Intermittent Fasting Part 2 – How To Do It

Max the wonder boy Shippee“So, this fasting thing…how long should I not eat? Like, a day?”

“If you’re feeling gung ho, sure, but I was thinking something a little shorter.”

“That sounds easier.”

“That’s the point. I want you to have success! This really shouldn’t be something that’s terribly stressful.”

“But I won’t be eating. That stresses me out!”

“Ideally, we want to get away from being stressed about food, for BOTH sides, when we’re eating, and when we’re not.”

“So not eating should make me less stressed about eating.”

“Yeah, that’s the idea.”

I’m psyched! How do I start?

Let me just take a second and make a point here. Changing nutrition, in any way, can be a cause for stress for people. We don’t just eat because we’re hungry. We eat for a list of other reasons, from being social, to being bored, or even as a coping mechanism, or as a reward. 

That being said, we here at Paleo Plan don’t want you to be that one person who isn’t going out to eat all the time, and gets the reputation in the office for being a nutritional Nazi. You’re already turning down the Friday donuts, so if not eating is going to make you the annoying person at work, school, or home, consider other options. Really. 

Having the mantra, “Oh, my god! I can’t eat until 2pm today! This is going to be so hard!” isn’t going to make this any fun for you. 

So how do you start? With a great attitude, a big bottle of water, and a plan.

Alright, so what’s the actual protocol?

There are many different protocols suggested by different trainers, experts, and the like. Here at Paleo Plan, we’re going to ease you into things. Keep in mind that these are guidelines. I’m not a doctor, although I may be fitter than yours. ;)

Mark Sisson actually did a great breakdown on all the different protocols in his series on fasting, they can be found hereThere are many, many options here. We’re going to take the most gentle approach possible, and make suggestions about how to move into more “advanced” territory if you’re feeling like it’s working for you.

12/12 Split

For my clients I always recommend starting with a 12/12 split, meaning that you’re fasting for a 12 hour window, then eating for a 12 hour window: i.e. fasting from 7pm to 7am, and eating from 7am to 7pm. The empowering thing about this is that it shouldn’t take a lot of adjusting to your schedule. You may have to put off breakfast, or shift dinner a bit, but those should be the only adjustments necessary to make a 12/12 work. This will also make you aware of your eating schedule.

When I first started experimenting with fasting, I was surprised at how much I was snacking in the evenings. You may find something similar, that you either wake up and start throwing stuff down your gullet right after your morning pee, or maybe you make one more pass through the kitchen before heading to bed, and have a bite at a few of those paleo muffins you made this afternoon. Either way, you’re probably eating out of habit, as opposed to actually being hungry. Having a bit of a schedule, even just 12/12, will make you more aware of the timing of your meals and eating habits, and can give you good insights for when you want to delve deeper into the world of not-eating.

The 12/12 would be practiced everyday. It’s your new way of eating.

Yeah, it’s that simple.

I’ve got the 12/12 down, now what?

If you’re finding your groove well with the 12/12 after a few weeks. Great! You may want to move towards some of these other protocols. Once again, this won’t be for everyone, listen to your body, in a positive way, and forge on!

Basically, I encourage people to gently head towards a 16/8 (16 hours of fasting, 8 hours of eating). We do this a little at a time.

After the 12/12 has become a habit, start making breakfast a little smaller everyday, then week by week move it an hour later. Pretty soon, you’re doing 13 fasting/11 eating, then 14 fasting/10 eating, and over time, you may settle into something akin to a 16 fasting/8 eating, or even a 20/4. Where you “settle in”  completely depends on your schedule and preference. You may have really busy Mondays, and do a 16/8 on that day, and do 14/10 the rest of the week. Many of my clients have settled into a 16/8 routine. Meaning, for this example, that their eating window is from 11am to 7pm, and they’re fasting for the 16 hours from 7pm to 11am. Some women, especially, find that they settle into a 14 fasting/10 eating a little more naturally, so stay tuned into your body and just nudge things. Don’t push it!

The key is to not be obsessive about these numbers! If one day you’re 16/8 and the next you’er 18/6, and the next 17.3/7.7, don’t stress! It’s fine! Just remember that the more consistent you are the more your body will learn to time its expectations of feeding. Meaning that your body will start learning when to be hungry. If you’re naturally not hungry, don’t force it!

There are ways to fast for a full 24 hours, and they’re honestly not all that different than what’s above. Our one caution with this type of fast is to only do it for one day a week, or at the very maximum 2 separate days, like Tuesday, & Friday. By doing this type of fast, you will be cutting calories dramatically. For someone who normally consumes 2,000 calories a day, fasting for two 24-hour periods could change your intake from 14,000cal/week to as low as 10,000cal/per week, or the equivalent of just shy of 1,500 cal/day! If you wanted to maintain weight and still fast two days a week, (why?) you’d need to try to get 2,800 cal/day in on the days you are actually eating. Get out your bib!

