I-Feast

A few simple techniques well presented, an aim clearly seen, are better than a tangled maze of data whirling in disorganized educational chaos. – Bruce Lee

Give me 10 minutes of your time, and I can get you going in the right direction.  Here is a comprehensive guide to my nutritional approach.

I.  WHAT IS THE INTERMITTENT FEAST?

A dietary approach that combines principles from Caveman Nutrition Theory with Modern Sports Nutrition Science in order to accomplish your two main goals:  improve overall health and ruthlessly slash body fat.  You don’t have to live and look like a goblin, or join a cult with an aura of mysticism, in order to improve bio-markers of health.  Nor do you have to destroy your health, give up your career and social life, live in the kitchen, or be obsessively controlled by your diet to look good at Da Beach.

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II.  I-FEAST OVERVIEW

THE CAVEMAN TEMPLATE

“Caveman Nutrition” is a simple educational tool you can easily remember and apply, and should serve as the base foundation of your diet.  If it was around in caveman times, you can eat it.  If man made it, don’t eat it. If you can cut its head off or pluck it from the ground, it’s probably good to go.  If it’s neon blue and comes in a bag or box, or is a Pop Tart, it’s probably not great.

Moving away from modern Y2K eating by cutting out processed, man-made foods (including self proclaimed “health” foods, Miyaki proclaimed bullsh*t foods); and returning to our evolutionary pasts by eating real, natural foods (wild animals and plants) will take you 90% of the way in achieving your goals.  It cuts through over-complication, confusion, misinformation, and slick marketing, and gives you a simple base template you can follow.

THE FAST & FEAST DIET STRUCTURE

Choosing the appropriate meal frequency and food distribution pattern — FOR YOU — is about making your plan as realistic and functional as possible.  There is no one Right Way.  Multiple approaches can work.  Modern fitness approaches (eat 6 small meals every 2 hours, starve at night, wanting to gnaw off your significant other’s arm, etc.) can work great, as many professional fitness athletes have proven, and often write about in the magazines.  I have followed such plans myself with great results.   But these plans are impractical for most in the real world, and are based more on spandex tradition rather than scientific necessity.  There are equally effective alternatives.

Human beings evolved on a fasting and feeding cycle.  We spent the majority of our existence fasting or eating lighter during the day while actively tracking, hunting, and gathering our food.  We spent the evening relaxing and feasting on the majority, if not all, of our daily food intake.  Following this type of structure is an easier plan to stick to for most people, because it goes with our natural instincts and social patterns.

Warner Bros Pictures

Warner Bros Pictures

THE ATHLETE’S MODIFICATION

If you are an athlete or regular exerciser that has higher-level performance or physique goals, and engages in high-intensity, anaerobic-based training (strength training, sprint sports, bar hopping, etc.), you should add back in a select few starchy carbohydrates to support the unique physiological, metabolic, and hormonal demands of this modern activity.  Caveman ate to survive, not to build a beach physique or perform like a World Champ.

III.  HOW TO INTERMITTENT FEAST

STEP #1 – HUNT FOR ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS

Make unprocessed, wild, hormone-free, anti-biotic free, natural animal proteins the foundation of your diet.

They provide the essential amino acids we need for building and maintaining lean muscle mass, the essential fatty acids and “good” fats we need for normal functioning and natural hormone production, and vitamins and minerals (B-vitamins, zinc, selenium, iron, etc.).

STEP #2 – GATHER MICRONUTRIENTS & PHYTONUTRIENTS

Make non-starchy vegetables and whole fruits (melons are my favorite, get it?), the second foundation of your diet.

They provide natural fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals (vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, calcium, etc.), and disease-fighting phytonutrients.

STEP #3 – GATHER ENERGY NUTRIENTS

Animals and plants provide us with the essential nutrients and micronutrients we need for survival.  Everything else is about providing us with the energy we need to fuel our daily activities.

For added energy nutrients, eat whole food fats or low fructose, gluten-free, natural starch foods.

A. The Paleo Diet

This is a good template for sedentary, obese, insulin resistant, type II diabetic populations:  animal proteins, vegetables, whole fruit, and whole food fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut).

