Fasting For Fat Loss (Part 3: Your Solutions)

Hey folks!

In the last blog we discussed the people that should avoid fasting, and the common mistakes people make when fasting that hinder their fat loss results.

If you missed it you can read that blog post HERE.  

Today we’re covering the steps you can take to avoid these common fasting for fat loss mistakes, and how to properly set up a fasting protocol for fat loss.

Again fasting will not be right for everybody, and that is totally fine.

If you have any questions consult with a health professional to make sure that you’re healthy enough to fast as it is does come with additional stress that will hurt instead help some people.  

So let’s take a quick recap of the common mistakes people make when fasting for fat loss:

  • Not Controlling For Calories

  • Chronic Dieting

  • Losing Fat, But Retaining Water

  • Fasting Everyday

Step 1: Set & Track Your Calories and Macros

If you want to lose body fat you’ll need to be in a calorie deficit, and there are a ton of different ways to create a calorie deficit with different diets like high carb or low carb, paleo or vegan diets.

Any of these diets have worked for someone trying to lose fat. No diet is magic but they all have different ways of creating a calorie deficit.  

This section of the blog will help you set your calorie and macronutrient intake for fat loss.  

Keep in mind that this is a framework for you to build off and make adjustments to, it’s not set in stone or perfect from the jump but it will be a good starting place.

If you prefer low carb or high carb or want to set protein higher or lower than is up to you.

Setting Calories:

The first thing we’ll need to find is the amount of calories you require to maintain your bodyweight. Once we know this we can figure out your calorie deficit for fat loss.

There are a lot of formulas and calculators out there to establish what your baseline calorie intake should be, but I like to keep things as simple as possible.

To find an estimate of the amount of calories you need to maintain your weight simply multiply your bodyweight in pounds by 13-17.

The reason for the wide range of 13-17 is based on a number of factors such as:  height, gender and daily activity.

If you have a pretty sedentary job that requires a lot of sitting or you’re a smaller woman choose the lower 13-15 end of the spectrum.

If you have a high output like a manual labor job, or lead a really active lifestyle with 3-5 trips to the gym week, I’d go with the higher end of the spectrum 16-17.

Example:

If you’re a 165 pound male who works at a desk all day and isn’t all that active but goes to the gym to train 3 times a week multiply your bodyweight by 14-15.

165 lbs X 14-15 = 2,310 - 2,475 calories for maintenance

Now a 165 pound male who works an intense manual labor job and trains 4 times per week would use 17.

165 lbs x 17 = 2,805 calories for maintenance

A  woman who’s 125 pounds and works a job where she’s on her feet all day and trains 4 times a week should go with 15.

The reason why she would go with 15 instead of the 16-17 range is because she has a lower body weight and as a result her basal metabolic rate (BMR) would be lower.

125 lbs x 15 = 1,875 calories for maintenance

Conversely a woman who’s 125 lbs works at a desk job for the majority of her day and hits the gym 2-3 times per week would would go with 13.

125 lbs x 13 = 1,625 calories for maintenance

Setting A Calorie Deficit:

In the beginning a good start is to reduce calorie intake by 20% so you can get some initial fat loss.

Moving forward after you’ve set the initial calories and hit a legitimate fat loss stall  you’d reduce your calorie intake by 5-8%. The goal is to always eat as much as possible while losing at a steady rate.

Let’s use our 165 pound male who works an intense manual labor job and trains 3 times per week as an example here.

165 lbs x 17 = 2,805 calories for to maintain body weight (maintenance)

2,805 (maintenance cals) X 0.20 = 561 calories

2,805 (maintenance cals) - 561 (cals) = 2,244

Calorie intake for fat loss: 2,244

Putting It All Together:

To help put this all together in an example let’s use a 165 pound male who works at a desk all day and isn’t all that active other than going to the gym to train 3 times a week.

Your Macro Breakdown:

For the sake of making things simple let’s use some easy ranges:

Protein: 1 gram per pound of bodyweight

Fats: 30%

Carbs: Remainder of calories

If you need to adjust the macros for your own taste/preference or needs  just follow the steps below and make changes where it applies.

