Don’t Hurry Yet – Intermittent Fasting NOT The Best Diet Plan For Weight Loss?

intermittent-fasting-meme-for-weight-loss-skipping-breakfastThe “intermittent fasting” craze started in 2003 short after the publication of now the known book The warrior diet by Ori Hofmekler.

This guy published the first popular book on the subject of intermittent fasting based on his research which made claims that hunter gatherer groups and roman soldiers starved during the day but ate large meals in the evenings so we should try to replicate their “success”.

I was not on the roman battlefield so I can’t comment on their diet  or ate with hunter gatherer groups a long time ago but in this case, there’s evidence that these groups actually ate more meals/day so we can’t really take that standpoint as evidence that intermittent fasting was used in those times.

The whole IF groups/people that support intermittent fasting, point out studies that show improved markers of glycemic control such as insulin sensitivity, weight loss, appetite suppression, increased lifespan, etc.

What it should be stated is that these benefits are not only unique in IF regimens and quite in fact no one demonstrated that intermittent fasting has any tangible benefits that cannot be achieved with less restrictive diets.

You might wonder now, “why should I fast then” ?

Wait wait wait Sherlock, we’ll get to the point in a few lines but first, let’s see what intermittent fasting means:

This whole intermittent fasting dieting revolves around creating a certain space between your fasted period in which you are only allowed to drink water or in order to keep your insulin levels down, never go over 50 calories worth of sugar and/or milk in your coffee/beverage until you break that fast with the eating window which can range from 2 – 8 hours.

Popular fasting protocols include

  • 16 hours of fast with 8 hour eating window
  • 20 hours of fast with 4 hour eating window ( The warrior diet protocol )
  • Alternate day fasting ( aka ADF )
  • 24 hours of fast 1-2 times per week after which you can start eating

Pretty simple, the diets are self explanatory, you just need to be inside the hour guidelines and you are just fine.

And because people always want examples, I’ll detail just one example of the fasting protocol 16 hours of fast and 8 hour eating window:

You can achieve this by only eating your required calories between 12:00 PM – 20:00 PM and wait for the next day’s 12 PM to eat again. Simple as that.

An example on a 1 month protocol that I did was :

  • Woke up at 8 o’clock in the morning – drink a tea or coffee
  • Start getting to work and do my job
  • Go to eat at 12:00 – 12:30 ( 10-30% of my daily calories )
  • Working out @ 16:00
  • Get the post workout big meal at 18:00 ( 50-70 % of my daily caloric intake )
  • Eventually snacking something at 20:00 (I’ll eat the rest of my caloric intake here or if I would skip it and eat these calories in my previous post workout meal )

Intermittent Fasting Fears Destroyed

The Breakfast Fear Of Losing Muscles And Making You Fat Myth

By now, you must been thinking: “ Omg, where’s the breakfast, I’ll lose my precious muskleszz”

The whole “you must eat breakfast because it’s healthy and skipping it will only do you bad things spread like fire” went into people’s mind because of the dietary advice that every medical authority gives to people.

Even registered Dietitians and MD’s, the same people that should have helped you lose weight and feel healthy, were the ones that spread bad advice and recommend all sorts of supplements or pills to help you get rid of the fat but all they do is empty your wallet.

Why Do They Give You Such Advice ?

There are studies that support the idea that skipping breakfast has been correlated to higher bodyweight but are they genuine, can we rely on them ?

One of these studies are the effects of breakfast on total daily caloric intake.

This idea is exactly just like the lower meal frequency versus the higher meal frequency myth because both of them had studies that showed higher bodyweight in populations that skip breakfast and the ones that eat less frequent.

The truth is that usually, the persons that skip breakfast, have dysregulated eating patterns that affect the results and also the same persons don’t care so much about their own health.

The dieting population is generally the one that skips breakfast and most of them don’t really know how to properly diet by correctly adjusting their calorie intake and activity.

What this means is that most of the observations done on people that skipped breakfast had a higher net weight gain because the caloric intake and/or exercise wasn’t adjusted to their caloric expenditure.

