Friday, October 2, 2009

Accelerate Fat Loss: Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Intermittent fasting? Fat Loss? Oh, you mean muscle loss Sterling. This is the first response that many people have when the topic of fasting comes up. Many people believe, wrongly, that intermittent fasting (IF) is a sure way to loss muscle mass; this could not be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, IF is one of the most useful tools when trying to rid body fat while maintaining muscle mass.

In a recent study, IF was shown to promote amd maximize the oxidation of stored fat during and following exercise sessions. But what about your metabolism Sterling?  Aren't you slowing down your metabolism and sabotaging your body's ability to burn fat?

IF expert Brad Pilon, in his book Eat Stop Eat, noted that 'in a study published in 2007, ten lean men were fasted for 72 hours straight. At the end of their fast their energy expenditure was measured and was found to be unchanged from the measurements that were taken at the beginning of the study.' These finding have been duplicated in other studies as well.

What about muscle mass? The key to maintaining muscle mass is that you must continue to workout as you normally would. So resistance exercises such as lifting weights or body weight workouts are a must to maintain or add lean muscle mass when employing IF into your lifestyle. When using an Eat Stop Eat method of IF, I've often used my fast days as a chance to either rest or perform sprints or plyometric workouts. It usually just depends on how I feel that day. Just do what works for you. If psychologically it feels better to do resistance workouts on your fast days, then do it. Don't sweat the small stuff, because either way you'll lose body fat and maintain muscle mass. You'll also have much more energy during fasted workouts than you might imagine as your body taps your fat stores and ketones for energy.

IF has also been shown to have some measure of cardioprotection and positively alter adipose tissue physiology. The following summarizes this study: 'In summary, our findings indicate that modified ADF (althernate day fasting) regimens alter adipose tissue physiology (ie, body fat distribution, adipocyte TG metabolism, and adipokine levels) in a way that may protect against the development of atherosclerosis. These beneficial effects were noted over a wide range of percentage fat intake in the modified ADF diets, suggesting that ADF may protect against CHD even in the presence of HF background diets. Because most Americans consume a diet that is high in fat, these results could improve adherence to ADF in individuals at risk for developing CHD if confirmed in human subjects.' While ADF does differ somewhat from IF as defined by Brad Pilon, the takeaway is that IF is good for you, your body, and your health.

Martin Berkhan is also considered an authority on IF. He employs a 16-hour fasted state followed by 8-hour feeding window. I have personally used this method of IF and dropped 13 pounds of body fat while maintaining my muscle mass and strength. In his Sure-Fire Fat Loss blog post, Martin shares his advice in regards to IF. I think you'll find that he's had tremendous success and has duplicated his results with numerous clients when utilizing an IF regimen that is very 'do-able'.

If your number one goal is ridding unwanted body fat (is there anything such as wanted body fat?), then workout in a fasted state and follow it with some low intensity cardio for 20-30 minutes; this will burn off any free fatty acids that have been released from your fat stores during your resistance workouts. The key to releasing free fatty acids from fat stores is INTENSITY! We'll touch on that on another day.

Until next time...


  1. Thanks for the link on twitter, Sterling! I look forward to reading your posts.


  2. Maba: Let me know what you'd like to hear about. Have you tried IF?

  3. Good to see you blogging about all this Sterling. I read your story on MDA and look forward to following your ongoing stories as I work on my own Primal lifestyle!

  4. One of my e-buddies that worked with Martin told me he was the David Allen of the IF camp and further explained to me that while all other regimens were a bit vague and fuzzy he really breaks it down. Personally I can appreciate that. I might actually shoot him an e-mail to check if he's available for a consultation.

  5. Jesse: Thanks. Look forward to seeing you here on SA.

    Rick: Martin knows what he's doing. He's a great resource.

  6. Hi Sterling,
    Really looking forward to reading more of your entries. I like how you make things simple and easy to understand and obviously you're living proof it works. Sometimes posts at the MDA forums get a little confusing with so many voices.

    I read your success story a while back and it really got me excited to make some changes. I've been eating primal and doing crossfit for about a month and people can already see a difference. I haven't done any IF yet, but I'm thinking tomorrow might be a good day to start!

    Just wanted to drop a quick line and give some support for your new blog! Take care dude

  7. Bill N: Great to hear from you. Please spread the word about my blog. Sounds like you are getting in a groove.

    Let me know how your IF experience goes. Click on the 'Intermittent Fasting: 6-pack Abs' to get more info on IF -- I hope it helps.