The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting

I have been intermittent fasting for over one year.

I skip breakfast each day and eat two meals, the first around 1pm and the second around 8pm. Then, I fast for 16 hours until I start eating again the next day at 1pm.

Surprisingly, since I’ve started intermittent fasting I’ve increased muscle mass (up 10 pounds from 205 to 215), decreased body fat (down 3% from 14% to 11%), increased explosiveness (set a personal best with a clean and jerk of 253 pounds a few months back), and decreased the amount of time I’ve spent training (down from 7.5 hours per week to 2.5 hours per week).

In other words, I’m stronger, leaner, and more explosive even though I go to the gym less and eat less.

You may be wondering…

How is this possible? Isn’t skipping breakfast bad for you? Why would anyone fast for 16 hours every day? What are the benefits? Is there any science behind this or are you just crazy? Is it dangerous?

Slow down, friend. I’ve been known to do some crazy things, but this is totally legit. It’s easy to implement into your lifestyle and there are tons of health benefits.

In this post, I’m going to break down intermittent fasting and everything that goes with it. And if you’d like even more ideas for living a healthy life (both mentally and physically) then you can join the free newsletter here.

What is Intermittent Fasting and Why Would You Do It?

Intermittent fasting is not a diet, it’s a pattern of eating. It’s a way of scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them. Intermittent fasting doesn’t change what you eat, it changes when you eat.

Why is it worthwhile to change when you’re eating?

Well, most notably, it’s a great way to get lean without going on a crazy diet or cutting your calories down to nothing. In fact, most of the time you’ll try to keep your calories the same when you start intermittent fasting. (Most people eat bigger meals during a shorter time frame.) Additionally, intermittent fasting is a good way to keep muscle mass on while getting lean.

With all that said, the main reason people try intermittent fasting is to lose fat. We’ll talk about how intermittent fasting leads to fat loss in a moment.

Perhaps most importantly, intermittent fasting is one of the simplest strategies we have for taking bad weight off while keeping good weight on because it requires very little behavior change. This is a very good thing because it means intermittent fasting falls into the category of “simple enough that you’ll actually do it, but meaningful enough that it will actually make a difference.”

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

To understand how intermittent fasting leads to fat loss we first need to understand the difference between the fed state and the fasted state.

Your body is in the fed state when it is digesting and absorbing food. Typically, the fed state starts when you begin eating and lasts for three to five hours as your body digests and absorbs the food you just ate. When you are in the fed state, it’s very hard for your body to burn fat because your insulin levels are high.

After that timespan, your body goes into what is known as the post–absorptive state, which is just a fancy way of saying that your body isn’t processing a meal. The post–absorptive state lasts until 8 to 12 hours after your last meal, which is when you enter the fasted state. It is much easier for you body to burn fat in the fasted state because your insulin levels are low.

When you’re in the fasted state your body can burn fat that has been inaccessible during the fed state.

Because we don’t enter the fasted state until 12 hours after our last meal, it’s rare that our bodies are in this fat burning state. This is one of the reasons why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat, or how often they exercise. Fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Fat loss is great, but it isn’t the only reason to try intermittent fasting.

1. Intermittent fasting makes your day simpler.

I’m big on behavior change, simplicity, and reducing stress. Intermittent fasting provides additional simplicity to my life that I really enjoy. When I wake up, I don’t worry about breakfast. I just grab a glass of water and start my day.

I enjoy eating and I don’t mind cooking, so eating three meals a day was never a hassle for me. However, intermittent fasting allows me to eat one less meal, which also means planning one less meal, cooking one less meal, and stressing about one less meal. It makes life a bit simpler and I like that.

2. Intermittent fasting helps you live longer.

Scientists have long known that restricting calories is a way of lengthening life. From a logical standpoint, this makes sense. When you’re starving, your body finds ways to extend your life.

There’s just one problem: who wants to starve themselves in the name of living longer?

I don’t know about you, but I’m interested in enjoying a long life. Starving myself doesn’t sound that appetizing.

The good news is that intermittent fasting activates many of the same mechanisms for extending life as calorie restriction. In other words, you get the benefits of a longer life without the hassle of starving.

Way back in 1945 it was discovered that intermittent fasting extended life in mice. (Here’s the study.) More recently, this study found that alternate day intermittent fasting led to longer lifespans.

3. Intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of cancer.

This one is up for debate because there hasn’t been a lot of research and experimentation done on the relationship between cancer and fasting. Early reports, however, look positive.

This study of 10 cancer patients suggests that the side effects of chemotherapy may be diminished by fasting before treatment. This finding is also supported by another study which used alternate day fasting with cancer patients and concluded that fasting before chemotherapy would result in better cure rates and fewer deaths.

Finally, this comprehensive analysis of many studies on fasting and disease has concluded that fasting appears to not only reduce the risk of cancer, but also cardiovascular disease.

4. Intermittent fasting is much easier than dieting.

The reason most diets fail isn’t because we switch to the wrong foods, it’s because we don’t actually follow the diet over the long term. It’s not a nutrition problem, it’s a behavior change problem.

This is where intermittent fasting shines because it’s remarkably easy to implement once you get over the idea that you need to eat all the time. For example, this study found that intermittent fasting was an effective strategy for weight loss in obese adults and concluded that “subjects quickly adapt” to an intermittent fasting routine.

I like the quote below from Dr. Michael Eades, who has tried intermittent fasting himself, on the difference between trying a diet and trying intermittent fasting.

Diets are easy in the contemplation, difficult in the execution. Intermittent fasting is just the opposite — it’s difficult in the contemplation but easy in the execution.

Most of us have contemplated going on a diet. When we find a diet that appeals to us, it seems as if it will be a breeze to do. But when we get into the nitty gritty of it, it becomes tough. For example, I stay on a low–carb diet almost all the time. But if I think about going on a low–fat diet, it looks easy. I think about bagels, whole wheat bread and jelly, mashed potatoes, corn, bananas by the dozen, etc. — all of which sound appealing. But were I to embark on such a low–fat diet I would soon tire of it and wish I could have meat and eggs. So a diet is easy in contemplation, but not so easy in the long–term execution.

Intermittent fasting is hard in the contemplation, of that there is no doubt. “You go without food for 24 hours?” people would ask, incredulously when we explained what we were doing. “I could never do that.” But once started, it’s a snap. No worries about what and where to eat for one or two out of the three meals per day. It’s a great liberation. Your food expenditures plummet. And you’re not particularly hungry. … Although it’s tough to overcome the idea of going without food, once you begin the regimen, nothing could be easier.

— Dr. Michael Eades

In my opinion, the ease of intermittent fasting is best reason to give it a try. It provides a wide range of health benefits without requiring a massive lifestyle change.

Examples of Different Intermittent Fasting Schedules

If you’re considering giving fasting a shot, there are a few different options for working it into your lifestyle.

Daily Intermittent Fasting

Most of the time, I follow the Leangains model of intermittent fasting, which uses a 16–hour fast followed by an 8–hour eating period. This model of daily intermittent fasting was popularized by Martin Berkhan of Leangains.com, which is where the name originated.

It doesn’t matter when you start your 8–hour eating period. You can start at 8am and stop at 4pm. Or you start at 2pm and stop at 10pm. Do whatever works for you. I tend to find that eating around 1pm and 8pm works well because those times allow me to eat lunch and dinner with friends and family. Breakfast is typically a meal that I eat on my own, so skipping it isn’t a big deal.

Leangains daily intermittent fasting

Because daily intermittent fasting is done every day it becomes very easy to get into the habit of eating on this schedule. Right now, you’re probably eating around the same time every day without thinking about it. Well, with daily intermittent fasting it’s the same thing, you just learn to not eat at certain times, which is remarkably easy.

One potential disadvantage of this schedule is that because you typically cut out a meal or two out of your day, it becomes more difficult to get the same number of calories in during the week. Put simply, it’s tough to teach yourself to eat bigger meals on a consistent basis. The result is that many people who try this style of intermittent fasting end up losing weight. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your goals.

This is probably a good time to mention that while I have practiced intermittent fasting consistently for the last year, I’m not fanatical about my diet. I work on building healthy habits that guide my behavior 90% of the time, so that I can do whatever I feel like during the other 10%. If I come over to your house to watch the football game and we order pizza at 11pm, guess what? I don’t care that it’s outside my feeding period, I’m eating it.

Weekly Intermittent Fasting

One of the best ways to get started with intermittent fasting is to do it once per week or once per month. The occasional fast has been shown to lead to many of the benefits we’ve already talked about, so even if you don’t use it to cut down on calories consistently there are still many other health benefits.

The graphic below shows one example of how a weekly intermittent fast might play out.

In this example, lunch on Monday is your last meal of the day. You then fast until lunch on Tuesday. This schedule has the advantage of allowing you to eat everyday of the week while still reaping the benefits of fasting for 24 hours. It’s also less likely that you’ll lose weight because you are only cutting out two meals per week. So, if you’re looking to bulk up or keep weight on, then this is a great option.

I’ve done 24–hour fasts in the past (I just did one last month) and there are a wide range of variations and options for making it work into your schedule. For example, a long day of travel or the day after a big holiday feast are often great times to throw in a 24–hour fast.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of doing a 24–hour fast is getting over the mental barrier of fasting. If you’ve never fasted before, successfully completing your first one helps you realize that you won’t die if you don’t eat for a day.

Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting

Alternate day intermittent fasting incorporates longer fasting periods on alternating days throughout the week.

For example, in the graphic below you would eat dinner on Monday night and then not eat again until Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, however, you would eat all day and then start the 24–hour fasting cycle again after dinner on Wednesday evening. This allows you to get long fast periods on a consistent basis while also eating at least one meal every day of the week.

This style of intermittent fasting seems to be used often in research studies, but from what I have seen it isn’t very popular in the real world. I’ve never tried alternate day fasting myself and I don’t plan to do so.

The benefit of alternate day intermittent fasting is that it gives you longer time in the fasted state than the Leangains style of fasting. Hypothetically, this would increase the benefits you receive from fasting.

In practice, however, I would be concerned with eating enough. Based on my experience, teaching yourself to consistently eat more is one of the harder parts of intermittent fasting. You might be able to feast for a meal, but learning to do so every day of the week takes a little bit of planning, a lot of cooking, and consistent eating. The end result is that most people who try intermittent fasting end up losing some weight because the size of their meals remains similar even though a few meals are being cut out each week.

