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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This is the strategy I teach my personal training clients to have a 20-something body, regardless of their age.
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Best – Mike