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Benefits of intermittent fasting

Benefits of intermittent fasting

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We have always read as universal truths, often recommended by doctors and experts, things like that it is important to eat breakfast to perform or that if we want to lose fat we must eat six small meals a day to “rev up metabolism” and optimize fat loss. I’m sure you too have heard these tips and probably followed them. Don’t worry, I’ve been there too.

benefits of intermittent fasting

However, in recent years the internet has helped to democratize knowledge, we have easy access to the latest medical research and therefore, we can learn about the benefits of intermittent fasting directly. What would you say if by skipping breakfast and eating two or three larger meals you can get the same results in a more comfortable way?

We are talking about intermittent fasting 8/16, which consists of fasting for 16 hours and eating for the remaining 8 hours of the day. A common protocol is to fast from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. the next day, that is, we skip breakfast, although the protocol in which we start fasting at 4:00 p.m. and finish it at 8:00 a.m. is not uncommon either: 00 the next day.

Before delving into the benefits of intermittent fasting, we must clarify a series of concepts and myths that circulate about this protocol:

  • Intermittent fasting is a diet: This statement is incorrect, intermittent fasting is an eating protocol, not a diet. Two people can eat in totally different ways following the same protocol.
  • If you do intermittent fasting, in the eating window you can eat whatever you want: Although it is true that by reducing our eating window we have more room to add calories once we start eating, that does not mean that we have an “open bar” of food since no matter how much intermittent fasting we do, we are not going to lose fat if we do not have a caloric deficit.
  • Training fasted is bad for your health: You won’t pass out from training fasted if you get enough energy and rest according to science.
  • Training fasted is magical for fat loss: despite the fact that scientific evidence indicates some benefits at the cardiovascular level or improvement in insulin sensitivity, training fasted will not imply greater fat oxidation than in other training.
  • Training fasting burns muscle mass: this does not happen in the first 24 hours of fasting, in fact there are studies that indicate that lean mass retention is greater than with a traditional hypocaloric diet approach.

How to go from the usual eating protocol to intermittent fasting.

Surely if someone talks to you about skipping breakfast, the first thing you will think is that you cannot do that because if you skip breakfast you will starve all morning and therefore cannot enjoy the benefits of intermittent fasting. And what you say makes total sense. When we are used to eating all the time we are awake, transitioning to an intermittent fasting protocol is difficult at first. However, all that hunger and even other symptoms such as headaches pass after a few days. Therefore, the first step to start doing intermittent fasting is to lose the fear of going hungry.

Subsequently, we must also be clear about our goals and how we want to approach them. If we want to gain muscle mass, the “Lean Gains” protocol is one of the most popular and effective, since it takes into account, in addition to fasting windows, the training schedule, BCAA supplementation and other variables. For fat loss, I personally recommend the 16/8 protocol, since it is the one I carry out, but there are other very interesting protocols such as:

  • Fasting 12/12: 12 hours eating and 12 hours fasting, most of us do it unconsciously on a regular basis. It is a good way to familiarize ourselves with this type of protocol and gradually increase the fasting window until 8/16 or even more.
  • 20/4 Fast: A more advanced but not necessarily better version, especially useful for people who don’t have time to cook and/or eat.
  • 5/2 fasting or Eat Stop Eat: consists of fasting twice a week for 24 hours on alternate days and eating normally the other five days a week.
  • FMD or Semi Fasting: strong semi fasting consists of eating very little (500-600 calories) for periods longer than 24 hours that a normal fast lasts.
  • Warrior Diet or Warrior Diet: strong the hardest version of all, is to eat all your daily calories in one meal. I personally don’t recommend it because it’s hard to get to, but it does have its benefits if you manage to stick to it.

When we are clear about the protocol we want to follow (I recommend progressing to 16/8 for a standard amateur athlete), we must calculate our caloric needs. As I mentioned earlier, the fact of having a higher caloric margin when eliminating some foods does not mean that we can eat what we want. If there is no caloric deficit, we will not be able to lose fat and if we do not obtain a surplus, there will be no gain in muscle mass.

Just as important as the caloric deficit is the allocation of macronutrients, especially to maintain muscle mass as much as possible when applying intermittent fasting for fat loss.

One of the benefits of intermittent fasting is that our meal plan is simplified. Instead of having to prepare 5 or 6 meals, now with 2 or 3 we will have the whole day covered. It is also key to know at what time of day we are going to fast and when we will have our eating window, also taking into account when we are going to train.

Once we are psyched up, we have chosen the protocol that interests us the most, calculated our caloric needs and defined our fasting and eating windows, all we have to do is be constant and start to get results.

The benefits of intermittent fasting.

However, despite the benefits of intermittent fasting, it is important to know that certain prior considerations must be taken into account, and it is not recommended for people who require medical supervision, such as:

  • Pregnant women
  • Breastfeeding women.
  • People with diabetes.
  • People with very low blood pressure.
  • Polymedicated people.
  • People with eating disorders.
  • People with a significant underweight.

In these cases, it is always advisable to talk to your doctor because this type of protocol can affect your previous condition.


Although intermittent fasting is counterintuitive and even unhealthy for many people, there is plenty of evidence on the benefits of intermittent fasting, especially for people whose goal is to lose fat. Even so, it is not a magical protocol and if we do not take into account the caloric deficit and distribution of macronutrients, we will not obtain the desired benefits. However, for many people, this type of fasting is the best way to end anxiety and improve their relationship with food until they achieve a balance between health, performance and freedom to eat.

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