If you’re looking to lose weight, this isn’t a problem. And even if you’re happy with your weight, this won’t prove to be too much of an issue if you follow the daily fasting or weekly fasting schedules. However, if you’re fasting for 24 hours per day on multiple days per week, then it’s going to be very difficult to eat enough of your feast days to make up for that.

As a result, I think it’s a better idea to try daily intermittent fasting or a single 24–hour fast once per week or once per month.

Frequently Asked Questions, Concerns, and Complaints

I’m a woman. Should I do anything differently?

I haven’t worked with women on implementing an intermittent fasting schedule, so I can’t speak from experience on this one.

That said, I have heard that women may find a wider window of eating to be more favorable when doing daily intermittent fasting. While men will typically fast for 16 hours and then eat for 8 hours, women may find better results by eating for 10 hours and fasting for 14 hours. The best advice I can give anyone, not just women, is to experiment and see what works best for you. Your body will give you signals. Follow what your body responds favorably to.

Also, if you’re a female, there is an all‐female group on Facebook that follows intermittent fasting. I’m sure you could find a ton of great answers and support there.

I could never skip breakfast. How do you do it?

I don’t. Breakfast foods are my favorite, so I just eat them at 1pm each day.

Also, if you eat a big dinner the night before, I think you’ll be surprised by how much energy you have in the morning. Most of the worries or concerns that people have about intermittent fasting are due to the fact that they have had it pounded into them by companies that they need to eat breakfast or they need to eat every three hours and so on. The science doesn’t support it and neither do my personal experiences.

I thought you were supposed to eat every 3 hours?

You may have heard people say that you should have six meals per day or eat every 3 hours or something like that.

Here’s why this was a popular idea for a brief period of time:

Your body burns calories when it’s processing food. So the thought behind the more meals strategy was that if you ate more frequently, you would also burn more calories throughout the day. Thus, eating more meals should help you lose weight.

Here’s the problem:

The amount of calories you burn is proportional to the size of the meal your body is processing. So, digesting six smaller meals that add up to 2000 calories burns the same amount of energy as processing two large meals of 1000 calories each.

It doesn’t matter if you get your calories in 10 meals or in 1 meal, you’ll end up in the same place.

This is crazy. If I didn’t eat for 24 hours, I’d die.

Honestly, I think the mental barrier is the biggest thing that prevents people from fasting because it’s really not that hard to do in practice.

Here are a few reasons why intermittent fasting isn’t as crazy as you think it is.

First, fasting has been practiced by various religious groups for centuries. Medical practitioners have also noted the health benefits of fasting for thousands of years. In other words, fasting isn’t some new fad or crazy marketing ploy. It’s been around for a long time and it actually works.

Second, fasting seems foreign to many of us simply because nobody talks about it that much. The reason for this is that nobody stands to make much money by telling you to not eat their products, not take their supplements, or not buy their goods. In other words, fasting isn’t a very marketable topic and so you’re not exposed to advertising and marketing on it very often. The result is that it seems somewhat extreme or strange, even though its really not.

Third, you’ve probably already fasted many times, even though you don’t know it. Have you ever slept in late on the weekends and then had a late brunch? Some people do this every weekend. In situations like these, we often eat dinner the night before and then don’t eat until 11am or noon or even later. There’s your 16–hour fast and you didn’t even think about it.

Finally, I would suggest doing one 24–hour fast even if you don’t plan on doing intermittent fasting frequently. It’s good to teach yourself that you’ll survive just fine without food for a day. Plus, as I’ve outlined with multiple research studies throughout this article, there are a lot of health benefits.

What are some good resources on intermittent fasting?

You can learn a lot about intermittent fasting by reading articles like this one and the resources below, but the best way to learn about what actually works for you is to experiment. That said, I’d recommend the following resources.

Martin Berkhan’s site on the Leangains version of intermittent fasting is great. You can find it here. If you’re looking for a few articles to start with, I’d recommend this one, this one, and this one.

Andy Morgan has also created an excellent site that covers the Leangains model of intermittent fasting, which you can find here. I particularly like his method of counting macros instead of counting calories, which you can read about here. (That said, I don’t count anything. I just eat.)

There is a very active forum on Reddit where people post their own progress with the Leangains style of intermittent fasting. You can check that out here.

Brad Pilon wrote a good book on intermittent fasting called Eat Stop Eat, which you can buy here.

And finally, John Berardi’s report on intermittent fasting is a great example of testing the ideas in practice. You can download it here.

Looking for More?

That’s intermittent fasting in a nutshell.

If you’d like to get more ideas for improving your health, mastering your habits, and optimizing your physical and mental performance, then simply join my free newsletter here.

152 Comments

  1. Hey James,

    I first got introduced to the idea of extended periods of fasting through the book “Warrior’s diet”, but at the time I thought it was stupid and dropped the book several chapters in. Well, the joke’s on me :)

    Later, I got my hands on Brads “Eat stop eat” (great resource!) and now every Saturday night to Sunday night I fast for 20-24 hours. For me, it’s not that much about the look, but fasting has a great impact on the mindset too – first, you learn to practice discipline and get some clarity in your mind, also, teaches to recognize real hunger from the “I’m bored, let’s eat”.

    Anyway, reading your article I’m getting tempted to once again introduce skipping breakfast, but at the same time, I am having great results with having a protein shake + vitamin D supplement (we have like no sun in the Baltics in winter :( ), just after mornings exercise.

    Btw, have you had any experience with skipping breakfast, but still having coffee in the morning? Coffee’s another thing I love, but I suspect some negative effects when after fasting for ~12 hours, first thing introduced to the body is coffee (just speculating here)

    Cheers

    • Cool stuff man.

      Coffee is totally fine. You can have a splash of milk in it as well if you’d like. The general rule is that you can have something in the morning as long as it’s under 50 calories. That should keep the fast going.

      Feel free to give it a try, but as always, pay attention to what’s working for your body and do more of that.

    • I like this idea of intermittent fasting. I have quit eating after 7pm and like was mentioned, you sleep and may not eat again until 11am, that’s 16 hours of fasting without really thinking about it. I do have my morning coffee though; it just seems to be part of mornings for me; I can always wait and have some scrambled eggs later that day if I want breakfast type food. I have never liked eating late anyways but stopping eating earlier isn’t so hard. I was one of those people who just ate out of boredom instead of being hungry. But I have really tried to stay focused on what I’m doing and getting into better habits. It seems the only reason people get together is to eat; having dinners are popular in Georgia. So if I do attend a dinner, then that is my last meal of the day. I’m glad I found this article, it has helped me alot.

  2. Great work with the article! I look forward to trying this out soon. By the way, you mention that you have been known to do some crazy things? Care to share a story about your many adventures?

    Thanks!

  3. Hi James,

    This is a very comprehensive article on fasting which is great, I’m going to use it as a reference when explaining to people.

    I’ve written up my own experiences of fasting here: http://cjstott.com/fasting/, using the same method as your preference.

    I find that when I’m more closely aligned to my Primal diet and am in the fat adapted state I find fasting easier. Like anything you have to get used to it and try what works for you.

    I know you don’t say too much about a ‘diet’ but I guess you generally eat a more on the healthy side, whatever you believe that to be.

    Cheers,

    Chris

    p.s. Liking the more regular posts here, signed up ages ago!

  4. James,

    I love intermittent fasting and have been doing it sporadically for a couple years now. I feel so much more productive when I am not bogged down processing food. I have also found that doing a healthy keto (veggies and healthy oils) that I have a more sustained energy level and maintain a low bodyfat percentage with ease.

    Billy

    • Hey Billy — thanks for sharing your results.

      I like what you’re saying about productivity and processing food. If we think about it from an energy standpoint, any energy that is spent processing food can’t be used for thinking or moving or other tasks. As a result, it’s not possible for us to work at our peak while we’re digesting food. Obviously, we all need to eat, but if you’re thinking about the best way to use your energy, then it might be best to eat after working and not before.

  5. I have played with big meals and small meals but not IF altho I have read a fair bit about it. I do tend to prefer bigger meals, but with training I find smaller is easier to manage – so how do you suggest eating this way when you often train twice a day and for 2 hours a time? am keen to try something new in 2013 and see how my body responds!! thanks
    lisa

    • Hi Lisa,

      What exactly are you training for? I spend no more than 30 to 45 minutes in a gym and do compound workouts (squats, bench and or dips, deadlifts and pullups/chinups) and split them up 3 to sometimes 4 days a week. I do a reverse pyramid on all exercises, but lift heavier weights doing 6-8 per set (includes a weighted vest for pullups). Rest 3 minutes and then go again; I do 3 sets of each. Honestly anything more is more than likely wasting your time, but again I’m not sure what you are training for.

      I’m not big on supplements, but I would recommend the powder form of BCAA’s and drink about 15 minutes before working out. Normally the trick is to eat your biggest meal of the day AFTER you work out, but you are working out twice a day. Because of that you might attempt a once a week 24 hour fast (not working out at all on that specific day).

  6. Dude! Pretty nice article! Pretty much covers everything and I hope your readers can reap the benefits! Me, I’m a big believer in Intermittent Fasting. I basically don’t use any supplements and am GETTING RIPPED OUTTA MA MIND! About the question referring to skipping breakfast… People may want to read properly right? It says break-fast so it doesn’t really matter if you start your day with a meal or not. If it fits your eating window, then just do it, but whatever…

  7. In my religion, we fast once a month. It will be easy for me to increase the fasting time because I’m used to it. This will be my life changing style and my motivation for losing weight.

    I’m 50 pounds overweight. I want to feel healthy and to have a better life. Thank you for this incredible information. My doctor found out that I have a blood clot on my
    right leg. I have to keep my legs elevated for a week until I see the doctor again.

    I’m taking a blood thinner (warfarin) and (prednisone), which lowers my immune system.

    Also, Ibuprofen 800.

    Do you think I can start fasting in this condition? (I need to take my medicine with food.) I know as you explain here I can drink a cup of milk with the pills or something solid not more than 50 calories.

    What do you think ? I will probably be out of Ibuprofen in a week, but I’ll continue with the other two a little longer.

    Thanks again and good luck to all that are going to start this healthy journey. :)

    • Claudia — first, welcome to the community and thanks for the kind words.

