IF wisdom, you can skip the next few paragraphs. For everyone else, let me keep on illustrating where I’m coming from a tad further.)


Case in point, it wasn’t until Galilei’s findings in the 17th century that the heliocentric view began receiving widespread acceptance regardless of evidence already unearthed by the early Pythagoreans some 300 years B.C. and more recently Copernicus several decades before the Italian promoted the heliocentric theory over the then-existing geocentric one which then went on to become the household astronomical model. So, basically, it took almost two millennia to convince people that the Sun, not the Earth was at the center of the universe.

Now what the hell does this excursion into historical astronomical views of the world have to do with nutrition info in the modern day?

Goddamn everything!

I wonder how many of the “universal truths” out there in the fitness industry today will have been debunked within the next century – or decade. Or maybe people will still be chasing a magic pill that will solve all their problems in the blink of an eye…? But let’s not get too carried away just yet.

In spite of all the asinine, downright retarded information floating around these days in the printed press or the Web, coaches and individuals working in the trenches have my respect for applying critical thinking and constantly evolving their methods in lieu of succumbing to prevalent ideologies or “conventional wisdom” because that’s where true progress and new discoveries are made… in the trenches – working your ass off in the gym and at the dinner table.

For years basically everybody ranging from trainers to magazines was advocating multiple meals a day for fat loss and gaining muscle. However, you can literally feel the winds of change ripping through the fitness industry as a growing number of individuals have been applying Intermittent Fasting – a fairly recent nutritional methodology contradicting the frequent eating dogma – with great results.


I had the chance to throw a few questions regarding IF at Andy Morgan over at RippedBody – a Nutritional Coach and Trainer based in Osaka, Japan – who was kind enough to share his knowledge with us.

Andy's 10 week IF run

YB: What is the basic premise behind Intermittent Fasting and how does it differ from the conventional method of eating multiple meals a day?

AM: Intermittent Fasting (I.F.) is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting and non-fasting. There are a few different popular types (you may have heard of ‘The Warrior Diet’ or Eat. Stop. Eat.). I tend to use Martin Berkhan’s popular Leangains system with clients, which is best thought of as purposefully skipping breakfast. Of course, there is a little more to it than that, but for now, please think of it in those terms.

Because insulin spikes after you eat, and thus interferes with/halts fat burning, by extending the fast everyone is used to (overnight) up until lunchtime, it’s possible to burn more fat. The added benefit of this style of dieting is the lack of hunger – your body gets used to when you eat and so you don’t feel hungry in the mornings (adapting to this usually takes about a week). This means you can eat more food in less time, and feel fuller – which is great when dieting.

I wrote more about this here: http://rippedbody.jp/intermittent-fasting-leangains-introduction-benefits/

YB: As far as I’m aware, you and your clients have gotten phenomenal results in a short time frame by applying the 16/8 method of IF combined with carb/calorie cycling. How would one successfully use this approach on training days and off days regarding total calorie and macronutrient intake?

AM: Generally speaking:

On training days consume high carbs/low fat and an excess of calories for recovery and muscle growth.

For optimal nutrient partitioning (carbs being shuttled to the muscles for growth rather than storage) put the majority of your calories for the day after your training session. The anabolic window after training is 24 hours, considerably more than the supplement companies would like us to believe.

An example of a post-workout meal (more of these on Andy's site)... 1lb grilled chicken, mango and peach salsa over a bed of spinach, brown rice, a cup of fruity pebbles, greek yoghurt with strawberries

On rest days consume low carbs/higher fat and a calorie deficit to burn fat.

Keep your meals the same time on both days so that you don’t get hungry.

YB: Personally, one of the greatest benefits of IF is that it allows far more leeway when structuring and timing my meals. Knowing that I won’t be losing muscle should I, for whatever reason, go without eating for an entire day is a huge mental relief in comparison to eating every 2-3 hours. What’s your take on this and have you found any other psychological advantages using IF?

AM: I’m similar to you Yunus in that I’m much more relaxed about things now that I realise that I don’t need to eat some protein every 3 hours. I used to go crazy if I couldn’t find a healthy meal, but now, I usually eat just twice a day, it’s much easier. Night and day.

This doesn’t just apply to Leangains users but everyone. Eat a mixed, whole-food meal with meat, fibrous vegetables, carbs (anything really) and healthy fats and your body will still be digesting and absorbing the nutrients 10+ hours later, and your blood will still be swimming in aminos. Read Martin Berkhan’s “Top 10 Fasting Myths” article for more.

A cheat meal doesn't get any better than this

YB: It’s holiday season again and a ton of people are going to start 2012 considerably fatter due to unplanned festive gorging, followed then by excessive dieting doomed to failure as a part of yet another New Year’s resolution. I find this rather amusing, considering your clients don’t really shy away from delicious treats either yet manage to keep their abs. What does the Average Jane or Joe do wrong?

AM: Generally they do one of two things. Either:

1.) Make an unsustainable plan at the start of the year which their body can’t recover from (e.g. 5x a week gym and 4 mornings a week running) and then they quit.

2.) Let water fluctuations screw them.

When people diet they generally cut down carbs, which, as 1g of carbs suck in 3-4g of water into the body, causes a large drop in water weight in the initial stages of the diet. This leads people to set unrealistic goals, which in turn makes people demotivated and quit when they don’t meet them.

The opposite end of this is when people binge eat and they jump on the scales and see they’ve gained 2-3kg. Many people quit their diet at this stage, not realizing that it’s mostly water weight that will drop off again in a few days.

I’ve written an article about realistic goal setting here: http://rippedbody.jp/2011/12/17/12-weeks-on-leangains-what-you-can-expect-to-achieve/

YB: Any parting thoughts on your behalf before we wrap this Q&A up?

AM: Don’t repeat the same actions this year and expect a different result. If you’re not happy then change. There’s lots of helpful people out there in the IF/Leangains community willing to give you a hand if you need help with the diet.

I’ve written a guide how you can do it yourself [http://rippedbody.jp/2011/10/08/leangains-intermittent-fasting-guide-how-to-do-it-by-yourself/] and there’s plenty of links in there to resources so that you should be able to have success on your own. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Thanks for interviewing me Yunus and good luck to all your readers. I hope 2012 is the best year for your fitness goals yet.

Please leave your comments and questions to Andy or me below.

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