For more on this 24 hour type of fast Brad Pilon‘s eBook, Eat Stop Eat is invaluable. Though not Paleo, he is research obsessed and has done his homework. If you’re considering intermittent fasting, and would like a great easily searchable resource, it really is worth the investment of his book (apologies for the “sales page” link)

While it’s easy to get mired down with specifics, be honest with yourself and find what works best for you. We’re all a little different. What the research does show is that giving your body a break from the constant onslaught of calories can be quite beneficial.

How strict is the fast?

Ingesting the least amount of calories possible during your fast would, of course, be best. Your water bottle is going to be your best friend. But also, having a bit of tea, herbal or otherwise throughout the day can at least help you get a little flavor into your system without compromising on calories. The idea is to be as low calories as possible during your fasting times, and let your body naturally deal with the lack of calories in its own, evolutionary way.

What if I’m starving?

You’re not. You may be irritable, or “hangry”, but you’re not starving if you skip a meal or two. And if you’re starting with the 12/12, starting your day with two big glasses of water should naturally push off hunger for a while.

You could be craving though, and that means your sugar demons are coming out for battle.

What’s the difference between craving and real hunger?

If you’re willing to eat vegetables, you’re hungry. If not, you’re just craving.

May you find strength when facing your sugar demons!

Shouldn’t I listen to my body?

Yes. Yes, you should. The problem with this is that most of us are so out of tune with what our bodies really need. It’s not our bodies talking: it’s our demons.

A heroin addict could make the argument that he’s just “listening to his body” as he’s shooting up, and he’d be right. Know the difference between real hunger, and sugar cravings or even eating from boredom. If you’re not willing to eat vegetables, you’re not hungry – you’re just craving. Craving means addiction, and that’s not so good.

It’s really more like Scheduled Eating, huh?

Yup. Intermittent Fasting is going to work best for those of us who have a relatively consistent schedule. Your body does like to be on a schedule with sleeping, working, and eating during generally the same times every day. If you’re one of those that changes shifts from graveyard to swing to day shift within a week, it may be really tough to have a consistent time dedicated to not eating.  Maybe the 24 hour protocol will work better for you or maybe fasting just won’t it into your life right now. Once again, don’t stress!

Those of us that are regular 9 to 5-ers may find that simply delaying breakfast every day brings us pretty close to a 16/8, allows us to have nice, relatively big meals to keep our calories up, and still lets us have dinner out a couple times a week with friends to keep our social lives intact. 

You mean I can have a social life AND abs?!

Yeah, pretty sweet, huh?

What if my schedule gets knocked off?

One of the great side effects of going for a while without eating is that you learn that you’ll survive. If it turns out that your meeting went long at work, and you missed the food truck for lunch, just have a big glass of water, and tell yourself you’re not going to eat till dinner. You don’t have to stress about it! Your mother always told you that there are people all over the world without enough to eat, and it’s true. They make it, and so will you.

I mean, what if I eat too soon, will it wreck everything?

Don’t stress. If you happen to have a bite of something at work without realized you weren’t “supposed” to eat for another couple hours, its fine. Seriously. Just make a mental note, and do better tomorrow. This shouldn’t be stressful!

Try it on.

We’re NOT saying this is for everyone! (It may even be detrimental for some.) But if you’ve plateaued, and can’t seem to make any more progress, why not give it a shot? The first few days will be hard, yes, but you may find a new, sustainable practice that will reliably help you towards your goals!

As always, we LOVE comments!

This post was kindly written by Max Shippee, owner of CrossFit 1440 in suburban Los Angeles, and fitness guru extraordinaire. Learn more about Max here.


  1. In the past, I have tried fasting from lunch at 2 pm to breakfast the next day, and it works, but it can be hard when my family is eating dinner and I’m not. But I can only do this fast maybe once a week. This past week I started a 10 hour eating window and 14 hour fast. It’s really working well to drop some stubborn pounds and it is not that difficult. I’m on my 8th day. It just takes a little planning in regards to when I can start my 10 hour window with breakfast, and what time I need to schedule dinner. So I usually think about what time my husband and kids will be home, and what time I can schedule dinner, and then I count 10 hours backwards to figure what time I can have breakfast. I’m not hungry during the fasting times. It helps to drink a lot of water, and I have some herbal tea if I really want something in the evening. I’m eating strictly paleo, so this helps too. I think I was snacking more than I thought in the evenings, so having a definite fasting period really prevents this.

  2. Thanks Max and Neely for these posts. If it’s ok, I’m going to reference this on my blog about my experience trying paleo,

    I’ve been doing different variations of paleo for the past 6 months now and have done a few recent stints of intermittent fasting. I have read about how, when doing IF, you should have a very large meal after your workout and this meal should contain grains and other starchy carbohydrates. What are your thoughts on this? Would you suggest staying with paleo-starches like sweet potato?

