Disclaimer and Waiver of Liability

The full content of this document are for informational purposes only and does not provide any medical advice. Statements within have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This content is intended for use only by healthy adult individuals. All individuals are specifically warned to seek professional medical advice prior to initiating any form of weight loss exercise or nutritional program.

The author does not accept any responsibility or liability for damages of any kind from any actions you take from the information provided. By continuing to read this document and all pages you agree to all terms as stated above.

Use of any of the information contained within is at your own risk.

Note From the Author

I started out with this book back in 2008 to help people understand all there was to know about using “IF” (intermittent fasting) for weight loss/health. Over the years it has evolved from many revisions, title changes, and was even over 300 pages at one point (Yikes!).

Now I have come up with what I believe to be the most focused and informative version of this book. I kept in the key information and messages while taking out the other “fluff”.

Now in 2023 I am giving this book away for FREE so everyone can take charge of their own healthy lifestyle.

I hope you enjoy the book and are able to apply the information to create your own freeing “IF Life”style!

2 Meal Mike
The IF Life (www.theiflife.com)
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved

Introduction


What is the Most Important Meal?

I Never Wanted a Big Breakfast
Since I was a kid I never really wanted a big breakfast (how many kids do you know that run off to school without eating anything?). Of course back then I would probably have something because my parents would “make me” eat it (Yuck, I know). It usually consisted of heavy meals such as a stack of pancakes. Sadly much of those school days were spent struggling to stay awake until lunch time.

As I got older and was on my own I would eat whatever time I was really hungry later on in the morning. I really never ate when I woke up as it was usually hours later, and even then it was pretty light (maybe some fruit and a couple eggs). It just seemed right and I had enough energy to get me till the next meal whenever that was.

Making My Own Schedule
Eating according to all the “socially programmed” hours of 8am, Noon and 6pm never felt right . I instead just adopted whatever schedule worked for me. Which mostly meant late light breakfasts (including sometimes not eat anything in the AM at all besides coffee), another smaller meal in the mid afternoon and then finally the larger meal at night.

Is Breakfast REALLY the most Important Meal of the Day?
While my natural instincts were always not craving a lot (or any) food in the morning, it seems the message out there today is that we need a large breakfast in order to help us lose weight and have energy. Why is that?

Energy without Breakfast? Say It Ain’t So!

“The no-breakfast plan with me proved a matter of life unto life. With my morning coffee there were forenoons of the highest physical energy, the clearest condition of mind, and the acutest sense of everything enjoyable.”

Source: The No Breakfast Plan, Dr E.H. Dewey, 1900

Many of the so-called “studies” (sadly usually funded by companies who sell breakfast foods…shocking isn’t it?) touting a benefit to eating a large breakfast for weight loss will really show under closer scrutiny, that there can be a benefit…but only if eating in the morning will prevent a person from overeating later on.

Seems like common sense right? But seems people have taken that as some official eating dogma about the only way to be healthy (and the media jumped on it full force too). It is still all about total calorie intake over the day after all, not necessarily what hour of the day it is done.

Big Breakfast…and I Need a Big Nap!
As for energy, the ironic part is that most always you will feel tired after any big meal. Digestion takes a lot of energy and blood flow, and you may have trouble just staying awake and focused. Kind of defeats the purpose of “fueling up” for the day if it wipes you out.

You will not see many (if any) societies in the past that would start their day with a heavy breakfast (unless it was at mid-late morning after working since early sunrise and now had time to “rest and digest” after their meal). It just wasn’t done!

Besides, did you know that you are more primed to be burning fat in the morning?

Morning Survival Mechanisms

“During the morning hours, when digestion is fully completed (while you are on an empty stomach), a primal survival mechanism, known as fight or flight reaction to stress, is triggered, maximizing your body’s capacity to generate energy, be alert, resist fatigue and resist stress.

