Intermittent fasting is the rage right now, have you heard?
Though the concept of intermittent fasting has been around for years, it’s been popping up in all the main stream health magazines lately.
Fans of intermittent fasting claim to have achieved quicker fat loss, more muscle growth and improved health by skipping breakfast and going straight to lunch.
Some even go an entire day without eating.
But one of the intermittent fasting claims that really piqued my interest was its ‘supposed’ effectiveness at eliminating the stubborn body fat.
Stubborn fat as we all know is almost impossible to get rid of. For men it’s usually the fat in the belly or chest area and for women hips butts and thighs.
After reading several books, I became really intrigued by the idea. Could it really work? The science and research behind intermittent fasting was very impressive.
I’ve always been a fan of juice fasting so I agreed with many of the health benefits part.
But as for the others, I always advocated frequent, time spaced meals as a way to keep your “metabolism high” and your blood sugar stable.
I’m not questioning whether these methods work- because I know they do- but was the science behind them all flawed?
Could there be a better way than eating 6 times a day? Or was intermittent fasting just another fad diet?
There was only one way to find out.
Intermittent Fasting: My Personal Experiments
I started my IF (intermittent fasting) plan the first week of January 2013 with a goal to drop my body fat down into the 7-8% range.
The fasting schedule that worked best for my daily routine was the 16: 8 approach which was a 16 hour fast followed by an 8 hour feeding window.
I usually fasted from 5pm until 9am the following morning.
Of course there were days when I would eat my last meal around 7pm so I simply extended my fast until 11 am the next day.
After calculating a 300-500 calorie deficit and my macros needs, this is what my daily schedule looked like:
6:30 am: Pre workout 10g BCAA
9am: Break the fast. This was my largest meal of the day. I drank a 1000 calorie whole food protein shake for this meal.
1pm: Large lunch ( 30 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbs with veggies)
3pm: Snack Whole food protein smoothie (no complex carbs)
5pm: Dinner 25 grams protein, large salad, healthy fats plus veggies
I found this to be a very easy eating plan to stick with, no more eating 6 times a day and 2 of my meals where whole food smoothies.
I liked not having to think about food all day. When 5pm hit, I knew I was done.
It took about a week for my body to adjust to the new eating pattern, I was a little hungry in the morning but I noticed as soon as I started working out, that feeling disappeared and I felt like I was “in a zone” while working out.
In the first few weeks I dropped 2 percent body fat plus my lifts were going up every week which meant I was getting stronger.
The only drawback I noticed was my BodyMax 212°F metabolic performance would suffer a bit, but I was ok with that because I was tapping deep in to my fat stores and forcing my body to release loads of HGH naturally.
Plus I was feeling great.
By weeks 4 and 5 I dropped another 1 percent body fat so I was getting close to my goal. I never felt hungry during the day and I had a ton of energy.
By the 6th week my progress slowed a bit so I did some more research and decided to rotate my carbs.
For me it was a really simple calculation…leave out a banana and a cup of rice in my protein shake during the day. No problem!
I followed this pattern for the next 3 weeks and although the progress was a bit slower, I was able to drop another 2% body fat with just minor changes.
Conclusion: By the end of week 8, I gained 1 pound of lean muscle and dropped a total of 4.5% body fat. My total body fat measurements were 6.5-7%.
The best part is I never really felt deprived throughout the eight weeks like so many other diets.
Grace also fasts 14-16 hours each day but she still likes to eat 6 smaller meals throughout the day whereas I like to eat fewer bigger meals. So it’s easily adaptable into most lifestyles.
Intermittent Fasting: Other Major Benefits
Live Longer: I’ve always known from being a big fan of juice fasting that people who regularly fast live longer healthier lives.
Studies of fasting in both rodents and humans appear to indicate a connection between calorie restriction and longevity.
One study of overweight men and women showed that a calorie-restricted diet also improved cases of alzheimers.
Did you ever noticed that when a animal is sick their natural instinct is to fast?
That’s because their body intuitively knows that digesting food takes an enormous amount of energy away from the healing process-so it shuts the hunger mechanism off.
In today’s society, people tend to eat all day long then go to bed on a full stomach never allowing their bodies a break from the digestion process.
So if your body is busy digesting food all day then you are circumventing the bulk of your energy away from your body’s natural renewal and healing processes.
Is it a wonder why so many people are so sick and aging rapidly?
Improved Blood Lipids: Research shows Intermittent fasting increases HDL (good cholesterol) and lowers your LDL’s (bad cholesterol) along with triglycerides.
Lifestyle Sustainability: What good is a program if it’s not sustainable long term? That’s why they call them fad diets.
Intermittent fasting regimens however-especially the 16:8 protocol can easily be adopted it into most lifestyles.
Once you get accustomed to the new eating pattern, it’s simply a matter of eliminating snacking after dinner (7pm) and eating a late breakfast or early lunch (11am). Your body’s hunger signals will adopt accordingly.
Increased HGH Levels: The American College of Cardiology in New Orleans conducted a study where subjects fasted for a period of 24 hours. They found HGH increased an average of 1,300 percent in women, and nearly 2,000 percent in men.
As we reach our 30s and beyond, our levels of HGH begin to drop off quite dramatically. This is part of what drives the aging process. The higher your levels of growth hormone, the healthier, vibrant and stronger you’re going to be.
HGH plays an important role in promoting muscle growth, accelerating fat loss by revving up your metabolism. The fact that it helps build muscle while simultaneously promoting fat loss explains why HGH helps you lose weight without sacrificing muscle mass.
Increased Autophagy: Caloric restriction may be the most robust anti-aging & health intervention ever known because it induces a process called autophagy.
The process of ageing and age related diseases are due to a deterioration of our cells as well as an accumulation of ‘sick’ cells and metabolic waste. As we get older our bodys are less able to handle the toxic accumulation.
Autophagy is the way your cells “clean house” and “recycle the trash”. The term autophagy merely means ‘self-eating’ and it’s the process by which our cells use to clear the toxic waste left behind by sick or old cells by consuming them.
It’s important to note the lack of autophagy seems to trigger DNA mutations which lead to sickness & disease.
Bottom Line: Not only have I found intermittent fasting to be a great method for losing that last few pounds of stubborn fat without extreme dieting but I continue doing it because I believe it to be one of the absolutely BEST things I can do to keep me and my cells healthy and young.
I really enjoyed ‘Eat Stop Eat’ for the in-depth science because I’m a bit of geek and like to know why things work. I found the 24 hour fasts were harder to implement but on the upside you were only doing them once or twice a week
Although Renegade Diet was more to the point with less science, his 16:8 protocol was easy to implement on a daily basis. I also liked that he advocated eating healthy food choices during your “feasting” period.
Either way I am a big fan of Intermittent Fasting not just for its fat loss benefits but as way to keep your body operating at it’s peak potential to keep you healthy, energetic and young.
Would love to hear your thoughts or questions on intermittent fasting.
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