    Also, for me personally, I’ve found that grains fuel my athletic performance in CrossFit the way nothing else can. After 6 long months, I think I’m finally getting over my grain addiction and I now feel crummy when I eat a large amount of grain-based food. That said, a protein shake with carb powder (maltodextrin) still gives me the fuel I need in the gym.

    Max, as a CrossFit owner, do you believe the pre- and post- workout windows can be “cheat” zones when doing IF?


    1. Hey Zack!!

      Please feel free to reference us, and keep the questions coming!!

      In regards to the post workout meal, I think the best way to go is to avoid the grains, thought this will tend to be a very individual choice. You mentioned grain addiction and I can completely understand the internal fight over wanting to perform better and wanting to be healthier. Getting “off the grains” can be a huge challenge. In the past, the IF community hasn’t necessarily been huge fans of the Paleo crowd, though that seems to be shifting a little. Some IF’s guides suggest calories are more important than food choice. While this can be true for some people, others may have their IF dreams shot down by food sensitivities present in non-Paleo foods. For big starches, yeah, try the sweet potato or other paleo friendly starches– there’s a coconuts sweet potato smoothie recipe out there I keep hearing about out there that’s supposed to be awesome. :)

      As far as fueling your athletic performance, I get how those carbs can make you feel pretty damn cranked. I know a few guys who feel the same way after taking about 5 grams of branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) pre workout. They say it makes them feel really good before a workout. Have you tried BCAA’s in the past?

      And as a CrossFit owner, and guy who still feels like he has a lot to learn about all of this stuff, I think the post-workout window is the most “cheat friendly.” So much so, that I’ve even played with having raw milk after workouts. I found this to hold true through what I’ve read, as well as what I’ve experienced through clients. I think most people walk around during the day with a relatively good glycogen (stored sugar) load, and don’t need a specific pre-workout “boost” to better performance. That being said, I am quite a purist, in that I really make an effort to keep everything I put in my face in it’s most natural food-based form. I’ve know of guys in the past who walk into my place drinking a Monster or some other “energy booster” only to find themselves feeling weird, dizzy, shakey, or really queesy after the workout. If you move a LOT during the day, like legit manual labor, then having a bit of something to “top off” before a workout may be helpful, but as far as a “cheat,” I advise to keep things post-workout.

      On a side note, people can easily obsess about getting that “cheat” meal in post workout. It’s good to remind people that IF is still going to work just fine, even if they don’t pack it in after a workout. They should be having good nutrition, and if they REALLY feel the need to cheat with high sugar stuff, do it post workout. It’s NOT a requirement for IF to work!

  3. Hello!

    I am very interested in this but have some MAJOR concerns.

    I am a Muay Thai fighter but also work full time, so I train in the morning, and up to 4 hours in the evening, usually finishing around 9pm.

    I always use a protein shake for recovery, but am worried that if I don’t eat until 1pm in the afternoon, I’m not going to survive and would be starving from the 2 hours of training I do in the morning.

    Do you have any thoughts or suggestions about this?

    1. Hey Gemma!

      Great to hear from you!

      So, you’re training 6 hours a day? Fo reals?

      I don’t think I’d necessarily be putting you on a fasting program if you were a clients of mine. What are your reason’s for considering it? Are you trying to cut weight for a fight?

      My major concerns for you would be that you’re getting enough food. If you’re feeding window is really between 1pm and 5pm, it’s gonna be tough to A – getin all your calories in that time and B – feel like a person after your morning workout.

      If I WERE to play with some sort of scheduled eating with you, based on the information you’ve given, (realizing you’re NOT a client of mine, I do know you’re a bad-ass muay thai fighter, but there’s a LOT I don’t know about you, like bodyfat %, current eating schedule, and caloric intake, 1 rep max deadlift, to name a just few) I would start with making those post workout meals nice and big, the morning one especially, since you’ll be up working and not headed to bed right after. And seeing how much of your calories we can get in those two post-workout windows. If we wanted to extend the fast to that 1pm spot, I would think that you would be a good candidate for the BCAA (see above) supplementation. True, it wouldn’t be a true “fast” in the sense that you’d be getting some “food” in you (the BCAA’s), but it would be calorically negligible, shouldn’t cause the dreaded insulin spike, and would probably keep you from bonking at work and getting fired ;).

      If you want to continue a dialogue about this please feel free to comment again, I’d love to be able to have this discussion so other people could benefit from reading it!

  4. I can handle the 16/8 schedule, but only about 2 or 3 consecutive days a week. Would it be beneficial or detrimental to IF for those 2 days or is it tricking the body too much by going back and fourth?

    1. Hey Jenna!

      So sorry it took so long to get back to you!

      I would say do what you can. And on the other days, do what you can again (can you do 14/10 on those days, or 12/12?).

      It’s best to have extended periods of time when you’re not eating. I find that I’m pretty much 15/9 during the week, then during the weekends, a little more like 12/12. I find that this works best for me, and I still don’t get too super hungry. This, by the way, is the major reason for the consistency, eating at around the same times every day helps to cue your body to expect to be fed at those times, and not get as hungry when you’re int he fasting state.