This highly geared survival mode is primarily dominated by part of the autonomic nervous system known as the SNS (sympathetic nervous system). At that state, the body is in its most energy-producing phase and that’s when most energy comes from fat burning. All that happens when you do not eat the typical morning meal.

If however you follow what “normal guys” do and eat your morning bagel and cereal and egg & bacon, you’ll most likely shut down the above energy producing system.”

Source: “Diet Fallacy #1. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. Dragondoor.com, Ori Hofmekler, author of The Warrior Diet

The Most Important Meal is…a Tie!
What you can take from all this is that breakfast is no more important than lunch or dinner when your total daily calories are still in check. If skipping breakfast only leads you to uncontrollable binge eating (excess calories), then having something to eat in the AM will work better for you.

For many others, we are fine with little to nothing until later on and can still be under control. This allows you to actually eat more in tune with what your body is signaling or needing. The freedom to eat on your own terms, not according to what any “revolutionary study” or some “expert/authority” deems to be right.

Most of the time, they are just selling something anyways in the process. Modern marketing and press releases seem to have combined to convince the public to act a certain way.

I would rather just find what works for me and ignore the rest…wouldn’t you?

Meals and Calories

Meals in Ancient Times
Believe it or not, you will be hard pressed to find any older/ancient civilizations that were based around a big (if any) breakfast. People back then would do most of their labor/work first thing in the morning, saving their first real meal till more around what is more commonly known as “lunch time”. Eating a big meal first thing in the AM before doing daily work was not something they saw as a good idea (and for good reason).

Strength and Vitality of Ancient Greeks

“Barely two centuries ago, the first meal of the day in England was taken about noon. Breakfast was an unrecognized meal and it originated in the practice of ladies taking an early dish of chocolate before rising. The ancient Greeks–the finest of people, physically and mentally, that ever lived–ate but two meals a day.” ~ Source: The Hygienic System; Dr Shelton, 1935
“The Greeks did not just eat to live, on the contrary from earliest times dining had enormous social importance. In addition, most of the dialogues of Plato were written during the dining and the symposium. The basic Greek diet was both frugal and monotonous. Ancient Athenians ate two meals a day – a light lunch, known as Ariston and dinner known as Deipnon, their main meal.”

Source: Greek Heritage, The American Quarterly of Greek Culture; C G. Janus, 1963

In fact, some of the past societies that we cherish for their health, vigor, wisdom/philosophy, athletic ability, strength, and many other things did not favor eating breakfast.

Even if they occasionally did eat in the morning, it was nothing more than some olives, figs, fruit or even homemade bread dipped in wine/ale. The largest meal was always at the end of a hard day, to relax and celebrate for hours with friends, family, or whoever was around. Dinner was more socially important, than just another time to eat.

What if Calories Matter over Longer Periods, Not Hours
Here’s a little secret about calories that you will not really hear In any mainstream weight loss book/article/conversation, that it doesn’t really “urgently” matter what you eat per meal.

It’s the long-term calorie load effect over days and weeks that determines how much you really burn and store as fat in the long run (and, of course, the state of your metabolism).

So what does that mean? It means trying to have exact calorie mini-meals proportioned out 6x a day and the same calorie intake daily is a very complicated/confusing way to eat (but it makes for a great industry in selling stuff).

How about you just focus on the bigger picture and know that higher calorie days can be offset with lower calorie days? How about instead you see that by selecting some days to be lower in calories you can have more flexibility on the other days and how you eat? How about we get back some of the freedom that all those diets have taken away and find a solution for a lifetime?

All Day is Harder to control Total Calories
If I gave you all day to eat from the time you woke up till when you went to bed, chances are you will eat a combination of meals and snacks all day long (like most people). This is where the hidden damage of the “snacking” mentality that most “diets” push can come in. All those little calories DO add up.

Pretty soon after a whole day of “snacking” (and the increased hunger that comes from snacking, especially on processed foods/snacks) you may have taken in way too many calories and in the process given all the wrong hormonal responses.

