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The benefits of Intermittent Fasting for fat loss

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Posted by Andy Morgan of Ripped Body under Nutrition on 14 December 2012 at 12:00 AM

Intermittent Fasting (I.F.) is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting and non-fasting. It makes losing weight easier.

Andy Morgan Intermittent Fasting resultIt may sound scary, but it's really quite simple. There are a few different popular types; alternate day fasting, the warrior diet (one meal a day), Brad Pilon's "Eat. Stop. Eat." but the one I promote can basically be thought of as purposefully skipping breakfast. This particular version was popularised by Martin Berkhan of Leangains.com. It's a bit more involved, but the results are superior.

With a few exceptions Intermittent Fasting can be used by anyone. There are a number of health benefits that still need further research, but the most useful thing about Intermittent Fasting is that is makes dieting a little easier. Dieting sucks. Anyone that has dieted can tell you. Skipping breakfast allows for a bigger lunch and dinner and thus allows for dieters to still feel satisfied with meals, but still keep the essential calorie deficit for weight loss. Contrary to what you may think, hunger in the morning ceases to be a problem after a 4-7day adjustment period while your hormones adjust to the new pattern of eating.

There has been a lot of hype recently in the media surrounding Intermittent Fasting. It is often touted as "skip breakfast and you'll burn off a load of fat and then eat what you want for the rest of your day and still lose weight." This is complete nonsense, the total number of calories consumed in the day will determine whether an individual loses weight,  but there are now hundreds of websites out there now trying to tell you that this is the case (and likely sell you an e-book explaining it.) 

If a person eats exactly the same as they are now but they skip breakfast then nothing will likely change. Nothing.

If, however, you take a little time to work out how many of the macronutrients you should be eating each day, and start an effective barbell training program then the results can be great.

How quickly? That really depends on how many pieces of the puzzle people already have right. 

Three common mistakes:

1. Reliance on cardio for fat loss.

2. Focusing on supplements without knowing what daily macronutrient intakes should be.

3. Equating sweat or "the burn" as effective training. - Focus on getting stronger in the core compound movements.

The biggest trick the diet/training/supplement industry ever pulled was convincing the world that getting in decent shape must be hard.

I'm a diet coach/sports nutrition adviser. I started my website, RippedBody.jp because I was sick to death of seeing people being ripped off by supplement companies and trainers in commercial gyms here in Osaka (I'm British but live in Japan), whose sole intent was to get as much money out of their customer as possible, and I realised that a website was a much easier way help more people.

When I first started the site I tried to (and still do) write the website in such a way that anyone can read the information and go ahead and achieve their goals. I refused all advertising offers and e-book/affiliate sales and just focused on building that core guide. It's probably because of that, and some of the client results I post, that it has become so popular.

I consider myself very lucky. I work every day doing something I love and help people change their lives.

Check out this guide on Intermittent Fasting to learn more about how IF could help your weight loss. Share your experiences of IF here!

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    Comments

    20131122040327-janeh

    I love my breakfast Andy, and I can't imagine starting the day without it. But I guess this is directed towards people looking for ways to get the 'ripped' body?

    David L encouraged this.

    20131128023755-ronw1

    I don't know if I agree with this. I weighed 300lbs and hadn't eaten breakfast in years. Getting myself on a habitual, intentional eating schedule contributed to my weight loss. I've had several dieticians/nutritionists (whichever is the educated, medical title) tell me that no breakfast keeps your body in a starvation state where your body hangs on to food when you do eat it, but eating something when you first wake up kick starts the body to start metabolizing food as soon as it comes in. This was my experience too.

    encouraged this.

    20121214194909-alexcole

    It would be easier for me to skip dinner than breakfast. I guess this idea on fasting is skipping breakfast allows you to have a more enjoyable lunch and dinner as opposed to eating light at every meal? I'm doing the reverse of that currently, I eat my main meal (usually some egg sandwich combo) mid morning and have a lighter dinner. Interesting article though. I'll have to do some reading on macronutrients and I'm guilty of the number one common mistake posted about cardio. I learned something today!