B.  The Traditional Japanese Village Diet

This is a good template for athletes and regular exercisers, which is basically a Paleo-style Diet with the re-introduction of some rice and root vegetables to support anaerobic training.  The Irish Farmer’s Diet (meat and potatoes), Okinawans (pork, vegetables, and sweet potatoes), and Kitavans (fish, fruit, and root vegetables) are other good examples and templates.

ivoryandart.com

ivoryandart.com

STEP #4 — INTERMITTENT FEAST

Fast or eat lighter during the day, feast on the majority of your calories and energy nutrients at night.

A. Physiology

This structure controls insulin/blood sugar levels and maximizes fat burning hormones and cellular factors during the day (growth hormone, cAMP), while simultaneously improving nutrient partitioning and maximizing muscle building hormones and cellular factors at night (insulin, mTOR).

B. Psychology

Our brains work on a sacrifice/reward pattern.  Most people find it relatively easy to cut calories and make better food choices during the day, as long as they know they can eat a larger meal at night, and get to end the day satiated and satisfied (at least in the kitchen, the bedroom is your own responsibility).  This is way more effective than large lunches that lead to rebound hypoglycemia and energy crashes, and tiny dinners that lead to starvation-induced, junk food binges.

C.  Anecdotal

Instinctually, socially, and in business settings, this is one of the easiest plans to follow.  You are no longer a slave to your diet.  Thus adherence and success rates are very high amongst a wide variety of demographics.

IV. SEDENTARY I-FEAST TEMPLATE

*BREAKFAST

Water, black coffee, plain tea

LUNCH

**4-8oz lean protein

non-starchy vegetables

1 piece whole fruit and/or 1-2 servings of whole food fats (nuts, avocado, coconut)

DINNER

*4-16 oz lean protein

non-starchy vegetables

1-2 servings whole food fats

1 piece whole fruit for dessert.

*I like to pair the intermittent feast with a version of intermittent fasting (skip breakfast and eat all of your calories at lunch and dinner.  Thanks to Ori Hofmekler and Martin Berkhan).  But I also hate dogma and systems.  If for whatever reason you feel better with breakfast — I think that’s mostly placebo effect and being tied to tradition — but nonetheless, I think you should do what works best for you.  Just keep sugar and refined starch out of your breakfast.  Eat a light protein-only breakfast, a whole fruit snack, or something similar to the suggested lunch.  But my “gun to your head and tell me what to do for optimal results” stance is to skip breakfast.

**Serving sizes based on body weight.

Cheat once a week at dinner, probably on the weekend for social reasons, for psychological relief, and for long-term sustainability of your plan.

V. ATHLETE/REGULAR EXERCISER I-FEAST TEMPLATE

*BREAKFAST

Water, black coffee, plain tea

LUNCH

**4-8oz lean protein

non-starchy vegetables

1 piece whole fruit and/or 1-2 servings of whole food fats (nuts, avocado, coconut)

DINNER

**8-16 oz lean protein

non-starchy vegetables

***natural starch foods (root vegetables or rice)

*See what I said about breakfast above.

**Serving sizes based on body weight.

***Serving sizes based on body weight, activity levels, individual metabolic factors, and physique goals.

VI. I-FEAST SUMMARY

I wish I could tell you it is more complicated than that, but I don’t believe that it is.  Eat lighter while “hunting” during the day, feast on real foods at night.  Sleep tight.

Athletes may need detailed numbers (calories and macronutrients), nutrient timing parameters, and advanced calorie and carb cycling protocols to attain higher-level physique goals.  We will cover this in more detail in future posts.

VII.  WHAT TO CUT

I believe the true value of a caveman or ancestral approach to nutrition is what it cuts from the average person’s diet (concentrated fructose including high fructose corn syrup and table sugar, trans fats, high n-6 vegetable oils, etc.), rather than a religious-like dogmatic adherence to one specific macronutrient distribution pattern regardless of individual activity levels, metabolic condition, or goals.

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There are cultural diets that are very low carb and high in protein and fat (Inuit), and cultural diets that are relatively low fat and very high carb (Okinawan, Kitavan).  The commonality amongst them, which is the true key to their immaculate health and low body fat percentages, is what they are NOT eating.

