Hunger Pains: Intermittent Fasting Done Right

If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know a calorie deficit is necessary.

As a reader of this blog, you’d probably rather create a deficit through hard weight training than eating celery sticks and doing rails Kate Moss style.

But you can only train your way to a lower bodyfat to a certain extent – sooner or later, you’ll need to lower your calories from where they started, and you’ll get subsequent hunger pains following suit (your body wants to stay where it is – the body fat set point theory)

If you do all the basics right to curb your appetite – fill up on veggies, train with volume and intensity, give yourself as much time to diet down as possible, emphasize protein in every meal and use appetite suppressing supplements  – there still comes a point in your diet when you’re hungry as hell between meals.


Even if you’re not prepping for a bodybuilding contest, getting down to sub 10% body fat is not easy (or, hell from 30% to 15%) – harder for some than others – and managing hunger is a part of the deal.

Limiting Cravings  

It may seem counter intuitive, but cutting down the amount of meals you eat each day can actually reduce cravings.

In a calorie deficit, spreading calories across six square meals each day is going to make you very food focused waiting for your next meal.

Why not focus in on 3-4 meals at most, enjoy more calories at each sitting, and allow your diet to fit your lifestyle, not the other way around?

If you aren’t paid to live in the gym and kitchen 24/7, don’t let your diet take over your life.

After all, you’ve got dogs to feed, a soul sucking job to commit some of your will power to and reality TV to binge watch.

Wouldn’t you prefer to sit down with the wife and young kids and eat the same things they are eating that one meal you share together?

By reducing the number of meals you need to prep and sit down to eat in a day, it better allows for travel, family dinners and even social nights out since you have a few more calories to work with each time.


This is where Intermittent Fasting comes in. I would not recommend this approach for the hard gainer or if your priority is muscle gain at the moment, but extending your night-time fast into the first few hours of the next morning can aid in fat loss. If fat loss is your goal, read on.

I recommend the 16/8 LeanGains approach to fasting, which involves delaying breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, for example from 1 pm to 9 pm. Then you “fast” for 16 hours in between including sleep.

NOTE: For the bodybuilder, I recommend a 10-12 hour eating window and 10-12 hour fast, but for the average joe looking to lose fat first and foremost, go with 16/8.

NOTE 2: There is some evidence that intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for women on a biological level, as it is for men. You can read more on that here:

Intermittent Fasting Done Wrong

The problem with fasting for men looking to maintain lean body mass… usually goes a little something like this:

Restricted by the limited feeding window, Fasting Man drops his calories down too far too fast, leading to as much as a 20-30% reduction in calories from his baseline needs right off the bat.

This leads to initial weight loss to be sure, but muscle is also sacrificed AND, as importantly, he stalls out far too soon, gets stuck at too high of a bodyfat and trys to drop his calories down even further… not good.

Now he feels like ass, looks like ass, and is stuck.

In this scenario, your body is hoarding fat as a survival mechanism and it can take a long time to reverse course and slowly add in calories without gaining a bunch of fat back. It’s another form of crash dieting essentially.

Intermittent Fasting Done Right

  1. Start with a 10-12 hour feeding window (9 AM – 9 PM) *you can extent it to 14-16 hours LATER. Small moves first.
  2. Determine your TDEE and only reduce calories by 10-15% to start (don’t add cardio or additional training beyond what you were doing pre-diet)
  3. When you hit a sticking point, consider adding training volume or low intensity cardio
  4. When you hit another sticking point, reduce calories by another 10-15% (don’t sacrifice protein here)

Also of note, fasting is not a free ticket to binge on shitty foods. Your calories still need to be loosely tracked, quality food in the right amounts at the right times should be emphasized, and preparing your own meals most of the time is still a long-term recipe for success.

Ultimately, successful fat loss takes long term adherence. Find the best approach for you and the results will follow.


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Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fitness coach for men and women like his former self. Heavyset in his 20s, he lost 60 pounds and now helps clients find their spark and lose the weight for life.