You’re getting the step by step process on how I’m doing it all below so you can make the changes based on your needs.

If you need help understanding something below please hit reply so I can help you, but I don’t have the time to calculate everyone’s individual macros for them.

An important thing to keep in mind is the different caloric content of the macros, which comes into play below:

1 gram carbohydrates = 4 calories

1 gram of protein = 4 calories

1 gram of fat = 9 calories

We’ll need to go through and do some math to figure all this out.

165 Lb male with a desk job who trains at the gym three times per week:

165 lbs X 14 = 2,310 calories for maintenance

Now we’re going to find how many calories he’ll need to eat to lose body fat.

2,310 (calories for maintenance) x 0.20 (20% calorie deficit) = 462 calories

2,310 (calories for maintenance) - 462 calories (creating a calorie deficit) = 1,848

Calories for fat loss: 1,848

1. ) Configuring Protein

165 lbs = 165 G

165 x 4 (calories per gram of protein) = 660 calories

Grams of Protein: 165 G

2.) Configuring Fats:

Fat loss calories: 1,848 x 0.3 (30% fats) = 554.4 calories from fat

Now to see how many grams of fat that translates into we need to divide those calories by 9 because that’s how many calories are in each gram of fat.

554.4 (calories from fat) / 9 ( 9 calories per gram of fat) = 61.6 ( 62 G )

Grams of Fat: 62 G

3.) Configuring carbs:

Add protein and fat calories together and subtract from total fat loss calories to find calories from carbs.

660 calories (protein cals) + 554 calories  (fat  cals) = 1,214

1,848 (fat loss calories)  - 1,214 calories = 634 calories from carbs

To see how many grams of carbs that translates into we need to divide those calories by 4 because that’s how many calories are in each gram of carbs.

634 (calories from carbs) / 4 (4 calories per gram of carb) = 158.5 (159 G )  

Grams of Carbs: 159 G

Our example 165 lb male’s calories and macros for fat loss would be:

Calorie Intake: 1,848 calories per day

Carbs: 159 gram per day

Protein: 165 gram per day

Fat: 62  grams per day

Step 2: Have Spike Days and Diet Breaks

Your body is especially good at adapting for survival so when it’s put in a controlled state of starvation, which dieting for for fat loss is, it will create shortcuts necessary to conserve energy.

These shortcuts come in the way of making you burn fewer calories, increasing your hunger, causing hormonal dysfunction and slowing down thyroid function.

For those who have been in an aggressive calorie deficit consistently for 8-12 weeks; implement spike days and diet breaks.

Spike days and diet breaks help restore hormones levels, prevent some metabolic adaptations and give you a psychological break from dieting.

A spike day is once or twice per week purposefully increasing your calories by 300-600. Depending on how lean you are and how long you’ve been dieting.

This is not a “cheat” day because you’ll need to keep fat intake lower, and have the majority of these calories come from carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are the most effective macronutrient at boosting leptin and thyroid levels, which mitigates the metabolic adaptations that make fat loss more difficult.  

A full diet break is returning your calorie intake to a maintenance level for 1-2 consecutive weeks after an 8-12 week block of fat loss dieting.

You will likely gain a few pounds of weight when on a diet break, and this especially true for people who have been using a low carb diet.

This is not a cause for concern as most of the weight will be from water storage and increased muscle glycogen (carbohydrates stored in the muscle).

You will be eating more for so there will also be more food in the digestive system as well.

Step 3: Track Your Progress Other Than The Scale

When someone’s dieting it’s a  form of stress on the body. Add to the fact that most people are sleep deprived and have other psychological or physical stressors it’s easy to put the body in an overly stressed state.

This overly stressed state causes people to retain excess water, if someone is losing fat but highly stressed it can easily be masked by water retention on the scale.

This isn’t to say that the scale is worthless because it can provide helpful feedback, but you need more information than just scale weight to make the best decision possible.

If you’re using the system detailed below for measuring progress you’ll be able to better identify true fat loss stalls or just water weight that’s sticking around.