      Most people do find that somewhere in the 3-5 day range is when it’s “the worst.” Many find that once they push through that barrier, things get substantially easier.

      On a side note, some women find that a 14/10 schedule is easier for them. You ladies are different machines then us guys, so don’t be afraid to play with it a little!

  5. Hi!

    Thank you so much for giving a detailed layout of IF. I have had several questions about this lifestyle of eating and you have answered most of them. I have been on a roller coaster ride trying to get fitter and reduce my weight. In the last 4 weeks, the scale has stopped moving and I really want to stop moving along with it….lol. The time has come for me to make an attempt with IF/improving my diet and fighting the demons…lol. When it comes to working out, does it matter if I work out before I break my fast for the day? Again, thank you for the wonderful elaboration on IF. Take care.

    1. Great question Keshia!

      In an ideal world, you would work out in a fasted state, then have your first meal post-workout.

      Realize that what I just described is ideal. Most of us aren’t living that type of life. Work, spouses, kids, and bosses (among many others) can all “get in the way” of what we’re trying to do. What I’m saying is, if you can make it happen, great! If not, don’t make it a cause of stress, just do the best you can. If on the weekends your schedule opens up and you can make it happen, great. Just do your best!

  6. Hey Max!

    I’ve been reading a lot on IF and I have to say this is by far one of the best (maybe because it allows a 12/12 as opposed to the strict 16/8 schedule lol). I work from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm and I usually go straight to the gym right after (I get to the gym at around 6:00 pm). I’m thinking of doing a 14/10 IF, my eating window would be between 12pm to 10pm and I would fast until 12 the next day. My concern is that I usually have a decent size meal after my workout (around 8-9pm) and I was wondering if that would affect my weight loss even with the fasting.

    Thank you!

    1. Hey Goshanni!!

      Hmmm…I would say try it and see. I suspect you’ll still see some weight loss (depending on your starting point) with the 14/10. If you wanted to give yourself a little “edge,” you could take a digestive enzyme with that last meal. It’ll help you metabolize the food out of your stomach a little faster, if your concerned with having too much going on during the beginning of your fasting window.

      Also, assuming that you’re already Paleo ;), you shouldn’t have as much to worry about as someone who’s having a bread & pasta sandwich for that pre-fasting meal. ;P

      Yeah for you for making a go of it! Be sure to let us know about your progress!

    2. Hey Goshanni!!

      Hmmm…I would say try it and see. I suspect you’ll still see some weight loss (depending on your starting point) with the 14/10. If you wanted to give yourself a little “edge,” you could take a digestive enzyme with that last meal. It’ll help you metabolize the food out of your stomach a little faster, if your concerned with having too much going on during the beginning of your fasting window.

      Also, assuming that you’re already Paleo ;), you shouldn’t have as much to worry about as someone who’s having a bread & pasta sandwich for that pre-fasting meal. ;P

      Yeah for you for making a go of it! Be sure to let us know about your progress!

  7. Hi Max! I am just now starting Paleo, this would be day 1 for me, and eat on a pretty basic schedule. CrossFit is at 6am before I start my day. I have always had a pre and post workout meal of some sort. When you say the workout is optimal in post-fasting, does this mean I should not have anything besides water between waking up and working out? And if I have a post workout meal, doesn’t that make the 16/8 more difficult? Help please :)

  8. Hey Sarah!!

    Great to here you’re starting Paleo!!

    First off, try not to make yourself too crazy with trying so many things at once Paleo + IF can be a LOT if you haven’t already been doing one, i want to make sure that you’re not setting yourself up for frustration!!

    If you are going to do the whole shebang, there are a couple of ways to make it work.

    A – The first I would suggest, and probably the easiest, would be to simply have your 8 hour eating window start after your morning workout, provided that you’re hungry then. (so yes, just water before the workout). You’re eating would start at around 7:30 am or so, and you’re last meal would be around 3:30 in the afternoon. This means that you’re getting in a good deal of fasting before bedtime. This can be quite challenging, as that’s when munchies tend to happen, as well as that’s when social eating tends to happen.

    B – The other thing you could try is not eating right after the workout. Your post workout meal is still post workout, even if it’s an hour or two later. Sure you’re not getting it in some optimal window, but the difference isn’t so huge as to make you stress. If you could push off that first meal till 10am (You REALLY have to feel this out) you’d then have till 6pm.

    C – Some women like the 14/10 split better. Your metabolisms are different, and some find the 18 hours to be a bit much. If you started eating at 10am every day, that would give you till 8pm to finish up. That doesn’t sound too bad to me at all.

    D – try the 24 hour fast instead. Pick a 24 hour period where you’re going to be busy, but not doing Murph 4 times, say, from lunch Monday, to lunch Tuesday, and don’t eat for that time frame.

