Fasting for Weight Loss

Fasting to lose weight have become buzzwords on the Internet. But I do think there can be some real benefits to fasting when it comes to speeding up your weight loss and possibly improving your health. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood pressure, reduce oxidative damage, help repair muscle tissue and certainly reduce body fat.

One possible explanation why fasting can produce all these health benefits is that when you are in a fasting state and there is not a surplus of food in your system your body starts certain reactions that repair or heal the body that would otherwise not be turned on if you had food in your system. It is easier for the body and requires less energy (food) to repair tissue as opposed to splinting a cell and making a new one. The end result is the body adapts and cells get repaired and live longer. Animal studies have shown that the more you reduce the calories a in mouse’s diet the longer they live.

Two reasons why fasting to lose weight works so well:

1. When you have no food in your system you are primed for burning fat. When there is no sugar, fat or protein running through your blood stream from a recent meal your body has to pull calories (energy) from stored sources. These include fat from your fat cells and carbohydrates from your liver and muscles to keep you going. As long as you don’t fastfor too long and start to cannibalize yourself you can lose a lot of body fat without that much effort by just skipping a meal or not eating for 24 hours.

2. It’s an easy way to reduce the calories in your diet without depriving yourself of your favorite foods. This might sound counter-intuitive but by not eating for a meal or two you have just dramatically reduced the amount of calories you would have normally eaten for the day. Now as long as you don’t binge and over eat you can have one of your favorite meals even if it is not a perfect food and still be in a calorie deficit for the day or week.

Keep in mind; however, if you decide to fast it has to fit into your lifestyle. I started experimenting with intermittent fasting a few months ago and it has really helped me keep my body fat under control.

The two methods of fasting I use are:

1.  I just skip breakfast, which enables me to not eat for over 15 hours. I generally eat dinner around 8:00 PM and instead of waking up and having breakfast I just have a cup of coffee and wait till about 11:00 AM or 12:00 PM and then have lunch. Then I don’t binge or over eat for lunch. I just have a normal healthy lunch. By not eating breakfast I just eliminated about 500 to 600 calories from my diet and keep myself in a fat burning state with my empty stomach for hours.

If I really want to ramp up the fat burning I will take an easy hour-long walk in the morning. Walking on an empty stomach is a great way to burn some stored fat calories.

2. I will fast for 24 hours straight (I still have a cup of coffee or drink green tea all day). When you fast for 24 hours you might be surprised that you will not be as hungry as you think. Most of the time you are eating out of habit or for emotional reasons. Sometimes I even feel energized and think clearly by not eating for a day and still have a great workout without any food in my system. Some studies have shown an increase of growth hormone when you workout in a fasted state. I just make sure I don’t over eat the next day. By doing this, I’ve eliminate a whole days worth of calories. The whole concept is to eat normally the next day without binging in order to keep the calorie deficit in check for the week.

I got the idea to try a 24-hour fasting weight loss from the Brad Pilon Eat Stop Eating program. If you are looking to lose weight fast and want to follow a specific program I think you will like the Eat Stop Eating web site.

Fasting to lose weight is just another tool to help you reach your body composition goals. If you have ever skipped breakfast or refrained from eating for 24-hours let me know. How did you feel not eating?  Did you lose weight?

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Best – Mike Cola

Fitness Contrarian – Fitness Blog

About Mike Cola

Mike Cola has well over 50,000 hours of hands-on personal training experience. He started his own personal training studio in1989, Mike Cola Fitness, which is located in New York.Connect with Mike @ Google+

23 Responses to “Fasting for Weight Loss”

  1. Hi Mike

    Nice post. Like yourself have been using intermittent fasting for maintaining weight for the last few months and I am impressed with the results. I am actually on a fast day as I write this and what has surprised me is how easy it is to do. I don’t feel that hungry and like you say I feel energized and my mind is more clearer on fast days. If anybody reading this post is looking for a simple yet effective way to structure their nutrition then take a look at Eat Stop Eat it is very good.



  2. Mike,
    Fasting has become second nature to me. I do a 24 hour fast twice a week and a 15-18 hour fast by skipping breakfast at least one other day per week. The great thing is that once you get used to fasting, your appetite no longer controls your life. You eat when you feel like it rather than on a set schedule.

  3. Mike,

    I’ve been doing Eat Stop Eat for about a year now and I can vouch for it. Intermittent fasting makes a big difference in controlling overall calorie intake. My favorite fasting method is after dinner Friday night, sleep in on Saturday and don’t eat until late afternoon or early evening.


  4. @ Howard,

    I was also surprised how easy it is to fast. I know it’s hard for people to understand if you have never tried it but you can fast for 24 hours and not be hungry or tired.

    @ Dave,

    Fasting has become a regular part of my life too. I actually look forward to skipping breakfast. It gives me more time in the morning and whenever I fast for 24 hours it really frees up my day without having to prepare any food. Before I started fasting I did not realize how scheduled my eating patterns were even if was not hungry. Fasting has worked well for my busy lifestyle.

    @ Alykhan

    The Eat Stop Eating program has helped me control my calorie intake as well. I actually like to fast on my busiest days. The day flies by and I’m not even hungry.

  5. I fasted today and then had an amazing run. Tons of energy with low insulin so I went straight into fat burning. I’m hooked!

  6. This is my idea of calorie restriction. I use it the same way. I am not sure that we allow enough time between meals, and the potion size is usually bigger than we need.

    I am sure that most people on the standard American diet practice calorie overload.
    There is a buildup of excess waste from doing this. One of the best ways to deal with this is intermittent fasting.