Modern refined, processed, packaged, man-made foods, including self-proclaimed “health foods”

The over-consumption of refined foods — foods that are not aligned with our genetic make-up — is a root cause of many of our modern diseases: cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and the man boob & muffin top epidemic.

Most of us know that crap is crap.  And on that note, organic crap is still crap regardless of the marketing tagline (organic sugar, cookies, muffins, etc.).

In addition, many of the foods we’ve been raised to believe are “health” foods, are really not that great for us (whole grains, pro-biotic yogurts, snack bars, etc.).

A.  Level I – Foods to Cut.

  • Concentrated sources of fructose (high fructose corn syrup and sugar) have been linked to obesity, insulin resistance, type II diabetes, and elevated triglycerides.  That does NOT mean whole fruit, which does contain natural fructose, but in relatively small amounts.  It means refined crap.
  • Transfats (in packaged and processed foods) have been linked to belly fat, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
  • High Omega-6 oils (vegetable oils, fried foods) lead to whole body inflammation, aggravate autoimmune diseases, increase risk of cardiovascular disease, decrease insulin sensitivity.
  • Gluten (in wheat and processed foods) can lead to chronic fatigue, impaired immune system functioning, cortisol elevation, water retention, bloating, and abdominal pain.

* These are foods I would say most nutritionists and coaches, regardless of camp or system, would agree should be minimized in the diet.

B.  Level II — Foods to Cut

  • Phytic acid (in whole grain cereals and breads) can cause digestive stress, inhibit the absorption of minerals, and may adversely affect protein digestibility.
  • Lectins (in wheat and legumes) can damage the digestive tract, compromise the immune system, and may adversely affect protein digestibility and amino acid availability.
  • Dairy allergy or sensitivity can lead to mucous production, histamine production, digestive stress, cortisol elevation, stubborn fat, water retention, acne, overall inflammation, and has been linked to diabetes.

* These foods are more debatable, with coaches, camps, and systems on both sides of the fence.  Many will include some of the above foods in their diets and are just fine — from both a cosmetic and health standpoint.  Many believe that cutting out one, or all of these foods, was the true key to their success.

If you are struggling with your health or body weight, my advice is to test and assess in the real world.  Cut out these foods for a few weeks, and see how you look and feel.  Add them back in and see how you look and feel.  In an era of mysticism and blindly clinging to dogma and gurus, this advice brings back some simple dietary common sense. 

Beyond science and theory or systems, the real world results FOR YOU provide the real world answers FOR YOU.  My experience, and that of a large percentage of my clients, has led me to my current hypothesis that these foods should be excluded from the diet as well, for ideal results.

VIII. APPLICATION

If you get healthier and ripped on this plan, you are female, and want to walk around with just a leaf covering your goods as a thank you to me, I’m cool with that.  If you’re a dude, that’s really not a thank you to me, but hey, feel free to swing away man.

Either way, please go out and tell the world our story.

From the Feminist eZine: Have scholars given the cavewoman a more passive image than she deserves?

“From the Feminist eZine: Have scholars given the cavewoman a more passive image than she deserves?” I truly hope so.

IX. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

You have more questions?  What are you, The Riddler?  Just kidding.  Here are some common ones.

1. Hey, aren’t animal proteins bad for us?

No.  Commercially raised, hormone and anti-biotic injected meats and processed crap like bologna may be.  But how can the wild animal proteins we evolved on, that provide us with the essential nutrients we need for survival, and have been eating for hundreds of thousands of years, suddenly be poison?

Cordain et al.  2002.  The paradoxical nature of hunter-gatherer diets:  meat-based, yet non-atherogenic.  Eur J Clin Nutr Mar;56 Suppl 1:S42-52.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11965522

2. Are refined foods really that bad for us?  Is that just a scare tactic?

Listen, we can all joke around about how bad we eat and how we need to lose some weight, but the reality is we’re killing ourselves slowly.  We’re eating foods that aren’t aligned with our genes, and it is having disastrous effects.  So no, I don’t think you should sh*tload, crapload, just fit your diet to your calories/macros, or whatever else you crazy kids are calling it these days.  Take it from someone who has worked with clients of all ages, and former athletes who have jacked themselves up with uninformed, extreme methods.  Its the cumulative effects of your diet over a lifetime that matter, not any 10-week time frame.  But I’ll let you be the judge.