As an example I had a who’s check in last week showed that she was one pound heavier on the scale, but lost 3.5 inches off her hips and 1 inch off her thighs. She also looked leaner in her mid section in her progress pictures.

If we just used scale weight to gauge her progress we would have missed those other crucial signs that she’s losing body fat at a good pace.

Something you’ll need to know is that fat loss plateaus and stalls will happen to anyone who’s trying to lose body fat. Some people will experience longer or more frequent stalls but it’s highly individual.

Tracking Your Progress:

Here is how I would recommend you measure and gauge your progress:

1.) Weigh Yourself:

For some people the scale becomes a slippery slope and they get too caught up in the number. If that sounds like you it may be time to put the scale away and use the other two methods we’ll be discussing.

Typically if you’re losing fat then the number on the scale should trend downward on a weekly and month basis.

Keep in mind this doesn’t mean you should expect to see a lower number on the scale every day, and some days you may see a spike in your weight, which is normal.

Look at the overall trends of your weight for weeks and months, don’t obsess over day to day changes as daily fluctuations can be influenced by:

  • Carbohydrates intake

  • Bathroom frequency

  • Hydration

  • Fiber intake

  • Menstrual Cycle

  • Salt

  • Stress

  • Sleep

  • Time of day you weigh yourself

As you can see there’s a number of factors to account for. Make sure to weigh yourself at the same time each morning and compare numbers week to week, and month to month.

For women you’ll need to compare your weight from the same week of your cycle otherwise it can interfere with accuracy.

2.) Take Circumference Measurements

This is useful because sometimes your weight may go up, however if your waist measurement goes down it’s a sign that things are moving in the right direction.

Maybe your weight drops but your measurements maintain that’s also a good sign, as with weight sometimes a measurement will stall only to drop by a significant amount a few weeks later.  

Take a circumference measurement at each these points with your muscles tensed every two weeks and write the numbers down. You may need some help with a few of these, but most can be done on your own.

Shoulders: Put both your arms down at your side. Measure at the widest point from shoulder to shoulder.

Chest: Put both your arms up in the air and wrap the tape measure around the chest. Just a little bit above the nipple, then put your arms down and take the measurement.

Waist: Right at the belly button, wrapping the tape measure around until it gets back to the belly button.

2” Above/Below: Also measure 2 inches above and below the belly button using the same wrap around style measurement.

Hips: Measure the widest part of your hips going all the way around.

Thighs: Measure around the widest part of both your left and right thighs, but use the same body landmark to keep measurements accurate each week.

3.) Progress Pictures

Get into a bathing suit or your underwear, and use your cell phone to take a picture. If you have someone who can help you take pictures even better, if not a mirror picture will work.

Take a picture facing forwards towards the mirror unflexed, then turn sideways and take another side profile picture. Make sure these pictures are in the same lighting as well.  If you have someone who can help you, take a picture of your back profile as well.

We have a hard time noticing any changes on a day to day basis, but if you have a new set of pictures every month you’ll be able to better notice the changes that are taking place.

Step 4: Take Breaks From Fasting

This one is more based off my own personal experience and clients I’ve worked with and folks I’ve spoken with who used fasting as a tool for their fat loss.

We covered this in depth earlier so no need to beat a dead horse, but anyway you look at it fasting is a form of stress.

Stress in of itself is not harmful, but chronic unrelenting stress can be deleterious to your health and well being.

Not to mention significant sources of stress can make your  dietary adherence much more difficult and cause more stalls and plateaus.

Many people are sleep deprived which is a stressor on the body, and when you add to that dieting for fat loss, financial stress, work, relationships and other forms of stress the burden quickly becomes more than many can healthily handle.

If you’re overly stressed and don’t have the resources to recover from stressors, that’s  when your body will start to make negative adaptations to compensate.

These compensations come in the form of hormonal dysfunction and metabolic adaptations that can negatively impact your energy, mood, digestion, libido and training in the gym.

My first recommendation would be to start slow with fasting. People have a tendency to get excited and overdo new things.

