Episode 8- How To Use Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss
Join myself and my personal mentor Graeme Thomas as we chat about how to use intermittent fasting specifically for weight loss! We’ve used intermittent fasting with figure competitors, endurance athletes, medical professionals and every day parents and in this episode we’re sharing our tips with you.
Learn what you can (and shouldn’t) consume while intermittent fasting, how long fasts should be and the differences between males and females in terms of fasting and weight loss results.
Get all your questions answered and find out if intermittent fasting is for you (and how to rock it if it is!) in this episode. Plus, hear more about my own personal experience with fasting and the tricks I’ve learned along the way.
- Graeme’s Introduction (2:18)
- How Graeme Started With Intermittent Fasting (3:28)
- Graeme’s Initial Experience With Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss (6:44)
- My Personal Experience With Intermittent Fasting (9:27)
- The Nature Of The Fitness Industry & Fad Diets (10:33)
- Intermittent Fasting Benefits & Basic Approaches (12:41)
- The Social Aspects Of Eating
- Physiological Aspects Of Fasting (16:10)
- Controlling Calories (17:55)
- The Rules Of Intermittent Fasting (18:53)
- What Liquids Can You Have While Using Intermittent Fasting? (20:18)
- How Long Should You Fast (26:41)
- Duration Of A Fast In Terms Of Calories (28:06)
- How Long Do You Need To Commit To Intermittent Fasting For It To Work?
- Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss
- A Note On Superfoods
- What Time Of Day To Fast (32:03)
- What To Eat Post-Fast
- Daily Fasts Versus Long Fasts (34:56)
- When NOT To Use Intermittent Fasting (36:27)
- Intermittent Fasting & Female Hormones (37:24)
- Fasting & Food Temptation
- Key Elements Of Fasting
- Fasting & Cheat Meals (43:21)
- How To Make Fasting Easy (45:02)
- Timing Your Fasts (46:52)
- How Your First Bout Of Intermittent Fasting Feels (47:38)
- Eat Quality Food After Fasting (51:49)
- Do Not Use Fasting If…
- The 16 Hour Fast (53:09)
- Making Intermittent Fasting Work With Your Lifestyle (54:11)
- How To Overcome “Hangry” (54:46)
- The Final Meal Before A Fast (56:12)
- The Dangers Of Intermittent Fasting (57:05)
- One Last Tip On Intermittent Fasting (59:21)
- My Favorite Part About Intermittent Fasting (1:01:23)
- Controlling Hunger (1:02:30)
- Fasting Works For Some & Not Others (1:04:52)
- Wrap Up (1:05:57)
- Mentioned In the Podcast
- Connect With Graeme
Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss- Transcription
Welcome to the fit as a mama bear podcast. I’m Shelby a certified strength coach, nutrition coach, and all-around health nut. This show’s about a little bit of everything healthy, fit and natural related so if you’re striving to smash bulls, eat better, feel better, and enjoy the occasional mom rant. This is the place for you. You’re listening into episode eight today where I’ll be chatting with Graeme Thomas. Graeme has a graduate degree in exercise physiology and sports nutrition from Western university and currently teaches in the fitness and health promotion department at Fanshawe college. He was also my very own personal mentor.
Hello everyone. Today’s episode is a fun one and one that was truthfully requested. So, today we are learning all about intermittent fasting, which seems to be the latest health craze and for once it’s one I actually like. So, joining here, joining me here today is Graeme Thomas. Graeme is currently working at a local college as professor in the health and fitness industry, I think fitness and health promotion, right Graeme?
Yes, that’s correct.
Beautiful. I’ve known Graeme for about eight years now, which is a little alarming. And if you listen into episode six where I talked about my own personal twisted insane fitness journey, you might’ve figured out that Graeme was my initial mentor. So, Graeme coached, everyone from high level athletes, everyday builders, he has a graduate degree in exercise physiology and sports nutrition. And as I mentioned, is currently teaching here at Fanshawe college in my hometown.
So, Graeme is also the reason that I ended up coaching figure competitors, which was a whole insane, wild situation. And he’s the one who convinced me to get certified as a strength coach, which opened up a whole new realm of training to me at the time. Even more so, he’s the one who got me into intermittent fasting all those years ago, which is a technique I still use today with myself and my more intense clients.
Really, I’ve been using fasting for roughly eight years. I still enjoy it. I use it differently depending on what my goals are at the time. Sometimes it’s weight loss or health related, but I still rock some type of fast every single week, most weeks it’s just two to three 12 hour-fasts, which are super simple. But I do like to throw in a good 16 hour one every so often. But I guess we’ll get into all those details. So, Graeme, why don’t you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Sure. Shelby. I’ve been in fitness going on almost 15 years now, so has it been awhile. I’m kind of on the more kind of personalized coaching side, high level probably about 12 years on that side. You mentioned the women’s row program, the OHL, and then a whole host of figure and bodybuilders, it seems like in the last 10 years or so.
The vast majority of my private clients are either physique athletes or marathon triathlete types. Kind of those two extremes, which on the surface seem has nothing in common. But then when you really dive down and you realized for those individuals, the nutrition side, super critical for their long-term outcome of how successful they’re going to be in their sport. Whereas team sports, sometimes it’s a bit more skill and tactics.
So yeah, so that’s kind of where I’ve been on the athletes side as you mentioned. And also, I still have done a fair bit of work with the everyday client who’s looking for, you know, let’s be honest, quite more often than not it is weight loss. When people come to see you for the first time. So yeah, that’s kind of where I’ve been for the past 10 years and then the last five years, a little less private coaching. And now I am teaching at Fanshawe college. So that’s my, my day job, so to speak right now.
And how did you get into intermittent fasting? How’d you learn about it and how did you know that you wanted to use it in your coaching practice?
Really, you know, think back, like you said, we met about eight years ago and that was before fasting was really kind of more popular and more mainstream. There were a few people at the time, I’m writing about it, looking at it. So, Brad Pilon was one, a Martin Berkhan’s from lean gains was maybe kind of the one who was most influential in driving the success forward.
But there’s other people who’d, released books over the past 20 years or so. The warrior diet was one which is leveraged a lot of intermittent fasting themes. So, it was out there at the time, in fitness, but it really wasn’t particularly popular at that time.
If you think back almost 10 years ago, it still was; you need to eat six times a day, you’ve got to do this. You’re going to go into starvation mode if you go more than three hours without eating. So that was the prevailing wisdom at the time.
And I think those were all things I ranted at, at the time.
Yeah. And it, it works for some people. And then I guess, my personal interest in intermittent fasting, really stemmed from some of the, the animal research and literature that I was reading. The early stuff on fasting when it was done in rats and fruit flies.
You see all these kinds of phenomenal health changes. So, extension of life, less chronic disease. And so obviously this lower life forms, you can’t fully project out. This is going to be how it works in humans. But when you see some suggestive things like that in an animal model, It’s kind of like, well, maybe where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
I’m still stuck on the fact that they used fruit flies.
Yeah, we start right? Like no one gets too worked up if you kill a bunch of fruit flies and your research.
