Archive for the Category Fasting


Fasted weight training – My personal approach

I’m going to try something a little different today. Instead of diet advice or reviewing research, today I’d like to share with you what I’m currently trying on myself, and give you some of the rational behind my personal approach.

As usual, I’m experimenting. It’s still Eat Stop Eat, but I’m also going to tell you what I’m doing on the days I’m not fasting.

Firstly, I do two fasts per week. My fasts are usually 20-24 hours long, depending on how I feel and time commitments.

At the end of each fast I do my main weight training sessions. So twice a week I weight train for about 1 hour, consisting of about 50-70 reps divided between 2 to 4 exercises per muscle group.

During my first workout I train my legs and my shoulders, then during my second workout I train my chest back and arms.

Once I’m done my workout I view the next 2-3 days as ‘muscle growth support’ so I eat to support the muscle repairing process.

This means eating 20-30 grams of protein every 4-6 hours, while keeping my calorie intake at roughly 14 times my current body weight (roughly 2,500 calories). Since about 500 of those calories come from my protein intake, the other 2,000 come from carbs fat and alcohol. I really don’t track any of these number as I only really care about ‘protein in’ and ‘calories in’.

I continue this process until it’s time to fast again. I view my fasts as a reset, my workout as the ‘start’, the next 2-3 days as the eating to support that workout, then I repeat.

I also rock climb twice a week, and do some gymnastics training whenever I feel the urge, but my weight training workouts are currently limited to these two times.

The other thing you need to know is how I tweak calories. I’m normally able to maintain my weight by eating about 2,500 calories on the days I’m not fasting, but if I want to bring my weight down a bit, here’s what I do:

I start with my ideal waist (Height x 0.447 = my ideal waist) <— that number only applies to men, women should use 0.382

I measure my waist at my belly button (women would be above belly button at narrowest point of your ’true waist’). For every 1 inch I am over my ideal, I subtract 1 from 14

So if my ideal waist is roughly 31.5 and I have a 33 inch waist then my daily calories are roughly my current weight multiplied by (14 – 1.5) or current weight x 12.5

**Since I never let my waist circumference reach over half my height (35 inches) this is never more than a 300 or 400 calorie reduction per day.

No matter what happens with calories, protein stays the same, roughly 4-5 protein meals per day, 4-6 hours apart, 20-30 grams with each meal.

And that’s it, that’s my entire approach. Simple, uncomplicated, and hopefully effective. Yes I eat breakfast most days, and no I don’t know how many grams of carbs or fats I eat, but I can tell you I eat them both 😉

Really, other than the eating, this approach takes up two 24 hour periods of my life, not a big deal to me, and fits perfectly with my schedule.

The only real differences between this and what I normally do is the lowered frequency of workouts and their timing.

This new low training frequency is new to me, I’ve trained as much as two times per day, and usually train around 5 times a week, but I want to experiment with doing less…

The timing is based off my work with inflammation and muscle growth, and a guess that in the long run training at or near the end of a fast may help.

Over the next couple months I’ll let you know how it is going, so if you’re interested in following along, you can save this post as a reference.

Who created fasting?

Intermittent Fasting isn’t new. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

I recently read an on-line forum thread that was discussing the invention Intermittent Fasting – People were suggesting it was either me, Martin Berkhan or Ori Hofmekler – and while we all did our parts to help popularize Intermittent Fasting (as did many others) none of us would ever dream of claiming to have ‘invented’ it.

Why? Because it’s been around for a long, long time.

I found a reference leading back to the early 200’s AD, where the philosopher Plotinus (born in 205 AD) advised one of his students Rogatianus, (a member of the Roman senate) to only eat every second day. As a result it is said that Rogatianus regained his health and was cured of his gout.

Now, we also know that Rogatianus also stopped eating meat, and knowing what we know now about Gout, that probably played a big role  (fasting certainly doesn’t get all the credit), however the important part of this story its that this is the earliest recording I have found of intermittent fasting being used for curative health purposes, but I’m sure there are earlier examples.

The point is that A) nobody alive today invented intermittent fasting and B) that intermittent fasting should not be viewed as some new way of eating, instead it should be viewed as a rediscovered way of eating.

