This post on Intermittent Fasting is a post I have wanted to write for months but for various reasons I have held back. I am going to talk about a brand new way to lose weight and body fat that is so off that wall it just doesn’t make sense and throws nearly everything we know about conventional fat loss out the window.
This will be long but I guarantee it won’t be boring so make sure you have at least 10 minutes to read this. I want you to read this with an open mind and then read it again. Once you have read it twice, read it again
The reason I am writing this now is because this technique or protocol is starting to become mainstream so I want to share my thoughts with you before you think I have jumped on the band wagon.
A few of my clients mentioned that they had seen a TV programme, Horizon and asked me on my opinion. If you have a spare hour then its worth a watch. It basically looks at various methods of calorie restriction or fasting and the purported weight loss and health benefits.
I don’t want to spend too much on this but have a >>>look here<<< to see the programme on YouTube. My overall thoughts on this programme were mixed but you need to see the programme first before I go into that.
I want to talk to you today about Intermittent Fasting or IF for short.
We all know what fasting means but it’s the way that this technique is performed that is EXTREMELY important.
I heard about this back in March in the good ol’ US of A, when I went to an amazing fitness marketing seminar with the very best trainers in the industry. Initially, I was sceptical. How could missing meals produce fat loss when we know that the way to burn fat and produce a healthy metabolism is to eat little and often, providing the body fuel it needs every few hours?
Before I get into the body of this I want to make one thing clear. I am not saying that what we do know about fat loss doesn’t work because it does. Hundreds of clients over the years can testify to that. Tom and I have been getting amazing results from the ideas and techniques we teach you for over 20 years.
What I am saying is that this appears to be another tool in the box and if used correctly, can be very effective. As I said, I have been following this protocol for over 5 months now and I’m a big fan.
Will this work for everyone? Yes and no.
Most of you know that the diet we prescribe is based on the Paleolithic diet from our ancestors, hundreds of thousands of years ago. We know that cavemen only had access to meat, certain seasonal fruits and vegetables so this is the way we need to eat as our genes have changed very little over time.
If it runs, swims or flies, grows on a tree or in the ground, then you should eat it. If it doesn’t, then don’t. It’s very simple.
The Intermittent Fasting that I have learnt about and followed for 5 months, still adheres to these food choice but manipulates the bodies powerful hormones and takes eating like a caveman one step further.
IF suggests that our ancestors would not have had access to food 4-5 times per day but rather once a day and at night. If you think about, this could possibly be true.
I’m not going tot spend too much time on our ancestors eating habits as much of it is guess-work so lets take it back to how IF actually works in the present day
The basic premise of the diet I have been experimenting with is simple. You fast for 14-16hrs each day after your last meal at night, then you under eat for 4 hours, consuming no carbohydrates other than vegetables, then you over eat and consume carbohydrates for 4 hrs at night. This protocol is meant to mimic the natural human cycle of under eating and over eating like we did in the hunter-gatherer days.
How it works.
The fasting phase. Lets say you wanted to start this protocol on a Monday. Sunday night you would eat your normal dinner at say 8pm. You would then go to bed and get up and get on with your normal day but your first meal would be ideally, 16 hrs after your dinner which would take you 12pm or noon. Before 12, and upon awakening, I drink a black organic coffee and nothing else but mineral water and lots of it.
The under eating phase. This is very important. Despite the hunger you will feel by 12pm, you resist eating a large meal and have a small meal consisting of the standard paleo choices. I tend to have a small chicken breast and some green vegetables, normally tenderstem broccoli and then 10 nuts (Almonds). At 3pm most days I trained with heavy weights or HIIT. Straight after this I would have 1 scoop of protein in water with a Greens Plus supplement.
Learn more about that >>>here<<<
I then repeat my first meal of have something very similar.
The over eating phase begins when your schedule allows. For me it is usually between 8pm – 11pm, depending on the time I get in from work. Sometimes this is 9pm – 12pm midnight. This is the fun part of the day. This is where 70% of your daily calories NEED to be consumed and this is absolutely crucial to make this protocol work. I have been having a large green salad with kale, spinach and other greens with organic cider vinegar.
Then I have been eating 4 organic scrambled eggs with spinach cooked in organic coconut oil as a starter. Then 2 large chicken breasts with a LARGE portion of brown or wild rice, large portion of vegetables. Sometimes I have been having dessert but have tended to keep that quite clean. My current favourite is a bowl of blueberries and strawberries with clotted cream and cinnamon sprinkled on top.
