There are many diet plans and philosophies. Some are trendy for a few months/years, some stay for a long time. Some are better, some are worse and many claim that this and that is the best diet plan. But is there such a thing as the best one?
I think there is and it is really simple. The best weight loss diet plan is the one you can stick to. It should allow you to easily create an energy deficit but still allow you to eat foods you enjoy. For me, it could be the intermittent fasting so that is what I will write about in this post.
What Is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting (I.F. or simply IF) is a diet style where you alternate periods of eating and periods of fasting. The length of the fasting period can be anywhere from 14 to 24 hours and you shouldn’t consume any calories or only very little. The basic idea is to reduce consumed calories and achieve caloric deficit which is needed to achieve weight loss.
Very Important Note
Feeding window shouldn’t be seen as feast where you can eat all you want, thinking you’ve earned it because you have fasted last x hours! This is probably the No. 1 mistake people make with intermittent fasting. You should eat to your hunger meaning stop when you are satisfied, meaning stop eating that cheesecake even if it’s so delicious.
Intermittent Fasting Protocols
There are various ways how to implement intermittent fasting and all of them can work but it depends on the individual and his preferences. The most popular probably are:
Eat – Stop – Eat
Eat – Stop – Eat was founded and popularized by Brad Pilon, MSc. This method demands one or two 24 hours fasts during a week. Let’s say your last meal on Monday was dinner at 8:00 PM, so you will fast whole Tuesday until dinner 8:00 PM. And you could repeat the same for another day in the week, for example from Thursday evening to Friday evening. Or you can do it from breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch.
Eating during fasting phase is forbidden, of course, but you can drink water, coffee or other non-caloric beverages. I think that a splash of milk in your coffee would be OK too.
The Alternate Day Diet
The Alternate Day Diet was created by James Johnson, M.D. and is also known as UpDayDownDay Diet™. You would alternate days with normal caloric intake (Up Days) and restricted caloric intake (Down Days).
If your goal is the fat loss you should consume between 20 – 40% of your normal intake on DownDays. To give you an example, my normal caloric intake is around 2000 kcal, it would look something like this: 2000 kcal on Monday, 400 – 800 kcal on Tuesday, 2000 kcal on Wednesday, 400 – 800 kcal on Thursday and so on.
Omega Blueprint, previously known as Fat Loss Forever, is one of the newest approaches to intermittent fasting and combines parts of Eat – Stop – Eat, Leangains and The Warrior Diet. It was created by John Romaniello.
Every week you are allowed to have a one cheat day which is then followed by 36 hours fast. The rest of the week-long cycle is a mix of different fasting protocols. Authors recommend leaving the longest fast on your busiest day of the week.
The 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 Diet, also known as The Fast Diet was popularized by Michael Mosley. As the name suggests you would eat normally five days a week and restrict your intake for two days.
The recommended intake on fast days is 500 kcal for women and 600 kcal for men. You should spread this intake into two smaller meals which means two 250 kcal meals for women and 300 kcal for men.
The Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet was created by Ori Hofmekler. This is the first diet that broke the rules of classic bodybuilding diet (eating every two to three hours and avoiding hunger because you would lose muscle) and it introduced intermittent fasting. It is 20/4 method which means 20 hours of under-eating (including your sleep) and 4 hours of over-eating.
During the under-eating phase, you should go from very light and watery foods (water, tea, coffee, etc.) in the morning, to light snacks (whey protein, fruit, yogurt, etc.) during the day. And at night switch to large cooked paleo-style meals.
Quoting Ori Hofmekler: “Go lower on the food chain, foods that existed 10,000 years ago like fruits, vegetables, legumes, root vegetables, good dairy from pasture-raised animals, eggs from free-range chicken, and wild caught fish. You just can’t go wrong.”
Leangains was created and popularized by Martin Berkhan. This method uses 18-hour fast window and 8-hour feeding window (14 and 10 for women). It is recommended to eat two or three meals during the feeding phase. I’ve tried both and prefer the three meals. During the fasting phase, you can drink anything non-caloric (water, coffee etc.)
The basic implementation is really simple, you just skip breakfast or dinner. It is more recommended to skip breakfast because most people are busier in the morning so they have less time to think about food:) Also it is easier to fall asleep when you are fed. But ultimately, it depends on your preference and schedule.
There are also finer details you should adhere to, to keep the Leangains protocol:
- have your feeding window at the same time of the day
- caloric intake fluctuates between training and rest days – it’s higher on training days and lower on rest days
- there’s also a difference in fat and carbohydrate intake – fats are higher on rest days and lower on training days, carbohydrates the other way around.
This is the protocol I’m using although a more relaxed version of it. I will probably write an article about “my” version in the future.
Thank you for reading, hope you’ve found this post informative. If you have any experience with intermittent fasting or any question regarding it, please feel free to leave a comment:)