Welcome to my first blog on my author site. I figured I’d come right out of the gate with an article about one of the more difficult things we all have attempted and likely failed at before: our diet. I wrote about this extensively in Forging the Iron Mind concerning what foods to eat and what exercises to do, and most importantly, the mind frame to set to make it all successful. Today, I am going to talk about what is easily my favorite diet I’ve ever run: Intermittent Fasting. Keep in mind that the “best” is relative. Make no mistake, every diet works, it’s only a matter of which is going to be the easiest for you to stick to for long periods. For a bit of background, I have been dieting and lifting weights and even powerlifting for over two decades. I have tried every diet in existence, from low carb to carb cycling, to 40-40-20, and more. The only thing I’ve never tried, and never will, is either vegetarian or vegan, which I will likely write about at some point. For now, though, let’s talk intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is the idea that you have a “feeding period” ranging anywhere from 4-8 hours, and fast the rest of the time, consuming a net zero calories. You can consume coffee, tea, diet soda, whatever, as long as there are no calories for your body to process. Why even do this diet? What does it bring to the table that no other diet does? I’ve had success with other diets, so why even try this? First, there is a significant amount of science that once you pass the 16-hour mark, your body kicks into a sort of advanced fat burning state. Inflammation is supposed to be reduced, nutrients absorbed better, and fat burned more efficiently. This was all difficult for me to swallow, because I come from a traditional bodybuilding standpoint of eating every two or three hours, and I’ve had success using multiple other diets, so why even do this? It’s certainly the latest “fad,” and many people I respect are into it, so I figured hey, why not give it a try?
For me, the most significant barrier was psychological, as I found the idea of not eating for 18-20 hours insane. However, I set my mind to do it, and after the first day, it became much easier because I passed the barrier of doing it once, and after that, it became orders of magnitude easier. Once I’d established in my mind that I could do it, and a lot of the hunger pangs were psychological, it became incredibly easy. After the first two weeks, I had my answer as to why this was the easiest diet I’d ever run, and it wasn’t because it was doing anything magic in regards to fat loss. I’ve gotten in great shape on other diets, so I knew I could lose fat without fasting. Intermittent Fasting was the best I’ve tried because it was insanely easy to stick to and not cheat.
One concept I wrote about in Forging was the idea of establishing absolutes as it relates to the habits in your life, and how effective this tactic is. Intermittent Fasting falls right into this incredibly easy. With other diets, you are kind of free to eat *whenever* you want. The only regulation you are really doing is *what* you are eating. Thus, psychologically, it is easier to justify some cheat food in your mind with the justification that you can make it up later or to get some craving fulfilled. On intermittent fasting, the *timing* is what matters. Once you commit to IF, the rules are set in stone regarding when you can eat; thus it makes incredibly easy not to cheat. The other element is that the shorter the feeding window, it actually gets easier, not harder to not cheat. At one point I moved the fasting window to 20 hours, leaving myself a 4-hour window to eat. With a 4 hour window, I was packing two gigantic meals, and it barely even occurred to me to cheat because I was so packed with food during my window. To put it another way: Intermittent Fasting is by far the LEAST MISERABLE diet I’ve ever run, and make no mistake, I’ve tried some that made me want to die.
The only challenging spot is that last hour before feeding, which is still far easier than other diets where I dealt with cravings all day. Other than that, I was shocked at how absurdly easy it made the dieting process. I dropped 20 pounds with as little effort and annoyance as I’ve ever had, and what’s more, I allowed myself a big cheat day once every two weeks, so I was still wrecking pizzas and bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits once in a while. During this entire process, I was also lifting every other day, and doing only the most basic cardio, such as walking the dog and going to the park on hiking paths, so I wasn’t even remotely killing myself concerning cardio. I don’t run due to foot problems, and I only do low impact cardio on the bike at the gym. Don’t get me wrong, I was lifting at a pretty intense rate, but my cardio was extremely minimal, so any fat loss was undoubtedly the result of diet, not crazy cardio.
At the end of the day, results are what matter. Understand that “losing weight” is purely a calorie in - calorie out equation. If you burn more calories than you take in, you lose weight. In addition to the above reasons I stated for liking IF, it also makes it much easier to stay in a calorie deficit, and not feel as though you are. Since you are eating maybe twice, it is far easier to manage your calorie intake, since you don’t have to worry about eating all day long. Here’s what I ate:
Breakfast: 4 whole, 2 white eggs, 2-3 bacon strips, half oatmeal serving, half tbs of natural peanut butter.
Dinner: Chicken or Steak, Scoop of rice, a handful of nuts, one pop tart.
Yes, you read that right, I dropped 20 pounds eating bacon and pop tarts. I also cycled carbs depending on whether I lifted weights that day. So if it was a lifting day, instead of a half serving of oatmeal, I did a full serving, and instead of one scoop of rice, I did two. Incredibly easy to manage. Remember that as long as you are in a calorie deficit, you will lose weight. After the past several months, I’m pretty sold on Intermittent Fasting as the “best” diet. What about you all, what has worked for you? Comment or hit me on social media and thanks for reading!
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