I then have 3-4 table spoons of fish oil before I go to bed. This has been the clean version. On other days I have eaten a lot more.
If you look at how this diet is structured, it goes against EVERYTHING we know and trust about fat loss.
Skipping breakfast which we have always assumed is the most important meal of the day and over eating at night with lots of carbohydrates which we advise against if fat loss is the aim. On a workout day, I have only been eating 4 meals and on the days when I didn’t work out it was just 3.
We at Ultimate City Fitness advise everyone to try to eat 4-6 small sittings of food per day. So how does this work?
Before I explain this, I want to reiterate that IS NOT what I am suggesting any of you do. I have been experimenting with this for 5 months and it took me at least 1 month to get it right and to really start feeling good. Please DO NOT copy what I have written here and think that this diet will work for you because it doesn’t work like. Everyone is different and portions, food choice and timings all need to tailored to the individual.
Back to how this appears to work.
We know that carbohydrates will release serotonin in the stomach. This is the hormone that makes us feel satisfied after a large meal and also makes us feel happy. That feeling of contentment is quickly followed by a crash in blood sugar and in the middle of the day you feel sluggish and sleepy.
With IF, this is desirable at night time as the large portion of carbohydrates prepares the body to shut down, rest and sleep. In normal individuals, cortisol levels peak at 7-9am. Cortisol is catabolic meaning it will start to break down muscle tissue, however, if breakfast is skipped in the morning, this cortisol will help to break down body fat by increasing the release of fatty acids to be burned for energy.
We know that growth hormone (GH) will increase if insulin is kept low which is why we recommend the meat and nut breakfast. GH is one of the most potent fat burners available to us which is why many bodybuilders will inject GH in order to obtain a very low body fat percentage. IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) should also rise dramatically but there seems to be conflicting evidence on whether this is desirable.
IF suggests that insulin is still raised with an all protein/fat breakfast and that GH is released even more so with an absence of food altogether. Your body will now be operating in the sympathetic nervous system, similar to the “fight or flight” mode. Your energy levels will rise and your cognitive levels will be enhanced.
These are the purported benefits but what have been my findings?
Well to start with, the first 2 weeks were incredibly tough. I have never left the house without breakfast even if it meant getting up very early to have a protein breakfast. I stuck with this and after 2 weeks it became easy. Then, surprisingly, my energy levels seem to rapidly rise between the hours of 9-11am and on some days I could actually have carried on fasting to well past 3pm. I have felt very good to be honest and my productivity has been great.
I am always aware of losing muscle so I have not done this very often. The evening meals have been fun but I LOVE food. I mean really love food. I am very disciplined with my diet so eating 5 small meals a day is never a problem for me but I admit it can be boring. I get home most nights after 9pm so after a long day at work, the idea of a large healthy meal appeals to me massively.
Some days I have just kept eating right up until bedtime and I’ve gone to bed and slept like a baby. Better than ever. Again, this goes against what we know and trust, carbohydrates before bedtime are stored as body fat. It appears that the fasting period seems to cancel this out.
My 5 month experiment has been interesting to say the least. I have missed eating breakfast but only psychologically but the massive meal in the evening has made up for this and it really seems to suit my lifestyle. I have to admit, I can eat a lot more carbohydrates that I have even done and still remain below 10% body fat. I have lost 5 kg in muscle mass but I believe that is due to the fact that I stopped lifting heavy weights and was doing up to 5 cardio based gym sessions per week in training to climb Mont blanc.
In conclusion, I believe Intermittent fasting CAN work for everyone but I don’t think everyone should try it.
I truly believe that 4-6 small meals per day, keeping carbs low, and protein and good fats high works very well indeed and is the way to go for many people. If anything, you have to be MORE disciplined with IF as you must stick to the 3 distinct phases for this to work. You need to ask yourself, can you under eat despite feeling very hungry and then can you literally gorge at night and does your lifestyle allow for such a regime.
Mine does but yours may not.
I am currently fasting at the moment but it remains to be seen whether I will continue. I will possible get some blood work done at some point to see what is going on inside my body so I will report back on that. Like I mentioned before, please DO NOT just start skipping meals in order to lose weight/body fat. I would rather you email me and I can go through this with you to see if you would benefit from a protocol like this.
For more info, please check out Rich eats who always has an interesting spin on things. This is a great report from him. Thanks Rich.
If you made it to the end of this email, you are very welcome to come to mine for a gorging session sometime soon. I’m serious
Have a great week ahead.
Train hard, live easy.
Gav @ UCF