Intermittent Fasting 101

With numerous fad diets popping up, it’s hard to keep up and know what works for you. Diet plans, meal delivery programs, juice detox, sugar detox, mastercleanse – all these promising a leaner, slimmer you in the end. But if there is one thing that has been working for me for the past two years, it’s intermittent fasting. And no, it’s not even a diet. Intermittent Fasting or IF doesn’t change what you eat, it changes when you eat. People who usually want to gain lean muscle and lose fat do this, and given that I have 16 percent body fat, 48 percent muscle mass and one percent visceral fat (lowest possible number), I should assume that my eating habits work, right? (The doctors who checked these stats for me agree.)

Your body gets energy from your stored fat if you’re in a ‘fasted’ state

One might wonder what intermittent fasting is. Well, there are different methods of doing IF. My first example is the 16-8 method, wherein you fast for 16 hours each day and have an eight-hour window to eat. Eat Stop Eat is a method wherein you fast for 24 hours (completely no food except for water) once a week and eat normally for the rest of the week; the Warrior Diet is when you fast 20 hours in a day and eat only one meal, which is dinner time; the 5-2 fast means you eat normally five days a week and cut your food intake to 400-600 calories for two days. There are other methods of Intermittent Fasting available, and some would even sound crazy but they work for some people, so who are we to stop them?

Eat Stop Eat is a method wherein you fast for 24 hours

I’ve been intermittent fasting for over two years now. I usually skip breakfast (I only have black coffee in the morning, which is allowed) and only eat within an eight-hour period which is 12 noon to 8 p.m. When socials would need me to eat at a later or earlier time, I adjust my eating period accordingly – I either move my first meal up a few hours to maintain the eight-hour eating period, and move the next meal up again to maintain the 16-hour fasted state, or eat earlier and end my last meal earlier as well, then do my normal 12-8 again the next day. Intermittent fasting is NOT a diet; it is a pattern of eating. It is a way to maximize your food intake as you get lean and still maintain your muscle mass. People usually try IF for the sole purpose of wanting to achieve fat loss.

To comprehend how Intermittent Fasting in relation to fat loss works, the difference between the “fed” state and “fasted” state needs to be discussed. This is best explained in the book, Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon, but I will try my best to give the gist here and hope that everyone will understand.

Your body gets from your stored fat if you're in a 'fasted' state

Your body is in a fed state once you start eating, and this lasts about three to five hours as your body digests and absorbs the food you just had. When you are in a fed state, your insulin levels are high and thus it will be hard for your body to burn fat in that given period of time.

Once your body goes to the post-absorptive state (when your body isn’t processing a meal anymore), your body then goes to the fasted state, which is  about eight to 12 hours after your last meal. During the fasted state, your body can burn fat that wasn’t accessible during the fed state since your insulin levels have dropped already. Since your body isn’t in a fasted state until 12 hours from your last meal, it is important to keep your body fasted for more than 12 hours to make sure your body is in a fat burning state for a certain period of time. Basically, when you are in the fasted state, your body gets energy from your stored fat, and not from whatever you just ate.

What I normally do is, I workout in the morning, on an empty stomach. Yes, I workout on a fasted state to make sure that I am on the fat burning zone when I do Muay Thai, fight form, Pilates, yoga or go for a 10-k run. Fasted cardio IS a thing, but that is a different topic altogether. (Glycogen depletion must be avoided so there are days wherein I’d have a pre-workout smoothie to avoid consequences – but the smoothie is still within my eating period, of course.)

Do you think intermittent fasting is for you? I say give it a try. It’s not as hard as you might think. I must admit, I used to be skeptical about this as well, given that I’m a big eater myself – but hey, its been working for me, so maybe it will work for you, too! And you know what the coolest part of IF is? Wolverine does it, too. (Note: Hugh Jackman is said to have done IF to get his Wolverine body. Cool huh?)


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