Ready for it? It’s called intermittent fasting and I believe it’s the tactic that has helped me lose the most weight.
What exactly is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is simply not eating for a period of time over the course of a day. The most popular form of intermittent fasting (and the form of fasting I prescribe to) is pretty simple. I don’t eat for about 16 hours a day (that includes sleeping – thank goodness) and eating for 8 hours a day.
I have found that intermittent fasting is the single most important thing I do to lose weight (and keep weight off). It’s easy and it works. I’m now at the lowest body fat percentage I have ever been at, mostly to intermittent fasting. Study after study shows that it works.
It works for a couple reasons:
- It’s easy to stick to.
- It increases insulin sensitivity. Helps you lose weight.
- Fasting increases catecholamines and growth hormone – both help you lose fat and keep muscle.
- Realistically, it also cuts down on your chances to make a dieting mistake – and breakfast is full of potential plan-killers: muffins, croissants, gross fast food options and sugary drinks.
What does a “typical” day look like with intermittent fasting?
Since no day ever seems to be typical, here’s what an ideal day would look like:
- Last meal of the day around 8 p.m. the night before.
- You go to sleep, as usual.
- When you wake up, you don’t have breakfast. (I’ll talk more about a couple things you can have.)
- If you are working out, you consume some BCAA’s before working out. Make sure to work out on an empty stomach. For people that are trying to lose weight fast, I don’t recommend working out. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but I’ve devoted a whole blog to this why you need to stop working out to lose weight.
- The next time you eat is around noon or 1 pm. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day.
- You eat as much as you want (I’ll talk more about WHAT you should eat) until 8 p.m. For some people, this is three whole meals, for others, it is simply two.
What to eat?
This won’t be easy at the start. However, after a couple days, you will wonder why you even ever needed breakfast if you’re doing it right. Here’s what to eat:
- You can drink non-calorie drinks during your fasting period. This means Diet Coke, Crystal Light, water, etc.
- For breakfast, I recommend that you drink some coffee. I have a recipe I’ll share in another post. Caffeine is a great thermogenic (speeding up your metabolism).
- The first meal of the day should be the biggest of the day. Eat as much fat (yes, fat) and protein as you possibly can. If you’re eating fat and protein, calories don’t count.
- Eat veggies, avoid eating too much fruit (not that fruit is bad – it’s more of a gateway food to other sweet, terrible foods).
- If you need to eat some carbs, go ahead – but make them potato-based (french-fries are great), instead of grain-based. Gluten does all sorts of gross things to your intestinal track.
- Taper down your meals through the day. Lunch should be biggest, dinner smallest.
- Don’t eat any carbs in your last meal.
- Drink lots of water throughout the day. This will help you feel “full.” It will also help flush out your body.
- Drink caffeine (non-calorie, of course). It’s a stimulant (helps burn fat) and also an incredible appetite suppressant.
That’s it. You will literally see the fat start to melt away after a couple of days.
What kind of food do I eat?
- I love Mexican food. No rice, extra beans (and no chips). Try some Carne Asada with spicy salsa.
- I eat a lot of Sushi (I’ll cheat and have a little rice with the Sushi or just eat Sashimi).
- Pei Wei is great – once again, no rice, extra veggies. In general, Asian food is amazing for this plan.
- Huge hamburgers without a bun.
- Barbecue Brisket with tons of beans.
- Salads (this comes and goes depending on my mood).
- Steaks (grass fed when possible)
- I’ve recently got into buying lot of cold cuts (mostly Pastrami and Turkey) with melted cheese on top.
- I also eat a lot of chicken with (as sugar free as possible) honey mustard. You can also take chicken and toss it in buffalo sauce.
What to avoid:
- Anything white.
- Any bread.
- More than two servings of fruit a day.
- Any beverage with calories (your fancy Starbucks drinks are loaded with calories).
- Any candy (it adds up quick).
I still take a cheat day, to make sure that I can eventually eat whatever I want in the period of a week and it makes all the difference.
I am probably guilty of not eating enough vegetables. To help with this, I drink this vegetable powder supplement that works wonders.
The Daily Apple has a great 7 part series on fasting if you want a deep dive. I’ll be talking more about intermittent weight loss of the next couple of weeks. Let me know if you have any questions.
I first heard about intermittent fasting from Leangains author Martin Berkhan. His website has a lot of great information, but it’s mostly focused on weight lifting.