So often when you’re using bugs to start, it’s pretty nonthreatening and then you move it up to rodents cause people still aren’t too crazy. If a rodent dies, you know, for the problem of science, it’s when you start getting into these bigger life forms, you know like monkeys where people really have a lot of pushback, but it had been done.
So, there was research on all different kinds of animals at the time. And the vast majority of those research studies that come out are showing positive health changes.
And then as I said, there was some fitness writers who’d kind of experimented with it and were showing some kind of interesting results in the human model.
There was a bit, a little bit of work coming out of a researcher in Chicago at the time. And she was using alternate day fasting. Basically, what that was, was someone would eat a normal number of calories one day and then the next day they’d eat about 25% of their typical calories.
So, calorie cycling.
Yeah, calorie cycling kind of in a very dramatic form of calorie cycling. Also, kind of interesting, she’d shown, and this was kind of with a more overweight obese population and she was showing some pretty aggressive results.
You know, in the span of like a month, people are losing 20 pounds and that kind of stuff. And so, you know, again, when you see all these things kind of emerge, you have to kind of have an open mind at that point.
You say that, well, although thrilling wisdom is you need to eat, you know, five, six times a day, every few hours to make sure your metabolism stays revving, whatever that meant at the time.
So, I experimented it. And at that time, I was always under the mindset as a coach, you know, be willing to put yourself through whatever you’re gonna ask your clients to do better. Describe it that way. I’m gonna describe it and if it’s miserable and you understand it.
Maybe you decided, “Hey, this isn’t actually something I should be telling other people because it really is uncomfortable or it’s risky”.
So, I used myself as a Guinea pig. And at the time, my, my girlfriend, who’s now my wife, so she was prepping for a figure show. And we did it together. It was kind of, you know, cool couples thing.
And originally, I was just like; we’re going to do it for a few weeks here just to try it, to see how it works and then we’ll switch back into a more conventional kind of prep mode.
And it worked so well for her and for both of us when we were doing it.
But then I started then expanding it out to, to others I know, and we chatted about it quite a bit when we were working together. And people noticed, they said “it worked really nicely for you”. So, I experimented it with a number of my other clients at the time.
And again, some were just regular weight loss clients, some were figure competitors, some were insurance athletes. And so, you know, some hits, some misses. But kind of the more you see it in front of you, done by real people, you start to develop kind of pros and cons and kind of how you might need to adjust it depending on the client.
So, long story short, I just tried it to kind of take my clients off of a plateau and then for certain people it worked so phenomenally well, like better than anything I’d seen.
Then I was like, well, why would you stop, right if this clearly is working for you, and you can stick with it, keep going. Now, it’s not for everyone and I’ll be the first one to admit it. But there are I think a lot of positives with a fasting approach.
And so definitely for people kind of who have, and this is kind of maybe the biggest caveat, you need to have some understanding about nutrition and how your body nutrition practice
So, if you’re someone who’s pretty health conscious and have an understanding of how your body responds to food and exercise and you know what a vegetable is and it’s not the first time you’re trying to, incorporate more vegetables, more protein, all that kind of stuff in your diet.
But if you’ve already done a lot of those things and maybe you’re still find that you’re, you’re stuck, or you think your results should be a bit faster, Fasting is definitely something that I found for those type of clients can kind of push them maybe through a plateau or give them just an alternate approach to dieting and you know, weight management that for some people just, it makes it so much simpler for them.
It definitely made it easier for me. So, I think I started, I started with one 16 hour fast a week and I did play around with times, but the reason I started fasting was just I was fairly small, but I could have pushed further.
And it just, I was stuck at one stupid body fat percentage and it was driving me bananas. And you recommended just trying to fast. And I think the first fast I hated you.
Yeah, it’s generally the response you get.
How you feel on your first fast gets a little bit sticky. It’s a little bit uncomfortable and you have to kind of go in knowing that. But it was one of those things that just kicked up results really, really easily. I leaned out really easily and then I started kind of using it just with, like I said, more advanced clients who already had a very basic understanding of where they were at.
And it does just kind of help bust through plateaus when you’re there. And that’s just from a body comp perspective, not even a, an actual health one. So, I ended, I ended up loving it and I find it funny that now 10 years later it’s the new thing.
Yeah, no it is. And it’s just kind of the nature of fitness and nutrition. There are really no new ideas when it comes down to it. Fasting has kind of been the rage. It’s maybe dying off a little bit in terms of popularity, just because keto seems to be the big thing right now, but keto has come and gone probably five times in my lifetime.
And you know, I’m not that old yet. So, you know, every five to 10 years it seems like something new pops up. And that’s just kind of the nature of the beast. So definitely fasting was a big thing for a little bit, but when you really go back over human history, you know, people fasted.
Quite a bit actually. Especially in religion.
Religion It’s a big thing. And even to this day, Ramadan, right? Muslims will fast for a month essentially at a time eight, six meals a day for sure.
And so, when you see like all that kind of evidence from the fact that religious people, you know, different religions have different lengths of fast that they follow. And even when you think through evolution, this idea of being a regular meat eater is really over the last couple hundred years, with the advent of better food delivery, agriculture and refrigeration access, right?
So, before you had ways to stabilize foods and keep them cold throughout the year, it really wouldn’t have been something where it would have been able to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner necessarily every day with multiple snacks.
That’s relatively new. And I mean the human timeline when you look at it. So, it’s not that it’s wrong, it’s just, but when you think about all these things and then when people initially were so anti fasting, it’s, wait a minute. Humans actually been doing this for millions of years. So, let’s investigate kind of pros and cons.
The big thing is, again, there’s no magic pill. There’s no magic potion. There’s no one perfect approach, but you can never just kind of dismiss an approach entirely without kind of investigating pros and cons. And I’m really trying to understand who is this good for.
And I think kind of that some of the stuff, both you and I with our clients and ourselves, we still kind of tweak and adjust and try to figure out cause yeah, it’s not gonna work for everyone.
It’s trial and error. Definitely. So, for those of you just getting into fastening or kind of looking at what fasting is, let’s give a brief overview of what it is and kind of why the hell someone would want to be without food for a, for a long time specifically it just, what are the physiological benefits, um, that for your system to not eat?
Yeah. I guess in the simplest form, whenever we eat, eating is still a form of stress, right? And it takes work. So, when we eat food, we do need to break it down. Different people have different reactions to food and so we can look at on the extreme end, a food allergy.
And so that’s not super common when we talk allergies, but there’s probably a lot more low-grade intolerances. So, a lot of people might be intolerant to dairy. Meaning, if you have small amounts, that’s fine. But if you sat down and drank, you know, two liters of milk or a two liters of ice cream, your stomach would be turning around and not, so that’s one that’s pretty common.
So, don’t do that.
Other people may be intolerant to red meat. Some people are intolerant to nuts, shellfish, you know, things like that. So, it could be an alga, could be an intolerance off analogies, a little bit more to the protein content in the food that intolerance seems to be maybe more on the sugar side.