Truth be told, Intermittent fasting may be popular, but it’s not a fad diet – we’ve known about the health benefits of fasting for close to 2,000 years.

Your fasting may be odd to some people, because to them its new and different, but remember you’re really not doing anything new, you’re simply adopting a style of eating that was favored by some of the world’s greatest philosophers.

How fasting works

Let me clarify — fasting is a LITTLE BIT bad for you — which is sooo good for you…

Get this… Your body responds to stress.

Fasting is a bit of a stress.

Not a big ‘I’m gonna die’ kinda stress.

[…It probably rates somewhere between a hard math test and a paper cut…]

the point is… It’s stressful, and your body has to respond to that stress, which is why it is good for you. Here’s how fasting works…

Fact: The occasional stressful ‘challenge’ is imperative to the proper functioning of your biological systems.

Or, in more standard talk – You were not meant to live life in a bubble.

Did you know that right after you are done fasting, your insulin sensitivity is actually decreased?…

It’s true. But do you know what happens after a couple weeks of occasional fasting?… Your insulin sensitivity improves. Better than it was before. […a good thing BTW…]

Stress. Stress response. Improved biological function.

Exercise works in the same manner.

I can remember the first time I saw an SEM micrograph picture of a calf muscle that was taken before, then immediately after a workout.

The before pic was a beautiful picture of these perfect muscle fibers. Thin cords of color all running parallel in a display of amazing organization. It looked perfect.  The second image was of the same muscle fibers, only now they looked like they had been hit by a grenade. The fibres were all frayed and damaged. It was horrible.

Then sure enough another picture was shown that was taken a week later. Not only were the fibers back to being perfectly organized, they were now a little bit thicker in some spots.

My point is, had you only looked at the first two pictures, you’d think that working out was the worst thing you could possibly do for your muscles.

But, if you look at all THREE pictures, you see that the little bit of stress caused by the workout created beneficial effects inside the body.

Stress leads to… Stress response leads to… Improved biological function…

This is exactly how fasting works.

Which means that the occasional ‘fasting stress’ helps you get leaner and healthier!

So keep this in mind the next time someone says ‘fasting is bad for you’…

You can simply reply ‘of course it is, that’s why it is so good for me’

[…And chuckle up your sleeve as you watch them try to puzzle that out… 🙂 ]

Who Owns the rights to Fasting?

I’ll cut right to the chase with this one – I find it amusing watching today’s health and fitness personalities argue over who owns which idea.

Amusing because you really can’t OWN an idea in health and fitness because it’s all been done before.

Fasting? ANCIENT.

Not eating carbs? Your great grandmother already went through that trend.

Not eating at night, only eating at night, high protein, milk only, you name it, it has been done before.

So here is my take – It’s a courtesy to give a ‘shout out’ to the person or place where you first read about the idea, and it’s definitely NOT OK to take someone else’s words or writing and use them as your own, but the idea? people don’t really own them.

There are probably going to be dozens of intermittent fasting books coming out over the next year or two, and I’m all for anything that increases the exposure of the benefits of Intermittent Fasting. I like it when I’m quoted, and I also like the fact that more and more people are realizing it’s a viable and effective way to help others lose weight… and in the end it’s a win for me and for Eat Stop Eat.

Even my most recent work – Compound Training, has most likely been done in some form or version before.

It is important to realize that our obsession with health and fitness and muscles and fat loss is easily over a hundred years old, and more than likely dates all the way back to the invention of the mirror.

In fact, if you want a great read on some of the early history of Health and Fitness you should check out the Book ‘Mr. America’ about the life of Bernarr MacFadden. Believer it or not, in this book you’ll find that fasting, weight training, vegetarianism, whole milk diets etc. were all popular trends more than a century ago.

Everything old is new, and everything new is old.

Why Intermittent Fasting Works Well for Women

Diet fads are usually controversial and ineffective weight loss strategies, however dieters give them a try every time they appear on the market.

And one of the latest diet craze that everyone is talking about is intermittent fasting.

