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3 Biggest Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting

My Experience After 6 Years Of IF

Posted by mariotomic - February 8th, 2017

Over the years, the popularity of fasting diets has increased exponentially, and judging by current trends, it doesn't seem to be slowing down.

There are large communities with tens of thousands of people swearing by the effectiveness of skipping breakfast for achieving their fitness goals. And then there are others who practice a few days of the week with no food whatsoever, which they find to be a great approach to fat loss.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Now, what most people don't know is that Intermittent Fasting (IF), as an approach to managing food intake, has been around for decades (Even thousands of years if we count religious practice).

However, in the most recent decade, a few approaches to fasting stand out: Lean Gains 16/8, The Warrior Diet, Protein Sparing Modified Fast and a variety of versions of Alternate Day Fasting. Most scientific research so far has been done on Alternate Day Fasting. And for fitness enthusiasts the most popular way to implement fasting was the Lean Gains 16/8 approach, first developed by Martin Berkhan.

Note: All of the mentioned ways of fasting can be great ways to manage your daily and weekly calories/macros. And which one you choose to practice will depend on personal preference, what you can do consistently, as well as your goals.

My Experience With 16/8 Intermittent Fasting

In a nutshell, the idea is to consume all of your daily calories within an 8-hour eating window, and for the other 16 hours, you're fasting.

Since 2010, when I first found out about fasting I've experimented with the Lean Gains 16/8 approach. And over the years I've distilled it down to a few key benefits it offers compared to the traditional meal frequency of eating 3-6 meals a day.

Now, it's important to keep in mind that the daily calories and macros still have to be properly managed. And regardless of whether you're doing IF, you'll still gain weight in a caloric surplus. And to maximize fat loss, you still need a caloric deficit. It's important to point this out because a lot of individuals get confused about fasting, thinking that it has a fat loss advantage over other meal patterns.

This has been well studied, and whether you eat all of your calories and macros within 8 hours, 12 hours or 14 hours, there is no difference as long as the total amount of nutrients are the same. Where IF works well for a lot of individuals is that it makes it easier to manage the calorie and macronutrient intake throughout the day, thus improving overall diet adherence. And we know, the best diet is the one you can stick to.

3 Biggest Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting

Here are the three things that I've found on my journey of doing IF for longer than 6 years.

1. Lifestyle

IF is a great lifestyle approach to nutrition. Back in 2010 when the Lean Gains 16/8 approach become famous, the majority of the fitness world (including me) had been trapped in the dogma that you have to eat every 2-3 hours to speed up your metabolism for fat loss, and to prevent muscle loss.

In a practical sense, this meant that you voluntarily imprison yourself to eat every 2-3 hours. And nearly the entire day you're thinking about the next meal and how you have to eat, or you'll lose your hard earned muscle. As you can guess, this created an enormous amount of stress. I didn't leave the house without carrying at least two plastic containers with meals.

Then when I discovered the Lean Gains approach and started learning more about the science behind meal frequency. I realized that consuming 6 meals or 3 meals a day had no difference. I also learned that it's much more important to focus on your total daily nutrition, and to figure out your calorie and macronutrient targets. This realization was a life-changer. After two years of carrying chicken, broccoli, and rice to every place I went, I finally stopped worrying that I'll "lose all my gains".

2. Feeling Fuller On Fewer Calories

It's a common experience for most people who practice IF to feel less hungry despite consuming fewer calories. And looking at some of the long-term research, hunger is one of the key predictors of successful weight loss.

Note: If you're new to IF it might take you a few weeks until you start feeling less hungry. Another interesting phenomenon relevant to a reduced number of meals is that you train your body to be hungry less frequently.

If we look at research on the hormone ghrelin and meal patterns (1, 2), it seems that our body follows a particular pattern when it comes to hunger hormone secretion. In practice, when switching to 5-6 meals a day to 2-3 meals per day, it might take your body some time to adapt to fewer feedings.

Now, as you reduce the number of meals, this means that you can have bigger, more filling and mentally satisfying meals. And a lot of people find 2-3 bigger meals to be much more enjoyable on a reduced calorie intake (on a fat loss diet) than 5 - 6 small meals.

To learn more about hunger, check out my video on how to deal with hunger during intermittent fasting with 8 tips backed by science.

3. Productivity & Mental Clarity

It seems to me that everyone is looking for a new productivity method or a new app, while people rarely look at better nutrition as a way to get more things done. And what I've I found is, skipping breakfast is an excellent tool for increasing productivity and mental clarity in the morning, when I need it the most.

In fact, working fasted in the morning has become my most productive time of the day. And I get my best work done on just a cup of green tea. Others prefer coffee, which works great. Just make sure to keep it 0 calories, no sugar or cream. Why this tends to work so well is that it allows me to work and not have to worry about food.

There's a long-standing myth that we must eat breakfast as soon as we wake up, that it's necessary to speed up the metabolism and set your day right. First, it's true that some people do work better if they eat breakfast as soon as they wake up, there's no doubt about it. However, for me personally (and for most people) I'm never hungry as soon as I wake up. And for years I was forcing myself to eat.


Overall, Intermittent fasting has been a great tool for me, and I would urge everyone to try it out. Keeping in mind that as with any nutrition manipulations, there are intra-individual differences with how you might respond.

There are also gender differences. Women don't seem to respond as well to fasting for 16 hours as men do. So for women, I recommend fasting for 12-14 hours, and eating within a 10-12 hour eating window instead of 8 hours.

Lastly, I'm excited to see that Intermittent Fasting has been getting more attention from researchers, which means that soon we'll have a lot more information on how to optimize nutrition using fasting.

Thank you for reading and happy fasting!

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Hi Scott , Mario ! Mario gratz for the article! As you have tried the Leangains method, have you used yohimbine + bcaa and if yes how? As I know BCAA is reason for burst in insuline and from what I know for yohimbine it works only when insulin is low ( fasted)? Any ideas how to incorporate BCAA and yohimbine in efective way when following the 16/8 ( 12-8) protocol with training in the 6-7am.?

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

Take some BCAAs with you.  I use BSN AMINO-X.. you can find it in my store!

joeysea7  Edit  Delete  Close

Hey guys love the article. What if you MUST workout in the mornings? Lifting fasted counterproductive? 

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

Love seeing you guys enjoying articles from @mariotomic he has a lot to offer @dimitarfotev! :-D


Awesome Article! I'm a fan of IF!


Superb article Mario! I've actually been trying IF for some time now!

SebSystema  Edit  Delete  Close

I'm doing that since 1 year now. And today I'm in the middle of a 24-fast and I feel great!


I use IF as a plateau busting tool (doing it now in fact to try to get back down to 170-180 from 194) Just made it to 180 this morning. I don't see it as a sustainable lifestyle for me as I have a hard time training fasted.

jcgadfly  Edit  Delete  Close

I wouldn't mind it so bad if I didn't see the "rule of thirds" 1/3 of the bros are working, 1/3 are shuffling through their playlists and the last 1/3 are talking to the people shuffling their playlist. And the latter two thirds hog all the toys - grrr.

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

yeah I hear that @jcgadfly, my gym is getting packed too!

jcgadfly  Edit  Delete  Close

I'm limited in my choice of workout times as I use a facility at a large university (my employer). When I go in the morning, I don't have to fight so many students for the equipment. Every bro shows up in the afternoon/evening.