    I would be cautious about combining both of these (24 + 16/8). It’s more of an either/or thing. We don’t want to give you eating issues. ;)

    Also, remember that you don’t have to be optimal all the time. People’s lives rarely are, unless they’re being paid to be optimal. Yes, you should stay the course, but if a dinner with old friends puts you into a 12/12 split instead of a 14/10 or even a 16/8…don’t OCD over it, you know?

    Let me know if I just clarified or confused you!! ;)


  9. Hi Max,

    first of all, i want to say thank you for ur awesome post.. so i heard about intermittent fasting from a friend of mine and he said it can helps you to build more muscle and feel healthier.. as i heard him saying that, i was like “wow… why dont i give this a try..” so my first question is what he’s saying is true? ive been doing the 16/8 period of fasting since last saturday and has been going good so far.. the only thing is that i dont really eat at the same time during those 8 hours eating period but i make sure to eat at least 2 meals within those 8 hours. i normally go for breakfast and lunch. then i skip dinner… this leads to my second question, do i have to eat at the same hours or i can eat at whatever hours i want as long as i keep thos 16/8 window?
    the other reason for me doing this is also to lose some weight of course… i think ive hit my plateau… i want to lose the last 5-10lbs of my weight and be very lean yet looking toned… i dont really go to gym but i used to in the past… so my third question is can this fasting alone help me to achieve my goal? if so how long? im 5’6″ and weight around 120lbs by the way… and my final question is how long should i do this fasting for? i know this fasting is good, so i think i should do it for a certain period of time. but i dont know how often. is it every week or month or year ?

    thanks alot..

    1. Hey Rachan!!

      Glad you’ve enjoyed the posts!!

      Congrats on making it through your first few days of 16/8. Those are the hardest.

      In answer to your questions. Re: when to eat within the 8 hours– You can eat whenever you’d like in that 8 hour window, it doesn’t have to be at the same time every day. For you (& others depending on goals), you may want to eat a little more at the two meals you are having. Judging from the way you’ve phrased it, you’re actually cutting out an entire meal as well. This is fine if you’re trying to loose weight, but be careful about running a calorie deficit for too long. You could get cranky, and stress your body in a bad way. Just stay sensitive!!

      Re: Weight loss. This is a tricky question. How do you look in the mirror? That number on the scale doesn’t tell me much about how your going to look. Are you working out? What kind of workouts? What you do with your body is going to have a major influence on whether or not you look … ahem…”toned”*. You should be picking up heavy stuff. Heavy enough that you can squeeze out 7 or 8 reps with it, no more than 10, if you can do more than 10, add weight. Go through the basics like squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, and push-ups(or bench press). Of course, if there’s a CrossFit nearby …. :)

      This type of fasting should be seen as something to try for a month or two to see if it will fit within your lifestyle. With your relatively easy transition. I would say you could keep it going indefinitely, provided you up your calories a wee bit once you get to your desired goal. Most people that like this style of fasting do it continuously. I do.

      You’re not going to get “toned”* without picking up heavy stuff. You’re muscles need the stimulus, or they will atrophy, and instead of “toned”* you’ll end up looking creepy thin, or skinny fat.

      * about the word “toned” – be careful here. You can’t really tone a muscle…you know what? I’m going to write a blog post about this very thing….look for it in the next few days :)

      1. Max – Looking forward to that blog post! By the way, I just did my first true high weight/low rep workout the other day and I can not tell you how sore I am. I don’t know why after all this time I haven’t done, for instance, a lat pulldown with more than like 70 pounds. I’m so psyched to actually feel really sore all over. I think training like this is gonna help my climbing… well, I hope :)

  10. Hi, I am looking into doing this as I do not have breakfast
    now as it is, however I do have a coffee every morning, but all the
    same I am used to not eating for long periods. Just a question, are
    nop-carb protein shakes allowed during the fasting phase or does
    that still have calories? I was looking at fasting each day from
    9pm – 1pm Unfortunatley I play rugby and work during the day,
    therefore my training sessions are from 6pm – 8pm, if I do a gym
    session before hand my training times will be from 5pm – 8pm
    instead of straight after the fasting phase ends. Will this be an
    issue? Am I best to have 2 small meals before training with no
    carbs or little carbs and have my large meal directly after

    1. These are great questions!

      It’s also great that it looks like its not going to be too much of a change for you to make this work.

      So, to get to your questions, it kind of depends on your goals. Having any calories, even “just” protein, will stop the cleansing of cells by cueing digestion to start. Black coffee seems to not do this, so that part should be ok.

      So if you’re looking towards cell cleansing and not necessarily weightloss, having those shakes could pull you out of that and slow everything down. If weightloss is the only goal, you may be able to get away with those shakes as long as they didn’t put you over your calorie goals/limits for the day.

      As far as your pre/post workout, I like your idea of a couple small meals, then the big one post workout. It also sounds like your moving quite a lot (Rugby), so you’ll wanna make sure you’re fueling that & recovering properly. And as far as the carb content if those pre-meals, I suspect a few carbs will help you perform a little better, but if you were my client I’d have you try both ways & see which felt better.

