TL;DR: The one that offers most freedom and simplicity.
It’s been almost 5 months now that I have been doing intermittent fasting and I don’t see myself giving it up anytime soon. I started with skipping breakfast and maintaining a 16-hour fast like the leangains protocol dictates. This is probably the easiest way for someone to start, compared to a 24-hour fast for example. In my opinion it is also the simplest one to follow. And as anybody with a little bit of sense will tell you, the best diet is the one you can follow. In other words, it’s easy to sustain and sustainability is evidently what gives results in the long run.
Now, if you’re a person with a “normal” day job and you are somewhat serious about your diet then chances are that you cook your own food more often than not. Not only to be able to track macros/calories but also to save money. Which means you have to spend some time at home fixing food for the next day, or a few hours on a Sunday preparing lunchboxes for the whole week.
There is nothing really wrong with that, I’ve done it for quite a while especially when I was eating 5 meals a day. But it takes time. And effort. And a lot of thought in advance even if you’re not obsessed with counting every last gram. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to have to think about next day’s food. And I didn’t want to be eating food out of the refrigerator and microwave oven. I wanted to be able to enjoy good meals, fresh out of the oven and worry about food only when the time had come to eat.
My solution? Skipping lunch too.
So no breakfast, no lunch…That’s starting to look like a 24-hour fast, doesn’t it?
Well, I do break my fast before that. And I do generally maintain a 16-hour fast however I am not obsessing over it. What I do is that I break my fast by eating some fruit once I hit or approach the 16-hour mark, or even later sometimes. I simply take one or two pieces of fruit while I’m at work and wait for my normal meals until I’m home.
The approach I have is the one Kinobody recommends, and it has been gaining in popularity because of the simplicity in implementing it.
I have to admit that the benefits of such a structure far outweigh the drawbacks. The benefits of fasting and skipping breakfast are well known, with heightened alertness and improved focus being among them – a very important factor if you are working in the morning. That was something I was reading about and came to realize myself.
But what are the benefits of skipping lunch too? Don’t you get hungry?
Well, by skipping lunch I actually feel like I have more energy. It sounds counter-intuitive but it makes sense to me. My personal experience with it is that my body and my stomach do not have to deal with digestion which means there is nothing distracting me from whatever task I have at hand. If you’re working normal office hours the 2pm-4pm time frame is extremely hard to stay productive in as anyone will tell you. When I was eating lunch at around 12pm all I felt like doing once the clock hit 14.00 was to go take a nap.
Eating a bit of fruit instead of a normal meal at lunch has proven to be a very good way to keep me going until the end. I get a bit of sugar which definitely helps if I’m feeling low on it and gives me a nice wake-up kick. If I’m feeling very tired, because of getting up early to train or simply bad sleep/difficult week, I might even take a cup of coffee. I am not a big coffee drinker but I do enjoy a cup of joe every now and then.
On top of all that I make sure to have a bottle of water next to me which I empty 2-3 times until I get home from work. That’s about 1-1.5 liters of water. As a warning, you will have to go the toilet a bit more often than most people at the office but hey, hydration is good.
So now I’m home at around 17.30 – 18.00 and the kitchen is my playground. My caloric budget is virtually untouched which offers me all the freedom I need to actually eat things that have some taste and consume real, big, satisfying portions. I believe in flexible dieting, which really should be called eating like a normal person. If anything it’s much more natural then restricting yourself and limiting it to only a bunch of tasteless choices. I make sure I get the amount of protein I believe is enough, without going overboard. And the rest of it is fats and carbs which I do not even measure. I simply eat what I feel like eating. My choices are based mostly on wholesome foods of course, without neglecting micronutrients, but I do experiment with them. This is a journey in gastronomy as well as fitness after all.
So there you have it. This is what my daily eating routine looks like. Occasionally I will eat out. The weather is nice for a barbecue, the company takes you to a restaurant, you’re at a party. You don’t have to worry about how much you eat…that much. As a person with some fitness and strength goals, you always keep an eye on what you consume. But making your life easier with smart choices is in my opinion key to staying consistent, which is a virtue when it comes to getting stronger and building a physique.
By the way, this post was written fasted.