About 4 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.
A-ha…a-ha-ha! I said… about 5-7 times.
And here I am, using a form of it myself consistently and it was the #1 approach for my most successful clients and campers. That’s what happens when you have a closed mind, right?
Before you 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 one my own methods that works with my lifestyle and it was very successful with numerous people I worked with online and offline.
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. Instead of looking at it as “I don’t get to eat”, you’ll look at it as “you get to take a break from eating”.
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 4PM on Monday, and then you would take a break from food until 4PM 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. Lift stuff twice a week. Yep, that’s it. Do that and you won’t lose all your hard-earned muscle. I won’t bore you with the details, but Brad lays it out nicely inside his book.
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 your 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 some experts have claimed. And you know what? One of those experts was me. Again, short periods of fasting will NOT slow down your metabolism.
“Won’t I Get Dizzy While Fasting?”
I won’t lie and say, “No way big dog! You’ll rock the casbah and be fine.” Everyone responds differently when trying intermittent fasting. Personally, I’ve had more energy on my fasting days. You might find the same thing. You also may discover that your fasting days be the most productive days of the week. But ask yourself this… would you rather feel miserable and deprived every day or just 1-2 days a week?
“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. Yet again – we don’t give our bodies the credit they deserve.
So in a Nutshell, What are the 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 coaching clients)
– Breaking emotional addictions to food
– Discovering your triggers (you’ll see why you eat at certain times… in other words, you might find that you eat a cookie at 3:30 every day out of boredom)
Now, intermittent fasting is much like any other diet. It takes some getting used to. However, it’s one of the most flexible “diets” out there. 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. I’ve used a variety of 1-2 days a week of 24 hour fasts. I have also used a daily 16 hour fast and even a combination of both depending on what my cheat meals will be for the week
When I started to use this approach with my coaching clients, I was surprised 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) using this exact fasting method.
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.
I believe, without a doubt, that intermittent fasting allows you to break obsessive compulsive approaches that many other diets incorporate. So, that’s why it’s more than just a “diet”. It’s a great tool to create your own diet freedom.
Eat Stop Eat 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. Don’t worry, it’s not packed full of scientific jargon you won’t understand. It’s a fun read that I was able to knock out in less than a weekend… maybe I’m a nerd? Who cares.
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 coaching clients and it “eases” you into intermittent fasting.
Complete (1) 20-hour fast once per week for the first week or two. Let yourself become accustomed to it. After that, bump that ONE fast to 24 hours. After 1-2 more weeks, then you can incorporate the second day of this method if you choose to do so.
After 2 weeks, then you can explore bumping the fasts up to 24 hours. This approach has helped my private clients grasp the idea of intermittent fasting and not jump in head first. But here’s the thing…
Be Flexible – that’s the takeaway from this method. Be flexible and willing to adjust. If you plan on fasting Monday and your parents drop in for a surprise visit, be nice and go out to lunch. You can always fast the next day or later in the week. That’s what is so great about this approach – VERY flexible.
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 so much easier.
Choose a Good Time – Again, the flexibility plays a large role here. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You could try 6pm to 6pm one week and then next week try noon to noon. Everyone is different and it’s really about discovering what will be best for you.
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 eating 17 pancakes in one sitting.
Wait a second… that’s me. Nevermind.
So, let’s sum this up (because after all, this is really freaky long).
Is intermittent fasting for everyone?
Nope. Actually, nothing is. But it is, however, one of the most flexible and simplest nutrition approaches to help you lose fat and gain control over your obsessive tendencies. Definitely don’t start it without being open-minded.
To discovering what works for you,