“I had literally starved myself for four months – not a morsel of food – to get into that pair of size 10 Calvin Klein jeans.” – Oprah Winfrey
Intermittent fasting is one of the easiest ways to lose weight.
Let’s face it. There aren’t many easy diet plans out there. It’s ironic that so many people focus on what to eat in order to lose weight when one of the best ways to lose weight is to simply not eat anything. I began intermittent fasting about a year ago and since then, I have reduced my body fat percentage by over 65%. Sure, there were other factors that contributed to this, but intermittent fasting was a big one. There are two main reasons people don’t consider intermittent fasting when trying to lose fat. First, they are afraid of causing their body to go into “starvation mode”. Second, they think it’s too difficult.
First, let me address the starvation mode myth.
Your body will not go into starvation mode if you go without food for 18-24 hours which is the length of time I recommend for fasting. There is no internal panic button that goes off after a few hours of not eating that signals to your body that it is in danger and that it must immediately hold on to body fat stores. On the contrary, your body will burn off stored body fat as energy after a few hours due to the absence of food energy.
I would actually argue that eating infrequently is the natural way to eat because this is the way our bodies were genetically programmed to eat.
Think about it. Does going into starvation mode after a few hours actually make any sense? Our hunter gatherer ancestors often went for 24 hours without eating because they didn’t have readily accessible food and they were leaner and fitter than we are. They had to hunt and it’s not like a deer or bison would show up on their doorstep every few hours. The starvation mode myth was created by the food industry to convince people that they need to eat every few hours so that they will buy more food… what a shocker.
Now that I’ve hopefully convinced you that intermittent fasting isn’t a bad thing, on to the next point.
Intermittent fasting is not difficult if you go about it the right way. It’s actually more of a mental challenge than anything. It mostly involves changing the way your mind is programmed to think about eating. I think we have all experienced a time when we weren’t hungry, but somehow convinced ourselves to eat. Well, it can also work the other way around. This might cause some temporary discomfort, but if it were easy, everyone would do it. Just suck it up and get over it. Quit telling yourself you can’t skip a meal or two and just do it. So without keeping you in suspense any longer, here are three tricks that I use to help me get through my intermittent fasts.
If you don’t feel like eating during a meal time, then don’t.
Sometimes, I don’t feel hungry in the mornings. So, I skip breakfast. Sorry to burst the food industry’s bubble again, but skipping breakfast isn’t a bad thing. I know people who never eat breakfast and stay very lean. If you aren’t hungry at night, then skip dinner. Maybe you had a huge lunch or just had a long day and would rather hit the sack than eat. Again, there is nothing wrong with this. An unplanned skipped meal is the perfect way to kick-start a fast.
Keep yourself occupied with something.
Have you ever been so busy that you forgot to eat? I know this has happened to everyone at some point. Or maybe not even busy, but preoccupied with something. I’m sure we all remember the days we were 10 and stayed glued to the television for eight hours straight playing a brand new video game without any thought of personal hygiene, sleep, or food. I’m not suggesting you do this, but the general principle really does work. Schedule your fast within a time period when you are extremely busy or engaged in something. This makes not eating much easier to pull off because you won’t even think about it.
Pick a convenient time window.
Some people find it easier to begin their fast in the morning. Some find it easier to begin at night. It all depends on your preference. My personal preference is to begin my fast in the evening right after a giant cheat meal. This is why I usually fast on Saturdays. I typically go out with my friends on Friday evening and eat an enormous cheat meal so my fast usually begins around 7 or 8pm. Then, I sleep in on Saturday. I tend to stay up pretty late on the weekends, so I usually have no problem sleeping in until 11am or later sometimes. I then either workout or do some chores around the house and eat my first meal on Saturday around 3 or 4pm. There’s my weekly fast: about 20 hours without eating and it doesn’t bother me one bit. This also becomes easier once you make part of your routine. I’m not necessarily suggesting you do what I do. Most people I know can’t sleep in as late as I can. Like I said, it’s different for everyone, so just figure out a strategy that works well for you.
Here’s a short video by Brad Pilon emphasizing the importance of the mental aspect of fasting.
One more important thing to note…
When it comes to intermittent fasting, remember that you’re not starving yourself. You are working towards a goal. Also, you should only do this once or twice per week max. Any more than that and you are less likely to stick with it over the long haul. And sticking with it over the long haul is what yields results. In fact, I recommend only one 18-24 hour fast per week. To learn more about intermittent fasting, the best resource you can read is Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat. I strongly recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn how intermittent fasting works and why it beats the pants off of other easy diet plans.