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Intermittent Fasting 101: The Basics On Fasting To Lose Weight

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fasting to lose weight

Quick, if you told anyone that you were fasting to lose weight, they would probably think:

a) You’re crazy

or

b) You’re crazy

It’s sad, but anytime you tell someone that you’re fasting, the only acceptable reasons for doing so are for medical or religious reasons. If you even mention the words “weight loss” and “fasting” in the sentence, then you’re in for a world of hurt.

But in my opinion, fasting for the sake of weight loss isn’t crazy. Not at all.

In fact, strategically fasting everyday for 16 or even 24 hours can provide a whole host of benefits over the conventional “eat breakfast and 6 meals per day” saying.

fasting to lose weight

Couldn’t find a relevant picture, so um… here’s a hot dog.

Basics of intermittent fasting

So what exactly is intermittent fasting (IF)?

Simply put, IF is the act alternating periods of fasting (not eating) and eating. While there is no official IF program, most programs range from 12-24 hours of fasting.

So why is IF awesome?

Well lets see:

  • You get to eat bigger meals
  • You get more work done since you’re not eating as often
  • You have more energy since you’re not bogged down by food
  • You get to stick your middle finger at every single fitness guru who says eating every 2-3 hours is absolutely necessary for good health

I could go on and on.

Is IF unsafe?

In short, IF is safe.

However, just like everything else in life, if you overdo it and take it to the extreme, then it will become dangerous. If an intermittent fasting program tells you to fast for 16 hours, you shouldn’t disregard that and decide to fast for 100 hours.

As long as you don’t do anything crazy like that, then there’s really nothing dangerous about IF.

But won’t fasting make me fat?

I never really saw the logic in this statement, but since when the hell did not eating make you fat?

But anyways, many people have this ludicrous belief that fasting will make them fat. This belief originates from mainstream media where they constantly promote the fallacy that fasting will force your body hold onto its body fat and make it burn muscle instead which is just incredibly stupid.

Will IF make me lose muscle mass?

When it comes to fasting, another popular myth that people believe is that fasting will make you lose all your hard earned muscle mass.  This is simply not true and as long as you perform of heavy resistance training 2-3 times per week, then you shouldn’t fear about losing any muscle mass.

If you need further proof, check out this research study. In it, scientists showed that even when people ate a super low calorie diet (800 calories per day), they were able to maintain all their muscle by lifting weights. The reason behind this is because the act of lifting weights sends a signal to your brain that you want to preserve all your muscle mass.

But don’t you need to eat more often to have more energy?

This is exactly what food companies thrive off of. They create all these products that target people who need a “quick energy boost” or a quick afternoon “pick me up”.

But in reality, these people probably don’t even need these products. They buy them because they fear that they’re suddenly going to crash and burn when in reality nothing is really going to happen.

If you just give your body a chance to experience what it’s like be without food every 2-3 hours you’ll realize that you’ll actually have more energy than ever.

Just give it a shot.

IF is just another way to eat

Even though I love IF and would NEVER go back to eating 6 times per day again, I have to admit, it’s just another tool. It’s another tool to help you lose/maintain weight.

Unlike most fitness professionals, I’m not going to tell you that it’s 100% necessary to do something. I’m not going to tell you that it’s absolutely mandatory to do IF because honestly, it’s not for everyone.

Some people just love to eat small meals every 2-3 hours, and if you’re one of those people, then that’s cool. I’m not gonna judge you.

But if intermittent fasting sounds good to you, then check out the 3 most popular IF programs below.

A look at various IF programs

Over the past couple of years, more and more fasting programs have come into the market. IF is slowly growing in popularity, but here are the 3 most popular forms of IF:

1) Eat Stop Eat

Eat Stop Eat was created by Brad Pilon is now arguably the most well known form of intermittent fasting. I’ve been using this program for the past 3 years, and if you read my blog often then you know that I absolutely love this program.

