Intermittent Fasting 101: The Basics On Fasting To Lose Weight

July 18, 2018 | 447 Comments

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

447 Comments - Leave Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. I am doing a 20hr fast with one meal, vegetarian supplementing with a protein shake during the meal. I am a builder, I’m trying to cut this last 10lb. I do heavy weight training with high intensity cardio 6 days a week and over the past week fell back and binged on my rest day. My question is this, am I going about losing this last 10lb the right way? And also I make my meal window in between 11 am and 3pm because this is basically my only window to eat during the day. But I train in the evenings am I doing this backwards? I’m not able to get to the gym until usually about 9 pm and I try not to eat before bed. Thanks

    1. well binging isn’t the right way to do anything…

      Your eating window and the time you train is irrelevant – it won’t make a difference in overall weight lost.

      You need to focus on consistently creating a calorie deficit.

  2. hi, thanks a lot for this article it informed me a lot, I have a question though.
    I’m 5’0 and I weigh 145 lbs,I was wondering if I could lose 2 pounds a week with just the warrior diet and no exercise (cause of time). And what would happen if I eat less than 1200 calories a day during the fast(sometimes I forget to count calories).

    1. You might for the first few weeks, but weight loss always tapers down and becomes less linear as time goes on. If you eat during the fast, then those cals just get subtracted from your overall daily calories.

    1. if you’re trying to lose weight, multiply your bodyweight in pounds by 10-12 to get your daily calorie intake. This is just an estimate so you might need to play around a bit with the numbers to see what works…

  3. I have started the 16 hour Fast.. my first day was was ok.. I started at 8pm and didn’t eat till 12pm.. my second day was easy as well.. at first I wasn’t hungry so I had 1 boiled egg and 2 pickles. By 3 pm I knew i had to eat bc 8pm would be near so i grabbed sandwich and some chips.. I also hit the gym and burned 400 calories… I had 8 oz of water and green tea.. By 8 pm I was ok to continue with the fast.. By 10pm I knew i was not no where near sleepy. I felt that my body was going into shock bc I started shivering but I knew i needed water so I end up drinking a half of gallon of water and then my body settled and I went to sleep. It’s 745am an I feel fine. I’m not hungry but I do want to eat.. Lol I’m just going to go back to sleep and hope it’s 12pm when i wake up but the biggest MOTIVATION was in 2 days I lost 2 pounds!I think 16hr fast is going fabulous.. I’ll keep you guys posted !

  4. Hi, I would like to start the 16/8 IF. I am juste wondering how much calories I can eat in my window. I’m 5’11 and 210lbs. I know that in order to loose weight my ideal calorie intake is around 1900 daily. Does it remain the same when I’m on IF? is the only thing that changes is the time frame? ’cause I have read places where they say that because you don’t eat breakfast (exemple) you should not eat those calories later. So, basically, I just want to know how much calories I can eat during my eating window is it still 1900? thank you very much

    1. Yes calories always remain the same on IF. The only difference is the smaller eating window. 1900 is not bad for cutting, but that’s a bit aggressive at your weight. I might bump up to 2100 if you want to maintain something more long term

  5. Hi, I’m in my early 20s and I’ve been looking into IF. I’m just shy of 5 feet and I weigh about 100 lbs. I’m mostly trying to achieve a more lean and toned look but I wouldn’t be adverse to losing a few pounds as well. I’m very unsure if IF is right for me though because some pretty serious back and knee injuries have left me unable to do anything but low impact cardio and very very light weight lifting, because I am only able to be moderately active and also because I’m just a small person, in general I only eat about 800 to 1000 calories in a day, 1200 if I’m ravenous. Will IF, in addition to my low calorie diet and only moderately active lifestyle, impact me negatively? Thanks

    1. IF doesn’t have much to do with existing injuries. It’s just a different way to structure your meals. Calories don’t change with IF, just your meal frequency. 1000 calories is quite low even at your height. How much do you weigh now?

      1. I mentioned my existing injuries because it means that I can’t do the weightlifting that people suggest in order not to lose muscle mass. I’m currently 99 lbs but my weight generally fluctuates between 98-102 lbs. Thanks

        1. Ok but understand that IF doesn’t change your daily calorie requirements. It only changes the way you distribute your calories thorughout the day.

          For ex…If you used to eat 1200 calories per day using 3 meals and 1 snack. With IF, you’ll get the same 1200 cals but in 1 meal and 1 snack.

  6. Started IF and loving it. I’m a runner and am wondering if it’s healthy to fast after running five miles. I feel shaky, and am thinking it’s not healthy, but I can’t make my workouts later in the day.

    1. I would make sure you eat enough calories by the end of the day. But sounds like the shaking is from the running and not necessarily the fasting.

  7. how bad is it to have one cappucinno per day, with lunch, using 1/3 cup of full-cream milk?

    I have no problem fasting 16 hours per day- but I seem to have problems forgoing my cappucinno (darn that Nespresso machine sitting on my kitchen bench)

  8. Thank for the article, very informative. I started IF almost a month ago. I do 14/10, I start eating at 11am and stop at 9pm. I have felt really good on IF, I only feel hungry after a few hours in the morning a little before my first meal. I don’t get bloated anymore and I’ve lost some fluff around my midsection. I was wondering is it okay to change my window and go down to 8 hours and also does it make a difference if I change the time frame? I’m starting a new job in 3 weeks and I won’t be able to get as much food in while I’m at work. Thank you advance for the advice!

    1. Your fasting time frame doesn’t matter at all. All that matters is your overall calorie intake at the end of the day.

  9. Hi Keith, I been doing this for years and it works! I got off this way of eating for 3 years because I met a woman and we fell in love and I “LET MYSELF GO” which for me is dangerous as I have diabetes 2, I have recently gotten back on this diet, I tried the eat 2 things a day and it don’t work at all for me, I ended up cheating, over eating and gaining 70 lbs back! Which is something I should never done being diabetic. I got back on this old diet and it is true, at my work I am faster, I lost 20 lbs so far and I had back hurting from being over weight it was severe! Now it is slowly leaving and OHHH how much better it feels! And being able to bend over and tie a shoe is wonderful! I got a way to go, but it will be worth that in the end I know. Thank you for showing the people that all the things said bad about this diet is bad, it isnt, whats bad is? If you do not try it! 🙂

  10. Hi Keith,

    Great article. My wife and I just started IF and we’re going great guns.

    We jumped in, full on and we’re doing the 24 hour fast. We have a good portioned dinner and that’s it for the day.

    In one week of doing this, I’ve actually dropped 4.7kgs. I haven’t felt tired, I’ve felt energised and waking up fresh.

    During the day it’s just soda water with a hint of lemon juice.

    I’ve never fasted before but it’s far easier than I thought.

    Thanks again!

  11. Fasting diets include many types of fasting such as not eating at all for 24 hours, or reducing drastically the number of calories you intake for two days during the week.

    Although the effectiveness of this diet is questionable some benefits of this diet are decreasing the level of insulin, increasing human growth hormone and transforming fat into energy.
    Great article, thank you.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}