      That said, please do not take my advice in place of a physician’s advice. I cannot recommend any specific action for you other than talking to your doctor about your plans.

      Obviously, I’m here to help however I can, but any action you take is your own responsibility and so I would highly recommend speaking with your physician before changing your lifestyle.

      Good luck and be sure to stop back and let us know how things are going and if we can help!

  8. Hey James.

    First-up, thanks for a clear, well-written summary of your “leangains” approach to IF; there are few people that talk about IF from a standpoint of both understanding *and* experience. I was excited to have stumbled across your blog; thank you Twitter!

    I actually have many questions I’d like to ask you, but at the present moment, there is one in particular for which I would value your feedback:

    “How do you manage to eat enough calories on a two-meal plan?”

    My current macros have me at 2450kcal on rest days and 3265kcal on a workout day. Goal is to consume about 1.5g/lb LBM of protein (~211g), and limit fats to 20% of my calories. The 20% fat “constraint” is not artificial, it’s based on advice from my doctor due to slightly high cholesterol, and my APOE 3/4 genotype, which suggests my body may not do well with the metabolism of fats.

    It’s the “20% fat” constraint that makes eating even the 2450Kcal hard, and despite best efforts, I was 1,000Kcal short of the 3,265Kcal target on workout day. When you have to get your Kcal from lean proteins and clean carbs, man… it’s hard!

    This time around, just five days in to the standard leangains 16/8, with two feeds at ~noon and 7:30pm, I am already down 2+lbs in bodyweight. The last time I tried a cycle of leangains, I shed 10lbs in just a couple of months.

    I may have to start drinking and snacking to get some of my calories. I prefer to “eat my calories” per Martin’s advice, but since I don’t have issues with hunger or restraint, I may just have to throw some protein shakes down my neck twice a day…

    I get the baseline advice could simply be “eat more”! But given the above goals and constraints, can you offer practical advice and/or insight as to how you faced and overcame similar challenges?

    • Paul — first, thanks for reading and welcome to our community! It’s awesome to have people like yourself who are both interested in learning and practicing things in real life. We’ve got a great community here and I’m sure you’ll find some friends who are willing to chat about these topics as well.

      Here’s my take…

      1. Your limit on fats does make things harder. As you mentioned, this might be a good time to throw in shakes and other supplements (although, like you, I think eating your calories is better).

      2. I would shift your thinking a bit and remember that you have an 8-hour feeding window. In other words, don’t feel pressure to eat everything in two “meals.” Sure, you’ll want to have a big meal after your workout, but you’ll remain in the fed state whether you eat 2 meals 8 hours apart or if you eat constantly for 8 hours. The benefit in IF is from the fast, not from breaks between meals.

      3. In my experience, the main difficulty is not eating the quantity of food, it’s planning and preparing it. I would bet that you could consume the 3200 kcal of clean carbs and protein if it was laid out for you in tasty meals. Having that much food ready, however, is a different story. I think the hardest part of eating that much is planning the meals and having everything ready to go quickly and easily when you want to eat.

      If this has been a problem for you, then I would spend some time meal planning at the beginning of each week. See if you can’t prep good foods or recipes early in the week to make it easier to stick to them as the days roll on. A little bit of planning can make it a lot easier to have the quantity of food ready when you need it.

      Note 1: this is one reason why I think shakes/supplements might be a good option. Very little preparation and planning. They make meeting macros easier, even if they aren’t the optimal way to get them.

      Note 2: I probably don’t need to tell you this, but don’t get obsessed with perfection. Even if you only hit your macros 2x/week that’s better than not hitting them at all. Pay attention to what works for you and slowly improve each week. You don’t need to get it right the first time.

      Keep rocking, Paul! I’m looking forward to hearing about your progress. And, of course, feel free to drop a line here anytime.

      • Thanks, James — I appreciate the thoughtful answer.

        Totally agree that preparation is key, but I am largely struggling with the eating window itself around work, workout and commuting etc. Here’s how my eating/workout looks:

        Noon is perfect; I can consistently break the fast with a decent meal at work.

        I workout at ~5pm; again, pretty consistent here — fits my schedule nicely. That means I can’t eat another “meal” before my workout; 1) too close, and the workout suffers, plus 2) meetings/work etc. is hectic in the post-lunch hours.

        I generally make it home by 7pm, sometimes closer to 8pm. Preparation (and a great wife!) is essential here to knowing what I am 1) eating and 2) getting it eaten! Generally, though, this meal is not a problem.

        So… corrective action(s):

        1. Eat more at the noon feed.
        2. Get at least one mid-afternoon snack in; even if it’s just a greek yoghurt or similar.
        3. Drink a pre AND post workout #protein shake.

        The shakes allow for accurate counting toward macros, as well as composition of the Kcal. The pre is well documented to be useful, the post somewhat more subjectively. Regardless, there is often up to an hour and a half from completing my workout to getting home and starting to eat; it’s a big window easily filled with a protein/carb boost.

        Regarding Note #2, agreed. The whole point of IF and particularly leangains, is to not obsess about food and when to eat. That said, while I am still learning what and how much to eat to hit my macros, attention is heightened somewhat. In addition, I’d rather err on the side of “over” versus “under” on my macros — otherwise, I will drop weight (mostly lean mass) quickly.

        Thanks again for the welcome!

        • Nice. That sounds like a good plan given your schedule. I’m looking forward to hearing about your progress!

  9. Hi – I heard you with Abel James today and immediately signed up for your updates.

    I have two questions –

    1 – How do you feel about coconut oil during your fast? Others such as Paul Jaminet (Perfect Health Diet) encourage coconut oil during IM.

    2 – What if you engage in BJJ workouts mid-morning?

    Thanks!

    Brian

    • Brian — I’m glad you enjoyed the interview.

      As for your questions…

      1. I’m not familiar with using coconut oil during the fast, but I know that in general it’s very healthy. Additionally, if it’s less than 50 calories, then you’re technically still in the fasted state, so there probably isn’t much to worry about. More than than, however, and you’re not really fasting anymore, which will probably decrease the benefits.

      2. As a general rule, you can workout whenever you want while intermittent fasting. I would just have a big post–workout meal ready afterwards. That said, if your BJJ suffers because you’re not eating anything beforehand then I would consider either 1) moving your workout time, or 2) having a protein shake before your workout.

      Hope that helps!

  10. I began fasting the very day after this past Thanksgiving. I simply resolved myself to not be one of those people gorging on food all day for days AFTER a big feast such as the holiday meal. I didn’t eat til 3pm the next day. From that point on, I have not eaten more than two meals a day and have not eaten before at least noon.

    It makes one so appreciative of eating , and also has instilled the reason in me “make it count” , and by count I mean filling up your two meals a day with nutrient dense food. I do not eat grains by the way. IF has also seen my creativity skyrocket in coming up with meal ideas for my blog. I do not think I ever make the same thing twice. The morning fast places one in a highly meditative state. You become highly aware of just how attached people are to this idea of eating all the time. Almost a desperation of sorts.

    As for me, I have kept off the 63 pounds I lost, and couldn’t feel better with a fasting schedule of eating delicious meals. At lunch I am like a little kid at Christmas, everyday!

    • John — first, congrats on the 63 pounds lost! What an awesome transformation.

      And it’s great to hear about the positive impact that IF has had on other areas of your life — not just in relation to the scale. Keep up the great work and thanks for reading.

  11. HI James,
    I am a female (acutally underweight right now) but IF seems to work well with my schedule…
    Three Questions:
    1) I do a 15/9 fast because of schedule… is that ok? Do I still get the effects?
    2) Can you gain weight doing this?
    3) What is your typical carb intake? I am a ironman/marathon endurance athlete trying to do the whole “fat-Burning” thing so I usually stay around 100g or maybe up to 150 on longer training days… thoughts?

    • Meghan — first, thanks for reading. It’s awesome to have you in our little community here and I love hearing from people who are out there training hard.

      To answer your questions…

      1. a 15/9 schedule should work fine, especially since you’re a female. I have actually heard that many women see better results if they go 14/10 rather than a 16/8 split with intermittent fasting.

      2. It’s totally possible to gain weight, it just comes down to how much you eat. I would think of it in terms of how much you eat on a 24-hour basis. Whether or not you’re fasting for 16 hours or eating a regular schedule of breakfast, lunch, and dinner shouldn’t matter.

      That said, one struggle I have noticed (because I have tried to gain weight while intermittent fasting) is that if you only eat 2 meals (even if they are big meals) it’s difficult to get as much food as you normally would eating 3 meals. So my suggestion would be to view your entire 9-hour feeding window as time to eat. In other words, you can eat as much as you want, whenever you want during that time frame. That should help you get down enough food rather than limiting yourself to 2 meals during that time.

      3. I usually cycle my carbs. I eat high carb on the days I workout (150g or more) and low carb on my rest days (50g or less). I would recommend that you stick with your carb intake on training days. If you want to drop carbs on rest days, then you may see some fat burning because of that cycle.

      As always, these are just guidelines from my own experience and that of others. You’ll have to play with it a little bit and experiment to find the best pattern for you. Good luck and keep up the training!

    • When do you normally eat? I would just take the same approach — push your first meal back a few hours and go from there.

      Example: for morning eaters, they might eat breakfast at 8am, but when doing intermittent fasting they push it back to noon. For you, if your first meal is at 10pm, then push it back to 2am.

  12. I thought that this made no sense until I tried it. The beauty is that you have more time to be productive. I no longer stress about food in the mornings. I do enjoy my coffee however. I have a few cups every morning.

    The one thing that I could never do is a fasted workout. This is where I get weak. Any tips?

    • Martin — first, welcome to the community and thanks for sharing your experiences. It was the same for me: the biggest barrier with intermittent fasting is mental. Once you get past it and actually try it, you realize that it’s very easy to do and gives you all sorts of time back that you didn’t realize you were wasting.

      As for training fasted, it depends on what you’re doing. If it’s strength training, I’ve never had any negative performance impact from fasting. Just workout like you normally would.

      If you’re doing heavy endurance training, I would be a little more careful. It’s usually not a good idea to restrict energy intake (eating) at the same time that you maximize energy expenditure (long endurance workouts).

      Also, if you’re working out consistently, there’s no real need to do a fasted workout. If the schedule you have right now works, then don’t put pressure on yourself to change it.