O’Keefe et al.  2004. Cardiovascular disease resulting from a diet and lifestyle at odds with our Paleolithic genome: how to become a 21st-century hunter-gatherer.  Mayo Clin Proc 2004 Jan;79(1):101-8.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14708953

3.  Won’t eating a big meal with carbs at night make me store fat?

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Fitness hogwash.  Eating at night doesn’t make you fat.  Eating too much/too many calories makes you fat.  If you’ve eaten large and/or frequent meals throughout the day, and then eat another large dinner on top of that, chances are you will overshoot your daily calorie needs and gain fat.  It’s the total food intake not the distribution that is the problem.  If you eat lighter during the day and are active, chances are you enter dinner in a relatively large calorie deficit with depleted energy reserves, and even a large meal with a significant amount of carbohydrates will be used to restore energy reserves first, before spilling over into fat stores.  You need to look at this recommended diet structure as an entire big picture (fast AND feast), not at isolated topics.

Sofer et al.  2011.  Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner.  Obesity (Silver Spring) Apr 7. [Epub ahead of print].  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21475137

4. Isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day?

Not really, but again you have to look at this diet structure as a whole.  If you eat a big meal the night before, you will have plenty of energy reserves stored to fuel your body and brain throughout the next morning.  If you are starving yourself at night, then yes, maybe breakfast becomes more important.

And besides, the body naturally wakes up in a fat burning, energy production mode.  Eating food, particularly sugar and refined carbohydrate-loaded breakfast foods, gives your body an immediate fuel source, and shuts down those prime fat burning hours. By skipping breakfast, you prolong the amount of time your body is burning stored energy reserves as its primary fuel source, thus optimizing your ability to maximally burn body fat.

That’s why I believe in pairing the intermittent feast with intermittent fasting.  They work together in perfect harmony.

Martin et al.  2000. Is advice for breakfast consumption justified? Results from a short-term dietary and metabolic experiment in young healthy men. Br J Nutr. 2000 Sep;84(3):337-44.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10967612

Samra et al.  1996. Effects of morning rise in cortisol concentration on regulation of lipolysis in subcutaneous adipose tissue. AJP – Endo December 1, 1996 vol. 271 no. 6 E996-E1002.  http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/271/6/E996.abstract

5. Shouldn’t everyone, everywhere be eating a low carb diet?

Not necessarily.  Low carb diets are great for certain demographics — sedentary, obese, insulin resistant, etc. — thus they should be the default status for probably 70% of our population.

However, exercise creates a unique metabolic environment, an altered physiological state, and changes the way your body processes nutrients both during activity and for up to 48 hours after completion of a training session.  If you exercise intensely 3 or more days a week, than your body is virtually in a recovery mode 100% of the time.  It is in an altered physiological state beyond pure resting conditions 100% of the time, thus its nutritional needs are completely different than sedentary populations.

anaerobic exercise changes da game

anaerobic exercise changes the game

And low-carb diets combined with consistent high intensity activity can have a lot of metabolic, hormonal, and physiological drawbacks including impaired thyroid production, low testosterone and sex drive, decreases in metabolic rate, muscle loss, skinny-fat syndrome, insomnia, depression, irritability, and general foul mood.

What good is a six-pack if you have a lifeless noodle hanging between your legs (or whatever the female equivalent would be), and then you’re a big d*ck to everyone else around you because of it?