“If a 16 hour fast is good I’ll try a 72 hour fast my very first day..” Slow your roll there my friend.

You don’t head into the gym fresh off the couch and try to back squat 375 pounds on the first day, you have to let your body adapt, and I’d advise you to treat fasting in a similar fashion.

Start by skipping breakfast or fasting for 12 hours to start with. You’ll be asleep for most of it so it won’t be that bad, and when you wake up just have coffee and go about your business for a few extra hours before eating.

There will  be some initial hunger, and that’s a normal part of the process as you retrain the hormone ghrelin that signals hunger.

Once you’re comfortable with a 12 hour fast then move it up to 14 or 16 hours. Give fasting a try for a few days to start with and have it be on days where you’re going to be more chilled out and relaxed.

If you’re feeling especially stressed, not getting enough or really fatigued from training don’t fast on those days. The extra stress is likely to to be more harmful than  helpful.

Again this is highly individual and you will need to find what works best for you. If you choose to do a 16 hours fast 3-5 days is plenty to get some of the benefits you’re looking for.

Personally I prefer to do a 24 hour fast once per week if I’m using fasting, but this is my personal preference and doesn’t work well for everyone. 

6 Big Nutrition Myths Video Series

Nutrition Myth Intro

Nutrition Myth #1: There's A Perfect Diet For Fat Loss

Nutrition Myth #2: Carbs Or Fats Will Make You Gain Body Fat

Nutrition Myth #3: If You Eat More Fat, You Will Burn More Fat

Nutrition Myth #4: Supplements Will Make You Lose Fat, Build Muscle, Detox

Nutrition Myth #5: Your Metabolism Slows Down As You Get Older

Nutrition Myth #6: I've Tried Every Diet, And None Of Them Work For Me

Nutrition Myth #7: Smaller More Frequent Meals Boosts Your Metabolism

Nutrition Myth #8: Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day

Fasting For Fat Loss Part 2: Who Shouldn't Be Fasting & Common Mistakes

Hey Folks!

Today we’re continuing our series on fasting and fat loss. In Part 1 earlier last week we discussed the most common methods of fasting, and my experiences with each of them, if you missed Part 1 you can find it HERE.

In Part 2 today we’re covering:

  • Why you don’t need to fast to lose body fat

  • Who fasting may not be for

  • The common fasting mistakes I see people making when fasting for fat loss

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Why You Don’t Have To Fast To Lose Body Fat

If your goal is to lose body fat don’t feel like you have to fast to accomplish this, there are tons of people who lose significant amounts of body fat and get very lean without ever fasting.

For some people fasting is an effective strategy that helps them control food intake, and works for their lifestyle.

Again fasting is not for everyone, and if you want experiment give it a shot, but don’t cling to it as the only way or magic bullet, because it isn’t. If it’s not for you no need to force it.

I want to mention this because many strategies like fasting become popular, and people feel like if they’re not doing it they’re missing out.

The leanest I’ve been in the past three years was when I was eating breakfast everyday, and keeping a watchful eye on my calorie and macronutrient goals.

Whether you decide to fast or not keep in mind the biggest rocks for your fat loss are always going to be eating the right amount for your goals, proper strength strength training and managing your stress/sleep.

We also need to consider that there are people who fasting will not work for and could actually do more harm than good.

Who Fasting Might Not Be For

Adrenal Disorders/Exhaustion:

If you have any adrenal dysfunction or exhaustion, fasting isn’t a good idea and could easily make those adrenal problems much worse.

Fasting would place a larger burden on the already worn out adrenal glands to produce more stress hormones for the purpose of mobilizing stored energy while food is not available.

If you adrenals are already dysfunctional, then fasting will only exacerbate the problem.  

Sleep Deprived Individuals:

In a state of sleep deprivation the body will already have a difficult time regulating blood sugar levels leading to extreme food cravings and energy crashes.

There will be an overabundance of the stress hormone cortisol due to the blood sugar dips from lack of sleep.

Someone who is chronically sleep deprived is already in a state of chronic stress and fasting only adds to this burden.

