Below is an interview with Mr. Brad Pilon, who’s best known for his work on intermittent fasting and his super popular book Eat Stop Eat. I’ve been a huge fan of Brad Pilon and his approach to fitness since I found out about him back in 2008 so it’s pretty awesome to interview him on my blog. Hell, without Brad I would still probably be stuck in the “eat every 2-3 hours” mindset.
1) So for those unfamiliar with intermittent fasting (IF), can you give us a super quick rundown of IF what your approach, Eat Stop Eat is all about
IF is really nothing more than learning to take periodic, planned breaks from eating. Eat Stop Eat is a system of Intermittent fasting where those breaks are 24 hours long, and are taken once or twice a week…
2) We know intermittent fasting is a great way to lose weight, but what about building muscle? Does fasting benefit muscle building?
I think so.
Calories are permissive to the muscle building process, but not the absolute driving force, especially if you are not 16 years old and undergoing juvenile growth.
This means there is an amount of caloric energy that is needed to grow muscle (I erally have no idea what this amount is), but it is definitely not a driver, meaning you can’t just keep adding more calories and gain more muscle (Otherwise, we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic, we’d have a bodybuilder epidemic.)
So honestly, we don’t really have an exact number for how many calories you need to build muscle mass.
This is where intermittent fasting can come into play…you can slightly overeat in the name of gaining muscle, while throwing in a 24 hour fast every now and then to help alleviate some of the body fat build up that occurs during most bulking cycles.
3) We all know you’re super flexible with your diet, but what exactly does a sample day of eating look like for you on a non-fasting day?
I’m get up around 7 ish. The kids are out of the house and off to school/preschool by 9am. I’ll have my first coffee between 9:30-10 AM.
If I’m going to workout, it normally happens around 10-11 AM.
Then I’ll have lunch around 12 or 1 pm where I’ll also have coffee #2. I pick the kids up from school at around 3. We’ll usually have a snack around 3-4 PM (Snacks can be whatever is around the house, yogurt, apple slices, apple sauce…whatever). Dinner is at 5 or 6 PM for the kids…my wife and I may eat with them, or we may eat later at around 7’ish. The kids are in bed by 8 (hopefully) and I’ll have a Guinness, maybe some snacks, then bed by 11 PM. Rinse and repeat.
I really just eating when hungry.
We have ‘date night’ every Thursday so I’ll almost always have steak at my favorite restaurant. And at least once or twice on the weekend, we’ll have bacon and pancakes for breakfast.
I have creatine, protein powder and a pre-workout supplement in my house – I’ll use them when I feel lazy and can’t be bothered to cook for myself, or go grocery shopping.
Realistically I probably have some form of chocolate every day, probably ice-cream once or twice a week, alcohol probably 2-3 times a week. Red meat once or twice a week… It’s really nothing fancy nor outrageous.
After almost 7 years of fasting once or twice a week I know when I’m hungry vs when I want food. I know the amount that is dieting, the amount that is neutral and the amount that is overdoing it. I adjust as needed.
4) What is your take on fasted training, yes or no? And do you think there’s any benefits to taking BCAA pre-workout like so many fitness gurus say?
I used to like fasted training, but now I tend to view my fasts as recovery time. I like training legs on an empty stomach, but not necessarily ‘fasted’.
Actually when I think about it I usually like training on a fairly empty stomach, but I don’t go out of my way to be in a fasted-state when training.
I think the massive benefit of recommending pre-workout BCAA is the money you can make recommending pre-workout BCAAs.
But it’s really not going to hurt your training or your weight loss.
And, I understand the rational, but to me it’s the equivalent to getting up in the middle of the night to drink a protein shake. Sure it makes sense on paper, but really… the chances of 6 grams of BCAA or a 2 AM protein shake are not what’s holding to make or break your progress.
5) In your opinion, what is the #1 benefit of Eat Stop Eat opposed to more conventional diets?
Flexibility. Hands down.
People like to look past the flexibility since it’s not a sexy marketing term.
They like to look for complicated hormonal pathways or metabolic ‘loopholes’ to say it’s the major benefit, but in reality, learning to go without food, and being flexible with your eating is the biggest benefit.
6) 2012 has been a big year for intermittent fasting, with the BBC documentary and more major news outlets like Huff Post covering it. But intermittent fasting still hasn’t really hit the mainstream. Do you ever see IF becoming “6 meals per day” popular?
I think it will become Atkins big, but it will suffer the same fate.
People will take it to extremes and become zealots, then it will be labeled it as dangerous by the media. This seems to be the fate of all good ideas in health and fitness.
The best way to get attention is to rally against something that gets too popular. See powerlifting, CrossFit, Paleo, and bodybuilding, as examples 🙂
7) This has been awesome. Thank you for taking the time to do this, Brad. Last question – what’s next for Brad Pilon, do you have anything exciting on the horizon?
For more info on Brad Pilon:
Brad Pilon’s blog: BradPilon.com