Baba et al.  1999.  High protein vs high carbohydrate hypoenergetic diet for the treatment of obese hyperinsulinemic subjects.  Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord Nov;23(11):1202-6.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10578211

Kimber et al.  2003.  Skeletal muscle fat and carbohydrate metabolism during recovery from glycogen-depleting exercise in humans.  J Physiol May 1;548(Pt 3):919-27.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12651914

McCoy et al.  1996.  Skeletal muscle GLUT-4 and postexercise muscle glycogen storage in humans.  J Appl Physiol Feb;80(2):411-5.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8929577

6. Don’t I need to eat 6 small meals a day to get ripped?

You can, and that works well too, but it is not necessary, and it’s not practical for most. Numerous scientific studies have shown that if you control for food choices and total calories, meal frequency is irrelevant in terms of body composition change, metabolic rate, and the thermic effect of food.  That’s really just a fancy way of saying that despite what you’ve heard in the fitness industry (that clings to dogmatic systems), you can get equally good fat loss results eating 6, 3, or even just 1 main meal a day.

Since that’s the case, you can build your diet plan around your lifestyle, natural tendencies, career demands, time and food availability, calorie needs, digestive tolerance, etc. You can make the diet fit your life as opposed to the other way around.  Free at last…

There is more than one way to skin a cat, or more appropriately, peel off body fat.  I promote the fast and feast structure simply because I think it is the easiest plan to follow, not because I think it is the only plan that works, and not because I really give a damn about cavemen.

Cameron et al.  2010.  Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet.  Br J Nutr Apr;103(8):1098-101.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/943985

Verboeket-van de Venne et al.  1993.  Freqeuncy of feeding, weight reduction and energy metabolism.  Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord Jan;17(1):31-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8383639

7. This sounds like a fad diet, is this a fad diet?

Yes it is, and I’m totally trying to scam you into buying Intermittent Feast snack packs.  Wait, I don’t sell those.  I believe in real food over packaged crap…

I think traditional nutrition advice is the fad, influenced by the refined foods industries, geared towards selling you a bunch of boxed breakfast cereals, “low calorie” snack bars, refined oils, and other bullsh*t that you don’t really need.  But I’m kind of a hippie like that.

How could basing your diet on the food choices and eating structure of our evolutionary past be considered anything other than common sense, unbiased truth?

But I’ll let you decide.  Try it their way and see how you do.  Try it my way and see how you do.  Either way, if you reach your goals, we’ll both be happy regardless.

X. MORE INFORMATION

For more science, strategy, advanced calculations, and sample diets, check our FEAST YOUR FAT AWAY book.

feast-your-fat-cover-sm-tilted

  1. I’m glad you like my work brother. Yeah man, it looks like a pretty decent set up to me. I’m cool with the meal before training if that gives you better strength, energy, and performance. Depending on where you are at and how you are progressing, I tend to lean a little more towards carbs than fats with anaerobic-based training. So in this case I might drop the avocado out, get the fats from steak and eggs, and then maybe have an extra cup of rice at dinner. But overall I think it is a good set-up you have, just play around with the details a little to see what works best.

  2. Hey Nat,

    Love all the info you give out I have bought all of your books there great reading
    I was hoping you could critique my current eating plan.
    Currently strength training 4 times a week

    7.00 Coffee with 1 tablespoon of coconut cream
    10:30: 3 eggs 3 bbq thin steaks half avocado
    11:45: 1 Banana
    12:00: Train
    13:15: 1 Banana
    14:00: 3 eggs 3 bbq thin steaks half avocado
    18:00 If training following day normally have basmati rice 2 cups, mixed vegetables
    20:00 1 extra cup rice 1 can tuna

    Do you think this looks okay? I feel like I need to eat protein and fat prior to training I have tried to fast until lunch but my strength is down.

  3. Hey Steve,

    1. Breakfast ? Yes, especially with the typical foods most people eat for breakfast. Simple carbs can spike blood sugar and insulin, lead to a crash, and when blood sugar crashes that can induce hunger cravings.

    2. Not a fan of any breads, that’s just da tough love.

    3. Make sure you get enough fiber from vegetables, and to a lesser extent whole fruits.

  4. Hi. Just started new lifestyle change. Already feel more energetic. I ate pretty healthy before but I started to think about the way I really ate before. You make total sense about breakfasts. I used to skip breakfast until I heard it was the most important meal of the day. Stared having it. I’ve always felt more hungrier after breakfast. Is that normal?
    In terms of other foods, I eat “gohan” very regularly. But I like to eat bread. Are there bread type of foods that work with new life style?
    Also, finding out that I am less frequently halving bowel movements. Is this normal? What can I do to get back to normal visits to the throne?