People notice their appetite is dysregulated during periods of sleep deprivation, and they become more impulsive around food, which doesn’t go well with trying to fast.

With someone restricting food during a fasting period I could see it being much more difficult to not go overboard on food when they break the fast causing binge like behaviors.

Sleeping for 7-9 hours per night is a requirement in my book if you’re going to engage in any kind of extended fasting.

Over Exercisers/High Intensity Athletes:

If you’re trying to exercise for long periods of time or do high intensity exercise that relies heavily on glycogen for performance such as crossfit or mixed martial arts you can very easily tank your performance by fasting at the wrong times.

If you’re going to fast and engage in high intensity exercise I would do it a minimum of one day removed from high intensity work.

This means you’d have had a full day of eating after your last intense session to fuel recovery, and your fasting would be a full day away from your next session so you can adequately fuel your next session in the gym.

Those With Very Stressful Lifestyles:

If you’re already a high strung individual with a highly stressed lifestyle that involves not getting enough sleep or eating enough throughout the day, fasting is not a good idea.

By tossing fasting into the mix it will only increase the stress burden on your body without providing any additional resources to recover from the stressor.  

In turn this will increase stress hormones to an excessive levels which will leave you feeling burned out, lethargic and disrupted sleep and libido.  

Pregnant Women:

I hope this goes without saying, but for my conscience and on the outside chance that anyone who is reading this is pregnant:

You should absolutely not even be thinking about intermittent fasting while pregnant, period.

You’re growing another person inside of your body, and that requires additional energy and calories from food.

You need to eat, not just for you but for the health of your child too, you’ll be providing that human all the resources necessary for them to grow into a happy healthy baby with your eating habits, restricting calories and fasting is not conducive to this at all.

Those With A Tendency To Binge:

When someone brings up fasting and not losing body fat, I always ask what it looks like when they break their fast and eat.

There is are two common themes in these scenarios:  

1.) Not being able to control their appetite when they break the fast and eat.

2.) The first leads into this point which is far exceeding what they need to eat to lose body fat.

Many times people will fast the entire day and then eat one to two larger meals around dinner time.

Without a plan to follow these meals don’t have a structure to them, and people wind up eating everything in sight.  

By fasting all day it can create a hunger bottleneck that bursts when you break the fast  and causes uncontrolled eating.

I would have these same urges when I would fast and paired it with low carb and then tried to perform intensely in the gym. I now recognize how dumb this was and actually hurt my performance in the gym and body composition goals.

Live and learn folks, but try to learn from mistakes!

If you have a tendency to restrict and binge with food, then intermittent fasting could do more damage than good.

Fasting Fat Loss Mistakes:

Not Controlling For Calories

Fasting can be an effective way to control eating habits, and allow you to eat naturally in a manner that creates a calorie deficit for fat loss without overthinking it.

The fact remains though, to lose body fat you’ll need to be in a calorie deficit by eating less than you expend, or having a higher work output that allows you burn more than you’re consuming on a daily basis.

If you find yourself fasting and you’re not losing body fat you may need to track with a food journal or my fitness pal for a few days to see where you calorie intake is compared to what you’d need to lose body fat.

Not Eating Enough

This may seem like an odd point to have right after discussing that you may be overeating, but if you’re chronically under eating and fasting at the same time you’re  more likely to cause adaptations that make you burn fewer calories throughout the day.

When someone is in an extreme calorie deficit for a long period of time, the body slowly down regulates different components of the metabolism to be more efficient and expend fewer calories at rest and while exercising.

Whether you realize it or not you’ll move less… and in turn expend fewer calories.

Your daily movement like walking, fidgeting or making food and washing the dishes will burn fewer calories through a reduction in what’s know as non exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).

You may burn fewer calories when engaging in that non exercise movement as well. No your body doesn’t hate you it just adapts and that’s what’s helped us survive this long.

Along with the reduction in calorie expenditure through NEAT, your body will make you burn fewer calories during exercise which is the the thermic effect of exercise (TEE).