Unless you have total control and know exact calories (which is very time consuming and complicated) this can easily happen. Sometimes all it takes is one little snack or flavored coffee drink that can put your calorie total over for the day and keep you from burning more fat than you are storing.

Condensing Eating Makes Calorie Control Easier
So, how do you combat these tendencies and take back control? Simple, on certain days just condense down the eating window and only eat between certain hours.

Not so complicated is it? These are windows that you can easily control for long term weight loss/maintenance. By following some simple rules you can eliminate calorie counting and still be able to lose weight. You will also not have to feel deprived of anything, as what you eat is still up to you!

This is the true power of using this kind of eating lifestyle presented in this report. It is flexible, enjoyable and can fit your individual tastes and enjoyment! As we are all individualistic in our tastes, likes, schedules and therefore our approach should also be flexible enough to keep consistency for long term results.

Success comes in being able to make it work for you!

Eat to Enjoy and Reward a Hard Day’s Work

“For more than a thousand years the one meal plan was the established rule among the civilized nations inhabiting the coast-lands of the Mediterranean. The evening repast—call it supper or dinner—was a kind of domestic festival, the reward of the day’s toil, an enjoyment which rich and poor refrained from marring by premature gratifications of their appetite.”

Source: Fasting, Hydropathy and Exercise, MacFadden; 1900

Biggest Weight Loss Myth

What are You Getting Sold on?
The weight loss/diet niche is the hottest (and very profitable) industry to be in nowadays. Look around and you will see celebrities writing books about it, new pills from some special berry in Uganda or some crazy ab-contraption. It is a billion dollar market and everyone wants in on the action.

With that comes so many myths and misconceptions that have been passed down by word of mouth for so long, that it’s now thought of as proven science. No one even questions the things they hear anymore.

In fact, many marketers will just continue to exploit those myths for profit knowing you won’t even question them. There is one particular myth used by practically everyone nowadays. It fuels a whole complicated eating plan which companies are getting rich off, and you are getting frustrated with!

The Myth Revealed
Are you ready to hear the biggest myth/misconception that you will hear all the time in mainstream media and from people when talking about how to lose weight? You may not be ready for what I am about to say. I warned you.
Ask many trainers, nutritionists, doctors, diet gurus or your overweight neighbor and they will probably all tell you this same statement as a scientifically proven fact:

“You need to eat smaller and more frequent meals through-out the day in order to increase/speed-up your metabolism”

What is the real verdict? This statement is not 100% true!!

But how can so Many People be Wrong?
It’s usually the masses that are passing along wrong information in the first place (in an attempt to seem wise to others usually). Well if this is such a well known fact, then why aren’t we all slim and fit from following it?

OK to be fair, there are plenty of people who can and do lose weight by eating multiple times per day (let’s say 6x a day as most modern weight loss “diets” preach). But also remember the # 1 “secret” of all diets and how they really work is being a state of calorie deficit. Whether you do that in 3, 6, or 10 meals a day. However you will see there is nothing “magical” about it when it comes to your metabolism.

I’m not saying it Doesn’t Work
Don’t get confused with my message about eating smaller and more meals all day long. I said above I know it “can” work (because of the calorie deficit it promotes) to eat 6x a day. Eating smaller meals, to keep overeating under control. At the end of the day you have still eaten less than normal, but just spread those calories out more often to keep the total daily number under control.

However the real question is, was it because those frequent smaller meals “magically sped up” your metabolism to burn more calories? The real answer to that assumption is a big fat NO!

Turning up the Heat
Somehow most people think if you eat more often, then you increase your metabolism with a higher “thermogenesis”. Thermogenesis is where the body expels energy in the form of heat through what it has to do (and in this case we are talking about the energy of digesting food). But here’s the fun “sciency” part, if you eat the same DAILY amount of food/calories split into either 6 meals or 3 meals, isn’t that the same amount of digestive energy required overall?

