I’m sure you know all of the “rules” for a successful fat loss program. Things like: eat 6 small meals a day, eat clean foods, stay away from carbs, eat every 2-3 hours, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, blah blah blah… This has been the standard in the diet industry for quite some time, but it is completely WRONG.
Researchers have proven that these things are not required to lose weight and are not as effective as previously thought. Eating small meals every few hours DOES NOT speed up your metabolism. Eating clean foods is not nearly as important as eating less calories than you burn. Carbs are not the enemy and are actually very helpful when on a diet. Eating breakfast does not kick start your metabolism. So if all of these things don’t really work that well… What does? Enter intermittent fasting…
What is intermittent Fasting??
Intermittent fasting is a meal timing protocol that requires alternating long periods of fasting (not eating) and eating. The length of the fast can vary depending on which protocol you follow.
I am no expert on the subject and all credit must be given to Martin Berkhan and Brad Pilan for introducing this method to me. If you would like to learn the science behind it and why it is so effective, check out Brad Pilans book, Eat Stop Eat or Martin Berkhan’s site leangains.com. But I can tell you from personal experience… this stuff works.
I started at 176 pounds and 19% body fat. In 5 months, I got down to 150 pounds and 9% body fat. This weight loss was almost all body fat. I have never been able to get this lean before, and I have tried many times. I followed the lean gains version of intermittent fasting for fat loss.
Intermittent Fasting using the lean gains method
The lean gains method is a 16/8 protocol. This means that every day, you fast for 16 hours, and eat all of your calories in 8 hours. None of your calorie or macro requirements change. The only difference is that instead of spreading your calories throughout the day, you eat them all in 8 consecutive hours.
Most people (me included) skip breakfast and set their eating period around 12pm-8pm. Some people may choose to start and end the feast a little earlier or later (11am-7pm and 1pm-9pm are other popular feasting periods). Eating this way is usually easier because you get to go to bed on a full stomach and still have your family dinner time. But the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter when you choose to eat all of your calories, as long as it is in 8 consecutive hours.
During the fast, it is ok to have water and any other no calorie drinks. Coffee is fine as long as you use a no calorie sweetener and even a very small amount of cream is ok. But anything that contains calories is off limits.
Whats so great about using intermittent fasting for fat loss?
For me, this method of eating has many advantages. It allows me to diet without feeling hungry all day long. Instead of eating many small meals and never really satisfying my appetite, I eat three big meals. During the fast, I rarely get hungry. If I get hunger pangs, they usually only last a few minutes and then they are gone. I also feel like I have more energy and focus during my fasted period.
There is also some research that shows that Growth Hormone production is increased with this style of eating and there are a number of other researched health benefits to eating this way as well.
There are tons of other benefits from intermittent fasting. Too many to list in this one article. Some people, like Martin Berkhan believe it is actually possible to build muscle and burn fat at the same time with intermittent fasting. Is this too good to be true? Possibly, but I wouldn’t rule it out. If you want to learn everything about it, check out Eat Stop Eat or leangains.com
Can you train fasted?
I have fallen in love with fasted training. It gives me a focus and intensity that I have never experienced in the gym before. My mind muscle connection is 100% better while fasted. I think that a big reason for this is that my preworkout drink gets absorbed much better on a completely empty stomach, allowing me to feel its effects more intensly. And in case you were wondering, I have seen no reduction in strength and have actually broken some personal records on some lifts!
So if you’re tired of constantly having to prepare and eat small meals all day long, being hungry all the time, or not seeing the results as fast as you would like, give intermittent fasting a try. You won’t regret it!