There are a thousand and one ways to lose weight. Depending on who you listen to, each method is saddled with advantages and disadvantages.
There’s always going to be some element of inconvenience no matter how robust your method of fat loss is.
Intermittent fasting is just one way of fat loss. There’s no doubt that intermittent fasting will make you lose fat.
That includes the subcutaneous fat that alters your body shape as well as the visceral fat, the internal fat you don’t see but is just as dangerous to your health as driving your car on an icy road in the night without headlights.
I had a guy come up to me the other day and said to me;
“Joe, I can’t believe you are recommending people starve themselves”. Hmm, nope, that’s not quite the case, bro.
With intermittent fasting no one is recommending you starve yourself to death. If you don’t eat, you are starving. That is correct.
But no one is asking you to do that in an uncontrolled manner. The operative word is “intermittent”. Yes, it is fasting but you do it intermittently. It gives your digestive system a break, allows your body to detox. I hate that word “detox”.
> Intermittent fasting enables your body to get rid of the excesses that we unwittingly put into our bodies in particular the refined sugars, the starchy food overdosing, the hydrogenated fats. We all overdose with a lot of macronutrients without realizing it.
It’s interesting that intermittent fasting for fat loss is taking us back to what our ancestors did thousands of years ago but theirs was circumstantial rather than deliberate. We simply eat too much than our bodies need, hence the obesity epidemic in the developed world. I remember watching Dr Michael Mosley’s documentary about fasting. He titled the program ‘Eat, Fast and Live Longer’.
In the documentary Michael spoke to a centenarian who still runs marathons at a ripe old age of 101. Yes, 101 years old and he still runs marathons.
> The centenarian said, “In poor countries, people die of starvation and in rich countries people die of overeating”. How true.
How to do intermittent fasting for fat loss – The Principles
As the old man said, us living in the developed world eat way too much. No one wants you starve to death as may happen in developing countries (although that’s not so much the case these days). In the same vein, we are killing ourselves with overeating over here.
In a way I would argue that intermittent fasting seeks to bridge that gap between overeating and starvation. Some sort of moderation is the key to optimum health. You might not admit it to yourself but if you carefully analyse your food intake vis-à-vis calorie consumption, it will become obvious how much excess calories you are bombarding your body with.
Yes, there’s a whole bunch of individuals who watch what they eat quite carefully. Even those individuals who make healthier food choices still consume just a little bit more than they need on a daily basis.
The net effect being as we get older and metabolism slows down mainly due to less physical activity, the weight gradually creeps in. I have a friend whom I used to envy his figure when he was in his 30s. He was quite particular about what he ate and he played tennis twice a week at the time. Fast forward to his 40s and he now spots a tummy bulge. He was one individual I thought would remain fit looks-wise for a long time but he has faltered…just like many of us.
Why has that happened? He’s fallen into the same trap of eating more than necessary not in one go but incrementally over the years and once you relax on your level of physical activity which is not unusual as we get older, the weight creeps in like a thief in the night. Totally unwelcome!
Dieting is hard enough as it is. Weight loss gurus don’t make it any easier with conflicting advice all over the place. There is a huge amount of advice on the “what to eat” but none about “when to eat”.
The sad aspect to all of these is that “what to eat” is muddled, it leaves most people befuddled.
Why don’t we keep one aspect a lot less confusing? That’s the gap intermittent fasting is trying hard to fill. Let’s talk about the “when”. Intermittent fasting focuses on the “when” rather than the “what”. Brad Pilon is one of the protagonists of modern day intermittent fasting or IF as it is now known in internet parlance.
> “The actual act of dieting is very difficult because you still have to eat every day. So every couple of hours you are making a decision about food. The thing I like about fasting is you do not have to do that. I like to use the analogy of an on–off switch instead of a dimmer.”
Switching of food for a period of time seems like a good idea and can be incorporated into your weight loss regime.
You can use intermittent fasting to:
- Achieve your weight loss target in the short to medium term.
- Maintain your ideal body weight once you have hit your target in the long term.
You don’t have to employ intermittent fast (IF) for both objectives. It doesn’t matter if you have a preference for a particular weight loss program like Slimming World, Weight Watchers, The Biggest Loser, HMR Diet, Jenny Craig, Volumetric diet, Raw Food diet, Atkins, Flexitarian, Slim-Fast, Vegan, Paleo, Spark Solution, DASH diet, Mayo clinic diet, MIND, Engine 2 diet, Mediterranean diet (need I go on, there are hundreds more).
Use your preferred diet to sort out the “what”.
Reach your weight loss goal and tune in intermittent fasting to maintain your attained ideal body weight in the long term. How’s that for a suggestion. That’s one way.
> Another way is to employ intermittent fasting to meet both objectives. Use an aggressive intermittent eating IF plan to lose the weight you want to drop off, then go easy and use a different IF protocol to maintain your ideal weight for as long as you care.
Remember intermittent fasting (IF) gives your body that little calorie vacation and as such an opportunity for your body to raid the fat bank, deploying the excess fat you don’t need to store for your immediate energy needs.
Don’t forget too that intermittent fasting has other benefits other than weight loss only.
Which brings me nicely to the “how”
How to intermittently fast – Choose any of these intermittent fasting plans
There are various intermittent fasting IF protocols. Yes, IF does pose some challenges especially fitting it around your professional and social life.
Intermittent fasting for fat loss is a lot, lot easier to adopt when you are retired because your diary is more accommodating than people running around to eek out a living whilst looking after a young family.
But there are hundreds of thousands of people who work, have busy lives but still adopted the intermittent fasting IF lifestyle and have made it work. It just takes a little creativity on the part of the individual, if he/she is serious about it.
