About 3 years ago, when I first heard of intermittent fasting, I literally scoffed at the idea and thought it was a fad. I literally lol’d.
And here I am, 3 years later, using it myself and with my clients and campers. I guess you have to keep an open mind after all.
Before I continue, I want you to fully understand something and I want to be 100% transparent. I am NOT an intermittent fasting expert. I have just simply adopted it as my lifestyle and it’s the number one method that works for my clients.
But that doesn’t make me an expert. Cool? Alright, cool. Let’s move on.
Intermittent fasting is when you take a break from eating. That’s it. Did you notice how I said, “you take a break from eating” and not, “You’re not allowed to eat”?
That sounds less intrusive, and I learned that from Brad Pilon. It has resonated with me for a while and that’s the approach I’ve used with my clients. That should take away some of the intimidation.
When you take your break from food, you simply drink water or any other non-caloric beverage for a certain amount of time.
There are many approaches to intermittent fasting, and one of the most popular methods is one to two days per week for 24 hours.
That means you still get to eat every single day. So for example, you would stop eating at 2PMÂ on Monday, and then you would take a break from food until 2PM on Tuesday.
Very doable, right?
This is Brad Pilon’s approach, which he explains why it works in his book, Eat Stop Eat. This approach can work for most people, but just like any other diet, it can be challenging at first.
“Won’t I Lose Muscle by Not Eating?”
Honestly? This was one of my concerns as well. The truth is that we don’t give our bodies the credit it deserves. If you are using resistance training at least two days per week (and you’re lifting heavy of course), then you won’t lose muscle using intermittent fasting.
Our bodies understand that we need muscle to lift stuff, so as long as we’re using those muscles, we won’t “eat them up” as some experts claim we will by simply not eating.
“Won’t I Burn More Calories by Eating More Frequently?”
Actually, no. I used to think this – as a matter of fact, when I first started training, I would recommend my clients eating 5-6 meals per day to promote weight loss. The truth is that this is typically what would happen:
By “forcing” more meals, you can actually increase your total caloric intake, keeping you from losing weight.
Forcing more frequent meals can become obsessive, and being obsessive about your food intake can negate yourÂ fat loss.
Intermittent fasting can teach you to be in control of your food, instead of your food being in control of you.
“Won’t My Metabolism Slow Down?”
Again – busted. I thought the same thing. But after reading the scientific studies in Brad’s book, I was surprised yet again at how smart our bodies are.
Your metabolism won’t slow down when using short periods of intermittent fasting (24-hours) and you won’t go into starvation mode. As a matter of fact, some of the studies in the book showed an increase in metabolism.
“Won’t I Get Dizzy While Fasting?”
This is something that has been pounded by the media. You actually won’t get cranky and light-headed using intermittent fasting. The truth is that on the days you use intermittent fasting, you will find yourself more productive and able to get more done. That is what I have found myself and with my clients and campers.
Surprised? Yeah, me too. That’s why I feel like a fool when I think of myself scoffing at the idea of using this method to lose fat.
“Can I Work Out on My Fasting Days”?
This is one of the things I love most about intermittent fasting. Can you work out while fasting? Sure. Here’s the truth – it actually doesn’t matter. You may think you will struggle through your workouts, but some of my best workouts of all time have been on an empty stomach, sometimes near the end of a fast.
Your body knows how to dig into your fat stores for energy. You just have to simply “teach it” by using intermittent fasting.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- You save money (when you don’t eat, you spend less… duh
- A boost in fat-burning hormones
- Increased productivity (from my own experience and feedback from my clients and campers)
- Breaking emotional addictions to food (to me, this is a bonus)
- Discovering your triggers (why you eat what you eat)
Now, intermittent fasting is much like any other diet (I won’t lie to you). It takes some getting used to. But once you implement it, you will find it beneficial, but more importantly, flexible. After the first 2-3 intermittent fasting days, you will find it getting easier.
I’ve been using intermittent fasting as a way to keep off my 105 lbs. I dig the flexibility of it, and I don’t have to obsess about my food.
When I started to use this approach with my clients and campers, I was blown away by two things:
1) How well it worked (I had 2 clients win the TT Transformation Contest including Philip, who lost 34 lbs in 12 weeks as well as $1,000)
2) How easy it is to stick to – lets’ face it, most diets fail you after just a couple of weeks. Both clients that won the contest used a form of intermittent fasting for the full 12 weeks and have adopted as a lifestyle.
Brad Pilon’s book explains everything and he also tells you how to approach this method. It’s easily one of my top nutrition books I’ve ever read.
It’s an interesting read and it will allow you to free yourself of the obsessive compulsive approaches that many other diets use. My favorite parts was the scientific studies proving the myths being simply that… myths.
He also explains in very good detail how and why intermittent fasting works. Your metabolism won’t slow down, you won’t crash and no, you won’t lose muscle. The science is in the book.
I felt invigorated after reading it, but that’s just me.
How to Approach Intermittent Fasting
If you use Brad Pilon’s approach, I suggest doing it the following way. This is the method I’ve used with my clients and it worked really well:
Complete (1) 20-hour fast once per week for the first week or two. Let yourself become accustomed to it. After that, bump it up to 24 hours. After 1-2 more weeks, then you can incorporate the second day of this method if you choose to do so.
Be Flexible – that’s the takeaway from this method. Be flexible and willing to adjust. If you plan on fasting Monday and your Mom pops up wanting to go out to lunch, be nice and take her out to lunch. You can always fast the next day or later in the week.
Choose Your Busiest Day to Fast – That’s what has worked for me and my clients. Which day of the week are you going to be the busiest? That should be your fasting day. You’ll be able to get more done and the fasting will be easier.
Choose a Method for Breaking Your Fast – This will keep you from overdoing it after coming off a fast. So, once your fast is over, choose some kind of ritual that you do every time your fast is complete. For example, you could break your fast with a glass of tea. Don’t jump into the pantry immediately after a fast – this could lead to going crazy on food.
Holy crap, I’m at 1300 words. Hopefully, I didn’t over-explain it. The bottom line is that Intermittent Fasting works and it’s a great tool to break emotional eating.
Mike Whitfield is a boot camp workouts and metabolic resistance training expert.