Your sessions in the gym or cardio sessions will feel tougher to get through, and your body will become more efficient by making you expend fewer calories during a times in the gym.  

Not to mention the calories needed to digest and break down food called the thermic effect of food (TEF) will be lower because you’re eating less than you have before.

You’re Losing Fat, But Retaining Water

When someone has been in a calorie deficit for a long period of time without a break from dieting and adds in other stressors such as fasting or over exercising the body will up regulate stress hormones in an attempt to mobilize available energy in the body.

These stress hormones also cause you to retain a significant amount of water and can stall weight loss, but not fat loss.

The amount of water someone retains can offset any potential fat loss they would otherwise see when they step on a scale.

This is the reason why people have planned higher carb days. These higher carb days help to fuel recovery, keeps hormones healthy and blunts stress hormones and negative adaptations of aggressive dieting.

Many times people wake up the day after these high carb days a few pounds lighter and looking leaner in the mirror due to the water loss from blunting stress hormones with increased carbs.

Keep in mind though these higher carbs days are planned and there is structure to them much different from a cheat day.

Fasting Every Day

I think fasting can be a good practice however some people will not be able to handle the stress burden of fasting every single day.

Some folks can fast everyday and not be phased by it, however people like myself and others I’ve spoken to will see repercussions when fasting too frequently.   

In my personal experience, when I fasted everyday and was low carb I felt great in the beginning, but that eventually wore off.

Eventually I started to feel worse and worse and would hit a brick wall during the day that required massive doses of caffeine to keep me upright, and in complete honesty I still drink a good amount of caffeine daily.

However in these days with low carb and fasting too frequently my energy, workouts, and sleep all went to shit quickly.  

I stopped fasting everyday and started reintroducing more dense carbs daily and my energy, workouts and sleep all improved.

Now when I fast I do it once or twice a week if at all, and many times it’s by accident.

If you want to use fasting as a strategy to help you control your food intake for fat loss doing it everyday may not be the best strategy as it can come with some down sides.

As you can see these are some very common mistakes that people make when it comes to fasting and fat loss, but they are all very easy fixes you can change today if you’d like.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series where we’re discussing the solutions to the above fasting issues, and how to organize your own fasting protocol

Fasting For Fat Loss Part 1: Popular Fasting Methods

Before we can get started I need to cover the necessary bases with a quick disclaimer:

Because I know that people like to get extreme with these kinds of things I want to clearly state:

The information in this blog is not medical advice. This is not meant as a replacement for any medical care or advice. Please consult with your physician before you decide to make any changes to your nutrition or exercise routine. If you choose to take action on the information in this newsletter without the consent of your physician you are accepting the full responsibility for your actions. By using the nutrition information from this blog you recognize that despite all the precautions on the part of Alex McMahon and Evolve Nutritional Therapy LLC there are risks of injury or illness that can occur because of your use of this information and hereby waive, relinquish and release any claim that you may have against Alex McMahon and Evolve Nutritional Therapy LLC as a result of future injury or illness associated with the misuse of the information contained in this blog.

Back to our regularly scheduled blog now...

An in depth conversation with my friend Frank who just did a four day water fast fast a few weeks ago was part of the inspiration for this. 

Intermittent fasting for fat loss is a subject thats come up a lot recently with people, and the interest seems to be at an all time high so I wanted to address the subject and how it relates to your fat loss goals, and explain some common mistakes and myths on the subject.

In fact I have a client who’s fasting every day from sun up to sundown following Ramadan this month from May 26th through June 24th and we’ve arranged her nutrition according to this practice to help her better manage her energy and appetite during this phase.   

Before we get too far I wanted to explain the different variations of fasting that people commonly use, and give my experience with the ones that I’ve used.

 I actually used the Eat Stop Eat  fasting (24 hour fast) once a week for 8 weeks to drop body fat and fuel my training for two powerlifting meets this past April.

I'll  get into that a little later, but lets take a look at the most popular methods people use when fasting.  

Most Popular Methods Of Fasting

There’s some debate over what constitutes breaking the fast. Many experts say that anything other than water including black coffee breaks the fast.