Just a generalization, but that’s just kind of, you know, simple rules of thumb to remember. So, when you realize that, you know, we don’t always choose foods strictly for, um, purpose and the fueling, you know, food is fuel.
That mantra, which was big in fitness for a while and it was like “your body is a car, or whatever people used to say, and you need to fuel it with premium fuel”.
Yeah, that’s nice. Whatever it was. Right? It’s fun and it goes nicely on a tee shirt, I guess. But in reality, it’s not why most humans eat, right? We eat for pleasure; we eat for comfort.
We eat because we’re bored. We eat because we’re tired. We for social reasons. So really when we look at kind of why people choose the foods that they do, and kind of, we don’t always choose foods that necessarily agree with us.
So, in the simplest form, not eating decreases some of that food related stress that sometimes we put ourselves under. And you know, when someone’s trying to gain weight, they’re deliberately themselves. So, and you see this a lot more with athletes where, high performance sport is not healthy.
You know, I’m going to throw it out there, right? So, playing football, it’s not good for your body. Throwing a baseball at a hundred miles an hour is not healthy. Running for 26 miles in a single go, not healthy. It’s cool from a performance side and physiologically, it’s super interesting to see what happens. But no one would confuse those with health practices.
So same thing with eating certain foods. Although things like Gatorade as an example, is awesome. If you’re running a marathon and it will make you run faster, sipping tons of simple sugar is not something we never confuse with health practice of eating 300 grams of protein in a day.
It will probably do interesting things to your body composition to really help you, put on lean mass the leaner than you might want to. But from a pure long-term health perspective it may not be ideal really.
When you boil down to it, I mean, your body has to work really hard to break that down. So periodically removing food is probably the simplest, just a way of decreasing stress. And what happens sometimes during these extended periods where our body has to, you know, find other ways to get fuel because we’re not giving it in the form of a meal.
Different mechanisms within the body kind of upregulate. We have tons of stored energy available to us. You know, we wouldn’t have been able to survive for 2 million years without it because again, up until a few hundred years ago, there was long periods where we would have gone with little to no calories.
So, there’s periods of famine and there’s periods of droughts. Again, before we had really good means of storing food for long periods. So, the body fat that we carry around is designed to keep us through these lean periods of the year where food is not very plentiful.
So, our bodies can do it. And one thing when we remove constant food, it just kind of maybe reminds your body how it was always supposed to work. It was the logical mechanisms that will upregulate when you remove food.
And some of that, what we might also see during these periods where our body has to duck into stored body fat, at least in the animal model, seems to be this way. Things like cancer cells may be kind of get destroyed a little bit more readily, when there’s not constant access to calories.
Again, I’m not saying it works a hundred percent this way in humans, but from the animal side of things, it seems to be that, um, they’re a little bit more effective with getting rid of, you know, ineffective tissues and cells during periods where you go without food.
So, and that’s the smoke aspect, you know, we’re not sure exactly if that’s going, how it’s going to work with humans. Again, it’s suggestive enough that probably it’s worth people trying, just kind of decreasing the amount of food, just stuff in your face.
And I think just from a very basic level, it gives your time, gives your body time to just recover and heal from having to digest something every minute of the day. Like it just kind of does a nice little reset.
There’s definitely the reset. And I think another benefit is we’re not very good at judging portion sizes. There are the clients who, you know, will measure and weigh everything. We call those people anal retentive a little bit, but in reality, they are far more accurate with understanding or controlling how much they eat.
So, if a client’s willing to do that, then yeah, that can be an approach that works for them. In terms of managing calories, I’m just making sure that they know exactly, you know, how many hundred grams of this or that that they’re eating.
The average person, the eyeball things, you know, it’s pretty easy to kind of let things slide and be like oh that’s a cup. And you’re like, well, that’s actually not a cup of rice. That’s a cup and a half or two cups.
So, if every single time we’re off just a little bit, you know, it’s really easy to eat another three to 500 calories more in a day than we thought potentially were, which comes into play. If your goals are weight loss specific to those three to 500 calories add up a lot over the week.
It definitely will. So maybe the other one of the simple benefits is when you tell someone to eat nothing. The rules are, and that’s, I’ve always said the rules of the easiest diet to ever understand, right.
One of the big problems when you think about dieting when were to emerge in 60 seventies, eighties, so much of this was, um, numbers based, you know, you need, and percentages was the big thing for the longest time. So, you know, different diets, you know, zone being an easy one, 40, 30, 30 or you need to have 55% of your diet is carbohydrate and 15% is protein and whatever.
So, you know, you do the math and you’re like, okay, well theoretically this works. But that’s not how we think when we approach food. Like, you know, what’s the percentage breakdown of slice of pizza?
Or even when you walk to your fridge and look in it? Percentages are not what I’m thinking when I’m staring in there.
And most people aren’t, right? So, giving people that solve education where you’re saying, well, 40% of your diet needs to be carbohydrate. You’re like, uh, sure. On paper. That makes sense.
But it doesn’t actually, give people usable kind of coaching. Unless they’re, again, super anal and want to do all the math themselves, which that’s maybe a fraction of a percent of all clients ever kind of find that approach enjoyable. So, when you just say, you know, don’t eat for X period or starting at noon, started eating at two in the afternoon starting in six, well then, it’s just, it’s, yes, no. Did you eat something before that?
Then you’re not following the plan.
So that leads us into a question actually that I got on Twitter that I, it’s funny because we were talking about rules, but people want to know what they can have while they fast. I know it’s a funny question. A couple of them were valid, so water, coffee, juice within their bone broth or BCAAs.
So, I’ve always just had water, coffee and green tea. I find coffee and green tea kind of help you help fill you up, so you don’t notice the hunger to, there are a great thing when you’re starting too fast because you have something to do because sometimes it’s just an oral fixation type thing. So, I’ve always rocked with just those three. What’s your thoughts ad no, you can not have juice on them.
Yeah. Well the problem is several celebrities have popularized juice fast as a concept, which is different than intermittent fasting. Oh yeah.
So, for the purpose of this podcast, and when we speak about this podcast, I would not advocate juice fasting as an approach.
What about bone broth or BCAA?
Again, to be fully honest, the way fasting works, it’s a form of calorie control and that’s the same for every single diet. You know, really when you look at kind of diets that are going to be successful it’s gonna be something that allows people to control their calorie intake, in a way that’s easy enough for them to replicate time after time. And we said, you know, those numbers-oriented approach.
That works for some clients, but not for most because they don’t think mathematically every time, they put a piece of food into their mouth. Now, if that’s you who loves numbers like that continue. Because I’ve had clients who that does work for, it’s just a small percentage. You know, other diets might remove an entire macronutrient. Keto as an example where you were talking about that, right?
So, no carbohydrates or very low carbohydrate. So, what that’s allowing people to do is to control calories in North America. Let’s be honest, we do have a lot of really tasty, highly refined carbohydrates that people tend to over consume. If you’re saying don’t eat cereals, breads and the cereals people are choosing or not the, the all brand tastes like cardboard.