  13. Hi James,

    I need to get about 60 lbs off. I was living in California and happily working out and living a low carb lifestyle, being thin and happy. Since moving back to london I have gained the weight as it is Carb carb carb everything here!.

    I was wondering how it would work if I do 3 days a week of fasting.

    This means a fresh veg juice and 2 boiled eggs after workout at 9am then the same in the evening for day one.

    No eating on second day and no work out in am. eat large meal at lunchtime…

    3rd day same as first.

    4th day meal at lunch.

    5th day same as first juice and eggs twice a day.

    Weekend moderate eating both days.

    Does this make sense? I just am desperate to get this weight off.

    Thanks in advance. what do you think?

    Tina

    • Tina — feel free to try whatever version of fasting that you wish, but realize two things…

      1. I find it better to do the same thing each day. This makes it easier to build a habit over the long run. I know you want the weight off now, but I would focus on living a life that you can sustain for the long-term, rather than doing something extreme just to lose weight. In short, I find it best to follow the same eating pattern each day because it’s usually easier to follow when your schedule gets crazy.

      2. The benefit of fasting usually kicks in after you have not eaten for 10 to 12 hours or more. In other words, you don’t enter the fasted state until about 12 hours after your last meal. For that reason, eating breakfast and then dinner probably won’t help very much when it comes to fasting. In that example, your meals are spaced out, but it’s unlikely that there is a big enough time gap to get you into the fasted state. That said, you do get the benefit of eating 1 less meal, which will probably reduce your overall caloric intake and help you lose weight.

      Long story short, if I was giving a suggestion it would be to eat all of your meals in an 8 or 10-hour window each day. For example, first meal at noon and last meal at 8pm. Try that for a month or two and see if it works.

      Good luck! Remember, healthy lives are built one habit at a time. You don’t need to do it all right now.

  14. I started practicing IF in October 2012. I practically eat only once a day now — at dinner time, 8pm or thereabouts.

    I was not doing it daily when I started. Initially, I did it three times a day, Mondays-Wednesdays and Fridays. Then, I extended it to five days a week (Monday thru Friday), then I made it daily. In recent weeks, I decided to extend further the fast during weekends. I take my meal on Fridays at 8pm. Then, the next meal I take is at 12noon on Sundays. Afterwhich, I do not take anything until 8pm the following day, Monday.

    I weighed 200 lbs. in September 2012. Now, my weight is down to 178 lbs. My bad cholesterol has dropped; blood sugar has normalized; SGPT is back to normal and I no longer require medication to control my BP as it is now 120/80.

    During the day, I feel more alert and have never felt being weak or lethargic in the past six months that I have been on IF.

    IF may not work for everyone but I feel great practicing IF. And, the results are there for everyone to see — weight reduction and all the blood exam & BP results all point to the benefit that I have gained from IF.

    Mind you, I eat anything and all the food I can consume during my non-fasting days.

  15. Hi there, James,

    Your articles are my new favorite thing! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us.

    I’d like to confirm that tea is allowed in the morning (less than 50 calories), and ask about your water intake. Is water limited during the fast period?

    All the best!

  16. Hi,

    Great article. I’m really keen on beginning to practice If Fasting but need to drop about 15 kilos (33 pounds) as well. Any suggestions as to how I should plan my fasts for fast results? Any advice is much appreciated.

    • Jordy — thanks for taking the time to read and share your questions. It’s great to have you here.

      I know it’s not sexy, but I prefer slow growth that actually stick in the long–term rather than trying to create a fast transformation overnight. If you follow the general pattern of intermittent fasting in the article and then combine that with eating healthy, unprocessed foods then you should see good long–term results. Also, if you want to lose weight, then you should eat less.

      Those suggestions sound simple, but they work if you stick to them.

      Good luck!

      p.s. I wrote more about fasting here and here. Those articles should help you tailor your routine.

  17. Thanks for the quick reply James and great advice. So I tried fasting today, my first meal was at 2PM (Roast Chicken & Roast Vegies). I was fine all day and didnt get hungry but gained a massive headache from 3pm on wards till I ate again about 7PM. Do you think this is my body adjusting?

    Also do you think 2 and 7 are good times to plan my Fasts around?

    Thanks again.

    • Jordy — glad to hear that you’re trying it out. Keep at it for at least 3 or 4 weeks before deciding whether or not to move on. The headaches could definitely be your body adjusting.

      2pm and 7pm are fine if they work well for the rest of your day. As long as you’re getting 14 hours of fasting or more between meals, you should be seeing some benefits.

      Good luck!

  18. Wow! What a great article. I bought the 8 Hour Diet book and started my Ifing today, because I’m convinced of the benefits of IFing. So I decided to google and see what else I could find.

    Your article really told, in a clear, concise manner, without any BS, the benefits of this way of eating. Also, I love reading about folks personal experiences on this way of eating and appreciate your sharing. I have 60 lbs. to lose, and I just can’t diet anymore. I hate it. I hope this will get me to my goal, no matter how long it takes. It’s something I can live with.

    • Thanks Joyce! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I’ll do my best to keep great ones coming.

      Keep up the good work. It sounds like you’re off to a great start. And remember, slow and steady changes stick for the long term. Anyone can do a crash diet for two weeks or so. Small changes actually stick and that leads to a big impact down the line.

      And as always, thanks for reading!

  19. Thanks James for such a clear and accessible article. I had heard about IF on a number of podcasts previously (I signed up to your newsletter after hearing you on Abel James Podcast) – however I had always thought that IF was for the more dedicated / strict bio hackers, your article presented it in a much more accessible way for me. As a result after reading your article yesterday I have jumped straight into your preferred protocol and thought I would share my first day’s experiences:

    -Firstly this is a rest day for me so I will be interested to see how it pans out for my training day tomorrow.

    -I was really surprised at how little hunger I felt ;). I had a few meetings and found I was able to distract myself with work and just drink water when I felt hunger. What was interesting was I had some hunger pains (stomach rumbles) around 10:00am and thought come 12:00 I would be wanting to eat anything I could get hold of – however come noon I was in the middle of an email so didn’t break my fast until 12:30.

    -I am only halfway through my first day so definitely too early to tell but this seems really doable at the moment so fingers crossed ;).

    One question I do have is I am currently overweight and on the border of obese so I definitely am not in a lean state – I was currently planning to go low carb and have started counting my macro’s to this end (it’s amazing where those carbs pop up). This however seems at odds with your carb cycling approach but I am a bit reluctant to increase my carbs on a training day as I feel I need to keep away from carbs until my body is leaner? Do you have any thoughts on the above – is it safe to load up the carbs abit on my training days without risking halting my weight loss?

    Thanks,

    Jamie

    • Jamie — that’s great! Congrats on the progress and I’m glad that you’re already moving forward.

      Fasting is so much easier than it sounds, isn’t it? I had a very similar experience to you the first time I tried it.

      As far as carbs go, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. You can do a low card diet on intermittent fasting with no problems. Low carb diets work for a lot of people and if it works for you as well, then just go with it. I carb cycle because that works for me, but it’s not a required part of fasting.

      Regardless of what you decide to do, just make sure you do something and move forward. You’ve already got some momentum, so don’t stop now. Keep up the good work! And if you have questions, I’m happy to help however I can.

  20. Hi James I’ve just started the intermittent fasting and I’m doing the 12-8 hours I was wandering I train in the morning at about 8 or 9 I normally have a protein carb recover shake after my workouts do I leave that out as well and just eat at 12 just seems a bit wierd working out fasted and not eating for a few hours after my workout finishes
    Hope you can help
    Thanks billy : )

  21. Thanks James the protein shake I’m having is a recover one so its high in carbs and sugar because I’m going to finish training at 9 and not eat till 12 should I just change it for a normal whey shake…? Also I train high intensity I’m doing athlean x program don’t know if you know it…? Will I still build muscle…? Still on the fence with the fasting because I use to eat every 3 hours I never really counted my calories would just eat clean I don’t want to find myself counting everything also don’t want to eat less and lose to much weight…?
    Thanks mate
    Billy : )

  22. Hi. Thank you for the information.

    I’ve been doing IF for about ten days and I find it’s working for me. My only thing is I’ve started my cutting period and it’s imperative I meet my daily caloric intake. I use the 16/8 method. How can I ensure I meet my daily calories I’m order to see my cuts please.

    • Hi Jae — you still have 8 hours to fit your daily caloric intake into. That should be more than enough time to eat what you need. I wouldn’t restrict yourself to a set number of meals. Simply eat whenever you wish and as much as you need during your 8-hour feeding window.

      Hope that helps. Thanks for reading!

  23. I saw and just read your “how to start eating healthy” article and then stumbled on this intermittent fasting one. It’s a great read. I typically miss breakfast altogether since I’m not a huge fan of breakfast foods. My lunch and dinner schedules are aligned with what the schedules you posted. The biggest thing is that I’m trying to pack the pounds and bulk up. I was wondering if the leangains method would be more beneficial than the 24-hour fast? I read through your mailbag related to and there’s some great stuff there as well!

    • Kevin — thanks for reading. I’m glad you’re enjoying the articles.

      It’s tough to say what’s “more beneficial” because that depends on your goals, lifestyle, daily schedule, etc.

      As a preliminary guess (without knowing too much about you), I would say that because you want to put weight on, a 24–hour fast might be better. The reason I say that is because it provides an opportunity to eat more calories on most days, which should help you put on weight. And then you can combine that with the occasional benefits of fasting to stay leaner than you would otherwise (for example, a 24-hour fast once per week).

      That said, you have to take your lifestyle into account. You mentioned that you rarely eat breakfast anyway. For that reason, it seems like trying the Leangains style of fasting would be best. Doing 24-hour fasts so that you can get more calories in throughout the day isn’t very helpful if you’re not going to be eating in the morning anyway.

      The only caveat I will add is that if you do Leangains (which is a great system) and you are serious about gaining weight, then you’ll need to commit to eating a lot. You’re probably going to need 3,000 to 3,500 calories per day and you’re going to need that within an 8-hour window.

      The most important thing is that, regardless of which option you go with, you actually choose one and get started. Don’t let the split decision prevent you from doing anything.

      Good luck man! Can’t wait to hear about your progress.

      • Thanks for responding so soon James!

