Intermittent Fasting 101: The Basics On Fasting To Lose Weight
Quick, if you told anyone that you were fasting to lose weight, they would probably think:
a) You’re crazy
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.
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 Intermittent Fasting 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.
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.
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
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.
During your fasts you can still drink water and zero calorie drinks like tea, coffee, and diet soda.
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.