Like people aren’t overeating that bran cereal right there or reading frosted flakes. They’re over reading the junky crap. So, if you say, okay, don’t eat any cereal or don’t eat any breads or anything like that.
For a lot of people that’s previously what they were getting a lot of their calories from. So, if they stop eating that, all of a sudden, sure weight’s gonna come off. Veganism. For example, if you’re going the other end of the spectrum don’t eat any meat.
Well, yeah, meat comes along with, you know, calories, you know, sporadically fattier cuts of meat. So, if you’re saying, I’m not gonna eat any meat, it’s a form of calorie control and inner fast fastens the same.
If you’re removing meals out of the day, so if you were formally someone who ate, you know, five or six meals a day, and let’s say they’re each 400 calories, five meals of four hundred you’re eating 2000 calories previously.
If you cut two of those meals out, because now you’re not eating breakfast at seven o’clock and snack at 10, whatever. So, let’s say you start eating at one o’clock. Well, if each of your meals furiously was 400 calories, well now you’ve removed 800 calories that day, right?
And if someone does that once or twice a week. Well, you can see why weight’s gonna fall off over time.
If you know that normally your body’s accustomed to 2000, you dial it down to 1200 on a day, within a couple weeks do the math. So, like that’s the biggest thing now in terms of what you can consume. Water is calorie-free so go ahead and drink as much water as you can.
The reason why coffee and tea probably works so well for people is that there’s a little bit of caffeine in there and caffeine can assist with fat loss. And for some people it will blunt appetite a little bit. So that will be helpful. And again, like you said, it’s that oral fixation, it’s just a ritual we have in North America.
Hey, let’s go for coffee. Right? So many things about our Workday, about our social lives revolve around eating and consuming. If you allow people to continue at least consuming a coffee or a tea with, you know, their, their work colleagues, their friends, they don’t feel as though hey, I’m being such a weirdo and I have to hide my basement, just to have to fast or anything like that.
Coffee & BCAA (24:34)
Going back though into coffee. If you’re looking at it from a weight loss perspective, please do not add a bunch of sugar or you know, rock bulletproof coffee.
No, no. We’re talking about coffee with a splash of maybe milk or cream or something like that.
We’re not talking about a Frappuccino, which is, you know, Bulletproof coffee in another fashion.
So, coffee and tea were always something that I allowed clients to have. In terms of bone broth or BCAA’s, if that’s something that you enjoy doing, it’s not going to derail a fast.
And that’s the big thing for most people having a little bit of calories, in liquid form. If it’s not cranking your hunger up higher and making you kind of count down the seconds until this fast ends, then and do it. If some people just need something, go ahead.
But it doesn’t make the fast any better, if that’s people’s question. Is bone broth or BCAA’s necessary? No. Is it gonna make the fasting any better? Not really. Unless, you know, it’s something that you enjoy doing. And again, the calorie content of BCAA based drink or bone broth is quite low.
It’s not going to force your digestive apparatus to kick into overdrive and kind of really work to break down a lot of those nutrients, which is kind of what we’re trying to accomplish in a fast.
So now those would all be fine. The reason why I don’t like juice, since we talked about it briefly it’s going to be a fairly concentrated source of sugar.
So, you’re going to get this big blood glucose spike. And then it’s glucose levels that triggers a hunger for some people. Not for everyone, but some people for sure. If you’re spiking sugar because you’re sucking back a lot of juice and then it’s crashing, it’s just gonna make it really difficult to stay in your fast for a long period time. You can be really hungry,
Potentially like tired or irritable. So, if you’re finding that kind of sweet and blood sugar is kind of making you know, your life miserable, um, then yeah, definitely juices, not one that helps most people in a fast
Noted. Now when it comes to the length of fast. Is there a specific duration people have to fast in order to see results? Either weight loss or health wise?
No. We have to appreciate the body, we go through periods of fasting every day, right when you’re asleep. For example, like if your last meal at 7:00 PM and then you eat breakfast at 7:00 AM the next day, you’re in a fasted period for close to 12 hours there.
Now sure there’s some people wake up in middle of the night to slam a casein, hardcore bodybuilders or something like that.
Or if you’re breastfeeding too because you get really ramped up hunger wise.
It happens. Shift workers who eat at weird times. But the reality is our bodies are accustomed to going on multiple hours without eating.
We also do it when sometimes we just forget like on a weekend sometimes get busy, right? You get up and you’ve got tons of things on the go. So, you miss a meal and it’s not like you suddenly die to the world. People get sick and sometimes say, I’m just not hungry right now and that’s fine. Right?
Our bodies know how to go for more than three hours, six hours, 12 hours without food. But if you’re talking about kind of how long you have to fast to see weight loss and it does come back to how many calories are you removing?
If you are normally someone who eats breakfast at seven o’clock and then you decide, okay, I’m going to skip breakfast a few days a week and go until 10 o’clock before I eat my first meal.
And let’s say your breakfast is 400 calories. Again, if you’re just removing 400 calories at a time your weight loss will be slower than if someone kind of does a 16 hour fast where they now remove 1200 calories or 1600 calories.
So, there’s not a magic number. If people do want to see weight loss, I’d advocate probably going a little longer than just skipping breakfast a couple times a week. It’s going to be pretty slow going. But the key thing to remember is you do need to start slow.
And for most people, they’re not going to have great success jumping straight into a 24 hour or 36 hour fast the first time they do it. It’s really tough. Like you said, the first time you went through, I get it 100%. We’re so accustomed to eating regularly that our hunger cues are set on whatever that pattern is.
So, kind of breaking that habit: I tell most clients, you know, go through it three times, three cycles. Maybe that’s three weeks for the average person or fasting one day a week just to try it.
Give it three weeks. And this is for most diet change, try it for three weeks. You can’t evaluate something in the first week. Often things get worse before they get better.
And your body learning to tap into a different fuel source or a different kind of meal frequency or whatever it is. And then, if after three weeks to a month, you’re still really struggling with it, it may not be the right approach for you. But don’t base it on the first time you try something because often it’s hard. It’s like a new exercise the first time you try to squat, you probably suck at it.
Give it a few weeks to practice and then see if your body becomes more used to what you’re asking it to do.
I think it depends too on what the purpose of your fast is.
So again, if you’re fasting for weight loss, I’m always a fan of trying it and seeing what you can get away with. Basically, the littlest effort possible and see what it works and then bumping up if you need to.
But I wouldn’t start out by doing one or two 24 hour fasts randomly because you think that’s the way you have to go.
So, I always recommend just try mini fast first, see how they go and then up the duration or days depending on kind of how your results play out because the last thing you want to do is just stop eating for 24 hours, multiple times a week.
I’m just going to stop and break it up quickly here. We’re chatting a lot about the best practices for health and weight management and well, fasting is amazing.
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Yeah, and it sucked. And I think that’s how it was when I first tried it, I was just jumping in at 24 and 36 hours straight. I’m pretty sure. But memory’s a little bit hazy from that time in life
I feel like we were doing 24 to 36 right off the hop and it’s hard for sure. We would have had coffee and BCAs during that period because we didn’t really have a full handle on kind of what the best approach was and there is no best approach let’s be honest after having gone through it a few times and then try with different people.