As usual with an idea, trail blazers will chop and change a concept within its framework to forge something that works. If their IF plan works, the idea will be promoted to interested parties. So what you will find today is a bundle of different formats of intermittent fasting being promoted usually as diets.
The net result being that you really should be able to find some IF format that will work for you. You can even get clever and mix and match some of intermittent fasting plans.
Here are 5 Intermittent Fasting IF plans or protocols to choose from:
- UpDayDownDay Diet
This is also called the Alternate Day diet. This intermittent fasting diet for fat loss was started by James Johnson, M.D. As the name suggests, you eat your normal meals that meet your calorific needs on one day, then you fast the following day. One day normal, fast the next. Simple as that.
What’s important is that the fast days require you to consume only 20% of your normal calorific requirements. So if your normal calorific input is say 2300 Calories per day for instance, you have that on your “eat normal” days but you consume 460 Calories on your “fast days”. Simple.
Suitable for: Someone who’s keen to lose weight and able to exercise restraint on the “eat normal” days by not overcompensating for the previous “fast day”.
2. The Warrior Diet
Started by Ori Hofmekler. It is designed to contract your calorie intake into a 4-hour window in a day. The other 20 hours are meant for fasting. This requires you to have your meal at night, the thinking behind it being that humans are nocturnal species (I wonder who gave Ori that idea), so we sync our eating with the natural circadian rhythm.
Feed the body in the night, rest, let the body repair itself whilst you are sleeping and wake up ready to face the world in the morning with all your stored energy ready to rumble. Whilst you go about your business during the day fasting, you draw on the reserves you saved up the night before. Cool!
Suitable for: People who are less disciplined when it comes to dieting but can still follow instructions. You may sneak in a very small snack during the 20-hour fasting time. The Weight Watchers kind of person will suit this plan because you are allowed a small “sin” during fast.
3. The Fast Diet
This IF intermittent eating plan was initiated by Dr Michael Mosley. I believe this is one IF eating plan that you could adopt and use for a good while yet. Michael personally used his derived eating plan on himself and he documented his journey in a TV documentary for the BBC.
He has since then put his experience in a book called the Fast Diet. Essentially with this eating plan Michael goes easy on the fasting idea.
What Michael suggests is that you eat normally for 5 days in the week but you have to choose 2 days in which you restrict your calories to 500 Calories for 24 hours. 5 days normal eating, 2 days of calorific restriction. Simple. How you distribute the 500 Calories in your fasting days and what days of the week you choose to have the 500 Calories is up to you. See Michael’s book here on Amazon.com and here on Amazon.co.uk
Suitable for: Anyone who wishes to deep their toe in the IF world and wants a slow start to their journey. But you should be capable of showing some discipline in the fast days. This plan is also useful for someone in it for the long haul.
4. The 16:8 IF plan (Leangains plan)
This is one intermittent fasting plan that can be used for weight maintenance. The essential thing here is that you fast for 16 hours and squeeze your meals within an 8-hour eating window. The beauty of this 16:8 IF plan is that you can actually vary it to suit your working life or social schedule. What might suit me may not suit you.
For instance, I am perfectly happy to skip breakfast without any hassle at all. So for me my main meal could be had at 7pm and not bother having another meal until midday or 1pm the next day. Easy, peasy for me.
On the other hand, if the idea of skipping breakfast is completely abhorrent to you or maybe your type of work might make it a little tricky for you to skip breakfast, that’s okay too. Have an early breakfast at 6am to get you through the day and eat nothing else until 10pm. That’s a work around.
You can adopt an “eating window” that fits your lifestyle. Just look for a convenient 8 hours that suits you and stick to it.
Possible “eating window” suggestions include:
- 12pm – 8pm
- 2pm – 10pm
- 4pm – Midnight
- 6am – 2pm
- 7am – 3pm
- 10am – 6pm
- 11am – 7pm etc, you get the drift.
Customize it to fit around your schedule.
Suitable for: People who also want to dip their toe in the intermittent fasting waters. Simple to implement as you only need to adjust your eating pattern. If you like you can split your meals into three, so long as you eat them within the 8-hour eating window.
That said, you may defeat the weight management purpose by doing that because 3 meals translate to 3 chances of overeating. Not what I would advise.
5. Eat Stop Eat
I did mention Brad Pilon, a gentleman from Ontario earlier on in this post. Brad is one of the leading figures as far as intermittent fasting is concerned. He brought intermittent eating or fasting to the fore and ran with it. Brad’s method of fasting is a lot more involving but it pays off big time.
Brad’s suggestion is that you take a break from eating for 24 hours and give your body a total rest, although certain things are allowed during the 24-hour fast, for instance calorie-free drinks.
You should look to have this 24-hour fast one day a week or depending on your weight loss goals, you could do fast for 2 days a week. Like I said most of these IF eating plans can be customized.
If say, you are looking to lose weight, you could do the 24-hour fast for 2 days in a week. After you attain your weight target, you take the foot of the fasting pedal and do the fast one day a week or even every other week especially if you are assisting your body with exercise to help you burn the fat for weight maintenance.
Can you begin to see how you can manipulate the situation depending on your personal circumstances?
Suitable for: Anyone who really is serious about the concept of intermittent fasting as a way of life. Brad is a leader in this field and has done a lot of work. He is the go-to guy as far as intermittent fasting is concerned and you can learn a lot from him.
What happens when one fasting diet guru reviews another?
Well Brad Pilon, author of the Eat Stop Eat did a review of the Dr Michael Mosley’s TV documentary for the BBC.