So far in this Intermittent Fasting series, we have had four articles, all of…
Read the Intermittent Fasting Introduction if you haven’t already, and also phase 1 whereby I spoke about how to acclimatise yourself to the Intermittent Fasting schedule. Today I will talk about phase 2 – the calorie deficit. Although this is a very short phase (a lot shorter than the 4 week adjustment phase), it requires a lot of planning to not mess up. You may not realise that you’ve messed up until 8 weeks later when you pay the price for cutting too quickly, which is why it’s so important not to mess up in the first place.
Despite that during phase 1 no (or little) fat loss will actually occur, it is an absolute necessity in order to succeed with fat loss under an Intermittent Fasting system. Phase 2 however, is where we get serious. This is where we actually get ourselves into a calorie deficit, and get that fat loss momentum going. This is where the fun begins.
How To Dominate Your Shred
Now we’re getting into the good stuff, how do we actually go about losing the fat? Assuming we have adjusted to the new eating schedule (if we haven’t, then any given calorie deficit is going to be harder to stick to), then it will be fat loss 101. This means a small to moderate deficit. The more fat you have on you, the higher the deficit can be. Normally, I suggest a small deficit, as it’s more sustainable, but I will make exceptions for obese people.
What exactly then, is a small deficit? Let’s get some definitions in:
Small calorie deficit – 5% calorie reduction from current intake
Moderate – 10% reduction
If sustainable fat loss is your goal, I wouldn’t ever suggest going above 10%.
This means that if you’re currently eating 3000 calories per day, to land yourself in a small deficit, you will now eat 2850 calories. A moderate deficit would put you at 2700 calories per day.
Why only small to moderate?
Well, three pretty huge reasons:
1) You Are more Likely To Keep The Weight Off
If you’re happy to regain all of your weight, then feel free to ignore this. But if you want the fat to stay away, then you’d be better off dieting slowly.
2) You’re Less Likely To Lose Muscle
Obviously we want our weight loss to come from fat stores, who wants to actually lose muscle? You’ve trained so hard for it, so why let it go to waste?
3) You Can Still Live A Life & Enjoy Yourself
Which is better for a social life (or any life for that matter!), 2700/2850 calories (using the above example), or 2000 calories? 2000 calories doesn’t really leave much breathing room after your protein and fat requirements have been hit.
The Best Protein Intake For Maximum Muscle Retention
This is actually another “hidden” benefit of a smaller calorie deficit. Namely, the smaller the calorie deficit, the less protein you need, and therefore, the more carbs you are “allowed” to eat. The more you restrict yourself in terms of total calories, the higher your protein is forced to go. If you slash your calories by 50% like the typical middle-aged housewife attempts to, then your protein requirements go through the roof. If you avoid this unnecessary crap, then your protein requirements are a little less rigid (and expensive too!)
Of course, you must actually be in a calorie deficit, otherwise you’re defeating the whole point and phase 2 has become a failure. Obviously this is revealed through fat loss measurement tracking such as; the scale, pictures (same lighting, time and pose) and waist measurements. But the point is to keep it fairly small.
Assuming the calorie deficit you put yourself in is small to moderate, as defined above, your protein intake will need to be about 0.75-0.9 grams per pound of bodyweight. If, on top of this, you’re already very lean, it will need to be more like 0.85+ grams per pound of bodyweight (depending on how lean you are). Read that study by Eric Helms.
When you’re leaner, you’re more catabolic. If you want to maintain this muscle, your protein requirements go up, simply put.
Timing Your Fat Loss Meals To Perfection
This is the part which separates Intermittent Fasting from other fat loss diets, in the sense that if you want to maximise satiety, the goal is to shift more calories into a condensed period of time, whilst using caffeine to “bridge” the gap.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be 12pm to 8pm, there are a range of options, and Intermittent Fasting is very flexible in this respect. However, I have the most experience with this, so I will be writing from now on under the assumption that most people will be shifting their eating window from:
Intitally – 8am – 8pm, to;
IF Protocol – 12pm – 6pm or 8pm
Everyone fasts at least 8 hours per 24 hours of being alive, because everyone fasts while they sleep. Most people will have about 4 hours being awake either side of breakfast/dinner too, so this will be closer to 12 hours total fasting for the average person. But we’re trying to extend this 12 hour figure to 16 hours (or more). Doing so will increase fullness and “I’m full, you greedy bastard” signals to the brain in the afternoons/evenings, which becomes harder, most of the time, when dieting.