  7. @ Darren

    Running on an empty stomach is a good way to burn some fat calories. Good job.

    @ Blanch

    Intermittent fasting really does work. Most people would benefit from it.

    Best – Mike

  8. Ive never been a breakfast fan. I have been thinking of fasting myself and was thinks along the same line 2 24hr fasts no breakfast the other days maybe sunday kind of do whatever but never over induldge

  9. I mentioned this in the past, but the biggest benefit that I’ve gained is to learn how little food I actually need. whenever I fast I dont get hungry, I just go.

  10. @ Alejandro,

    After fasting a few times you really realize that you’re eating too much food.

    When I first tried fasting I was worried that I would be starving but I actually was not that hungry.

    I agree with you. I don’t need as much food as I thought I did until I started fasting. I can easily skip a meal every day if I had to and feel great. In addition, you really learn a lot about your eating habits when you try to do a 24 hour fast. Every one should try it at some point.

  11. Hi,

    I always get so tired in the first few hours after waking up when I don’t eat. Working out makes it even worse. It’s a weird feeling, like you can’t keep your eyes open. My mind feels “heavy” too.
    What can I do? I really want to fast!

  12. Fasting is not for everyone. You can live a very healthy happy life without fasting. If you really want to try fasting and have a hard time in the morning try skipping lunch or dinner and see how you feel. Be careful and don’t over do it.

    Best – Mike

  13. Can fasting slow down your metabolism? Every time I try to fast, the people around me warn me that it will slow down my metabolism. How can I keep it from doing that?

    Also, how can I keep myself from feeling weak during workouts? Usually if I am on an empty stomach, I start to feel dizzy. I live a low carb lifestyle as it is, but I find that when I go without food for an amount of time I feel sick.

  14. Hi Amy,

    Fasting should not slow down your metabolism. Check out this post from my friend Rusty at Fitness Black Book

    I like the low carb lifestyle. You don’t have to fast if you feel weak or sick; fasting is not for everyone. Eating low carb is a great way to control your weight as long as you are getting enough vegetables and fruits in your diet. I eat low carb by watching my grains while eating a lot of vegetables and some fruits.

    Intermittent fasting works great for me when I want to lose some weight but don’t feel like you have to fast to lose weight or be healthy.

    Best – Mike

  15. i only eat 3x week and in only 2 months i have already lost 58 pounds and my body fat is at 6 percent. thank you cola!!!!

  16. I have actually been trying to follow a similar diet that I came up with in my head. I started it about 9 months ago and I dropped 8 pounds in a month. I was so proud of myself. Then all of my friends noticed that I did not eat lunch everyday at school and thought that I waw starving myself. So, I ended up getting pressured into eating the extremley unhealthy food at school when I was not even hungry to begin with. If I find myself to be hungry then I eat but if I am not hungry then I do not eat. Is there anything wrong with that? I am not starving myself at all!!! If i find that I did not eat for an entire day then I force myself to atleast eat an okay sized dinner the next day. I have never liked breakfast just because I am never hungry when I first wake up and I was forced to eat it growing up. I encourage people to try this weight loss plan because it is a very succesful way to acieve weight loss… and do so quickly. I just hope that I can find some support to get back on track! Also, to those who are going to try and do this there is a clear line between not eating when you do not need to and completley starving yourself. If you starve yourself the next time that you take a single bite your body will store every single bit of that as fat because it will think that it won’t get food until a long time. Also, drink lots and lots of water because it will flush the waste that is in your system out and cause you to lose even more weight.

  17. Matthew Johnson June 22, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    I do not agree with exercising on empty stomach. You will lose fat, that is true but you will also lose muscle. And since you are already hungry, it is not possible to weight lift to offset muscle loss.

  18. Hi Matthew,

    If you read some of the research you will find out that intermittent fasting is a great way to lower your body fat without decreasing your muscle mass… it can actually help you put on some muscle.

  19. Hi!! This is just what I have been looking for. I am currently eating just one meal a day after fighting my weight for years!!! Sick of fad diets and hours in the gym followed by eating 6 tines a day!!!!!!!! Crazy! How eating more can aid weight loss defies logic! So along with my usual cardio and weight training, I have so far lost 30lbs since November 2012. Now with eating once a day for the past 2 weeks, I have lost a further 7lbs. Started fasting today and it’s nothing like I expected!!!!!!!!! I imagined hunger beyond compare, dizzy spells and attacking my husband for his dinner! I am pleased to say, I feel real good! I eat out of habit, emotion and I hate to admit it but, greed! I eat too much! Pure and simple! Going to keep this up! Thanks fir the advice. 🙂

  20. I know this is an old post but I hope you will answer this. I notice you said you drink coffee & though I could easily skip breakfast I don’t even want to skip coffee. Is it ok to have a little cream & stevia in my coffee or is that blowing the fast?

  21. Hi Tammy,
    Yes…it’s ok to have a little cream & stevia in the coffee.

    Best – Mike

  22. Thank you for your answer! I had read about IF on a while back but didn’t know I could keep my coffee & cream. I love your site, lots of great information. I’ve already sent friends links to some articles.

    I read that you recommend 10 x current weight +- for losing weight, sounds reasonable. If I fast breakfast, then would my lunch & dinner add up to that total or am I eating less total calories too? Is it ok to fast breakfast most or every day of the week?

    Thanks for the link o Marks Daily Apple, lots of inspiring success stories there!

  23. Hi Tammy,

    I think it is ok to fast breakfast on most days if you want to lose weight…That is what I do…

    Yes… your lunch, dinner and snacks should ad up to 10 X your body weight for weight loss.

    Best – Mike