        I’ll begin and start the leangains method next week since i’m pretty close to already and just try to pack on 3.5k calories in the window and see how it work with my schedule. Hopefully all will go well. I’ll keep you posted! thanks again for responding so fast

  24. Reading this article helped me out a lot, thank you!

    I’m thinking about giving IF a try. I’m most hungry between 7:00 and 16:00, after 16:00 I usually only consume a small meal composed of mainly fruit and If I’m more hungry also some protein/vegetables. Based on this it’d probably be easiest transition for me to go on a 15/9 schedule, starting at 7 am. The only downside would be that I workout in the evenings (HIIT, crossfit, spinning or a 10-17km run). Would it hurt my progress to eat my meals a couple of hours before my training instead of after? My goals are to further increase strength and endurance, if I lose some bodyfat on the way it’d really nice, but performance and overall health are my main goals.

    • Marieke — first, thanks for reading. It’s great to have you in our little community!

      I’m glad the article helped. A 15/9 schedule sounds like a fantastic place to start. Let me know how it goes.

      As far as training later in the evening, I would try it out for a few weeks and see how you feel. Perhaps adding in a protein shake at the end of the workout would be a good balance and might prevent any muscle loss that you would incur. The most important thing, however, is that you’re getting good nutrition. If you think about your training and diet over a longer time span, then you’ll probably see that training a few hours after eating shouldn’t have much of an impact.

      For example, if you think about eating right and training hard over a 24–hour period, then your body will probably optimize to the best of it’s ability. There’s no reason to stress yourself out over a few hours if you’re doing the right things over a 24–hour span.

      Hope that helps!

  25. Hey James Clear, I work night shifts in a hotel from 11pm to 7am and when I get home I’m usually tired so I go straight to bed.

    I would like to know what would be the best time to fast and eat for me. Was thinking 3pm to 11pm and in between go to the gym; is this ok?

    Also, how I’ve been searching how many intake of cals, carbs, etc… during the feeding hours, but I haven’t found anything.

    Thanks for the article. It helped a lot!

  26. Great article, and guide on how to start IF. I’m new to it and am thinking about the daily scheduile, ie. 2 meals a day while moving b-fast back a couple hours. I had a fasted workout today and felt AMAZING!

    One Question: If I’m going to go on a thermogenic how should I incorporate this with IF?

    • Drew — glad to hear that you enjoyed the article. I’m excited to hear how fasting works for you.

      I haven’t used thermogenics myself, so I can’t speak from experience on this one. Also, sometimes you have to be careful about using them depending on what other supplements you’re taking and your health conditions. I’d check with your doctor, just to be safe.

      That said, based on my research and what I have heard from others, this is the setup I would recommend: take Yohimbine HCL (I’ve heard Primaforce is a decent brand — again, not speaking from personal experience). Yohimbine technically isn’t a thermogenic, but it works well.

      It seems that the people who see the most success with this typically take it before a fasted workout (i.e. on an empty stomach) and they only take it when the do sprints, HIIT, or a similar type of intense cardio session. My recommendation would be 1x or 2x per week, not more than that. Add those sessions into your strength training and you should see some fat loss results.

      Again, I’d check with your doctor just to be safe. And een if it is technically safe, some people who struggle with anxiety or are naturally high–strung seem to feel jittery when they take thermogenics and/or Yohimbine.

      Hopefully that helps! Good luck and thanks for reading!

      • Appreciate the response! I’ll have to figure out the thermogenics, I ordered hydroxycut hardcore elite, mainly BC it contains the green coffee extract which is apparently good for gaining weight.

        Do you use protein shakes post workout? I usually do faithfully, but no sure how this works with IF. If I workout in my 8 hour window would a shake count as a meal? Just need a little clearing up. Once again thank you, your site has fueled me to start this new eating pattern.

        • I still drink protein shakes, but I also don’t workout fasted that often (just because of how my daily schedule works out). I think you could still drink them without too much of an issue.

  27. Thanks for this fantastic article. I have been considering trying IF a while (starting off with 14/10 since I’m a woman) and this article helped me make up my mind. Most days I’m not hungry until 1pm or later, so why wouldn’t I give fasting a try? I’m excited to see the results. Thanks again for all the information!

    • Awesome! I’m excited to hear about how this works out for you, Lauren!

      Keep up the good work. It sounds like you’ve got some momentum going in the right direction!

  28. Hey James

    Great Blog, by the way. Like you I try Crazy Sh*t all the time to. I did the warrior diet, in 2012 for about 4 months. I got really good results from it. Then for some reason, I went back to reg meals. I recently discovered, that fasting can increase growth hormone HGH Naturally up to 1300% For Women and 2000% for men. That was exciting to me, So i started up again. I also learned something called Sprint 8, this is a way of doing cardio that increases HGH Naturally by 500-700%. I do this workout 3-4 times a week. I see a big difference in my muscle gang in the last 4 weeks. I to do the 18 hour fast everyday, but im doing it from 12am-6pm then eat from 6pm-12pm as much as I want. I’m definitely not hungry when i wake up, I got to the gym at about 10am. So my point is, im not having pre-meal or post meal workout. Im tempted to adjust to your hours as that would work well for me as well. Do you truly believe the hours you do the fast don’t matter.?? You should update your blog and put the Growth hormone info in there and the sprint 8.( Just looking out )

    • Cavallino — great points. Thanks for sharing. I’ll have to look into the HGH info more as it sounds very interesting.

      In general, yes, I think you can fast whenever you want with little impact.

      Ultimately, I’ll say this: if a different schedule works well for you, then give it a try and see what kind of results you get. So often, we get obsessed with optimizing everything to the nth degree when the benefits are minimal for doing so. (Example: let’s say that hypothetically it’s betteer to fast until 6pm rather than eating your first meal at 1pm. How big of a difference is that worth really? Would your results be an extra 5% better? Would it even be that big of a difference?)

      My point here is that it’s easy to obsess over small details, but getting the main idea is the important thing.

      Hope that helps! Good luck and keep up the great work!

  29. I started Intermittent Fasting at the beginning of March after reading The 8 Hour Diet. Since I wanted to lose some weight, I soon adapted this by watching my calories during the 8 hour eating window and also added two 24 hour fasts a week. However, on the weekends I pretty much ate what I wanted, when I wanted. I also added 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week, making sure to always do it during my fasting period since studies are showing a greater fat burn when you exercise on an empty stomach.

    By the first week of May, I had lost 19 pounds to reach my goal of 130 lbs. (I am a 5’4″ woman and 49 years old). I also decreased my percentage of body fat while increasing my percentage of muscle. My BMI went from 26 to 22.4 and I lost 2.5 inches from my belly.

    Since then, I have been doing several 16:8 days a week and I still throw in a 24 hour fast as well for the health benefits. During my eating windows, I don’t put any restrictions on what I eat but try not to go too crazy on the amount I eat. I honestly do go a bit overboard on the weekends but I have been maintaining my weight loss very easily.

    I would have to say that Intermittent Fasting has been a godsend! Before I found it, I had tried several diets to stop the slow creep of weight gain but nothing was working. IF was so easy to do and the pounds came off steadily without feeling like I was dieting or depriving myself. It was challenging at first until I realized that I really wasn’t going to “starve to death” and it helped me to begin to look at food differently.

    I definitely plan to make fasting a part of my life for life to not only help me maintain my weight but for the potential health benefits as well.

    • Valorie — this is awesome. Thanks for sharing your experiences with our little community.

      Keep up the great work! I can’t wait to hear about your continued progress.

      Thanks for reading!

  30. I haven’t read anyone’s comments, so maybe someone else mentioned this…anyway…

    I have done ‘intermittent fasting’ (I didn’t know it was called that) my entire adult life…and it was totally spontaneous. I simply can’t gag down food in the morning – It’s like my entire being rejects it until after noon. I have beaten myself up for this forever (thinking I was supposed to be eating all this time). You may be interested to know that my body weight has stayed within 6 pounds all these years, depending on my fitness program (112-118 pounds when getting regular workouts)(106-112 without conditioning). I am 51, 5’5″, small boned.

    At any rate, I just wanted to share this because I’m so excited that I don’t have to yell at myself every day anymore about not eating breakfast! Whoohoo!

    :D

    • Donna — that’s great! And you’re absolutely right, you don’t need to feel bad about this in anyway. So often, society is bombarding us with ads and marketing messages that make us feel like there is only one way to do things (i.e. You have to eat breakfast every morning).

      Obviously, the truth is often much different.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your experiences! Your thoughts are always welcome in our little community.

  31. I’ve been eating once a day everyday for years and feel great and look great. People always tell me that I look great. I tell them what I do and they say that what I’m doing is so wrong. I am a runner also and this eating regiment hasn’t had any impact on my running at all.

    • That’s awesome, Tommy! It’s great to hear that this is working so well for you. Keep up the good work.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and share. Your thoughts are always welcome in our little community!

  32. James,

    What a well written, informative and interesting article! I’ve been reading much about IF (particularly from Dr. Mercola’s website) for the purpose of lean gains/lowering body fat, and your article explains the process so well!

    Much of what I’ve read recommends a high fat, moderate protein, and low carb IF diet (close to keto). Have you experimented with different levels of fat/protein/carbs? If so, what did you find to be most effective?

    I like the idea of eating in an 8 hour time frame, with a 20-24 hr fast once/week, though I already know I will experience some detox symptoms because currently if I go without food until 10am I get headaches. How long do these symptoms typically last? Is there a way to differentiate between transition symptoms and low blood sugar?

    Do you recommend any supplements during the transition phase and while on the IF diet?

    When do you think is the best time to exercise, if you follow the 8 hour window?

    I’m SUPER excited that I found your site, I will be bookmarking it! Sounds like you are quite a guy :)

    Be blessed!

  33. I have just read through this article for the second time and have a couple of questions.

    What can you have during your fasting time? Is it just water or can you have tea with milk? Also in the 8 hour window is it just 2 meals or just eating up to 2000 calories?

    Thanks
    Lesley

    • Lesley — thanks for reading. Those are good questions.

      1. I just drink water, but you’re welcome to have tea with milk, coffee, etc.

      2. I consider my 8-hour window to be a “feeding period” … that means I eat as much as I want during that time span. I don’t count calories or limit meals. I just focus on eating a lot of unprocessed, whole foods.

