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Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting is one of the hottest new topics in health, fitness, and weight loss. Numerous studies seem to be showing that Intermittent Fasting may result in:

  • Weight Loss
  • Increased use of fat for fuel
  • Increased production of Human Growth Hormone
  • Longevity

Intermittent Fasting BREAKS ALL THE RULES

Before I continue, I must warn you that the concepts of calorie counting, calorie restriction, and intermittent fasting (or any type of fasting) all directly contradict a LOT of recent “conventional wisdom”.

Recent conventional wisdom

Here, have a look at Why Eating More (Not Less) Can Help You Lose Weight. This is a poster child for “recent conventional wisdom”. I don’t mean to pick too hard on the author of this article, but it has it all:

  • Eat MORE to LOSE weight
  • Have a big breakfast, medium lunch, and small dinner
  • Snacks between meals
  • If you feel hungry, EAT (you should never feel hunger)
  • Restricted calories CAUSES fat retention
  • AVOID Intermittent Fasting

Ever since the mid-1990s when the “Zone” and “Atkins” diets first became popular, this has been the prevailing wisdom. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t oppose either of these plans, and I know they helped many. But many people extrapolated from these plans to points like those mentioned above.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard every one of those things. And there was supposedly “science” to back up all these points.

Much of the recent wisdom is WRONG

But now there’s science REFUTING all of these points.

This is partly where some good, logical, common sense comes into play. I’m sure one can find “science” that backs nearly any position. But just ask yourself, when you see an overweight person is your first thought really “Wow, that dude really needs to eat MORE”? Or when you see an extremely underweight person is your first thought that they need to eat LESS?

Sure, there is SOME (flawed) “logic” involved in this recent way of believing. One example is the notion that reduced calorie diets and intermittent fasting put the body into a “survival mode”. In this mode it cuts back on energy expenditures in response to a perceived crisis situation where food may be scarce.

But apparently these positions aren’t really backed up by research, or common sense for that matter. If you need to lose weight, you most certainly won’t do it by EATING MORE. Sure, the provocative title may create curiosity that leads to the coveted “click”, but the whole premise is B.S.

How I discovered intermittent fasting

Long before I ever heard of “Intermittent Fasting” I used it with amazing success. I needed to lose weight, and I was on a three-meal-per-day cafeteria plan at my graduate school. I invented a diet program that involved eating a normal breakfast, normal lunch, and NO DINNER. I just skipped dinner completely.

Initially the evenings were TORTURE. And to make matters worse, I didn’t even lose weight. At least I did not lose an amount of weight commensurate with my perceived level of torture.

But they grew more bearable, and then they became normal. Then I started having a friend bring me back a container of watery soup (150 calories max). That scratched that itch of just needing to eat SOMETHING.

Then, after a few weeks, the weight seemed to come off almost effortlessly. In no time at all people were asking me “What changed? Did you shave your beard?” I never had a beard, my face just got skinny. Others asked if I had been sick. Nope and nope. I just lost 15-20 pounds in a matter of 5-6 months. I was no longer at risk of needing to shop for larger clothes. Instead I even found myself going back to clothes I didn’t think I’d need any more.

Then later when I read articles on Intermittent Fasting describing how initially it would be hard, but as your body adapted to using more fat for fuel it would become easier, it all made sense.

How can Intermittent Fasting help me?

When you read this site talking about measuring every food and counting every calorie it can seem a little daunting. You may even feel that such calorie restrictions are logistically very challenging. “Gosh, I have a husband and two kids who expect a full dinner at 6pm; It would be very hard to just not eat when they eat.”

Within limits Intermittent Fasting can really make hitting your calorie targets much more logistically manageable. And research seems to show that the same number of calories consumed in a smaller window of time tend to yield greater weight loss and health benefits.

Elsewhere on this site I illustrate calorie “perceptions” by pointing out that a tuna sandwich composed of two slices of whole wheat bread, two tablespoons of mayonnaise, and one can of white tuna packed in water has 470 calories. And that that is a REALLY dry, tasteless meal.

If your daily calorie target is 1500 you can have the equivalent of three of these tuna sandwiches per day.

But wouldn’t it be easier to have a meal with almost double those calories twice per day and just skip a meal? Of course there will initially be a little discomfort during that extended period without calories, but finding meals to meet your calorie goals will be easier.

That still doesn’t mean you get to gorge on your two meals. It also doesn’t mean you can avoid all the calorie counting. But logistically and mentally it is easier. And if all that research is true, you’ll lose weight faster and live longer and healthier. But if none of that research is true, then you just lose weight easier 🙂

Intermittent Fasting Plan

Almost every advocate of Intermittent Fasting that I have read suggests skipping breakfast, have a late morning workout, and make your two meals lunch (around noon) and dinner (between 6pm and 8pm).

That’s not how I did it. I had breakfast and lunch, and ran in the late afternoon, and that yielded great results.

But really, exercise isn’t REQUIRED, and almost any schedule works as long as you stay below your calorie target and schedule all your caloric intake within a 3-8 hour window of time. That can mean eat at 8am and 1pm, noon and 7pm, or midnight and 6am. As long as you consume all your day’s calories in those time ranges, the intermittent fasting works.

Just find a plan that works for you and stick with it.

 


 

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