    Thanks, steve

  5. Just a quick question – love the concept, and the style of prose.

    Is there any place for lentils/beans/chickpeas here – as a source of protein.

    Thanks ~ Chris

  6. @numnee. Honestly for obese demographics, I take a much simpler approach. I have them walk daily and follow the lower carb, Paleo-style template, so 100-125g of carbs a day from veggies and whole fruit, no starch, cutting out sugar and other crap etc. I think this is the easiest and most likely to be adhered to way of dropping fat and getting to a better place. Once a good amount of weight is lost, then we start adding in strength training and playing around with reintegrating starches.

  7. @numnee carbs for sedentary about 100-125g a day from unlimited vegetables and a few pieces of WHOLE fruit, not bullsh*T juices or smoothies. Regular exerciser depends on a lot of factors = goals, metabolism, what you are doing with the rest of the diet, etc.

  8. Oh one more thing, how many grams of carbs/starches do you recommend? What is good amount for sedantary vs. regular exercise person? Thank you!

  9. Thank you for this detailed template. It seems simple to follow.
    I have couple of Questions though…

    1) Will these templates work for obese women too? Goal for now is to lose fat.

    2) I am a regular exerciser 3-5 days – 3x lifting, 2x HIIT – but, I have a 100% sedantary job. Should I follow the sedantary template or the exercise template?

    3) Starches – are they every night or only PWO days?

    (I do follow Martin’s IF plan and do a 14/10 window)

    Thanks!

  10. 2-3 hours from everything I’ve heard. Allows insulin to rise and fall back to normal levels, thus NOT inhibiting natural GH release. This is in a normal functioning individual.

  11. Question. How far from bed time should that last meal be? I’ve heard; “If you eat any carbs and protein within 4 hours of sleep you will never see the prolactin surge because any spike in insulin turns off this critical release.”

    What’s your thoughts?

    Thanks!

    - Dan

  12. Nate:

    How do you see this working for a power athlete – a dude who wants to increase his # in the gym? I can definitely see this working for fat loss and maintenance, but how about gaining?

    Thank you very much!

    James

  13. Nate – thanks for your comments (and honesty) about vegetarian nutrition. I very much agree with you about what many vegetarians eat regarding crappy food choices. I’ve tended in the past to utilize whey powder protein sources instead of beans, etc. But I find something bothers me about relying on a powder too much instead real foods. My own research does not lead me to buy the whole soy/estrogen concerns. Most plant foods contain phytoestrogens in various amounts anyway. And I’ve seen some vegan athletes use soy based supplements (not always exclusively) with excellent success.
    I’ll continue to work on the protein sources. And I will check out the Kitavan Diet.
    In the meantime, actually my biggest concern and question to you is about the large meal at night. My sleep and digestion are poor whenever I eat at night – even relatively early evening. I tried the warrior diet with a similar eating pattern (large meal at night) and it just never worked. Do you feel over a certain period of time one’s body could adjust/adapt to the large evening meal? Would it just take time possibly? My digestion is generally very good other than when I eat at night. Thanks!!

  14. I am not an expert on vegetarian nutrition. I would say there is a huge difference between a vegetarian diets based on real foods like plant foods vs. a vegetarian diet based on bullsh*t refined foods like vegan cookies and pizza.

    2 diets that are very close to being vegetarian I would check out are The Kitavan Diet and The Okinawan Diet. Mostly vegetarian except for a small amount of fish or pork. But I’m not the expert on how to replace the protein content, because I think a lot of what vegetarians use for protein sources are problematic (soy & estrogen-like compounds, beans/grains and “anti-nutrients” like lectins and phytates.

  15. So very first thing in the morning, you should still have both adequate muscle and liver glycogen reserves to fuel the session. Training fasted should not be a problem.