      Hope that helps!

  34. Hi James,

    How come they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? If so, shouldn’t you skip dinner instead?

  35. James,

    Tomorrow I am starting the daily intermittent fasting (16 hours). I will be eating from 1 – 8 p.m. I currently strength train 3-4 times per week.

    My goal is to continue making strength gains while lowering my body fat percentage (as fast as possible).

    So, when should I strength train?
    – In the morning within an hour of waking up
    – Mid morning
    – 1 hour before my 1 p.m. meal

    What are the pros and cons of the choices above? Thanks for this great post on intermittent fasting!

    Cheers,

    Jared

    • Jared — any of those options will work. With strength training, it’s not an issue to train fasted. (Long cardio sessions or triatholon training might pose more of an issue.)

      Of your three options, I would choose 1 hour before your 1pm meal. That way, you can eat a big meal post-workout, which tends to be a good idea.

      Good luck!

  36. Dear James,

    I hope you haven’t already answered this question but is it ok to drink water through the fasting hours?

    Thanks AJ

    • Hey AJ — thanks for reading.

      Absolutely. I drink tons of water… Especially while fasting. Tea and coffee is usually fine as well.

      Good luck!

  37. Hey James,

    I’m a professional basketball player who is trying to maintain/gain weight and I was wondering throughout the fasting period is ok to have protein shakes?

  38. Hi James,

    Alot of students on campus have been talking about trying Intermittent fasting but i was wondering if there is an age ir time where fasting could be dangerous or give the opposite results that people are expecting. my friends and i would like to try it but were not sure if were too young to start.

    Thank You!
    Savanah

    P.S. Your article was very helpful by the way!

  39. Hi James,

    That’s a great piece of information. But I have a concern regarding delaying the breakfast. I’ve read earlier that the metabolism slows down when we sleep at the night and breakfast is the one which kickstarts it. So, having a late breakfast means living with slowed down metabolism till midday. What are you thoughts on this?

    Thanks,
    Gopal

  40. Hi James,

    Due to work and study commitments, i find it difficult to eat between 12pm – 5pm, would me changing the window to say 5pm – 10pm affect the amount of weight loss?

    Thanks,
    Matthew

  41. Hi James. I loved the article and I quite didn’t understand if I should be training during my fast or after I’ve eaten and also it’s Ramadan at the moment and I fast from about 5am till about 5pm. I was wondering if I intermittent fast from 1am to 5pm and ate from 5pm till 1am, would it be okay?

    • Hi Sammie — quick answers…

      1. It doesn’t matter when you workout. It can be during the fast or during your feeding period. Whatever works best for you.

      2. It doesn’t matter when your 8-hour eating window happens. So, if you want to eat from 5pm to 1am and then fast the rest of the day, that would work just fine.

      Good luck and thanks for reading!

    • Raoul — thanks for sharing that article. Intermittent fasting has pros and cons, but my experience has been very good. Ultimately, the best decision is to experiment and pay attention to what works best for your body. A willingness to try things and to be in tune with what you respond to is the most important thing. Eventually, you’ll hone in on what works best in your particular situation.

      Good luck!

  42. James,

    Great article. I am Muslim and we fast in Ramadan, right now I am fasting from 4:15am – 8:49pm. However, in Ramadan we are not allowed anything by mouth. So, I am not drinking anything either. It find it has helped the healing of my frozen shoulder, which surprised me. I am thinking of continuing after Ramadan, because of how great my health has been, however, I just want to know what you do for drinking. Can I drink water through the morning here and there? I would do Noon-8pm eating, fasting the rest. I am type II diabetic and when fasting I don’t need my meds and my sugars are fantastic! The highest reading I had was 127 and the lowest 79! When doing the 5-6 meals a day my sugars where nothing like this and I needed a small amount of meds to control them.

    Thanks!! Christine

  43. Hi James,

    I’ve read a few IF articles, this is great, simple and easy to pick up. I have just started the IF, feeding 10am-6pm and fasting 16 hours in between. However due to my early work schedulle I am taking a big glass of water with Lemon juice squeezed from one lemon in it. I think that is about 12 cals. Will this mean I break the fast too early, or is it ok to not count this drink? and consider my self in fasted state up to 10 my full 16 hours.

    Thanks very much.

  44. Hi James. Great article – thanks for the information. I eat pretty healthy (lots of fresh fruit, veggies, try to limit processed foods, etc.) and maintain a regular workout schedule, but I have been anywhere from 20-100 lbs overweight for most of my adult life. Right now I’m about 50 lbs overweight. I love to cook and sometimes I get really obsessed with food (baking all day, looking at recipes, taking pictures of my food, etc.). You mention lowered stress as one of the benefits of IF and I feel I really need that. It’s like I’m always planning meals or eating or going out to eat, etc. Anyway, I love the idea of IF, but it also freaks me out. I get what seems like ravenously hungry in the afternoons (aka bored) and will waste a lot of time walking around searching for and munching on snacks. I really have little control over my appetite after 230pm and I never go more than a few hours without eating. Its kind of obnoxious since I am surrounded by coworkers in the afternoon. Any suggestions for managing hunger if I try IF? And for not overeating after a fasting period? I think I am afraid to be hungry at all..

  45. Hi James!

    I was excited when I read this article – and decided to try IF myself – you´re right its not that hard at all – but I do wonder if this is bad for me in the long run? Theres a lot of real scientific evidence (most recent article I could find on the news – happy to send you papers from journals as well : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23403744 ) – points to skipping breakfast being a bad idea. I understand that your 1 year long experience has been positive (althought I wonder if the changes you experienced could also be unrelated to the IF but to some other changes in your habits and lifestyle) – but I would be wary of recommending to anyone that they skip breakfast. I´m not saying IF doesnt work – but I´d probably do it as a one day on the weekend sorta thing rather than skip breakfast every day – especially for those going to work!

  46. I have a question about lifestyle and IF. So I’m extremely social. Like I go out with friends and networking groups all the time, and sometimes, I don’t have my last meal till say midnight.

    My typical eating window is also 1pm to 8 pm. My question is, what do you do when you mess up? Push back your next meal? That’d be 4pm. I’d just like to know how others handle it.

  47. Hi James, great article. I decided to do IF for my goal of dropping from 13% bf to 8.9% bf and mantain. My question is this one:

    1. I train from 6:30 am to 7:30 am off course on a fasted state, but I love to wat a postworkout big meal around 9:00 am.

    2. What happen If I fast from 6:00 pm to 9:00 (15 hours)? It will work or it is better to fast in the morning?

    3. On rest days or cardio days I fast all the morning until 12:00 pm and to the cardio at the afternoon so my postcardio would be the last meal of the day. Ok?

    Thank you.

  48. Hi James, I just joined your community and loving your resources and articles so far. Great work and Thank you!

    Quick question specific to this article:

    Would it be an issue if I take my breakfast/Lunch at 12:30pm and dinner at around 7pm to 730pm?

    This is not the “8 hour” window period, but wonder if it does have any impact on effectiveness?

    Thanks for your advice!

    • Glad you’re enjoying my work, Mitchel! Thanks for reading.

      I’m a little confused about your question. The period you mention is 7 hours. That’s basically the exact same thing. There shouldn’t be any issues with that and it should have no impact on effectiveness.

      Good luck!

  49. Hello, I have been doing IF for a month now. I normally drink a bulletproof coffee before my workout at five am and eat my first meal around noon. I eat my last meal around five or six pm, is it ok to have my bulletproof coffe or will it break my fast? Is it ok not to have a meal right after my work out.? I work out early in the morning therefore I need to extend my fasting period I eat my first meal far from my work out, which I think will be a fat burning period extension, is it ok? Thank you

  50. Hey James,

    Very well written, I enjoyed it and am giving fasting a try for my first time today. In the last year and a half I’ve lost over 100lbs of fat using a nutrition based meal replacement shake once or twice a day and I’m feeling better than ever. The basic plan is getting all the macros and micros in every day while cutting calories a bit. It has worked well, now that I’m closer to my ideal weight it’s been much more challenging to shed the last 15 to 20 lbs that I’d like to drop.

    I think intermittent fasting could work well for me, my only real concern is trying to get enough protein in daily while fasting. I’ve been taking in around 185 grams or more of protein every day for the last 18 months, spacing it out through my day with a max intake around 40 grams per meal. Getting adequate protein, i believe, has been the major key to my weight loss success so far, and I am afraid to abandon a concept that has worked for me when other things didn’t. In your opinion, can a man’s body actually absorb and utilize more than 40 or 50 grams of protein at a time?

    Thanks for your time and input.

    Dave

  51. Good stuff. Been a staunch believer in fasting for a while — though, I don’t practice it out of diligence, I just don’t like to cook that much. :?
    At any rate, you may be interested in reading about a guy named Bernarr McFadden. He’s basically the godfather of health and fitness and happened to be a big proponent of fasting. Anyway, he’s a remarkable historical figure worth getting to know.

    Matt

  52. I do this every day – in my case, waiting until late afternoon/early evening to eat. It works GANGBUSTERS, and I don’t feel deprived. It sure doesn’t feel like I’m “dieting.”

  53. Thank you for this easy to read explanation of IF. I began in April with the 5:2 plan for both purported health benefits and weight loss which contributes to that health. I’ve recently added the IF eating window to at least some of my regular days after noticing that my 2 fast days had evolved in that direction anyway. Reading both of your articles and the Q&A’s helped clear up my questions and concerns about how best to fit it into my plan. (It’s still a work in progress.) At age 69 I’ve lost 23 pounds and reduced my BP. Still working on cholesterol.

    Some thoughts about the female experience: while everyone is different as you say, premenopausal women have a different set of hormonal issues than we postmenopausal ones. ALWAYS pay attention to the body’s messages and adjust as needed.

    Carrie

  54. I have been doing 16’8 “IF” for nearly 7 weeks now with good fat loss results. I haven’t seen much drop on the scale, but can see and feel the reduction in my belly fat. My question is whether I should be concerned as to the number of calories I am consuming. Seems with each passing week I am eating less food than the week before. Somedays I am eating approx. 1500 calories. I am 50 years old and 6’3″ and weigh about 235. Love the article James.

