Fast Facts: Intermittent Fasting and the On-the-Go Athlete

June 21, 2013 | Justin Groce

Must See Nutrition Videos

Eating six small meals a day instead of three large ones is supposed to be the way to go if you want to "stoke the metabolic fire" and lose weight. But not everyone has that kind of time.

Often I get asked, "How can I eat six meals a day when I work so much?" That's where intermittent fasting comes in.

Intermittent fasting helps your body regulate leptin, a hormone directly related to fat loss that helps your thyroid work properly. Also, fasting improves insulin sensitivity, which is responsible for fat loss and muscle gain. (Learn about the benefits of carb back-loading.)

After a fast, your body is more sensitive to insulin and uses foods consumed post-fast for burning fat and building muscle. Your body is also highly insulin-sensitive after workouts. So if you skip breakfast and work out instead, you are not only tapping into more fat stores for energy, but also ensuring your post-workout meal will fuel recovery, build muscle, and burn fat. (Read Post-Workout Meal Guidelines.)

Fasting can improve your cardiovascular system; increase cell turnover (how quickly your cells replenish themselves); and decrease oxidative stress on cells. It can also promote weight loss and increase HDL (good cholesterol) while lowering LDL (bad cholesterol).

So what's the best way to start intermittent fasting? Here are two of the most common methods:

16/8 Fast

With this method, you fast for 16 hours and have an eight-hour feeding "window." If you were to eat your last meal at 6:00 p.m. on Friday night, you would eat your next meal at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning. (This timing tends to work best for men, while women do better with a 14/10 fast.)

24-Hour Fast

Simply put, you go an entire day without food once a week. On your fasting day, make sure to drink plenty of water and consume 5 to 10 grams of branched chain amino acids (BCAA) three to four times in divided doses. (Learn about the benefits of BCAAs.) It's best not to train or have stressful meetings on fasting day.

Regardless which method you use, you'll want to want to consume higher amounts of protein to preserve lean muscle mass; abstain from processed foods; and eat your largest meal immediately after your workout. Ideally, your post-workout meal will be your first meal of the day.

If you're new to intermittent fasting, initially you may experience some brain fog and general lethargy. However, after a few weeks, you will find that fasting can be a rewarding and work-friendly way to balance your calories.

Topics: DIET
Justin Groce
- Justin Groce is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Sports Nutritionist who offers personal training in Smyrna, Tennessee. He is...
Justin Groce
- Justin Groce is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Sports Nutritionist who offers personal training in Smyrna, Tennessee. He is...

Featured Videos

Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Views: 153,019
Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Views: 80,502
Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 1,270,518
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,626,320
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 12,170,372
Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 896,683
Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,256
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,395

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
How Can Zero-Calorie Diet Soda Be Bad for You?

How Can Zero-Calorie Diet Soda Be Bad for You?

Simple Nutrition Tips for Faster Workout Gains

Simple Nutrition Tips for Faster Workout Gains

12 Grab-and-Go High Protein Snacks

12 Grab-and-Go High Protein Snacks

STACK Simple Cooking for Young Athletes: How to Cook Eggs

STACK Simple Cooking for Young Athletes: How to Cook Eggs

Is It Okay to Eat the Same Thing Every Day?

Is It Okay to Eat the Same Thing Every Day?

Game-Day Nutrition for Soccer Players

Game-Day Nutrition for Soccer Players

Surprising Muscle-Building Snacks

Surprising Muscle-Building Snacks

Is Fast Food Effective for Recovery? A New Study Says So

Is Fast Food Effective for Recovery? A New Study Says So

The Best Times to Drink a Protein Shake

The Best Times to Drink a Protein Shake

4 Endomorph Diet Strategies to Accelerate Fat Loss

4 Endomorph Diet Strategies to Accelerate Fat Loss

Quick On-the-Go Breakfast Ideas

Quick On-the-Go Breakfast Ideas

How Saturated Fats Affect Sports Performance

How Saturated Fats Affect Sports Performance

Why Are People Drinking Charcoal?

Why Are People Drinking Charcoal?

Big Breakfast, Small Breakfast, No Breakfast: Which Is Best?

Big Breakfast, Small Breakfast, No Breakfast: Which Is Best?

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Pizzeria Menu

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Pizzeria Menu

How to Stay Hydrated With Food During Your Summer Runs

How to Stay Hydrated With Food During Your Summer Runs

The Right Way to Gain Weight During the Off-Season

The Right Way to Gain Weight During the Off-Season

The Healthiest Ways to Prepare Your Vegetables

The Healthiest Ways to Prepare Your Vegetables

Fuel Your Performance with Peas

Fuel Your Performance with Peas

9 Foods You Didn't Know Have as Much Protein as Peanut Butter

9 Foods You Didn't Know Have as Much Protein as Peanut Butter

Fuel Up for Soccer Like the U.S. Women's National Team

Fuel Up for Soccer Like the U.S. Women's National Team

Are 'Healthy Chips' Really Healthy? 5 Popular Options Examined

Are 'Healthy Chips' Really Healthy? 5 Popular Options Examined

Feed for Speed: 5 Foods and Supplements That Make You Faster

Feed for Speed: 5 Foods and Supplements That Make You Faster

Why Every Athlete Should Drink Tea

Why Every Athlete Should Drink Tea

Eat Like a Champion, Part 3: Post-Workout Nutrition

Eat Like a Champion, Part 3: Post-Workout Nutrition

The Soccer Tournament Nutrition Checklist

The Soccer Tournament Nutrition Checklist

What is Whey Protein?

What is Whey Protein?

Why Your Gut Might Be the Most Important Part of Your Body

Why Your Gut Might Be the Most Important Part of Your Body

The Performance-Wrecking Flaw of Low-Carb and High-Carb Diets

The Performance-Wrecking Flaw of Low-Carb and High-Carb Diets

Fuel Up Properly for Soccer Tournaments

Fuel Up Properly for Soccer Tournaments

Pro Bowl Nutrition Plan from NFL QB Andrew Luck

Pro Bowl Nutrition Plan from NFL QB Andrew Luck

Halftime Snacks for Quick Refueling

Halftime Snacks for Quick Refueling

J.J. Watt Eats More for Breakfast than You Eat in a Week

J.J. Watt Eats More for Breakfast than You Eat in a Week

High-Protein Snacks for Athletes With Nut Allergies

High-Protein Snacks for Athletes With Nut Allergies

Should You Drink a Protein Shake Before Bed?

Should You Drink a Protein Shake Before Bed?

11 Easy Tricks for Drinking More Water

11 Easy Tricks for Drinking More Water

5 Changes Fast-Food Restaurants Are Making to Become Healthier

5 Changes Fast-Food Restaurants Are Making to Become Healthier

Are Chokeberries the Next Super Food for Athletes?

Are Chokeberries the Next Super Food for Athletes?

How 100 Pro Athletes Like Their Eggs

How 100 Pro Athletes Like Their Eggs

Sun-Blockers: 8 Foods to Eat for Sun Protection

Sun-Blockers: 8 Foods to Eat for Sun Protection

Performance-Boosting Snacks with a Satisfying Crunch

Performance-Boosting Snacks with a Satisfying Crunch

YardBarker