That’s not the approach I recommend anymore. I think for most people, the best way to start, is to just take breakfast out maybe that morning routine.
Let’s try to get to lunch or just shortly after lunch. So, if you normally eat breakfast around seven o’clock in the morning and then have a morning snack somewhere in there. Now let’s see if you can get to noon, maybe one o’clock, two o’clock in the afternoon before you start eating. Just take that meal or two out.
And for most clients we’re able to do that with little effort, it’s not Herculean effort to say “I’m just gonna skip my breakfast today and I’m going to go to lunch and I’m going to eat what I normally have for lunch and maybe an afternoon snack and then dinner”. And then once you experience it, it’s not too bad. Then, start extending it that way and see how long you can can go before you really start to run into some difficulties.
Sure. One thing I think to note too is when you’re coming off of a big fast, if your goals are weight loss, actually, even health related, that’s not an excuse. I find people struggle with that on their first few fasts as they’ve come up and you have your post-fast meal and it’s great, but it does make you hungrier because you haven’t eaten in a little bit.
And then they’re like, “Oh, I did, I didn’t eat for the last 20 hours, so I’m going to go have this and this and this” And it defeats the entire purpose of what you just did.
It definitely can. And again, like when we first were playing around with this it was like we were back in around cheat meals for the bodybuilding crowd.
So, I’d let people go really high. And it’s not to say it didn’t work because again, on the surface with some of their weight loss results without a body comp change, we’re still able to change.
I think the health side of that equation maybe takes a beating when people are throwing in multiple thousands worth of calories of simple sugars or highly processed fats depending what their, their food choices were.
And then it’s the gastrointestinal distress that comes with that, right? Because you’ve just taken food out for awhile and then maybe you sit down, eat a whole pizza and chicken wings or something like that and then the next day you feel awful like and so on. I’ve seen that.
So again, it’s not that people can’t do that and still lose weight. It’s just kind of, it’s not necessarily the smartest thing to do from a health perspective. This is really going to be a strategy you want to use for long period of time.
So best for people, like you said, is if you have generally good understanding of healthy eating before you start this and then just go with your regular meals and don’t compensate by adding a ton of extra calories in.
And if you can do that, then yeah, if you remove 800 1200 calories in a day and you do that a couple of times a week or over a month, it’s really easy to start seeing the weight come off without kind of having to micromanage everything in the diet.
I know there’s a lot of hype right now over fasting daily, but as you mentioned, you already do fast daily because you don’t eat well, you sleep. So, you are already doing that. If you can just extend times here or there, it makes pretty good results.
So again, the daily fast versus kind of once, twice a week, everyone has a different approach.
Now, you know, if we were just to give your readers or listeners a little bit of guidance, the more aggressive the fast, the less frequent you should do it.The more aggressive the fast, the less frequent you should do it Click To Tweet
So, if you’re someone who wants to go for, you know, a 36 or 48 hour fast, it’s not something I would recommend doing every week. It’s quite aggressive.
Funny story just for shits and giggles. Sorry. Pardon my French. I tried to 48 hour fast a couple of weeks ago. Just to put myself through it. Um, and it was interesting. Not something I would recommend everyone do, but it’s nice to play around with it sometimes just kind of see how you respond.
So, those more aggressive 30, 24, 24 are actually reasonable. It’s kind of middle in terms of how aggressive it is once you start going a full day without any food and then kind of getting the 36-48-hour mark. It starts to become more challenging and you have to evaluate, well, “what else am I doing with my life?”.
So, if you’re someone who’s trying to train really aggressively, going 48 hours or 36 hours without food, that’s going to be tough. If you’re doing something fairly sedentary and say, “I’m not gonna eat for a day and a half or two days” and you sitting around at a desk, you should have enough fuel to type on a computer or to write stuff on a piece of paper.
But if you’re, trying to gain lean mass or trying to train intensely for an hour or two a day, these really long, long, fasts are probably not the best approach.
If you’re pregnant or if you’re breastfeeding, don’t go for crazy long fasts.
Or, if you have kids, especially young kids because chasing them with little fuel is going to make you angry.
There’s a bit of trial and error with everyone and understanding, you can go for a short fast like just skipping breakfast a few times and then eating lunch.
That said, there seems to be quite the difference between males and females. Long story short, males are more adapted to intense dieting. It’s harder for females, they are far more complex hormonally and far more valuable from the survival of the human species to be fully honest.
So, as soon as a female starts aggressively reducing calories, the body does have some mechanisms that it’s going to protect body fat with.
Because again, body fat is more important for survival of the species then a lot of lean mass. Which is frustrating now in today’s day and age where a lot of females are interested in improving body composition and you’re like, “why I’m doing so many good things and I’m not seeing the results that I want”?
Your biology is kind of fighting back against you. Whereas males, you know, it’s almost like as soon as they start doing more exercise or more aggressive dieting, they responded in the direction you expect it to.
It’s pretty uncommon that a male is so messed up hormonally that they don’t respond to a reasonably well-constructed diet and exercise program. It’s not impossible, but it’s uncommon. Whereas a lot of females, you look at it on paper and you’re like, “Hey, you’re doing a lot of good stuff”.
They may be struggling to see some change. or sitting on a plateau for a long period. So again, it’s not that it’s impossible for females too to lose weight with fasting. It just needs to be smart and some of those super aggressive style fasts, the 36-48 I wouldn’t recommend for most female clients.
And even then, the fasting every day, old warrior diet style where you’re going 20 hours without eating and then you have a four-hour feeding window. All that stuff seems to work really great with the young guys.
And again, those guys or the section of the population that responds to anything you throw at them. Diet and exercise wise, I want to do high rep. sure. As a young guy you’re going to lean down and want to do low reps.
Sure, you can do that. You can only do cardio. Sure. Young guys would lean out. So, whatever you do with a young male, their hormones are just primed to respond favorably. That warrior diet style where you’re gonna fast every day and only eat for three, four hours? Sure.
If you’re a young male, do it. Cool. Like you said, if you’re a parent running around after kids, if you’ve got tons of stress in your life, and it may not be the best approach to have just a single meal.
And of course, that single meal also requires some pretty good attention to make sure we’re getting enough nutrients in that one meal or the one feeding window to meet all your needs. It is possible but you can’t just be like, Oh I’m going to eat once a day and then it’s when it’s done, I’m going to have a hot dog.
You can get pretty sick in a hurry.
I think from a practicality perspective too, especially if you have kids and you’re basically surrounded by food all the time. Because kids always want freaking snacks and you intending to fast around all this food that you’re touching and preparing and is in front of you can be difficult.
You’re making it harder on yourself. Make it as easy as possible and make it as comfortable as possible. So, it may not be a great idea to go for crazy long, fast when you know you’re going to be surrounded by all this temptation.
No. And again, I think people have to be honest with themselves and understand their situation in life.
Like I said, if you’ve got young kids and you’re preparing meals, then maybe you’re at home with them a lot. It can be tougher. And one of the things I think we all want for those of us, you know, who have kids, we want to be good role models for kids as well, right?