  55. Hi,

    Thanks for this great article. I have signed up to get your newsletter. I am going to be trying this to get healthy and hopefully lose about 10 to 15 pounds. I want to be eating a more plant-based nutrient rich diet. I also want to get my body in this state to burn fat and also reduce my cancer risk, etc. I want to maximize my nutrition! However, I like a good pizza like anyone else!!! I like that you said that you are not so severe as to miss out on celebrations, because of your schedule. My husband and I are involved in Christian ministry, so there are times when we will be invited somewhere, and it would just not be appropriate not to eat. However, I think I could keep it going that 80- 90% of the time or make up for things with a 24 hour fast when due to social engagements, I am not able to stick to my normal schedule. I have also been trying to do the green kale shakes to get lots of greens. Like I said, I just want to maximize my nutrition! This is totally doable for me–even with young children. I am thinking of having a early supper, so I can eat with my children then fasting from maybe 7pm to 11am. Thanks for taking the time to write this!

    My one question—I like coffee with milk and splenda. I wish I did not need the splenda, but I don’t want to give up now. Can I have coffee with milk and splenda in the morning of my fast as long as I use milk with less than 50 calories. Will that splenda interact with my body in such a way to kick me out of the fasting state???

    THANKS! –Seanan

  56. Love the article, I’m an 18 year old looking to try out IF to gain some muscle while losing some stubborn lower abdominal body fat but my issue is my schedule. My college schedule varies almost every day and my work schedule does as well because I get different shifts each week. I really wanna try the program out but I don’t know how I could do it. Any help would be much appreciated as I was wondering whether I could change my fasting/feed periods each week depending on my schedule. Thanks!

  57. Hi James, I learned about IF through the two day diet and after Googling around a bit figured out that the process you described above is perfect for me. I’ve been doing it for about a week now and it is GREAT! A lot easier in implementation than I thought, after I got over the initial hurdle of AM hunger.

    I don’t know if my case is unique, but I actually spend a lot of time fasting in the morning (I wake up at 5:45/6AM, do bikram yoga and don’t eat till 11am or noon). Is this okay? I mean, I feel great, I just want to make sure I’m not screwing around with my system too much or if I should adjust the timing (eat earlier) to make it more effective/ I’m starving my body after a workout.

    I have to say though, you were totally right about not eating enough becoming an issue. I ALWAYS had the opposite problem (having to ration myself carefully) and now, I have to force myself to eat, especially towards the end of the feeding phase because I’m just not hungry!

    Thanks so much for such a great post. I look forward to receiving your emails in my inbox!

  58. Hi, what a great article and heaps of clear informative information.

    I work out every morning from 5:30-7, so I am thinking 7:30 to 3:30 for my window to eat, this would work well as I am over trying to work out whats for dinner and normally enjoy a larger afternoon ‘snack’ but will be more of a meal obviously, dos this sound right? do I do this every day?

    Also I normally take a pre workout drink (Dfine-8) and carnitine, so does this count as breaking my fast?

    Just looking for some clarification and encouragement,

    Thanks.

  59. Hi James,

    I have a question about the staying under 50 calories during whole 14-16 hours of fasting part:

    Say if you were to eat 1/3 of a 150 granola bar in that whole 14-16 hours in your everyday fasting would that still be ok instead of going the whole time without any calorie intake?

    Thanks,
    Michelle

  60. I’m just starting out with IF and have a few questions to just fine tune it.

    Basically should my last meal be very high in protein so I have the protein in my body to see me through out the fast or doesn’t it matter as long as I get the required nutrition in during my feeding window?

    The second question I have is I normally do a fasted trainng session in the morning only consuming bcaa, I then have my first meal roughly 2 hours later at approx 12 noon. However I’m planning on starting back Thai trainng aa couple times a week which ends at 9pm and when I’m suppose let back in my fast. Will it matter if I finish a heavy train session and then go strait into a 16 hour fast or would it be best to move my window so I can have 1 large meal after my evening session?

    My main aim is to spread fat and maintain or even build muscle.

  61. Hi James

    I have just learnt about intermittent fasting and your article gave me some extra understanding — so thank you!

    My question is… I workout in the mornings, I will do either a cardio session, weights session or yoga session. My workout ranges from 45 minutes to 60 minutes. I was wondering do you know if fasting after my session is bad for my body? I have always been told that you should replenish your body with protein after a work out, but with fasting I do my workouts at 6am and then don’t eat until 10.30. Do you think this is OK?

    Thank you so much,
    Michaela

  62. James,

    A very interesting topic, and quite a complete guide. Great work. I think I will schedule intermittent fasting for one of my 30 day challenges coming up and see how it works for me. You certainly highlight some great sounding potential benefits.

    -Steve

  63. Hi James,

    I workout twice a day, 6AM and 6PM. I normally do my fast from 5PM-9AM. My questions is that my evening workout finishes around 7:30PM, but I don’t eat anything until 9AM next morning. Is this ok, or should i move my eating window later.

  64. Is it OK to drink fatty coffee (bulletproof coffee) from the time I wake up until my first meal?

    Thanks,
    Chris

  65. Hi James,

    Great article, very informative and easy to read!

    I am a nutritionist & Personal trainer, and I’ve been entertaining the idea of IF for a while but I decided to give it a go from next week, using the 16:8 system.

    I’ll be blogging about my progress on my page http://www.igotpt.com if you want to check it out :)

  66. I just found your this article about intermittent fasting. And I’ve been practicing it for very long time and didn’t even know about it.

    I’ve been listening from people that my eating habits are bad all the time. I never eat breakfast in the morning. I always start eating at 4pm and stop at 8pm. I found out that I feel much better when I follow this pattern of eating. It was alway difficult to defend it without knowing that also other people are doing it. So I am quite happy for this website.

    Thank You.

  67. It works. Great article. Thanks a lot James.

    I am doing it from last 11 months and lost 15 – 20 pounds from then and most of that is fat loss. I wont look like I lost 15+ pounds as it totally from fat, my muscles are same.

  68. Hey, great article.. Really well explained!

    Was just wondering, do eating things like chewing gum, or tic tacs break a fast?

    I don’t want my efforts to be in vain, thanks!

    • Gum, Tic Tacs, etc. are fine. As a general rule of thumb, if it’s under 50 calories, then you’ll still be in the fasted state.

      Good luck Joe! And thanks for reading.

  69. Hey, great article. I do my workouts in the morning around 10 and I was wondering if we re allowed to drink protein shake during the fasting period.

    Thanks.

  70. Hello,

    I like the sound of this eating pattern, but would it have adverse affects on athletes? I eat 2500 to 3000 calories a day.

  71. Hey James. I am using the 8/16 fasting between 12-8 feeding window. When would the best time for me to workout be? Also would it be best for me to to do cardio on an empty stomach? And Lift after a big meal due to more energy at my disposal?

  72. Hi James,

    I have always been a little overweight – not overwhelmingly, I’m pretty athletic, but I definitely have been carrying around extra baggage. I found this blog post while scrolling through my FaceBook feed one day, thought I’d give it a try for 2014. Since I’ve started (about 3 weeks now), and wow have I seen results. My stomach has become much leaner, which has never happened before in my life – there was always a bulge that I wanted to get rid of. My muscles also seem to be getting stronger much faster than before, and I’ve been doing the same workout routine since last year! I’m so glad I stumbled upon this post.

    I actually had some questions about IF that I hope you can answer. I’m a little confused about the 8 hour eating period – if, say, I eat my first meal at 10am, that means that my last bit of food consumption should happen at 6pm. But you point out that the body takes time to digest after you finish eating before it enters the fasted state. So, to eat within this 8 hour window, assuming I eat RIGHT at 10am, my last bit of consumption should happen RIGHT AT 6pm?? Or am I supposed to eat an hour or so before 6pm, so that i enter the fasted mode faster? It’s a little ambiguous as to what the end of the feeding period should be like.

    Also, being a college student, my schedule is a bit hectic. I have to bike to school in the mornings, and I usually find it hard to bike or concentrate in class when I’m on an empty stomach. Do you have any advice concerning mental concentration and physical activity with an empty stomach?

    Hope you see this! I’d love to hear back from you.

  73. Hello,

    I’m interested in the idea of IF and would like to give it a try. I’m just having difficulty with the scheduling and would like some advice guidelines on how to get it started.

    So you know, I’m a college student in a military training command with regularly workouts from 5:30-6:20 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I usually go to the gym around twice or so a week on top of that. That being said, I’m interested in cutting off the last few extra pounds I have (I’m pretty thin as is) to perform the best I can on the Physical Readiness Tests (run faster for longer, do more push ups and sit ups). Those beach abs would be nice too.

    I enjoy the idea of more energy as I’m enrolled at a college with a standard workload of 18+ credits per semester, to which I personally add the morning PT sessions and 4 credits for being in ROTC. I can’t tell you the amount of times I doze off in class b/c of my unusual sleeping schedule and being in an engineering major doesn’t really help with long nights of studying.

    My schedule this semester has classes Monday through Thursday starting at 8:30am and lasting until either 11:15 or 6:20pm depending on the day. The most difficult part of planning this schedule is that sometimes those classes are straight through (8:30-6:20) with only an hour gap around lunch time. Personally I’d prefer the daily IF but I’m up to trying the once weekly schedule on the day I end early.

    Thanks in advance.

  74. Hi James, I was first introduced to your articles when our gym passed along your article on goals vs. systems — for me this was transformational — so thank you! Just reading this article about IF and am very intrigued.

    Question: I do Crossfit M-F at 6am — all trainers are all about post protein shake — I am assuming I would be good to go until 11am after my 14/10?

    Thanks in advance for your time.
    LL

  75. Hi James – Thanks for the wonderful article. I started 16/8 IF from last week. After 3 years, I joined the GYM this week and started the workouts (strength training as of now). I am planning to run a 10K marathan in 3 months and planned to start the endurance training in 2 weeks. Currently I eat from 2 PM to 10 PM and do the workouts from 6 AM to 7 AM.

    Due to my work schedule, it would be impossible to workout during the feeding window (evening). I am little worried to do endurance training during fasted state. How best can I do endurance training in fasted state and make sure that I dont hurt my body as well? Could you please help me here?.