As I explained in the Introduction, dieting cock-ups always occur later in the day when willpower is lowest. Therefore the goal is always to reduce these. Diet adherence underpins everything.
So, when exactly do we need to be eating these calories?
I would recommend that once you have completed phase 1 and have adapted to the new schedule, you should have your 1-2 pieces of fruit at about 11/11:30am, then your first big meal around 12pm (1pm is fine), then your second large meal around 6-8pm. You can also have a sweet snack around 7-8pm. This should not be complete junk food, or anything that might trigger you to eat more and go over your daily caloric limit of current calories minus 5-10%.
You will find that any time you have meals out, drinks with friends, barbecues, wine evenings with your special woman, house parties, or whatever it is that you do for fun (and everyone likes to have fun, yet they conveniently forget to plan this shit when they go on a diet), then you can fit these events into your fitness lifetstyle no problem. This is because you will have literally 50% of your daily calories still available at this time of the evening. Most people on a diet will have about 0-20%. HUGE difference. For me, this represents about 800-1250 extra calories compared to your normal fat loss diet. You have so much more freedom under this system.
Aaaaand they entire thing fails. Doesn’t happen with me, ever. The system always survives. Sure, I still mess up
sometimes, but as I said in The Introduction, it’s a LOT less often, and when I do, it’s a LOT less severe.
Caffeine – Your Secret Shredding Weapon
If you don’t consume caffeine whilst on a diet, you’re missing out. It boosts energy, focus and productivity, and more importantly than any of that, it suppresses your appetite like nothing else. Whether you choose to have coffee or pills makes no difference to me. Just make sure you’re taking advantage of this.
I have always used it in the mornings to “bridge” the gap between waking up, and having the first fruit snack. This means I start when I wake up at about 8am (usually). Caffeine in the morning is very beneficial because:
A) I have most of my difficult work to do in the mornings, purposefully to avoid procrastination, and the energy and focus from caffeine is a nice bonus.
B) It’s less likely to cause any sleep problems if you take it in the morning.
C) I often train in the mornings, so again, the caffeine can give me a boost with my weight training.
D) It makes it far easier when you’re lean, trying to get leaner, and can’t eat for another 3 hours.
In fact, it makes it go from very, very difficult, to really more than doable. That’s how useful caffeine is within the context of fat loss. It makes your calorie deficit far more manageable.
How To Boost Diet Adherence By Owning Your Cravings
Most people either don’t have enough structure (and they don’t ever consistently put themselves into a calorie deficit in the first place), or they restrict themselves too much, and try to diet too hardcore/extreme like the oldschool bodybuilders and end up screwing up later on when their cravings inevitably over-power them. These people did a better job of fat loss than the first group, as they did actually make some progress. But they still messed up.
The regular, low calorie sweet snack solves this problem. This snack needs to be:
- Relatively clean
- Relatively low in calories
This means no dohnuts or pizza. Think honey with yoghurt, unsalted nuts, low-cal/high fiber cookies. Google will give you plenty of ideas though. The most important thing is that you remove all trigger foods completely out of your cupboards, and that the evening snack is never more than about 20% of your total daily calories, following the 80/20 rule.
To give you a timeline so you can properly visualise a “Day in the life” if you like, here is an Intermittent Fasting schedule, once you have adjusted to the meal timings by completing phase 1:
8am: Wake-up, weigh yourself (and do other forms of measurement), consume 200mg of caffeine
11am: Have 1-2 pieces of fruit
12-1pm: Have first large meal (plenty of protein and veg, ideally)
6-7pm: Same as above
8pm: Have sweet, low to moderate calorie snack
An example breakdown of calories may look like this:
Fruit – 5%
First meal – 35%
Second meal – 40%
Sweet evening snack – 20%
Okay, I hope all of this makes sense, and I hope that you gain value from it. I’m now sitting at 10% body fat and have been for almost 2 years, no problem, so I certainly have.