Intermittent Fasting – Tool or Trend?
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a term that has gained a lot of momentum and interest within the fitness and bodybuilding industry. Even though the term has come up many times on different websites and social media, I’ve always ignored it and categorized it as the newest fitness craze that would soon be forgotten. Fast forward to a couple of years later and intermittent fasting has changed my outlook on dieting.
Before you keep on reading I want to make clear that this article won’t be loaded with generic scientific claims and numbers. This article was written by a real person who wants to share his personal experience with intermittent fasting. My purpose is to cover every important detail – small or large- so that you can decide if this dieting method is for you.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
As the name states, intermittent fasting is a diet style that requires you to basically fast by skipping breakfast. For years we were taught that the first meal of the day is the most important meal of the day, but, did they get it wrong? It all depends on who you ask.
IF usually requires you to fast for an average of 16 hours, seems like a lot, right? Well, not really. IF begins as soon as you finish your last meal of the day. For example, if on a Sunday your last meal was at 7 pm, it means that on Monday you can have your first meal after 11 am.
After the fasting period is finalized, you can then go on to eat normally. Even though some individuals choose to fast for longer or shorter periods of time, that’s all there is to it. At first glance, it may seem a little unusual for people to “starve” themselves, but in reality, IF has an extensive amount of benefits that many diets can’t even come close to offering.
Intermittent Fasting is pretty cool because not only does it reduce our dependence on food, but, it allows us to be in tune with our body. For years society has been taught to eat breakfast in the morning, lunch midday, and dinner in the evening. Eating has slowly gone from a necessity to a habit, or even worse, a hobby. Bodybuilders kick it up a notch and believe that they should be eating six to eight meals a day which is absolutely insane.
Our body doesn’t need to be filled with food every second of the day and. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting jumpstarts the body and allows it to function at its best. When the body is fasting, a lot of interesting things quietly happen that can be highly beneficial for people who desperately want to lose weight and build muscle.
When you practice IF, your body’s Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Levels go through the roof, insulin sensitivity improves, cellular repair is accelerated, your metabolism works faster, and weight loss is greatly improved. Intermittent Fasting also reduces inflammation, improves heart health, and helps with anti-aging. If you’re interested in reading all about the benefits, you might also want to check out a pretty cool beginner’s guide that I came across, just click here.
Traditional Bodybuilding Diets
Intermittent Fasting (IF) goes against everything that modern bodybuilding diets stand for. If you follow the sport, you’ve probably seen hundreds –if not thousands- of athletes share their daily life routines on social media. Most of them – the ones that compete at least- tend to carry Tupperware all over in order to reach their daily caloric intake. Some of these guys and gals are eating more than six meals a day!
I can’t blame them for doing it as it’s technically a bodybuilding tradition, but, can you imagine eating more than three times a day? It’s hard and I respect them for doing it, but it still amazes me. The eating every two hours thinking process began with bodybuilders claiming that:
- It allows them to reach their daily caloric intake.
- It keeps their metabolism working non-stop.
- It keeps them looking big and muscular.
- It helps them feel strong, energized, and ready to kill it at the gym.
Whether this is true or not, this is the way that bodybuilders decide to tackle their diets. I’ve personally tried it a couple of times and hated it. Traditional bodybuilding diets may seem cool, calculated, and even hardcore, but it doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to reach a specific goal.
My Personal Experience with Intermittent Fasting
As I’m sitting here right now typing these very words, I can confidently say that the modern bodybuilding lifestyle that is constantly promoted on social media is nothing but a shadow of real bodybuilding culture. Even though I’m only 21-years-old, I identify entirely with the old-school bodybuilding philosophy that was popularized from the mid-1950s to the late 1990s.
Bodybuilding started out as a way to connect with the human body and magnify its abilities by creating a work of art. Classic bodybuilders trained, ate, and slept based on instinct – they were raw, driven, and pure. They didn’t play the game, they invented it.
My approach towards bodybuilding has always been a mix of old school principles and personal experience. At the end of the day, I can confidently say that I’ve tried every method in the book and I always end up going back to training heavy, eating what my body desires, and resting only enough to get me back on my feet.
Two years ago I took a break from the gym for various reasons; just before my time off I had reached my heaviest and best physique ever and was striving to do my first bodybuilding competition. I was training at 6 am in the morning and having my first meal past noon. Without even knowing it, I was practicing intermittent fasting.
After skipping breakfast for a couple of weeks I noticed that my pumps were a lot more intense, my endurance was very high, I lost a lot of fat, and my vascularity was enhanced. My energy and concentration have greatly improved as have my digestion and sleep.
Could these benefits be a direct side effect of Intermittent Fasting, or, is it the fact that I’m consuming fewer calories because of it? At the end of the day, I’m sure it’s a mix of both, but I can happily say that IF works well and should definitely be considered by anyone trying to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.
It will be very interesting to see where my body stands after trying Intermittent Fasting for a bit longer. A lot of people utilize this method for weight loss and even though that’s part of my goal, it’s not the whole picture. I’m a bodybuilder which means that I need to perfect my physique by making it look the best it possibly can. Even though I’ve only been back on Intermittent Fasting for a short period of time, I’ve already noticed drastic changes that I’m very happy with.
If you are a bodybuilder and are looking for something a little different regarding dieting, you should definitely give IF a try. Your physique will transform in a good way and you will be in tune with your body. At first, you may notice a drop in strength and bodyweight, but if you play it right, you will be able to adjust your diet and jumpstart your physique transformation. Remember that there isn’t a perfect diet and that all of them have their fair share of risks and advantages; just know what you’re getting into before trying it.