This way of fasting became a popular after the doctor Michael Mosley made a BBC documentary called ‘Eat, Fast Live Longer’.

In a nutshell, this plan involves two days of very low calorie dieting (fasting) each week and allows eating well on the other days of the week.

Many dieters in UK have reported about decent decrease of body fat levels as result of following intermittent fasting routine.

But the most likes the plan are getting from women’s side, who found that they are able to eat the same serving sizes as their male partners in a restraint or at home and still be on a calorie deficit.

How is it possible?

Well, as you probably know, absolute metabolic rates for men and women are very different.

If you take a man with a specific height and age, his resting metabolic rate will be significantly higher than it is for women of the same height and age.

A 5’10 tall man could easily burn around 1900cals/day with RMR alone. While a 5’10 woman is able to expenditure only approximately 1450 calories or 450 calories less.

Consider also that men are commonly higher than women, meaning that in real life the difference is even more notable.

This fact is very easily to observe when people are married or just eat together.

In eating places, plates are identical and a woman usually eats the same portion size as a man.

At home she also seldom leaves a part of chicken breast or omelet on her plate.

This is a concern of women.

Women are facing with too many food ‘attacks’ in their lives that force them to eat more calories than their BMR allows.

When a woman follows intermittent fasting, she skips around two-four daily meals that lead to a great calorie deficit.

So, intermittent fasting helps to create a large negative reserve of calories that permits women to eat a big meal in a restaurant without worries about how much calorie it contains.

Of course, there is a chance to overeat even with intermittent fasting, but on the other hand, you will get an opportunity to enjoy your favorite meals five days a week and stop missing social events just because you’re on a diet.

More over, your colleagues or friends will hardly guess that you are trying to lose weight because you will be able to eat even junk food.

While in reality you will consume fewer calories over the course of the week, keeping your little weight loss “secret” from others.


Read also:

Forum topic: Does Intermittent Fasting Work for Women?

Blog post:  5 Day Water Fasting Experience

The funny thing about starvation mode (not really funny)

The funny thing about starvation mode is this – the definition keeps on changing.

It used to be that ‘if you didn’t eat every three hours your metabolism would crash and you’d start to lose muscle.’

This was proven to be a big fat lie.

Then it became ‘If you are on a low calorie diet for too long you can actually start gaining weight, even while in a calorie deficit’

Again, big fat lie.

Then, starvation mode grew up a bit. It became ‘if you are on a low calorie diet for an extended period of time and have very low body fat you can start to see metabolic complications including muscle loss and an altered metabolism, especially if you are undertaking constant strenuous exercise’

This definition is kind of hard to argue with, but I’d also hope that this should be somewhat obvious to most people, since this isn’t ‘starvation mode’ as much as it is the classic definition of ‘wasting’.

Now here is something less obvious – my own definition of a true starvation mode.

The classic symptoms of ‘starvation mode’ – muscle loss and an altered metabolic rate can absolutely occur when you starve your muscles… from exercise.

‘Disuse atrophy’ is when a muscle shrinks in size as a result of not being used or stressed. It can occur quickly (just think of an arm in a cast) or slowly (someone stops working out, but isn’t bed ridden).

And, if your entire body isn’t being used at all, you will burn less calories per day then someone who is moving.

Interestingly, it’s even more complicated then just losing muscle because you’re not using it.

When you don’t use your muscles they become “anabolic resistant”. Meaning, the physiology of your muscles changes and they become resistant to the anabolic affects of protein and amino acids.

When people are subjected to prolonged bed rest, feeding them amino acids or protein doesn’t help prevent the muscle loss that occurs.

The only thing that does is resistance training, especially when combined with protein or amino acids.

So in my eyes true starvation mode is what happens when you starve your muscles of meaningful contractions – movement, lifting, pulling these types of things.

In this regard a very large percentage of the population is in ‘starvation mode’

This is why Eat Stop Eat is the combination of fasting for weight loss AND resistance training. It’s a two part system.

You are never in a prolonged calorie deficit, in any given week you spend more time eating then you do fasting, and you are resistance training.

No starvation mode, no muscle loss, no messed up metabolism.

In my opinion the resistance training is just as important as the fasting.