Intermittent Fasting – Improving Your Success Rate, A New Strategy

In the post Intermittent Fasting Reports From the Field, I reported on the success several of my friends have had with Intermittent Fasting. They lost weight and feel great, but not everyone is succeeding. I’m going to list the reasons that I have witnessed that caused Intermittent Fasting to not provide the results desired. Then I am going to share a new strategy that I believe will work better.

  1. Post-Fast Gorging – I was guilty of this at first. As soon as I ended a 22 hour fast, I’d eat everything in sight. When you exit an IF, you should resume eating as you would normally. There is no need to double down on the calories.
  2. Non-IF Sloppy Eating – I’ve witnessed some people who think Intermittent Fasting once or twice a week means they can booze it up or eat lots of carbs the rest of the week. The main purpose of IF is reduce your insulin levels to increase access to stored body fat. It is not an excuse to spike your insulin more on your eating days.
  3. Life Happens – We try to plan our IF, but something happens. A party, a trip, a special dinner or whatever. It throws us out of our routine. I personally like to do my fast on Monday and then lift weights on Tuesday. This week Monday was Presidents Day and so I made plans that involved eating. Do I push back my weights or postpone the IF?
  4. Restarting IF After a Hiatus is Tough – The first fast is the hardest, but they get progressively easier. That is unless you “fall off the horse” (see Life Happens). The difficulty of restarting the weekly fast becomes an obstacle for fasting itself. Sort of like putting off exercise.

The Intermittent Fasting strategy I have talked about and used is the one Brad Pilon wrote about in his book Eat Stop Eat. He advocates two 24 hours fast each week. I modified it to 22 hours and then suggested twice a week for the overweight and those with a history of cancer in the family and once a week for the rest of us.

There are other Intermittent Fasting strategies, so I set off to see if there might be a better method. My research has turned up an alternate IF method that I believe might be better. Note that I said “might”, because I have not tried this method yet and my definition of “better” could be different than yours. Do what works best for you and your schedule.

Martin Berkhan of LeanGains advocates a 16 hour daily fast. All eating is done in an 8 hour window (EX: 1pm – 9pm). No day is special. Just wake up and push your “breakfast” to 1pm. And because everyday is normal, there is no reason to celebrate or get sloppy in that 8 hour window. The daily habit overcomes reason #4 above. And for the ladies, Martin has found a 14 hour fast is often enough for women. Also recommended is ONLY increasing your carbohydrate intake on days you exercise.

Even though I have been successful doing weekly (and sometimes twice a week) fasts of 22 hours, I am going to try the 16/8 daily method. I’m all in favor of a new experiment and since pictures are more powerful than words, check out the latest Client Update post on LeanGains.


  1. TigerAl says

    Interesting modification with the 16/8. I think I’m going to change my weekly fast to a daily one (though I think I will need to do 11am-7pm) and see whether it works as well. Thanks for the IF update!

  2. Glenn says

    I agree that what you eat after the fast is very important. Thinking about it in paleo terms, hunters typically would immediately rip out the animal’s liver and eat it raw. Yummy!

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