I get a lot of questions about intermittent fasting (IF). Here are some of the most popular questions I get asked.
Q & A to better understand intermittent fasting and how it can help you LOSE FAT FAST.
“Won’t I get really hungry?”
This is generally a result of the habits you have built for your body. If you are constantly eating or always eat the same time of day, your body can actually learn to prepare itself for food by beginning the process of insulin production and preparation for food. After a brief adjustment period, your body can adapt to the fact that it’s only eating a few times a day.
Remember, your body’s physical and cognitive abilities aren’t diminished as a result of fasting.
“Where will I get my energy for my workouts? Won’t I be exhausted and not be able to complete my workouts if fasting?”
This was a major concern of mine as well. And for my first workout or two, it was very weird to not eat a heavy carb meal before training. However, after a few sessions, I learned that my body could certainly function (and even thrive) during my training sessions despite not eating a pre-workout meal.
“I like the idea of fasted training, but I work a regular 9-5 and can’t train at 11AM. What am I supposed to do?”
Martin from LeanGains lays out a few different options for you, depending on your training schedule. The best advice is to not freak out and overanalyze unless you are an elite athlete concerned with the absolute optimal performance at all time.
If you’re just a normal guy or gal looking to drop a few pounds and get stronger, do the best you can.
“Won’t fasting cause muscle loss?”
Another big concern of mine, but it turns out…it was unfounded. We’ve been told by the supplement industry that we need to consume 30 g of protein every few hours, as that’s the most amount of protein our body can process at a time. Along with that, we’ve been told that if we don’t eat protein every few hours, our body’s muscle will start to break down to be burned as energy.
Again, NOT TRUE! This study shows that our bodies are quite adept at preserving muscle even when fasting, and it turns out that protein absorption by our body can take place over so many hours. Protein consumed in a shorter period of time has no difference on the body compared to protein spread throughout the day.
“What about my body going into starvation mode from not eating?”
Now, the thought process here is that when we don’t feed ourselves, our bodies assume calories aren’t available and thus choose to store more calories than burning them, eliminating the benefits of weight loss with fasting. Fortunately, this is NOT true.
As Martin from LeanGains so eloquently explains (as you can tell, he’s good at this stuff):
“The earliest evidence for lowered metabolic rate in response to fasting occurred after 60 hours (-8% in resting metabolic rate). Other studies show metabolic rate is not impacted until 72-96 hours have passed.
Seemingly paradoxical, metabolic rate is actually increased in short-term fasting. For some concrete numbers, studies have shown an increase of 3.6% – 10% after 36-48 hours (Mansell PI, et al, and Zauner C, et al). Epinephrine and norepinephrine (adrenaline/noradrenaline) sharpens the mind and makes us want to move around. Desirable traits that encouraged us to seek for food, or for the hunter to kill his prey, increasing survival. At some point, after several days of no eating, this benefit would confer no benefit to survival and probably would have done more harm than good; instead, an adaptation that favored conservation of energy turned out to be advantageous.”
“This sounds crazy, I’m not gonna do it.”
That’s cool. Are you losing body fat, building muscle, and getting a clean bill of health from your doctor? If you can say yes to those things, AWESOME. Keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s working.
However, if what you’re doing ISN’T working, or you’re not getting the results you were hoping for, why not give it a chance? Hopefully the dozens of studies at least peak your curiosity. Self-experimentation is the best way to determine WHAT methods work for you.
I could never skip breakfast. How do you do it?
I don’t. Breakfast foods are my favorite, so I just eat them at 1pm each day. Also, if you eat a big dinner the night before, I think you’ll be surprised by how much energy you have in the morning. Most of the worries or concerns that people have about intermittent fasting are due to the fact that they have had it pounded into them by companies that they need to eat breakfast or they need to eat every three hours and so on. The science doesn’t support it and neither do my personal experiences.
I thought you were supposed to eat every 3 hours?
You may have heard people say that you should have six meals per day or eat every 3 hours or something like that.
Here’s why this was a popular idea for a brief period of time:
Your body burns calories when it’s processing food. So the thought behind the more meals strategy was that if you ate more frequently, you would also burn more calories throughout the day. Thus, eating more meals should help you lose weight.
Here’s the problem: The amount of calories you burn is proportional to the size of the meal your body is processing. So, digesting six smaller meals that add up to 2000 calories burns the same amount of energy as processing two large meals of 1000 calories each. It doesn’t matter if you get your calories in 10 meals or in 1 meal, you’ll end up in the same place.
This is crazy. If I didn’t eat for 24 hours, I’d die.
Honestly, I think the mental barrier is the biggest thing that prevents people from fasting because it’s really not that hard to do in practice.
Here are a few reasons why intermittent fasting isn’t as crazy as you think it is.
First, fasting has been practiced by various religious groups for centuries. Medical practitioners have also noted the health benefits of fasting for thousands of years. In other words, fasting isn’t some new fad or crazy marketing ploy. It’s been around for a long time and it actually works.
Second, fasting seems foreign to many of us simply because nobody talks about it that much. The reason for this is that nobody stands to make much money by telling you to not eat their products, not take their supplements, or not buy their goods. In other words, fasting isn’t a very marketable topic and so you’re not exposed to advertising and marketing on it very often. The result is that it seems somewhat extreme or strange, even though its really not.
Third, you’ve probably already fasted many times, even though you don’t know it. Have you ever slept in late on the weekends and then had a late brunch? Some people do this every weekend. In situations like these, we often eat dinner the night before and then don’t eat until 11am or noon or even later. There’s your 16–hour fast and you didn’t even think about it.
Finally, I would suggest doing one 24–hour fast even if you don’t plan on doing intermittent fasting frequently. It’s good to teach yourself that you’ll survive just fine without food for a day. Plus, as I’ve outlined with multiple research studies throughout this article, there are a lot of health benefits.