    Thanks,
    Prem

  76. Great information. I’ve been fasting for a year now. I usually do two 36 hour fasts a week. I had some trouble getting back on it after holidays. I blame it on my sugar addiction. I have lost the rest of the weight I wanted to lose and have kept it off unlike other diets I have tried. This is a lifestyle I can manage. I would like to mention how important it is to make sure and eat well during your non fast days and I’m talking about nutrients. Fruits, vegetables, and protien. Limiting sugars and eating healthy fats for a truly healthy life.

  77. Just started this and I’m not sure if I’m doing it correctly. Each day I eat my caloric intake from 6-10pm everyday.

  78. Hi I’m really interested in doing IF but I’m a little lost… in the 8-hour eating period do I eat lunch then wait till a little later eat dinner, or am I eating all through the 8 hours? What would I be eating a diet of 1200cal? I’m looking at IF for weight loss and a lifestyle change.

  79. Hi James,

    I’m new on your site, and am enjoying your articles very much. I have a question about intermittent fasting for endurance athletes…

    I am a competitive rower (aged 58) and I train six days a week, most of which is cardio-intensive (about 75-90 minutes a session), along with a couple of strength training sessions a week. Minimizing body fat while maximizing strength and conditioning will improve my performance. Intermittent fasting is an intriguing idea, but I am concerned that I won’t have enough nutrition for the training I undertake.

    Normally I row at 5:30 am (or slightly later on weekends), and generally I don’t eat before the workout and don’t eat breakfast until approximately one hour after. Conventional wisdom holds that one should eat something before the workout (e.g., a banana) and ingest some carbs and protein within 40 minutes after the workout to enhance recovery (e.g., a glass of low-fat chocolate milk on the drive home). I would like to try intermittent fasting, but am very concerned not to have a negative impact on my performance, especially as our racing season is about to commence. Any comments or advice?

  80. Wouldn’t this seriously mess with your gut’s bacteria? And couldn’t that lead to malabsorption of nutrients and a fragile immune system?

    I shouldn’t be this sceptic since I’ve been practically doing this for years, on and off, I just always thought it was bad for me. And probably is, I’m sure, since I don’t do it on purpose and I’m probably not doing it right.

    I have the really bad habit (or maybe not?) of skipping breakfast, and sometimes lunch when I’m very busy. I will do something like waking up, drinking a huge glass of water or tea and just start my day, then I’ll get hungry after two hours or so but will not eat because there’s something I need to finish. So eventually, at let’s say 5 pm I’ll cook something and eat a lot of it, because well, I’m very hungry. And then I just keep on eating periodically until let’s say 1 am. Then repeat the next day(s) for a period of maybe a month or so. Again, I do this naturally, and always thought it was wrong, almost an eating disorder, since it basically consists of starving and then bingeing.

  81. Hello James, I want to thank you for sharing this very informative article. I am definitely starting tomorrow as I just completed a trial today. Unfortunately, with my work schedule I switch every 2 weeks from 0700-1900 to the complete opposite at 1900-0700hrs. Would it be possible to fast from eat from 0800-1600 and switch from 2100-0500 every 2 week? Only a difference but the complete opposite time frame. Just wondering if this would hinder my results. Thanks!

  82. Quick question. I’ve been doing a daily 12-hour fast (don’t eat from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.). When do you exercise? I exercise early in the morning. The trainers at my gym say to fuel my body within 30 minutes after lifting weights and running/cardio. Just wondering how your working out fits into your fasting regimen. In your fasting, you say you drink water. Anything else liquid besides that or just water?

  83. Great article James.

    In fact, from June end I’ll start fasting for a month for the Holy Ramadan, from dawn till dusk, since I just started working out again (3 times a week now) and also started eating healthy (no junk food, no cold drinks or rich food) I am worried my entire routine will go haywire, since I’m not eating or drinking anything during the day, it will be hard to do any rigorous exercise, last year I walked for forty mins while fasting and lost about 5-7kgs, this year I aim to lose even more (my height 5’8″ and I weigh 75kg, ideal weight 66kg), again too many variables, the upcoming FIFA WC, the horrible timing(3/4a.m.) in our time zone will also be a huge problem, I don’t know how to juggle all of this and still continue to keep up my routine an work simultaneously. By the way I really like your articles, it’s simple but very useful. If there is any advice please share. Thanks in advance.

  84. This is probably the most informative and clearly written guide to fasting that I’ve found so far. Not that other sites weren’t helpful but you made it very easy to understand and a lot less freaky to try. I’m going to give this a try, my mother thinks it can’t possibly work so I’m going to prove her wrong!

  85. Just wanted to say thanks for posting this article. I know it was almost 2 years ago and you probably won’t read this; but, I appreciate how easily you broke it down. You make it seem like anyone can do it, and I’m motivated to try.

    Thanks again for dedicating your time to work like this, which benefits the community.

  86. “..digesting six smaller meals that add up to 2000 calories burns the same amount of energy as processing two large meals of 1000 calories each.”

    What’s wrong about this statement is that you didn’t state that just because you take in 2000 calories of anything doesn’t mean you will lose weight. If you take in 2000 calories a day of sodas, candies, fast food, etc. You would be gaining weight not losing and you are risking health problems. Proper diet is needed, not just watching calories.

  87. James,

    Great article! Started this today and have to say I can feel some benefits already. I’m skipping breakfast, but usually start the day with a whey protein shake. Is this still alright or does it defeat the purpose? Or shall I have one just before bed instead?

    Ryan

  88. Hi James,

    I have just read ‘Eat Stop Eat’ and thoroughly enjoyed the information presented. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on IF. I find the subject very interesting and began daily fasting two days ago. I have fasted for long periods in the past due to illness but had never heard about this type of regime before. It is far easier than pure lengthy water fasting and makes more sense to gain long term health benefits (inflammation and increase in growth hormone for me particularly due to extensive surgery). Thanks for your summary and thoughts on fasting and for the ladies Facebook link. It has been most helpful.

    Cheers Virginia

  89. Great article on IF. I’ve been doing 18 hour IF for the past s weeks. Now aand recently started doing 24 hour IF 2x/week. I’ve noticed that most times I can only manage to eat once a day. I seem to get full quicker than I used to so I doubt that I am eating my caloric intake for the day. Is that ok or should I force myself to eat more?

    I have to say that I do feel great and have lost about 5 pounds (without exercise) jusst by walking 30 mins whenever I feel like it.

  90. Hi James,

    Nice article, it got me really inspired to try it and in fact I gave it a try.

    I’m 2 days in the daily intermittent fasting method and I have to say that I have survived so far, so I plan to continue with it. :-P

    Speaking of it I have a doubt about this method, would taking a glass of orange juice (from real oranges) at the morning break the fasting?

    Cheers.

  91. Thanks for this James, great article.

    You’re so right, mindset is everything.

    As an observant Muslim woman, we are approaching the end of our annual fasting for a month. After the first couple of days life is easier, and not as much time and energy is spent on thinking about food. We still eat an early breakfast (before dawn) and then fast all day until sunset- depending on which part of the world you’re in, and the season, it’s between 12-22 hours/day and people are coping.

    My goal walking away from it this year is to keep it going because the mental clarity is amazing when I’m not blindly shovelling food into my mouth. Also, I find that being busy at work most days, I tend to have quick breakfasts most mornings (abt 5am) and then nothing till dinner with the family around 6pm. It usually drops my appetite at night, and keeps me more honest about emotional eating. So here’s hoping I’ll get into this habit and stick to it!

  92. Great article James!

    I’ve been practicing Intermittent Fasting for several years now. I remember reading Martin Berkhans leangains website years ago and getting the idea for 16:8 protocol from him – mostly for weight management at first. However, I soon tried many different variations of IF and moved towards appreciating the health benefits.

    Over the years I’ve managed to add considerable amount of muscle mass, while losing noticeable fat mass thanks to IF. In-fact, I’ve made so much progress I was even able to step on a bodybuilding stage. So much about not being able to gain muscle while fasting, hah. People just have a hard time accepting that you can omit food for most of the day and still make great progress.

    But aside from helping me look good naked, IF helps me greatly by giving me incredible mental clarity during fasting. Great ability to focus and be productive. Hunger hasn’t been an issue for years, not after my body adapted to it.

    As the years keep going by, more and more evidence keeps surfacing, promoting the potential health benefits of Intermittent Fasting and it further reinforces my approval of this great approach to nutrition.

    I’m glad you’ve had such good results as well. Hopefully your success will get more people to try IF.

  93. Hiya do u count calories if your doing 16:8 everyday????? To make sure u don’t over eat in the 8 hrs??? Thankyou

  94. Hi,

    I’m currently conducting daily version of intermittent fasting. Problem I’m having is that I often exercise in the morning. I also sometimes do an hr of boxing from 12pm – 1pm and then grappling from 1-2pm. I usually eat breakfast on these days. I’m not feeling some of the other versions. Suggestions please.

  95. I enjoyed this article very much and appreciate the straightforward way in which it’s written. Thank you. One question, though:

    I note that most of those using this system seem to eat only twice a day. I have managed the fasting until lunchtime, but struggle not to eat any snacks (fruit or raw veg, usually) in the afternoon – especially when my evening meal needs to be a bit later. Does this spoil the effect of the IF?

    • Not at all. It’s an eating window, not a strict meal count. You’re allowed to eat whenever during that time span. Good luck!

      • Thank you. I have lost three pounds in my first week of trying IF. And it’s honestly not been the hardship I expected! And this is from one who thought skipping breakfast would be the end of the world! ;)

  96. Thank you for the great information. I have already started fasting after watching a documentary on its benefits, the information you provide here is clear, concise and motivational. Thanks again.

  97. Just started doing this and I have a lot of energy (even during my workout which is done while fasted)

    I’m not being too particular about making sure I have something to eat exactly after that 16 hour mark or finish a meal RIGHT at the end of the 8hr mark. I just make sure that I eat the calories based on the macros I need, within that 8hr time frame and then forget about it.

  98. Hi James!

    Thanks for this. Just read you “what happens to our brains when we eat junk food” and I’ve made it here and joined the newsletter whoo!

    Read quite abit about fasting and after reading this article I’m starting tomorrow. :-) I am going to start off with the no breakfast rule cycle and see how that goes. My biggest issue is normally I like to eat no later than 6pm but my partner likes to eat dinner after this so this might work in well with me having my dinners then. Fingers crossed got kilos to lose, more health to gain. Looking forwards to being apart of the community.

    Michelle