So we’ve talked a bit here before about fasted training, and how science doesn’t really indicate that it helps any more than sticking to a clean and regular diet, at least as far as weight loss goes.
But how about just plain old fasting? Now, for a weight loss program that includes regular exercise, long stretches of fasting aren’t going to work — you need calories to fuel those workouts. But there’s another form of fasting that’s been gaining in popularity, and it’s called intermittent fasting.
As the name implies, you cycle your fasts over a short period. The most commonly recommended one has you fasting every other day, but there are multiple varieties. For example, a less hardcore version that has you fast for just two non-consecutive days per week was examined on the BBC documentary show “Horizon.”
What Is It Good For?
Aside from being the most extreme form of caloric restriction, there are some patient studies that indicate alternate-day fasting may improve fat oxidation.
There’s also been a number of rat studies in which lifespan was improved by 15 to 20% and risk of age-related diseases was reduced versus rats that were allowed to eat whatever they wanted.[3,4]
We run into the same problems here that we ran into with fasted training, though. It’s very hard to conduct long-term dietary studies of this nature on humans, so there’s a very thin body of evidence to draw from. Rat studies form most of the basis for fasting theory. Of course, rat studies often don’t carry over to the same results in humans (especially for dieting), and one of the studies at the core of this theory is about to be 70 years old to boot!
The most recent human study tried to shed some light on fasting’s apparent benefits by studying the cells themselves. Cellular response indicated that theories about slower aging effects and disease prevention could have merit, but one study alone doesn’t make a slam dunk case.
Giving IF a go
Still, many people swear by their anecdotal results with intermittent fasting, which may be the best evidence we’ll ever actually get!
If you’re completely new to fasting, a good place to start would be the “pick two days of the week” technique that Horizon explored (also sometimes called the 5:2 diet). Host Michael Mosely, who is also formerly a doctor by trade before getting into TV journalism, was so happy with his own results he went on to write a book on the subject.
The 5:2 technique calls for sticking to your normal diet for five days a week, ensuring that you get enough calories to meet your basal metabolic rate and energy expenditure plus macronutrient needs. You pick out two days in which you’ll eat only 25% of your normal calories — likely about 500 for women and 600 for men. It’s important that these days be non-consecutive, and the more they can be spaced out the better.
A one pound per week weight loss projection
Using these numbers, the projection is that the 5:2 will lose you about one pound per week … but that’s in subjects not necessarily sticking to a regular and rigorous exercise schedule. Elevated metabolism from exercise plus keeping your calories clean could lead to even more weight loss!
It’s also possible to play around a bit with your caloric intake. Alternating 24 hour period of normal intake and a less severely reduced amount, such as 1000 calories on the “fast” day, will still restrict overall calories enough to promote weight loss.
As with fasted training, our position basically comes down to “do what feels good to you, because the science is up in the air.”
What’s really happening here?
One explanation for its success is that it simply lowers your overall average caloric take, and calories are still king – if you fast successfully, but don’t binge like mad on other days, you’re effectively lowering your intake. If this is what works for you, you like doing it, and you don’t see any negative side effects, then it could be a diet strategy you want to employ.
We just urge you to keep your lean protein intake high on those fasted days. Otherwise, when your vital functions require any essential amino acids to perform any biological functions, it may strip them from your muscles. This issue is known as catabolism, and nobody wants to lose their muscle tone! This leads us to the next idea:
Two products to consider in these situations: Pyroxamine and mTOR Pro
If you’re dieting, Myokem’s Pyroxamine is a focus-based fat burner that delivers powerful appetite suppression with carralluma fimbriata, olive leaf extract, bacopa monniera and evodia rutaecarpa to bust food cravings naturally!
But if you’re fasted dieting, then keeping your bloodstream full of amino acids may lead to incredible muscle-sparing and endurance benefits. Myokem’s new amino acid supplement, mTOR Pro, contains a time-released form of leucine, which is the most important essential amino acid for your muscles. Sipping on this throughout those fasted days may keep your appetite at bay and your muscles in a good state.