    Adrian K and David L encouraged this.

    20131126112258-adrian

    @ronw1 You just have to look at the incredible successes Andys clients and many others (myself included) have had with intermittent fasting and this type of macro nutrient setup as proof that it is an incredibly effective method to achieve a lean physique. A starvation state that makes you put on fat as a result of skipping breakfast is a fitness fallacy, and in the short term there is absolutely no significant drop in metabolic rate as a result of intermittent fasting. You mentioned skipping breakfast and being overweight in the past, but you neglected to mention anything about your training habits, macronutrient composition or calorie intake during this period, are you sure skipping breakfast was to blame or were there other factors involved?

    David L and Nikita B encouraged this.

    20131126112258-adrian

    @alexcole definitely do some further reading on the subject, andy's site and leangains.com are fantastic resources to have in your training arsenal. What you will notice with intermittent fasting is that you body adapts to the meal timings and large re-feeds, so that you no longer feel hungry and thinking about food all day. When I was following leangains for around 9 months or so, I found a 12pm - 8pm feeding window was perfect for me, a couple of months in and I found it easy to get to 12 or 1pm and would then enjoy a big re-feed, followed by another smaller meal and then another big re-feed at 8pm.

    Alex C and David L encouraged this.

    20140811112945-cags

    Intermittent Fasting is pretty much used as a tool to ensure 'the essential calorie deficit for weight loss' - just an easier way to keep an eye on calories whilst still feeling satisfied after meals. Personally I feel noticeably more hungry by lunch time if I've had breakfast.

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    20130718100342-jack

    I tried this a few months ago, the first 2-3 days all i thought about was food, then it was actually really easy. Doing more running now so not following IF but I would definitely recommend it to people looking to get lean!

    David L encouraged this.

    20131126112258-adrian

    Good point @cags, and actually the main reason I have switched from daily intermittent fasting to loose Eat.Stop.Eat methods is because of the increase in intensity on the sports side of things, Olympic Weightlifting on top of my strength training means that I spend more time training and need to increase my feeding windows. IF is a great tool for those who want or need to lose fat, for whatever purpose that may be, whether for aesthetics, health, or to become lighter/leaner for their sport. There have been mixed reports on fasted training, some people find it difficult, whilst others actually find it much easier to train without a full belly of food. I have done both, and I am able to perform under both circumstances. Also it is worth noting that @coachleeboyce is talking specifically about the mental approach and motivation behind to training, without going into the nutritional debate. Would be good to get his input on IF too though.

    David L encouraged this.

    20141017152453-julien

    Hi! Interesting article! I suppose strong commitment to your diet and daily exercise is essential. Is IF compatible with marathon training, and how would you @andymorgan do it if you had to combine long run training with strength training?

    David L encouraged this.

    20130615190517-syko

    Have heard plenty of good stuff about this, but the idea confuses me slightly, some say each fasting period is 12 hours, others say it's 24 hours... Can anyone confirm to me which it is?

    David L encouraged this.

    20131126112258-adrian

    @syko there are quite a few different protocols, linked at the top of the article: Intermittent Fasting Intermittent Fasting Generally a 12 hour fast is too short to be effective for most people, which one you use will also depend on the rest of your training and your lifestyle, and which one fits best. Leangains is the most popular method, check out the Tribe for it on site.

    David L and Sean K encouraged this.

    20131128052557-carbajosa

    Very interesting article! This is very new to me cause I used to rely only on cardio and stuffs to lose weight which takes a very long time to produce some good results so I will be committing myself to this starting tomorrow. ;) (I actually haven't tried any diet 'cause I friggin love to eat. LOL)

    encouraged this.

    20131126112258-adrian

    Good luck Don, stick to it and you should see some great results.

    David L encouraged this.

    20121214194909-alexcole

    Thanks for the useful replies, Adrian. I did a little reading on Andys site last night and I do like the idea of having all your calories in a ten hour window. I'm basically doing that now not knowing about the program, I'll try to make that part of my routine. Counting the macronutrients would take some getting used to. Right now I count calories but Andy makes a good point (somewhere) that you lose muscle as well as fat when counting calories. My biggest concern about the program is I don't weight train and am not on a set program like Andy mentions (three days a week). I basically do cardio and minor strength training with a resistance band. Would this program be less effective for someone who does a light workout five days a week as opposed to someone doing an intense workout three days a week?