    The name of the game immediately post-workout becomes halting catabolic activity. In this case you want something fast digesting. You could go with the traditional insulin spiking refined carbs, but I find this to be problematic for those with physically or cognitively demanding jobs (rebound hypoglycemia). So that’s why I recommend 1-2 pieces of fruit post-workout. It is fast digesting, prevents catabolic activity (if your body has glucose, it has no reason to break down muscle and convert it to glucose to regulate blood sugar), without overspiking insulin and causing a crash.

    Then it becomes what you do the rest of the day. I like going back to a protein + fat based lunch, and still placing all starchy carbs in a “feast” dinner. I know there is debate from a physiological perspective on that, but from practicality and functionality, I still think this is the best structure.

    You see, anabolic activity takes time. Glycogen restoration can take 24 hours or more, muscle protein synthesis can be elevated for 36 hours or more. So gaining mass really comes down to what you do with your overall diet, not a magic 3 hour window. That window is really about being anti-catabolic.

  16. Yes, I think once you account for food choices, calories, and macros, meal frequency is all about making the plan practical, functional, and sustainable for you. I advocate 2 meals because I think its the easiest plan to stick to for a busy professional, but I also think you can break that up if you have high calorie demands and that works better.

  17. Regardless of the time of day you train, I still think the majority of carbs should be placed at night.

    The name of the game immediately post-workout becomes halting catabolic activity. In this case you want something fast digesting. You could go with the traditional insulin spiking refined carbs, but I find this to be problematic for those with physically or cognitively demanding jobs (rebound hypoglycemia). So that’s why I recommend a pieces of whole fruit post-workout. It is fast digesting, prevents catabolic activity (if your body has glucose, it has no reason to break down muscle and convert it to glucose to regulate blood sugar), without overspiking insulin and causing a crash.

    Then it becomes what you do the rest of the day. I like going back to a protein + fat based lunch, and still placing all starchy carbs in a “feast” dinner. I know there is debate from a physiological perspective on that, but from practicality and functionality, I still think this is the best structure.

    You see, anabolic activity takes time. Glycogen restoration can take 24 hours or more, muscle protein synthesis can be elevated for 36 hours or more. So gaining lean muscle really comes down to what you do with your overall diet, not a magic 3 hour window. That window is really about being anti-catabolic.

  18. Nate – GREAT explanation! I luv the way you are non-dogmatic and encouraging people to listen to their bodies and what works for them.
    I have a couple of questions please: first, I’m a vegetarian – any suggestions/feedback about how to do this diet as a veg?
    Second, connected to my first question obviously: beans and legumes. As a vegetarian, I need to get protein from somewhere. I know there is protein in everything including fruits and veggies; but to ingest more quantities/ratios of protein, I eat tofu, beans, legumes. I don’t think protein powders should be the main staple in the absence pf animal protein (processed food substance); and I sprout all my beans and legumes before cooking them. So any thoughts about this?
    Lastly, I’ve always found my digestive energy sluggish in the evenings. This leads to difficult sleep and sometimes actual sweating at night. I currently eat more Ayurvedically which means having my largest meal of the day at lunch, only fruit for breakfast and usually no dinner. On this plan, I sleep very well and feel more refreshed in the morning. But I still get a lot of cravings and spend much time and energy during the day around food.
    would appreciate your thoughts or feedback, Nate. Thanks again! Cheers!!

  19. How would you implement this for an AM workout?! Peri-Workout nutrition followed by 5 hour fast?

    Thank you

  20. I’m a big believer in fasting and feasting. It’s worked for me without question. However I’m interested to see what you would advise for Ecto’s wanting to gain size eating this way.

    The big downside for me has been trying to consume the required amount of cals to grow, especially if you eat the clean carbs you’re advocating. Do you have any advice that you give to clients in this predicament?

    Can you consume more meals in an 8 hour feasting window such as IF recommends?

  21. Nice organization of your ideas! I’ve heard of you via Robb Wolf, and am curious to try what you recommend here. For an athlete though…it seems like getting the workout in right before dinner makes sense to utilize those starchy carbs but what if that’s just not an option? Move the starchy carb up to lunch if exercising earlier or do you do a post-workout snack if the workout fell too far away from lunch or dinner to make those count as “post-workout fuel”? Thanks!

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