Brad Pilon

Brad Pilon – creator of Eat Stop Eat

Eat Stop Eat requires you to fast for 24 hours (e.g. 7pm on Sunday till 7pm on Monday) 1-2 times per week. On the other 5-6 days of the week, your main goal is to simply eat normal (maintenance calories).

The whole goal of fasting 1-2 times per week is to let those days create a calorie deficit of 10-15%.

Important Eat Stop Eat notes:

  • Even though you’re fasting for an entire 24 hours, this doesn’t mean you get a free pass to the all you can eat buffet. The main goal is to simply eat normal after each fast. Don’t over or under compensate for anything.
  • Despite fasting for 24 hours, you still get to eat every single day. So for example, if you start a fast on Wednesday night and end it on Thursday night, that means you get to eat a meal on Thursday night. Awesome, huh?
  • Eat Stop Eat is more of a lifestyle change than an actual diet since you’re only eating less for 1-2 days of the week.

You can red my review of Eat Stop Eat here.

2) Leangains

Leangains - Martin Berkhan

As you can see, fasting has made Martin a very fat man

And now we have Leangains created by the oh so famous Martin Berkhan (seen above).

But unlike Eat Stop Eat, Leangains has a much larger focus on pre/post workout nutrition and macronutrients.

With Leangains, you’re fasting every single day. Men will fast for 16 hours and women will fast for 14 hours.

While many people have effectively used Leangains to lose weight, many people have also used it to effectively pack on muscle mass. But not only is this muscle mass, it’s lean muscle, meaning minimal fat gains hence the term “Lean” gains. This is achieved though calorie and macronutrient cycling. If you’re ever looking for a program that lets you pack on muscle with minimal amounts of fat, then this one’s for you.

There are a couple different variations on Leangains, but all every one has you taking 10 grams BCAA before workouts.

I don’t want to delve into the rest of the details but if you’re interested in the rest of the Leangains protocol you can read the Leangains guide here.

3) Warrior Diet

Warrior diet

Ori hofmekler – creator of Warrior Diet

And lastly, we have the Warrior Diet created by Ori Hofmekler.

This form of fasting to lose weight isn’t as popular as the first two, but it was the first form of IF I tried and till this day, I still use it from time to time.

The Warrior Diet has you fasting for 20-24 hours every single day, so it’s similar to Eat Stop Eat in terms of the fasting length.

But the main difference here is that you’re eating all your calories in 1 massive meal per day. The mainstream media will probably never promote this way of eating, but hey, it works.

I’ve done it in the past, and you really don’t feel hungry while fasting. Plus, every day is like a mini feast since you get to eat a crap ton of calories in one sitting.

4) Honorable mentions

Some other great intermittent fasting programs include:

So which program is best?

Whew, all this fasting talk has gotten me a little hot. And hopefully I’ve gotten you a little bit excited too, maybe even got your nipples hard.

But if you had to choose, which of the above 3 is the best intermittent fasting program.

Well… I don’t know.

It’s really a personal preference. I’m not going say that Eat Stop Eat is the absolute best IF program out there because it’s not. It’s one of the best, but it’s not the absolute best.

Some people don’t like to fast for 24 hours and that’s fine. In that case, you should try something more along the lines of Leangains.

And if someone likes to come home from work every day and just stuff their face with food, then the Warrior Diet is probably best for them.

In the end it all comes down to choosing a program that fits your lifestyle.

Fasting to lose weight = not crazy

Seriously guys, fasting is not as crazy as you think. You’re simply waiting longer between meals.

But to be able to effectively use intermittent fasting, you need to have an open mind.

You need to be able to let everything that you thought you knew about nutrition and dieting  behind and be able to step into this new world of “not eating”.

But trust me, once you starting fasting, you’ll never want to go back.

Have you ever tried fasting to lose weight? Did you like it? Let me know in the comments below.