While the common belief that it’s good to eat breakfast in the morning because we are more insulin sensitive is true, we are also more sensitive after a fast or after a weight training session but this doesn’t mean that we should only focus on breakfast.

Just take a look at Mark Haub and his twinkie diet. Do you think that if this man lost weight eating nothing but “junk food” and “poisonous sweets” while not taking into account when he eated but only  following proper caloric control, breakfast really matters ?

Well done by the women speaking in the background: “ What matters most is the total calories in the foods you are eating, not the nutritional value but nutritional expert says this is not good for his long term health”

Now, I don’t imply that you should always skip breakfast and that breakfast is evil.

Breakfast is perfectly fine and  you can keep eating it if you want, I spoke from an intermittent fasting point of view.

The Meal Frequency Fear

Another fear that makes people afraid of trying intermittent fasting is the meal frequency myth which makes them believe that if they don’t eat 6 meals a day, their muscle mass will shrink down.

As I explained here, that myth should be banned forever as it only causes confusion and in some cases creates obsessive meal patterns that only ruin people’s life and flexibility.

The “I’ll Get Into Starvation Mode If I Don’t Eat Every 2 Hours” Myth

Adaptation to long periods without food was a necessary perk that our body obtained through evolution, and lowering our metabolic rate during starvation allowed us to survive longer, keeping us functioning before we found some food source.

Starvation doesn’t mean not eating for a few hours or for 24/36 hours but literally not eating for days !

This myth is absurd and stupid simply because your body doesn’t enter into that state for short term fasting periods.

Looking at countless research studies, the earliest one that shower lowered metabolic rates was when fasting over 60 hours (here is the study) and metabolic rate only slowed down by 6% (huge difference huh ?).

Other studies:

After 3 days of starving with just water the metabolic rate increased

This study shower that after 36 hours, the Metabolic Rate Increased, at 72 hour mark the BMR was the same

There was 8% decrease in BMR after 74 hours fast ( that means three days with 0 food )

There was 3.6% increase in metabolic rate

There was 10% increase in BMR

As these studies demonstrated that the starvation mode is just another fad most likely created by the supplement companies and BS people that profited from this by getting books out by exploiting this subject.

Here you have it.  Starvation mode BS exposed !

Back To The Losing Muscles Idea Myth

We are back to the common belief that your body needs a constant flux of amino acids so it won’t put his fingers into your muscles and eat them.

This one is easy to dispel because it was demonstrated that a modest casein shake consumed on the empty stomach still releases amino acids after the 7 hour mark so imagine a big meal with carbs,protein and fats that would slow down the digestion time.

A 100+ grams of protein meal would still release amino-acids into the bloodstream after even 20 hours and up.

These are the most common found myths that are being spread on the internet and frankly I’ve got tired of them.

Conclusion To Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss Area

The conclusion is simple: Intermittent fasting can only bring you benefits and no downsides so there isn’t any motive for you not to try it.

It will bring you benefits like adding little flexibility in your life and making a diet easier and the effect will be more profound and appreciated by people which had suffered the 6 meals a day myth.

If you enjoyed this piece, share it with everyone you know so they get rid of the breakfast fear and get more freedom in their life!

Are you using intermittent fasting as a diet strategy?

What is your strategy and what are the effects associated with what you’ve tried?

“Sharing is caring” and who knows, maybe we learn a thing or two from other people’s experience.

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Comments

  1. Garrison says:

    intermittent fasting all the way bro, eating 1 large meal a day when trying to lose weight is just too satisfying not to try it.
    nicely explained here

  2. Hi Florin,

    I started the IF about a month ago and I can see results on the losing body fat side. I do a 16/8 protocol with the eating window starting at 2pm.
    I am training in the morning before going to work. What’s your take on training fasted and having the first meal 6 hours after the training?

    Thanks,
    Cristian

    • Most research studies show that training fasted is sub-optimal when it comes to making gains or retaining muscle mass. I would just sip in 10-15 grams of BCAA’s 10-30 minutes before working out just in case. Also, I would suggest you to just eat a meal post workout – 6 hours seems like too long to stay without a proper meal digesting.

      My pleasure,
      Florin

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