      The thing to remember about the fasting is that for most people it’s a “health” or possibly “weightloss” approach to food. For a few people it also helps performance. You’ll have to see where you fit into that spectrum.

      I know that personally, I perform best at about 3 or 4 in the afternoon, after a pretty balanced lunch. I grub up post workout and my non-eating window is from 8 or 9 pm to 11am or noon.

      I think I got to most of that, let me know if you need clarification!

  11. I started fasting on alternate days about 4 weeks ago, because I started calorie-counting and realized that I was over-compensating with food after vigorous exercise, which was why I wasn’t seeing any of the results I expected after several months. I was really amazed at how my hunger (read: craving) pangs disappeared on the 2nd fasting day; on the first fasting day, I thought I was going to DIE (read: DIEEEEE).

    I realized very shortly after starting that, exactly as you’ve stated, I wasn’t in touch with how my body felt and I am getting much better at differentiating between real hunger (I do resort to vegetables sometimes! or soymilk) and cravings. Just this past week I’ve started the 20/4 split, since I was suffering from some chronic headaches, and I feel this works very well for me right now.

    What began as a short-term, weight loss program will probably progress into a lifestyle change because I’ve noticed other chronic problems have been alleviated due to fasting and eating less, e.g. GERD/indigestion, flatulence, difficulty waking. I would encourage anyone to try this method, especially if they are already health-conscious. It is very important though to begin slowly; I didn’t and I suffered some of the consequences. Even though I will continue down this road, I hope that starting abruptly didn’t cause any permanent damage. I really appreciate your posts on the subject and I hope that some people are really helped by all the different kinds of IF.

  12. Hi Max,

    I’ve been doing the intermittent fasting from 7p to 11a for about 2 months now. I recently realized that my multivitamin, Vitafusion gummies, contains 15 calories.

    I usually take them when I first get up in the morning around 8am.

    I notice you say NO calories should be consumed within the fasting time frame, does this mean I would need to wait until after 11a before I take my multivitamin??


  13. I normally work Monday-Friday from 7am-3:30pm. I work in a hospital so I’m constantly on my feet moving around,lifting and transporting patients around. I usually run or do my weight training right after I get off from work. My question is when do you suggest I start my fasting? I was doing a 16:8 window where I had my last meal at 7pm then my first small meal around 11am followed by a workout around 3:30-4:00 pm. I heard its better to workout towards the end of your fasting. Do you have any suggestions on how I can work this out? I have that endomorph body type so my main goal is to drop a lot of body fat. Your awnser would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  14. Hello, I will be ending a bulk cycle and stumbled upon intermittent fasting and found it to be intriguing. I will be attempting weight loss while holding onto as much muscle gains possible. I can only seem to find info that is based on an early morning workouts? I work from 9 till 2pm. I was thinking that I could start my fasting at night, 10 or 11pm. I work as a prep cook so the activity isn’t too intense. Anyway, the question is this, could one start a late night fast roughly an hr. Or 2 before bedtime, wake up, go to this type of job activity, finish work, come home and perform a routine weight lifting regiment then break the fast shortly after that? I understand that bcaa’s play a role in preserving muscle. 10g dose before and after a workout. What do you think about taking 10g of bcaa during my work (prepping)? Would that help or just be a waste? Thank you

  15. This post is right on time. I have been frustrated with a plateau in my weight loss (down 33 pounds since mid-January, but want to drop another 54). I have been looking for recommendations on how to keep things going, and I think that I’d like to try intermittent fasting. My schedule works really well with IF. Thanks for this great write up. It was very informative. Unlike some other articles I’ve seen, you answered my question of “How many days a week should I fast?” Clearly, the 12/12 could become a staple, and build up to other time splits. I appreciate your comment about not stressing. I can become a bit obsessive/compulsive about sticking to a plan. It’s good to get a reminder to take a breath. Consistency is good, but freaking out over messing up a routine is not.

    Full disclosure: I am not currently on a paleo diet.


  16. How do you think about ending a 8 hour window with a workout?
    LeanGain suggests ending the fast with a work out, but i have a job and the schedule doesn’t simply fit for me
    So i eat breakfast at 8, lunch 12, dinner 5 and then play tennis till 6pm..
    and i dont eat after that.
    i’m not sure if i can skip breakfast haha i was so much of a breakfast-person


  17. So can the 12/12 be adjusted for my work hours? most nights I work til 8, so by the time I get dinner, my fast couldn’t start til 9. As long as I didn’t eat breakfast before 9 the next day would that be ok? Also, what if when aiming for the 12/12 i am a little off, like i don’t eat breakfast til 9:30 or 10. Is it important to eat at identical times?

