For this post, the subject line is the best executive summary. Note that the subject is not “Lose fat fast!”; it’s “Lose Fat. Fast!”
But before we go there, let’s start off with the universal law of weight loss. There are really only 3 ways to lose weight. If I list them in order of how unpleasant they may be (i.e. least pleasant first), they are:
- Become dehydrated
- Physical removal of parts of your body from other parts of your body
- Prolonged negative energy balance through caloric restriction and/or increased exercise.
That’s it. Those are the only ways you will lose weight. Assuming you are most interested in #3, this post, and several follow ups will describe:
- Some context on dieting and weight loss in general,
- The most lifestyle-friendly technique to lose weight in the form of body fat (because 4L is all about healthy choices you can live with),
- The health benefits of this technique (without getting too science-y on you),
- The lifestyle benefits of this technique, and
- My experience with this technique and suggestions on how to begin should you choose to give it a try,
As with my post about transporting yourself to good health, what you are about to read requires an open mind. It’s not for everybody. But most people who undergo the process, love the results.
Some Context on Dieting and Weight Loss
Every day we hear of a new revolutionary diet that breaks all the rules we ever thought we knew about weight loss. Some of you may have tried some of them and they worked for you, at least until the weight came back But while they were working, it wasn’t because you were:
- Avoiding carbs
- Avoiding gluten
- Eating like a caveman
- Detoxing and cleansing
- Eating like Jared
- Only eating raw foods
Nope, they only were successful because, whether you know it or not, you were cutting calories. You see most of these diets work by restricting the consumption of significant categories of food. A natural byproduct is that they usually cut calories as well. They tend to succeed in the short-term because they provide easy-to-remember rules for eating. They tend to fail in the long-term because those rules are not sustainable. And they’re not sustainable because they prevent you from eating food you crave and/or they seriously cramp your lifestyle.
There is a way, however, to reduce calorie consumption and continue eating the foods you enjoy, all without impacting your lifestyle. That way is…
Not starving mind you, fasting. Or more specifically Intermittent Fasting.
First of all, how does it work? Well if you skip a number of meals in a row without compensating later, by definition you have a negative energy balance. If you do this once or twice a week for an extended period, you have a prolonged energy deficit. That’s it.
The remainder of this post will describe the simple rules of intermittent fasting.
- For fat loss, don’t eat anything for about 24 hours once or twice a week. For maintenance, don’t eat anything for about 24 hours every ten days or so.
- Drink all of the zero calorie beverages you want. This mostly means water, black coffee, unadulterated tea. Yes diet soda and clear broths technically comply but beware of the slippery slope. Also there is some evidence that artificial sweeteners increase cravings and cravings (not hunger) is what you will be fighting in the late hours of the fast.
- When not fasting, eat as you normally would. No more. No less. Obviously a little treat or a little extra at the end of a fast isn’t going to cancel all the benefit. But with fasting, the biggest challenge is a mind-over-matter issue and one of the tricks is to avoid that slippery slope.
- To ensure your weight loss is fat and not muscle, do resistance exercise. This is not absolutely necessary but worth the effort for many reasons. I’ll do another post on how to spend less than 2 hours a week conforming to this without the need for any gym time.
- Extra Credit: For extra health benefit, eat more plants and season them with a variety of herbs and spices. Try and sway the ratio of vegetables to fruits that you eat in the direction of vegetables. And don’t forget nuts and beans. There are other things you could do to tweak your normal diet. You know what’s good and bad for you. But at this stage, don’t feel you have to worry about it. I’l talk about that more later.
Those are the rules. Intermittent Fasting is not nearly as Draconian as other popular diets. How many diets do you know that use words like “about 24 hours” or “every 24 hours or so”? How many diets allow you to eat as you normally eat most days of the week? Still, I know you’re skeptical. Intermittent Fasting is definitely not for everyone. But once you learn all of the heath and lifestyle benefits, I think many of you will want to give it a try. Once you see how quickly the results add up, you’ll want to continue.
In future posts I will discuss those benefits as well as my experience with this technique. This will give you an opportunity to learn from my mistakes. But to be honest, this is a nutrition plan that is very hard to screw up. If you want to skip ahead, here are the results when you Google “Intermittent Fasting“. Or go directly to the site of the acknowledged guru on intermittent fasting, Brad Pilon.