So, you want to make sure that wherever possible, we still have shared mealtimes, right? You want to be eating with your kids and kind of teaching them proper eating habits and that you embrace different kinds of foods and all this stuff.
And it’s really difficult if you’re never eating, you have to teach those lessons to your kids to be fully honest. So again, there may be a time and a place where when we don’t have kids or maybe when our kids a little bit older and we no longer kind of are eating every meal with them, that we kind of have to find it easier to slide into more of a fasting routine.
But maybe when you have young kids you decided, “yeah, you know what, I’m going to change my patterns and go more to irregular, you know, meal routine because it makes sense from a family perspective”. And then when my kids a little bit older out of the house, I can go back to this more aggressive approach from a fasting perspective.
And that’s okay too. We’re not designed eat only one particular style over the entirety of our lives.
You can thrive over quite a few
You can thrive over quite a few and you’re going to need to change. And that’s the reality again, when you’re growing, when you’re the young male, right? They’re garbage dumps. When a guy’s going through puberty as a teenager, it’s phenomenal.
The amount of crap that a young male can eat and still get leaner. Like it is ridiculous. And so, for that person, is it really as important to stress that you have to have so many servings of vegetables a day?
It’s good to teach good eating habits, but the reality is their calorie needs are so high that if you’re only eating vegetables, you’re not going to get there in terms of reaching your growth, to be fully honest. You’re going to need to eat things that provides easy access to calories when you’re 15, 16, 17-year-old boy. Should the parents be eating the same amount of food as the boy? 100% no.
They shouldn’t. If you’re 45-50 your metabolism has a very different state. So again, it’s just keeping things in mind that we’re not ever going to have a single best approach to eat and we’re always going to have to be tweaking up and tweaking down or through our lifespan to kind of make sure that we get the results that we’re looking for.
And fastening is the same, it’s a lot of trial and error on this as to what your body responds to and what you don’t hate.
I think the big thing for everyone, no matter what approach to diet, exercise, you’ve got to find something that resonates with you.
And so, I think some of the keys that I’ve found from fasting and we’ve talked about, some of them is you have a pretty good understanding of healthy food before starting.
And that’s an understanding of like, yeah, I understand vegetables are healthier than chips, but your habits, yes you should actually be doing it.
Your protein should be coming from real, real meat, or real food, legumes, things like that as opposed to the hot dogs. Fasting isn’t an excuse. It’s not a tool you use just because you’ve been binged on cake.
And I know we both had a lot of clients who have kind of thought that way too, is that you can just do whatever you ate by using fasting. And that’s not really what this tool is for.
No. Not if you want the best results from it. I suppose it’s better to periodically fast if you’re gonna eat a ton of crap then to never fast and still eat all that crap because at least you’re controlling some calories over the course of the week.
But again, if you’re really interested in kind of optimizing performance or health and using fashion as a tool, it goes in addition to healthy eating behaviors, it’s not a replacement for healthy eating.
It’s really just another way of cutting calories with a relatively simple set of rules. That’s kind of what I’ve always found.
If a client was like,” yeah, like just maybe I pick one day a week where I just don’t eat until after lunch or until dinner time so I can knock 12, 16, 2000 calories, um, out of my, my routine”.
And so, trying to say like, well, every day I’m trying to be in a calorie deficit of four or five hundred calories, which is conventional loss. And again, because we don’t measure portions as well, so it’s easier to kind of slip up on that. Whereas if you just say, I eat nothing until you know, 6:00 PM and then I’m going to eat my regular dinner, well you might have knocked close to 2000 calories off that day for the guys.
So, for a client who’s like, just prefers to do all their weight management in a single day as opposed to doing a little bit everyday, go with it. If someone else is like, “no, I like having regular meals all the time and I’m okay to take a little bit smaller portions but still eat, you know, four or five times in a day, then go with that”. Aiming for four or 500 calorie reduction on a daily basis as a weight loss tool.
So again, it’s not that one is better than the other, it’s just for certain clients, different approaches are better than others.
And I know a lot of questions just come as to what you should eat after fasting. And the truth is you just resume your normal routine based on where you finish off your fasting.
Oversimplification. But most people find it easier to skip breakfast and lunch then to have breakfast and then try to fast the rest of the day.
I tried that once, I stopped at a after lunch and then went until the next morning at breakfast, I think. And it was horrendous. This was before I had kids and didn’t have to deal with sitting down to dinner, but it was terrible. Sleep half of your fast. Seriously. It’s far easier.
Again, it’s one of the things you see for a lot of clients is as soon as you break your fast, and that’s what breakfast is and whether you have it at 7:00 AM or 10:00 AM to PM, it’s just you’re breaking a fast.
Some of our hunger cues then kind of seem to accelerate once you, so if you just don’t eat, come and go to sleep, your body’s just kind saying, you’re a little bit hungry, but it’s not too bad. But as soon as you have that first meal, all of a sudden, we’ll know. Let’s say again, you eat, you know, at seven o’clock in the morning and have a big meal, but you’re still awake, for another 12, 14, or 16 hours.
So, you have opportunities to think about food, be presented with food, and you have to conjure up this willpower. No, I’m not going to eat, I’m not going to eat. Whereas sometimes people find that if I just don’t start eating and then I get to the end of the day and then have a meal and then hunger is maybe elevated a little bit, but I’m going to be asleep soon.
So much simpler. For most clients, they’ll find it easier to skip their meals early in the day and then start eating after lunch or around dinner.
I personally will always eat dinner, we have an early dinner, I stop after dinner and then I go till whenever. The next day that I’m rocking. I find that easiest because breakfast is just really easy to overlook and skip because you’re kind of go, go, go.
And again, most clients are going to find that. If people are working for example, like sometimes you can get distracted by work to breakfast and you have things to do to keep your mind focused.
Throughout, breakfast and lunch, you’ll get a little bit hungry, but you have other things to distract yourself with. I think for a lot of people, especially if you have families, I still think, dinner in North America is that meal where we, we celebrate being together most.
And so that’s the one that people want to sit down with their spouse, loved ones, kids and kind of share it and eat together. So, allowing people to say, okay, we’re gonna skip breakfast and lunch, but you’re going to still be able to eat dinner as a family. I think that for a lot of people also just makes kind of behavioral sense.
So, let’s talk about how it feels on your very first fast or the first couple. Because in truth, there are quite a few, I want to say symptoms but that seems like the wrong word. When you do your first fast it’s very different because we are accustomed to eating all the time.
So, a few things that I noticed on mine and you had warned me ahead of time just on basic things like don’t expect to be doing as much creative thinking as far towards the end of your fast, which was very true. I did then end up very brain foggy on my first fast.
The hangry symptoms are real. I don’t notice them now. It’s been a long time. I’m good now but I know for the first three or four fast I did get hangry. You are angry. Like you’re just a little bit more irritable, your temper is a bit shorter. Which is why I always say just watch how long you’re going for a fast when you have little kids.