  18. This is really great. I am not Paleo and I eat carbs (don’t freak out, lol) usually 2 slices a bread once a day, not much more than that in the realm of “bad carbs”. But I am starting to research IF because after losing 60 pounds (I still have 60 more to go) my eating clock has naturally fallen into eating between 10am & 8pm which according to this article is what seems to be what women naturally fall into. My weight loss is a result of eating healthy foods (cutting out junk food and my 11am nachos I used to have everyday) and daily exercise. That being said I count calories and aim for a 500 calorie deficit each day which is a 1 pound weight loss each week, with my current eating plan, IF will help me cut a few calories each day by not mindlessly eating at night and in the mornings. I do have a full fat cup of coffee in the AM to stabilize my blood sugars and/or a banana if I workout in the mornings. These are things I need to do for my health, but even so IF will help me keep trim. It really seems like it is something I can do for life, even after I hit my goal weight. Thanks for the post. I have already been IFing for 3 days now, and will try it for a few weeks. Hopefully I will see good results!!! :)

  19. I started on Monday with 22/2 because it only takes me 2 hours to eat everything for the day. It works with my schedule since I get home around 5. I am good all day but it is now Saturday and I am not working.

    I was wondering if I don’t go all out crazy I should have a day off. For me I fill up on protein first then eat fruit and vegies then look for something sweet…gotta have the sweet for some reason.

    Today I started with a 1/2 teaspoon of BCAA plain whey protein isolate in my tea this morning and sipped it before during and after the workout. Is this what is making me feel like eating early? I am 4 hours from my window.

    I definitely felt the extra ‘go’ in my workout so I believe I sensed my body was going into the “we are feeding now” phase. Maybe I should work with a larger window on weekends.

  20. Hi Max, I’m pretty interested in reading about doing IF as a way of life; admittedly in part because I’d like to shift a few extra kg and am not 100% sure why I’m struggling so much with that. Long story short, I eat very regularly – before training, after training (that’s my ‘breakfast’), snack, lunch, snack before training (if it’s a 2-a-day day) and dinner – but not purely out of force of habit. I’m just incredibly hungry most of the time. I avoid processed foods, grains and most dairy, eat a lot of vegetables and proteins and minimise starchy foods… But I get serious hunger issues. In the past, when I’ve ‘delayed’ eating a meal, I’ve made myself so unwell (after bouts of stomach cramps) that I’ve felt sick for the rest of the day. Does this mean I’m not a good candidate for IF? Or that my body is sad and weak somehow…? :( I

    Also, how do you manipulate windows to allow you to eat pre and post training if you train both am and pm? I’m definitely thinking of purchasing Eat Stop Eat to help me figure this out and I’m sorry for the multiple questions! Thank you :)

  21. Sorry to be a bother but I’m really interested in this fasting program to lose last bit of fat.(I’m around 12% and want to be at 7-8%) I’m a crossfitter and my workout times are usually from ~4:30- 6:30 pm. So when would my eating period be? On the weekends the gym times change into the am and mid-day times so should I change my window or just not fast those days? Also I do want to loose this last bit of fat as fast as possible. Cheers!

    1. Hey Robert!!

      Hmm….being a CrossFitter myself, I’ll give you a couple ideas to try, though it’ll only be through a bit of experimentation that you may find your own sweet spot. Your workout time slot seems to be right in the sweet spot. I’d say give the 16/8 a go, as in, don’t eat from 8pm to noon. That way, you can get in a nice bog post workout meal, but still be able to have a little something at lunch time (noon) so you’re primed for your workouts. You may find that you can shrink or open that windw alittle on the weekends. On the days where the workouts shift into the am, I’d just way not to eat breakfast those days, then do your normal post workout stuff.

      Realize that your protein/carbs/fat are still important, and that this isn’t a license to eat like a madman. You should still be squarely in the Paleo ethos, ya dig?

      Just know that getting less than 10% body-fat is really about self experimentation & consistency.

      As a side note, how old are you?

  22. Dear Paleo Plan,

    Wonderful article – thank you for this. I have a few questions though.
    1. Could you also do a 20/4 or 19/5 but tjhen eat your big meal at night? say, from 6 p.m to 11 p.m? I eat paleo for five years now, but have a continuous struggle with ‘grazing’. I tend to eat too little – in fear of gaining fat – and then naturally graze all day long – for Im constantly kinda hungry. Also, I find it easier to eat the right stuff at night, but I am missing out the right stuff because I worry about calorie intake during the day, and then limit myself too much at dinner. For example: I never crave veggies/protein/hearty foods in the morning – only later in the day – so I basically live of fruits etc. with sometimes a small serving of lean turkey. I tried the whole30 to battle this, and completed the program without mess-ups, but still, I cant get myself to sip bone broth in the morning, even though I know its a far better start of the day than apples with raisins and carrots. So my new thought is – why not give day time fasting a try, and then eat my lean beef, sweet potatoes and veggies at night? Basically, IF, but in a different timeframe..I am really excited about this and would love to hear your thoughts on this.
    2. I am not overweight, but I have a huge amount of fat on my belly – seriously – to the point that I consider liposuction all the time, just because nothing seems to work, eating a lot, eating a little, exercising a lot, etc. My arms and legs and butt are fine – it all goes straight to the tummy…Would IF help you think? I soooo badly wish it will..
    3. I think Crossfit is amazing, but: 1. I have a bad back (scheuermann) and 2. I really, sadly, dont like my crossfit gym and theres no other nearby..What are your thoughts on intensive yoga practise and running, say 3 times a week 3-4 miles, and 2 times a week an intensive (sweaty) 60 min yoga practice? Will that also work in combination with IF? and do you recommend eating before/after?