Jeff Rothschild an expert in the area explains that coffee even if it does break the “fasted” state can be beneficial because it helps to set the biological clock in our bodies, and kickstarts a number of different organ functions and enzyme production.

From a technical standpoint and to keep things simple any calorie free beverage, and even a splash of cream in your coffee while technically breaking the fast is not the end of the world, or something to worry too much about.

Skip Breakfast

This method of fasting is what many people will find to be the easiest to follow. You simply just skip breakfast and then have lunch as your first meal of the day and stop eating after dinner.                  

This is very similar to the Leangains protocol but doesn’t require counting the fasted and fed hours or higher and lower calorie and carb days. It allows for greater flexibility.

I believe that skipping breakfast is a great place for people to start with fasting, and makes for an easy transition to the 16/8 Leangains method.

I like the Leangains method because it provides more structure to the fed and fasted times, and can work very well when adhered to.  

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16/8 Leangains

This style of fasting was popularized and brought to the mainstream by Martin Berkhan. It’s one of the most popular protocols in the health and fitness world.                 

With Leangains you use a 16/8 fasting and feeding schedule. You’ll fast for 16 hours each day, and then consume all your food in an 8 hour window.                        

With this style of fasting you would stop eating after dinner around 7-8pm. When you wake up in the following morning, instead of eating breakfast, you would have coffee, tea or water and wait until lunch time at 11am-12pm to have your first meal.

I find the 16/8 fasting and feeding structure has a natural flow to it that’s done easily, and isn’t disruptive to everyday life.  This used to be the style of fasting that I used the most in the past, but recently started playing around with another method I talk more about below.               

Eat Stop Eat (24 Hour Fasts) 

This protocol of fasting was popularized by Brad Pilon. His approach is very simple; you do one to two twenty four hour long fasts per week; and eat normally the other five to six days of the week.

You eat normally on non fasting days, and during fasting days you go a full twenty four  hours without any calories  just drinking water, coffee, tea or any other calorie free beverage.

The way that the ESE style fast is structured it still allows you to eat every day, even though you are fasting for a 24 hour period.

For example if you wanted to fast on Wednesday, you could eat breakfast at 8am, then not eat again until breakfast at 8am on Thursday still eating each day.

My Recent Experiment With 24 Hour Fasts

As I trained for my powerlifting meets this last April my training was far more intense than it had ever been before.

As a result of training sessions that took upwards of two and a half hours sometimes I was ravenous, and needed to eat more to perform in the gym and recover.

My main concern during this period was performance, not fat loss or body composition. 

As I got stronger I also gained weight which was entirely expected, however I still needed to drop around ten pounds to make the 74kg (163.1 lbs) weight class.

I had to find a way to eat enough to fuel performance on a daily basis, yet create a calorie deficit to drop body fat for the powerlifting competitions.  

I tried cycling calories and macros on training and non training days but it was more effort than I felt like was necessary, and was more difficult for me to stick to.

After having the pleasure of getting on skype with a researcher and all around great guy who I greatly respect named Alex Ritson I told him I'd rather fast for 24 hours than diet a little each day. 

As a result Alex helped me figure what my intake should be on the non fasting days to make weight for the 74kg weight class.

I would consume zero calories on Mondays, and then eat 2,400 calories the other six days out of the week so I had the necessary fuel for recovery and performance in the gym. 

I’m a bit of an extreme person in this regard, and would rather fast for a full day than have to diet a few days out of the week so this approach actually worked really well for me. 

I know this is a little extreme to some, but there's some insight into my mindset/personality type for any of you wondering.

Using this approach I actually came in  lighter than projected and weighed in at both meets right around 158 pounds.

Fasting isn’t the right approach for everyone, and there is nothing magical about it however it can help some folks.

I also wouldn’t recommend trying to start off fasting with a twenty four hour fast either, start smaller and work your way up if you’re curious.

Next week we're going to cover why you don't have to fast to lose body fat, and who fasting might do more harm than good for. Thanks for reading!