Kids tend to rile up your temper and when you’re really hungry that does not help. You will experience a little bit of brain fog. The first few times you’re going to be a bit more irritable. What else?
I think the biggest thing to appreciate in a fast is again, one of the benefits long term, but short term we don’t see this as a benefit, where you’re really looking at two types of hunger.
For the average North American we have physiological hunger. We’re okay, your body’s legit low on nutrients and you need to eat. And then there’s psychological hunger, which for most of us, that’s kind of what we experience on a regular basis. And so, it’s kind of a way to separate those two.
And people use different ones. But you know, it’s the boiled potato diet approach, right? If you’re hungry enough to eat a boiled potato with nothing on it, you’re physiologically hungry or just plain broccoli or white rice with nothing.
So, if you’re hungry enough to eat a bowl of old-fashioned plain oatmeal, you’re physiologically hungry. Now if you’re like; “no, I’m good”. But you know, your brain saying, “Oh go eat something”. Again, most of our hunger is psychological, we just have these patterns that we’ve adopted in North America.
We’ll go out for coffee, with our coworkers, we have so many of our rituals surrounded around eating or drinking.
So, you can be walking down the street and you’re not hungry at all and then you walk by a Cinnabon shop or something or a pizza parlor and all of a sudden, Oh man, I’m so hungry. And it’s that smell that cues the desire to eat. But two minutes before you were totally fine.
So again, the goal is to have clients understand the difference between the two.
And I think when you go through your first fast, your first few fast, you just start obsessing about food. Because it’s comforting to have access to food and in North America for better, for worse, we’re probably not going through anymore extended famines or droughts or anything like that.
We have easy access to food. It’s relatively inexpensive or food security is quite high out for the average North American. So, the thought of doing without kind of scares us the first time we go through it and then then we sit there and we’re staring at our fridge or we’re standing at our are often being like, there’s food in there. And so, the key for a lot of is to get out of the house and distract yourself, keep yourself busy and that makes it easier.
When you go through it you also appreciate that a, you’re not going to die but you will be hungry. And like you said, some people get angry. Some people find that their concentration, the first few fasts, those are probably the biggest things.
Over time it settles down. Like I said, give yourself three times, two or three weeks, maybe four weeks. And then see if your body is starting to kind of figure it out after that period. And most clients who are doing it will find it gets easier.
But again, if it’s really not getting any easier and it’s getting worse than fasting may not be the approach for you. So yes, those are the major things: Hunger. And then for certain clients, especially on longer fasts, depending on what they choose to eat to break the fast, there can be some gastrointestinal issues that kind of come up.
And I think you mentioned it before but just don’t go crazy eating a ton of highly processed junk when you break your fast. Short term it will hurt.
Maybe long-term for the next day you could feel hung over, if you just hammer a lot of simple sugars coming out of a fast. Those are the major complaints health wise, there’s nothing crazy serious for most clients to be honest. No, that’s not everyone.
There are people who have, certain chronic diseases that probably would be ill-advised to fast. I don’t like fastening for people who are in aggressive growth phases.
Again, pregnant females are a bad idea, young kids who are growing, don’t deprive them of the nutrients they need to grow for long periods of time. Certain kinds of chronic disease where you need maybe more frequent feeding to help kind of manage blood sugar, or just kind of nutrient provision.
If going for an extended fast, it’s not ideal for the average person. There’s more discomfort. It’s what they can expect. They’re going to be hungry. It might be irritable. They’re going to obsess about food most likely first few times through.
If you give it a good run of maybe a month or so and then don’t try to be crazy going for 24, 30, six, 48 hours the first time you do it, try to extend your normal 10 to 12 hour fast. You do another overnight, four to six hours the first time you do it.
Honestly, 16 hours is the best. The last hour or two is uncomfortable, but the first 12, 14, they’re easy.
Yeah, they’re really not too bad. After 16, you get a little bit more uncomfortable.
I think that’s good advice. Don’t go crazy. We’re trying to pull the first meal or two out of someone’s day is typically when people start with fasting. So, I’ll skip breakfast the first time and if you find that you’re starving by 10 o’clock, then you’d at 10 o’clock you know, next time, see if you can take it till noon and then just see how long you can go for.
Some people find that, Hey, I can go that 20-hour fast and it feels okay. So, if that’s you, then you can go till six, seven o’clock at night before you eat something or three and afternoon do it. Then if it’s not, then eat a little bit earlier. So, it’s not going to ruin it if you eat earlier. It doesn’t invalidate the fact that you’ve controlled calories.
The big thing is, trying to make it work with your life and kind of what you need to do with family, what you need to do for work.
I’ve had great success fasting, with surgeons. Because when you scrub into surgery, hey, guess what, you can’t go eat in two hours.
So, for someone like that, often it’s like “Oh this makes a ton of sense because I have to do it anyways for work”. So, if you’re someone who’s in that boat, it may be an approach to that makes great sense.
If you’re someone who is chasing kids around and you’re at home with them all the time, you’re going to be confronted with a lot of opportunities to eat and snacks.
So, it’s going to be harder to be truthfully successful on a passing approach at that phase of your life.
So, the last question I think that got brought in this past weekend was obviously “how do I deal with being hangry”? Which we touched on. It sucks. You go for walks. I use coffee and green tea and water; I need the thing to sip on, so I rock that. But there’s no exact ways to deal with being angry.
You just kind of get over it. And what she was specifically asking was; “is my body going to adjust or do I need more carbs outside of my fast to make sure that I am okay during my day”?
For sure. The human body’s fine so you’re not worried about doing any long-term damage with fasting from that approach. Now some people do find that they want a big meal before they kick off their fast.
If you’re going to be like; “okay, my last meal is going to be at 7:00 PM the day before”, often what I advocate is having something a little bit higher on the protein side of things to be fully honest, A big protein containing meal, a protein slower to digest.
Some people will pair it with a little bit of fat. It just slows the release. So, as opposed to a big meal of just spaghetti for example, which is just pretty much straight carbohydrates, which people process reasonably quickly.
Sometimes they’ll wake up the next day and feel a little bit hungry with that kind of approach where if you have the traditional steak dinner type of a meat and potatoes, it doesn’t have to be, but something like that.
But again, higher protein in some healthy fats as your, as part of your final meal, make sure it’s kind of up there. It makes it a little bit easier the next day to, to not feel ravenously hungry first thing when you wake up. So that’s kind of from the approach of what I found for most clients to be the most successful.
And then during the fast, like you said, coffee, tea, the water, if you want BCAAs go right ahead. If you want bone broth, that makes a little bit easier just to sip on something.
We’re not talking about putting thousands of calories in, you know, in the morning with that kind of approach you’re putting in probably under a hundred, which for most people is going to still keep them in quite the calorie deficit.
And so, to reap the benefits of the fast. I think it’s not so much you adjusting to the fast as much as you just getting used to the symptoms and managing hunger.
You get better at fasting the more you do it. And some clients do go too far. If you want to be honest, because they get such a handle on their hunger, you do just feel less hungry. And so, they then want to fast every day. But then you have to wonder if you’re getting enough nutrition for what you’re trying to do?
