Intermittent Fasting – Does It Really Work?

OK, I am going to come clean.  Some years ago I thought breakfast was a cup of bad (read cheap) black coffee, a greasy apple fritter and a cigarette.

Every morning, stop at the local mini-mart, grab and go, eat it in the car at 80 MPH on I80 on my way to work.  No wonder my waistline was expanding!

I mean really …only a couple three hundred calories (easy) about 60% fat (the bad kind of fat), the rest high glycemic carbs.   How could you not get fat on a daily intake of that?

Today, breakfast looks like a grapefruit.  Actually, today breakfast looks like nothing.  Today is a fast day for me.  I started intermittent fasting a couple of months ago.

I fast on Monday and Thursday from the night before until my evening meal that night.  The evening meal is my normal meal…not a 2000 calorie pig fest.  I will drink tea throughout the day, maybe an emergen-c or 2, then a protein and vegetable meal in the evening.  I also do not change my workout schedule on those days.

Why fast?  Fasting is an important component of the paleo diet regime.

Our ancestors often had times of no food.  No food allows my digestive system to rest a bit and re-set itself.  Since I eat little to no refined food, grains and other inflammatory foods (more on this next week) when I fast I do not crave sugars and other foods.  Fasting also serves as a tool in weight management.  I will lose 2 to 4 pounds over the 24 hours of fasting, some of it is water granted (most of the real food you eat is water), but my energy levels actually remain high and my mental acuity is easier to manage.  A caveat…if I have been eating not so clean (like on Monday after some weekend indulgences) I will be irritable when I fast and crave sugar as well.

So…no nutrition is an important part of your nutrition program.  I know this is heresy to many people on the 6 meal a day program, never allowing your body to not have fuel to burn.  I have been there on that plan too by the way.  I get it and it works to a certain degree.

Remember the mantra…Move More Eat Less.  Fasting is part of the mantra.  Eating the right foods in a conscious way, with an attitude of gratitude, in the company of people who support and love you is part of the mantra.  Walking after you eat with the same people is part of the mantra.

Next week, Eat this not that!!!

Namaste

- John

- You can get more info from John at his own website, or follow him on Twitter and read his blogs (Feel Good Friday and Sunday Stories)

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John Mariotti

A 53 year old martial artists and fitness and nutrition nut out to teach focus and inspire transformation.You can follow me on Twitter or get more info from me at my website.
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11 Comments

  • avatar

    John,

    Great post. I am a big fan of the paleo/evolutionary style of eating. I am just starting to take the first big steps toward actually fasting and this writing came at the right time for me. Past attempts at fasting for more than 12 hours have left me irritable and cranky ( not a good way to be as a personal trainer.) I am ready now and will check out your web site for more info
    Thanks
    JIM HART
    http://www.hartbody.com

    • avatar

      hi all, i have just started the 31 day program. actually its a 43 day program (at least) for me as i am hugely overweight and have had to start with the 2 week warm up.
      my ‘attitude to food’ is appaling , i know, and i want to change that. where do you guys get the will power to avoid the bad stuff.? i am determined to do it right but know it will be hard going.
      i did the 1st day of the 2 week warm up yesterday & my legs are falling off. yes, i am THAT much out of shape. discraceful i know, but there it is.
      i am hoping to pick up your food ideas from here, some of it needs a bit of a twist as not all USA foods are the same as here in the UK.
      well done all of you who are succeeding with this. & Vic, top man, your instructional videos are amazingly clear & simple to follow. even for fatties like me.

      Russell.

  • avatar

    Hi John and Vic,

    I too have practiced ESE style fasting for about 2 years now and I just love it! It has helped me reach my ideal goal weight and maintain it for the long run. Today, I’m trying a new way of fasting where I only eat between 12-6 pm for 5 days and eat all day for 2 days. It is working great for me as well.

    Thanks for the post and for spreading the word about intermittent fasting/feeding.

    Anna

  • avatar

    I do the same kind of I.F. a couple days a week. Sometimes more. I dont crave sugar even if I had a binge the day before. I dont feel hungry either. But I do find that my digestive system slows down for a few days to the point of constipation. But then I do have a sluggish digestive system at the best of times.

    Therefore, I’m not sure if it ‘rests’ it to the point of laziness? Hmmm!

    But I do find that if you eat less, you need less! I guess this has to do with sugars and insulin production. IE if you’re not eating anything, then you’re not producing any insulin, which is why most people crave.

    I think? ha!

    Tusc :)

  • avatar

    @tusc: yeah, I do find that happens sometimes. I feel that you should try eating a clean, fibre-rich meal to kick off your fast. For me, it’s a dinner of wild rice, vegetables and chicken followed by 2 fruits – a 600-800 calorie meal. It does help to kick out constipation during the fast.

    @Anna: that’s the way I’m doing things now! Weekdays are always a mad rush, so I fit in a bodyweight workout in a fasted state in the mornings. On weekends, I just eat 3 moderate meals a day. As long as a moderate calorie deficit is maintained over the week, it should be fine. I confess, I haven’t been fasting for 24h as I can’t take the hunger for long!

    Everyone, it’d be much appreciated if you guys could share how you manage hunger pangs during the fast. For me, it’s usually deep breaths, loads of water, keeping myself preoccupied and avoiding the smell of food!

    • avatar

      @Clement, Be sure to eat enough fat, if you fast regularly you should be burning fat and that keeps hunger at bay for a long time. Keep the carbs down and give up the processed rubbish and grains. I fast most days, ie I only eat one meal every 24 hours and have fasted for 48 hours with no more hunger, if fact a bit less. I find I don’t feel any hunger pangs until about 5:30pm and usually plenty of water does the trick. Keep at it, it’s well worth it.

  • avatar

    Hmmm! I dont feel that hungry just eating the one meal per day. I’m sure that would be a lot different if it were 24hours as you say.

    However, I think water with a squeeze of lemon juice is good for cravings?

    The main thing is to keep busy and not think about it ;)

    Tusc :)

    PS Vic – can’t you adjust your blog so that we have an option of follow up comments to be deliverd by email? I dont always think to pop back and read comments so it would be handy. Ta! :)

  • avatar

    Sweet. Huge fan of I.F. What I do is fast basically all day on Thursday and then have a cup of cottage cheese before bed because for the life of me I cannot fall asleep on an empty stomach. Lots of water throughout the day. My usual regimen of coffee too ;)

    Anyways, thanks for bringing I.F. to everyone’s attention Vic! I hope future fasters enjoy it as much as I do :)

    Dary

  • avatar

    I am also a big fan of IF. It seemed to really help me lose the last stubborn pounds and now it’s just kind of second nature. I mostly practice it on weekdays. Great article!

  • avatar

    I do best when I do Intermittent Fasting the way Brad Pilon (Eat Stop Eat) recommends…

    Fast until dinner 2 times per week, but only eat a medium size dinner. Not a day’s worth of calories like the Warior Diet.

    What happens is that these are 2 really low-cal days. It creates a weekly calorie deficit and allows you to drop body fat week-to-week…as long as you don’t pig out too hard the other 5 days per week.

    I’ve managed to get to 6% body fat doing Intermittent Fasting like this…but not by doing it the Warrior Diet style.

    -George D

  • avatar

    Started my first day of Eat-Stop-Eat yesterday.
    Whilst difficult, I’m hearing so many great things about ‘fasting’ that ill be keeping it up for at least 2 months to gauge the results.

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