A few years ago, if you mentioned fasting as a weight loss tool, people would look at you like you had a third eye. I have to admit that I was one of those people. Everything I have ever learned points to eating several small, well balanced meals throughout the day. After all, we need to keep the metabolism going. Correct? Stoke the fire. If you skip a meal, you will undoubtedly cannibalize your own hard earned muscle. This is what you read in all of the fitness magazines and what you hear from your personal trainer or dietitian. Also, there are numerous studies to support this prescription for healthy eating. As we all know, if you hear it enough, it must be true. Right?
Maybe not, suggests Brad Pilon, author of Eat Stop Eat. Brad is an interesting guy. After receiving his degree in nutrition, he went on to work in R&D for a major supplement company. A bit confused about the results of studies conducted while working in the supplement industry, Brad returned to school to start from the beginning and study what happens to the body when it has NO food. His book is simply a compilation of all of his scientific reviews conducted while in school. Brad’s research was on ‘The Metabolic Effects of Short Periods of Fasting in Humans and its Potential Application in Weight Loss’. Also, he is no puny, unhealthy looking guy that appears to belong in a temple high in the Himalayans. Brad is a bodybuilder and power lifter. Muscle is as important to him as it is to you and me. Educated, a strong knowledge of the industry and concerned with how he looks and feels. All of these unique traits make his theories very compelling.
What exactly are those theories?
1. Intermittent Fasting (I.F.) once or twice a week for a 24 hour period will result in fat loss. Duh! That is 25-30% less calories providing you don’t binge on the days when you eat normally.
2. I.F. will not result in muscle loss. Brad’s studies support that taking just 24 hours off from eating will not have catabolic side effects for your muscles.
3. Your metabolism will not slow down after a 24 hr break from eating. Brad sites that people overestimate the thermal affect of food or TEF. These are the calories that you use to metabolize/digest food. He explains that it doesn’t seem logical to eat 100 calories to burn 10. Also, his studies show that your resting metabolic rate does not get slower with short bouts of fasting.
4. I.F. has significant positive hormone responses (insulin, growth hormone). So much so that Brad explains that it is beneficial to fast even if you don’t lose weight.
5. I.F. is an easy weight loss solution. No special foods or considerations. Literally, anyone can follow this plan. Just pick one or two 24 hours periods during the week and don’t eat.
So what do I think? While it is not for everyone, I really think that this could be an effective fat loss tool for some people. Let’s face it. It is pretty darn simple to follow. Like all new theories, we like to test the waters before suggesting any workout or nutrition strategy to our clients. As such, we have talked Nikki into trying Brad’s plan for 1 month. Nikki will fast for two 24 hour periods for 30 days and we will see what happens. If Week 1 was any indication, Nikki should have no problem sustaining this plan for our trial period.
Who knows? Maybe in a few years, if we suggest I.F. for fat loss, people won’t look at us like we have a third eye. A third nipple maybe, but not an eye.
Check out Eat Stop Eat