    David L encouraged this.

    20140614134930-rshaver

    This is interesting as I've heard the good and bad of this. I may have to give it a try.

    David L encouraged this.

    20131126112258-adrian

    @alexcole Strength training is certainly a big component, if I didn't have access to a gym, I'd try and work out a good strength training routine based on bodyweight only or objects you can find outside, it is still possible to progress to difficult moves with only bodyweight. (think gymnastics style levers, one arm pull ups, push ups, squats, explosive jumps etc). Also HIIT is preferable to slow state cardio because of the increased force production in your muscles when sprinting versus plodding down a track.

    20141002095223-teinyw

    Aesthetically speaking..the before photograph looks way more attractive than the after shot to me..the after shot..the word 'rinsed' keeps springing to mind..each to their own I guess..I am a massive fan of breakfast!

    20160603023327-jeconiahm

    " I don't know....a specific diet or nutrition regime WON' T work for everyone. Different elements would be the determining factor ( Body type, Nutritional requirements, level of physical activity, etc. ) Heavy Breakfast, Moderate Lunch & Light Dinner,seemed to be the general rule of thumb for most people. There's a reason its called BREAK-FAST......just saying! "

    Alex C encouraged this.

    Male

    Quite disappointed to see a nutritionist advocating meal skipping. While fasting does serve a dietary purpose, meal skipping is kind of the "two steps back" after one step forward. As trainer and diet therapist, i find the worst pat of an article like this here is it can encourage those with little nutrition knowledge and fighting weight problems to take the starvation approach rather than learning proper and balanced dietary habits. The only proper information I see here is a small emphasise on paying attention to nutrition and macro nutrient intake.

    20131128023755-ronw1

    @adrian A sedentary lifestyle was mainly to blame, but I was also someone who only ate around 2200 calories a day and was extremely overweight. That started to change when I was put on a habitual eating schedule, and then took off when I later chose to be vegan, eating a mainly raw whole foods diet. That was without exercise. Skipping breakfast,is a trick along the lines of drinking a pint of water before each meal, and in a lot of cases can be detrimental to good health and fueling your body. Learning to properly fuel your body with healthy food as it needs it will take you much further in the long run than skipping a meal in the short run.

    20140811112945-cags

    The principles being advocated here are all about giving yourself a window for feeding - this could be between 8am and 4pm thus making dinner earlier, you can still eat 3 meals, just with a longer fasting period surely?

    Adrian K and Alex C encouraged this.

    20131126112258-adrian

    @chamdler have you ever tried intermittent fasting? It's certainly not a starvation approach, the meals leave you feeling incredibly full for hours. If anything it teaches discipline and self control

    Helene C encouraged this.

    20130914085322-danielw6

    I will have to give this 'eating that alternates between periods of fasting and non-fasting' a try. I have had a weight problem for years now, but a few weeks back a friend told me about an amazing diet program called 'Fat Loss Factor By Dr. Charles', it really changed my life. I would highly recommend healthandfitnessdiets.com to anyone struggling with weight loss.

    Male

    No arguing whether or not it works. As Vlad pointed out they all work for some, so does the Atkins and zero carb diets. They work because they cause imbalance in the nutrition intake, not because they are balanced or healthy.

    20120829225315-stevieglesga

    I'm an IF advocate. Been doing it for about 18 mths and as several have mentioned, it's a useful tool to help regulate a calorie deficit. I've got an article coming up in the Daily Mail coming soon and will post it here.

    Adrian K encouraged this.

    20120808024358-kaimi

    I am totally cool to skip breakfast. I don't always have time to eat it and when I do have time I can use it for something productive instead. Also, it will help me save money! It's true though.. after a couple days without breakfast your body accepts the new eating routine and adjusts nicely without the hunger pangs.

    Cags R and Adrian K encouraged this.

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