Jas wyn
October 16, 2017

Hello,
I have been on the 16-4 fast for 4 days now and have dropped 6kg about 12 pounds. I was just wondering I have 2 meals that are in a calories deficit which is 500 cal below my maintenance. Rather than 2 meals can i just snack as many times as possible within that 8 hour period provided I’m still in a calories deficit.

Thanks.

Reply
    Keith
    October 16, 2017

    as long as calories are equal, the number of meals or the amount of time you fast doesn’t matter at all.

    Reply
Rhea
October 13, 2017

Hey! I am 5″1 and weigh 132 lb. I want to lose about 33 lb in 4 months. Will intermittent fasting help?

Reply
    Keith
    October 13, 2017

    fasting can help.

    but the big thing you need to remember is that fasting is just a way to eat less and create a calorie deficit. There’s nothing necessarily magical about fasting.

    Reply
Juliana
October 3, 2017

Hi, I have been doing intermittent fasting 20:4 for about 2 months, and I have lost 1.5 pound, I’m counting my calories to make sure I’m on a deficit. I had the idea the weight lost will be “faster”. Any one have and idea that what I could be doing wrong? Or that’s normal?

Thanks

Reply
    Keith
    October 3, 2017

    Depends how much weight you have to lose? But in general, yeah that’s a bit slower than normal. There’s always the chance that you’re not eating as little as you think.

    Reply
      Juliana
      October 4, 2017

      I’m 5″10 and want to lose 10 pounds, my current weight is 132pounds, for my height I’m in the normal range but I have “skinny fat” that I want to get rid of.

      Reply
        Keith
        October 4, 2017

        at that height, you are very much underweight. THat’s why you’re having trouble losing. I would be trying to build muscle more than anything else.

        Reply
Diane
October 1, 2017

Thanks for the book recommendations. It helped a lot.

Reply
melanie
September 28, 2017

HI! I have struggled for over 10 yrs with water weight issues and as I stepped into menopause it got worse. I started doing acupuncture and the water is finally gone, however the weight issue still remains, so my Dr. and I agree that fasting is the way to go with my treatments and it has helped a lot! I lost 7 pounds in 7 days when I started fasting and feel excited. I do the 24 hour fast and find it works for me. I don not like to weight train or run so I walk ALOT! I try to average 10, 000 steps a day and more if I can and even on my lunch break at work I spend 30 mins walking to get out of the office and energize my body and brain. Fasting has become my mental release to getting my body to finally behave and get the “old lady” weight off without feeling like I’m suffering or deprived.

Reply
Dee
August 26, 2017

Hi there

I’m 5″3 and about 100-102 lb. I want to lose about 5kgs. I’m up at 4:30am for work, start at 6:30am and finish at 3:30pm. Sometimes, earlier. I work in a factory at 5 degrees celsius every day and finish time depends on production orders. I have a break at 8:30, 11:30 and 1:40pm. I finish it hard to know when to eat and how much to eat in order to not over eat once I get home around 5pm.
I think my main problem is not knowing how many calories to take in as my job is physical yet I’m not sure as to which category it fits under. I mean, I’m on my feet all day packing thousands of products on a fast paced line, cleaning, sweeping, sometimes lifting heavy bags of rubbish or machine parts, pushing trolleys/heavy tubs sometimes with about 100-150kgs of meat in them from one place to the next. Considering I’m a small frame, it’s quite a laborious job for me so I’m confused as to the calories in/calories out situation with me.
When I wasn’t working, I’d have breakfast at 11am and a big bowl of pasta at 5pm, a couple of glasses of wine and I’d be in bed no problems. But I gather I wasn’t losing so much energy being sedentary too. I get hungrier since I started this job and that’s where my problem comes in because I tend to over eat in the evening if I don’t eat at times during the day.
Any advice on my problems would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Reply
    Keith
    August 27, 2017

    I recommend multiplying your bodyweight in pounds by 10-12 to get a good esttimate for how many calories you need to lose weight.

    So use the formula and stick with that calorie limit for a week or so and see if u lose weight. If you dont drop calories 200 and try again.

    Reply

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