And if you’re trying to do twenty-hour fasts and then just having a little tiny salad.
If you’re doing that once a week as an approach and the rest of the week, you’re eating your normal 2000 calories or whatever it is that works for you, that’s great because now you’re just in a calorie deficit of 2000 calories.
And that’s a great approach. If you’re saying, okay, well every day I’m only eating 400 calories, then there’s an issue. You have such control over your hunger and now they’re never hungry.
So, although the start initially is great and you got better at understanding your particular hunger cues and separating physiological from, psychological hunger, at the same time you have to understand that your body does need nutrition.
And so, if you’ve taken your calories so low that it’s impossible to get right and make to micronutrients or vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, you’re low on protein, healthy fats, you know the carbohydrates, fiber, whatever you need. Yeah.
So, from that perspective, it can happen that people take it too far because they actually understand and become pretty good at tolerating some of the the mild discomfort that comes with and they just become excessive in it.
It’s excessive. And that’s like anything, right? We have people who become drug addicts, we have people who are gambling addicts with people who are shopaholics with their hoarders, So, part of what makes us human I guess is this ability to just get hung up on one particular thing.
And for some people it is diet driven and so they’ll start with fasting and initially they have a positive result and then they just take it too far.
And so that’s for any coach who’s helping people kind of go through a fast or an athlete who’s, or an individual who’s going through it themselves and just be wary that although a little bit of something is great from a progress perspective, doing too much of anything is unlikely to be helpful.
So, one last piece of advice about fasting, what would it be your tip? Yup. One last thing about fasting.
I’ll give you mine. You should enjoy it. Don’t do things that you hate. If you truly despise not eating for a specific amount of time, you don’t need to fast in order to be healthy or fit.
I say it’s not for everyone, you know, to be honest. It’s kind of very similar to yours. I think it’s interesting for everyone to try and like any approach to diet or exercise. You can’t say something’s good or bad unless you’re willing to try it yourself.
So, on the weight training side, like try lifting heavy for a period and see how that works. Try more moderate reps, try light reps, try going for sprint interval training, try long distance. Find what works for you, and intermittent fasting is the same thing. It’s an approach to calorie control.
Try it, give it that three, four weeks to make sure that you give it a fair go. If by the end of that month you’re like, Hey, I’m getting the hang of this.
If you kind of like the approach, stick with it. If you feel like “man, this is making me miserable each and every time I try it, I hate it”, then just don’t do it.
It’s not magic. There are other ways and again, all diets work by helping people manage the number of calories and keep them in a deficit at some way.
There are different approaches. the reason why I like fasting because again the rules are fairly easy for a client to understand. It’s just don’t eat and they’re like, “okay”. Well did you eat breakfast. Yes. Then okay. You weren’t fasting. Ass opposed to giving them percentages.
To me that’s the strength of the approach. It’s simple to understand and it is a good teaching tool to help clients understand physiological versus psychological hunger and whether they choose to stick with it long-term.
But just that process of having at least gone through a month or two of fasting, you start to understand, “okay, am I really hungry now or is it just that I thought of food”?
I think that’s actually one of my favorite parts though, is that’s the biggest thing I learned is that I’m okay, I’m not going to die.
And it makes it actually easier for things like traveling or long car rides, stuff like that where you would naturally just pick at something or just grab something while you’re going and you’re like, ‘I don’t actually need it. Like it’s okay, I’ll be all right”.
And so, you learned some interesting lessons going too and some clients will stick with fasting based approach for years or forever. And it can work great for them.
Other people would just use it for a very short period of time as a way of kind of changing up a, their approach, shocking the system, whatever you want to call it.
If there’s something you want to do for a short period of time to try something different. But I think, there’s a lot of benefits to it. Both from the body composition side as well as some potential health benefits.
But I think the biggest thing, the biggest benefit is that that teaching them to understand hunger. And I’ve always said the number one success tool, or outcome when you talk about diet change with the client is you have to control hunger.
If you don’t have a way of helping that client control hunger. You are going to fail on that diet a hundred times out of a hundred, no matter what diet it is.
Because again, people will do anything for a very short period of time. We understand this. People can do the stupidest dietetics as approached for two or three, maybe even four or five, six weeks.
But if a diet is making you tired, irritable, hungry, cold, it’s making your gastrointestinal system jump, tied up in knots, you’re not going to stick with it because it’s making you miserable. So, these juice fasts, or the old cabbage soup diets are gone from the data. You’ll lose 30 pounds in your first month and then it’s all coming back because you hate this.
And then what happens?
One of the things to remember with any diet approach, you’ve got to think: “is it helping me control my hunger?”. And as soon as you control hunger, you have this magic thing there now called willpower, which doesn’t really exist because willpower is just a product of planning.
They tell people all the time, don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, because then you buy all kinds of crap. And it’s not that you’re any smarter having just eaten a big meal before you go grocery shopping. It’s just your stomach makes you make bad decisions when you’re hungry.
So, if we can help clients get a handle on their hunger, then they’re more willing to follow the plans that we give them long-term there. They just make better choices, you know, and that’s the magic with dieting. It’s not that people don’t understand what healthy food is.
If you ask anyone walking down the street, out of celery or this bag of Doritos, which one’s healthier? It’s not rocket science. We know that we should be eating more vegetables. We know that we should be drinking water and not pop or juice.
None of these are shocking. It’s just that you don’t do it right. The Doritos taste good. The, the grape juice tastes better for a lot of people in water. So, it’s helping clients kind of break that habit of reaching for the champs, reaching for the juice, the pop, whatever, they’re currently struggling with an understanding. Controlling hunger helps control calories.
Land also, is it something that I can stick with? For a long period of time. It doesn’t mean that it has to work for the person sitting next to me.
It doesn’t mean this is going to necessary be the approach that’s gonna work for my spouse, but it has to be something that that client understands and says, “I can stick with this”. And so, fasting and why I’ve always been interested with it is that I’ve found that it works.
It’s straightforward for a lot of people and I think a lot of people just like focusing maybe a day a week on weight management instead of doing a little bit everyday. Trying to manage that is harder than doing it all in one day.
And so, just don’t eat for 16, 20 hours, 24 hours, whatever it is. And then you start eating normal again. And I think that for a lot of, at least the clients I’ve worked with, it’s just simpler and they’re like, “Oh yeah, I just liked the idea of doing it one day a week instead of six or seven”.
It’s not magic, but I’ve always found it simpler in that sense. And again, it takes people about a month, three weeks to a month to really get the hang of it once they kind of understand their, their hunger cues.
A lot of clients think it’s just easy to keep up with.
Well I think that about wraps us up. So, thanks again for listening to today’s episode on fasting. I hope more than anything that you took away a few more tips than you had before. Remember, if you’re in need of fitness tips, workouts and amazingly healthy recipes, check out my website at www.fitasamamabear.com
You can also hit up the show notes where I’ll post a few of the resources that Graeme chatted about earlier in the episode, as well as how to connect with Graeme.
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Chat soon. Friends.
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