Intermittent Fasting: The Ultimate Guide (for dieting, productivity, focus & health) - Phil Hawksworth

Intermittent Fasting: The Ultimate Guide (for dieting, productivity, focus & health)

Intermittent fasting is a superb lifestyle choice for a number of reasons. The benefits straddle 4 primary areas, in my opinion. Namely:

  • Ease of calorie restriction (dieting)
  • Liberation of your time (productivity)
  • Focus
  • Health

In this post and accompanying videos I look at intermittent fasting and the benefits it has on all of these areas.


Introduction to Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that involves extended ‘fasts’. If you think of a standard eating schedule of having dinner at 7pm and then breakfast at 7am the next morning; the interim period of 12 hours is the ‘fast’.

Intermittent fasting is extending that fasting period out for longer – say eating breakfast at 12pm, instead of 7am. Alternatively, you could have dinner at 4pm and then not eat again until the next morning.

The daily extended fasting window is the most common way fasting is practiced. You can also eat normally for 6 days, and then have a 24 hour fast on the 7th day. Which protocol is most suited depends upon your goals. There is nothing magic about intermittent fasting, it is just a tool you can use to fit your lifestyle and achieve goals.

The benefits you are looking for from fasting will determine how you should do it. Below I explain the different benefits, and which style of fasting is going to be best for you.


Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss, Dieting, Bodybuilding

For weight loss and dieting, fasting is simply a tool you can use to make it easier to restrict calories. You will lose weight because you are restricting calories. There’s nothing special about fasting, it just makes it easier to keep calories lower.

When you don’t eat (and you’re used to fasting) you don’t get hungry. Compressing the eating window means you have less time to eat your total daily calories. This will allow for bigger meals and a greater feeling of satiation.

Its easier to have a ‘normal’ life, be able to eat out/socially and be able to enjoy some high calorie foods, without it taking you way over your calorie limit. Simply don’t eat and then have 1-2 big meals later in the day and suddenly dieting is not a miserable life of dry chicken and broccoli any more.

Intermittent fasting is not optimal for bodybuilding. For the exact same reason it’s good for weight loss, compressing your eating window makes it hard to eat a large amount of calories in a short amount of time. That doesn’t mean you cannot do it, if you are doing it for other reasons, it just isn’t an optimal strategy for raising your caloric intake.


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Intermittent Fasting for Focus & Productivity

Focus and productivity are the biggest benefits for me. It’s great for dieting, but that is only for short periods of time. We want to be more productive every day of the year, and this is where fasting really comes into it’s own.

The big benefit I perceive is not actually a physical effect of fasting, but is purely practical. When you do not have to stop to eat and do everything associated with it, you liberate huge amounts of your time.

You can get up and get straight to work – no worrying about breakfast. Using the high energy you probably have in the mornings to get high quality work done, without interruption. Going to the shops, preparing food, cooking, eating, washing up and putting dishes away… the time quickly adds up. When you don’t have to stop to do that, you have a lot more time to do something useful.

I simply fast until the early afternoon when I have my lowest energy and cannot produce good work anyway. Then I eat.

Fasting also has actual physical benefits – digesting food requires blood and energy that is being diverted away from the brain to the gut. It can make you tired and lethargic, especially after a meal high in carbohydrates. By not eating, you are not having to use energy digesting food.


How To Do Intermittent Fasting?

So how do I recommend doing intermittent fasting?

Personally I like to push my breakfast back until the early afternoon. That works best for my schedule, and the natural ebb and flow of my energy. For you it might be different. The only advice I can give is to watch the videos, try things out and see what works best for you.

Fasting won’t work for everyone. Some people just will not feel good without food. If that’s you, no worries. We’re individual and being dogmatic about things doesn’t help. Look at everything through the frame of what is optimal for you. It doesn’t matter what does or doesn’t work for someone else.

I use coffee – as discussed in this post – to help with fasting. It dulls hunger, increases energy and makes life more awesome.

Self-Experimentation = Truth

Give fasting a try and see if it works for you as well as it does for me. If that works, what else might you have been told all of your life that is bullshit?

The only way to know anything for sure is to experience it yourself. Study and master the basics, but don’t believe anything you’re told until you have seen it work. When you have mastered the basics, then you can really start to experiment. Knowing yourself is really important and will lead to you unlocking all kinds of potential you hadn’t previously tapped into.


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