    Sorry for this long post! Hope you can answer my questions!

    1. Hey Sarah!!

      SO sorry it’s taken me a while to get to you!!!

      Get a cup of coffee, your in for a wall of text here…

      1 – Generally speaking, I find people do a little better having their big meal at night. I’m not sure if I mentioned that in the article, but the way I start many people doing intermittent fasting without them realizing it is to have them skip breakfast. As far as 20/4, 19/5, or whatever split works for you, that tends to be more individual, some people thrive on just 4 hours of eating, while others’ schedule makes it tricky.

      2 – Looks like you’re in a little fight with your genetics! I have afew clients that are as your described, they carry their weight right around the middle. As in they carry no cellulite or ANYTHING on their legs, but their middle is their “problem area.” That’s REALLY really tricky. Would you say that this fat could be classified as visceral fat? In my experience, IF works rather well in this regard, but often going VERY low carb works the same, and in many cases better. You mentioned that you snack on fruit during the day, with raisins being basically sugar! I don’t want to make you a crazy eater, but you’re basically eating carbs all through the morning, when you’re the MOST insulin sensitive, and more likely to store the carbs as fat! Generally speaking, I suggest that the bigger carbs people consume be done ONLY after an intense workout. (more bout this in the answer to Question #3). So, based on my experience, I’d say cut out breakfast and all the fruit during the day, it’s probably giving you energy spikes (feeling like you need coffee half way through the morning), and not helping with your fat loss goals. And generally no carbs, unless you’ve workout out hard enough (see question #3)

      Think of it this way, most people go by the common knowledge to “Eat carbs in the morning, to burn them all day!” While this is indeed, true, most people never take the time to consider the next logical conclusion which is that if you’re “burning carbs all day” you’re NOT burning fat. Most people that I know would rather burn fat than carbs. This is why the low carb/IF works for many people, it keeps them in “fat burning mode” (which you’re in when you wake up) for a longer portion of the day, instead of interupting it by introducing sugar/carbs into the equation.

      3 – So sorry to hear about your Scheurmann’s…it looks to be very uncomfortable. If CrossFit (and your closest gym) isn’t a goto for you, then we can take some lessons from their philosophy to make what you’re doing even better.

      A – Workout Philosophy: The workouts, you’ve described are well and good. However, they tend to be aerobically or in the “fat burning zone.” While this is good for general calorie burning, they aren’t going to do much for helping you pull stored sugar (glycogen) from your muscles. Why is that important? You, for the most part, store sugar (in slightly different forms, but for simplicity, we’re calling it sugar), in your muscles, or in your fat (through some chemistry).*

      If your muscles have NOT been taxed enough, they don’t burn their sugar. If they don’t burn their sugar, then they can’t store anymore (they’re already full). If they can’t store anymore, you body sends it to secondary storage. Secondary storage is fat.

      Logically, then, we have to either not eat any carbs at all, or tax the muscles enough so that they take up the carbs we’re eating, instead of having an excess, and storing that sugar as fat. Generally speaking, distance running and yoga for an hour doesn’t do this. I’m not saying they NEVER do this, I’m saying GENERALLY they don’t (it depends on the class). These are fat burning/arobic activities. You want to do high intensity. So…

      B – Workout Practicum: You want to go intense. That can be done a few different ways. If you’re going for that run. Finish with sprint work. You should do at LEAST 7 sets at a pace where you really want to quit. If you’re legs are shaking, they’re “empty.” While there is no debate about yoga being an excellent practice for flexibility and static strength, it’s a very different animal from doing a set of Tabata Squats (PaleoFit Workout Link) and getting 18+ squats in each round. It’s that intensity and full range of motion that really gets your muscle glycogen (stored muscle sugar) burned through and empty. This means that when you eat your carbs, it’ll go “into” your muscles instead of your fat. This is why, above, I suggested that you only have the carbs post-workout. Generally speaking, protein can be eaten anytime.

      Now…I’ve oversimplified a LOT here for brevity. There are entire books written about this. If you have more questions fire away! I’ll try to get to them faster than this one! :)

      *DISCLAIMER – Your liver stores a little sugar as well. I’ve WAY oversimplified a long and very interesting process of cell metablolism and how your body uses & stores energy. It’s not magic, there’s a process to it, but I’ve simplified because while interesting, we generally just want to know what to DO about it.

      PS. Do you drink alcohol at all? Wine? Beer? Mixers?

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