Isn’t 1500 calories still 1500 calories at the end of the day whether you split it 6 times or 3 times? So how is there any real advantage to splitting it up all day long into smaller more frequent meals when the calorie load is the same? Well according to plenty of research (seen below), there is NO such advantage!

Science Agrees there is No Metabolic Advantage
to Eating Multiple Meals

“Since the 1960s, epidemiological studies have reported an inverse relationship between frequency of eating and body weight, suggesting that a “nibbling” pattern could help to prevent obesity. This notion has later been put into question by the recognition of a high level of dietary under-reporting in overweight individuals. In addition, no difference in total daily energy expenditure has been documented as a function of daily meal number. Weight loss is not facilitated by high meal frequency. ”

Source: “Impact of the daily meal pattern on energy balance”, France Bellisle, Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition, Oct 2004
“More importantly, studies using whole-body calorimetry and doubly-labeled water to assess total 24 h energy expenditure find no difference between nibbling and gorging. Finally, with the exception of a single study, there is no evidence that weight loss on hypoenergetic regimens is altered by meal frequency. We conclude that any effects of meal pattern on the regulation of body weight are likely to be mediated through effects on the food intake side of the energy balance equation.”
Source: “Meal frequency and energy balance”; Br J Nutr. 1997 Apr;77 Suppl 1:S57-70.

“To a group of 8 healthy persons a slightly hypocaloric diet with protein (13% of energy), carbohydrates (46% of energy) and fat (41% of energy) was given as one meal or as five meals in a change-over trial….Changes of body weight were statistically not significant. ..The heat production calculated by indirect calorimetry was not significantly different with either meal frequency. …The results demonstrate that the meal frequency did not influence the energy balance.”
Source: “Thermogenesis in humans after varying meal time frequency”; Wolfram G, Kirchgessner M, Maller HL, Hollomey S.

“In the short-term, meal frequency and a period of fasting have no major impact on energy intake or expenditure but energy expenditure is delayed with a lower meal frequency compared with a higher meal frequency.”
Source: “Compared with nibbling, neither gorging nor a morning fast affect short-term energy balance in obese patients in a chamber calorimeter “ M A Taylor, J S Garrow, International Journal of Obesity (2001) 25, 519-528

There have been reports of an inverse relationship between meal frequency (MF) and adiposity. It has been postulated that this may be explained by favorable effects of increased MF on appetite control and possibly on gut peptides as well…However, there were NS (no significant) differences between the low- and high-MF groups for adiposity indices, appetite measurements or gut peptides (peptide YY and ghrelin) either before or after the intervention. We conclude that increasing MF does not promote greater body weight loss under the conditions described in the present study.
Source: “Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet.”, Cameron JD, Cyr MJ, Doucet E. Br J Nutr. 2009 Nov 30:1-4.

The Body Knows What it is Doing
Even with all that information above, some people will still stress that eating more often is superior in some way for fat burning. However even with really low meal frequency the body still knows how to self regulate over the long run (which is a fact often left out, as it doesn’t help sell any diet plans or supplements).

One study (Stote KS et al 2007) compared just 3 meals/day to 1 meal/day on body-weight regulation mechanisms over the long run. When eating their maintenance calorie load (whether in 3 or 1 meal) per day, over 6 months both groups maintained their body weight (within 2kg of their initial weight).

Another study (Verboeket-van de Venne WP 1991) compared 2 meals per day vs 7 meals, with identical calorie load. What they found was no difference in total 24-hour energy expenditure and no difference in total protein oxidation.

While the 7 meals/day (nibbling) pattern had constant steady fat/carb oxidation (burning for energy) levels, the 2 meals per day had higher initial carb oxidation after meals and higher fat oxidation other times of day. In other words, it all evens out when you look at the bigger picture of 24 hours a day!

You Don’t “Need” all those Bars, Shakes and Meal Plans
Supplement companies are making a killing in the weight loss world on “special” snack bars, meal replacement shakes, and prepackaged meals all based around this eat more often to “speed up” your metabolism myth.

Do you now see why everyone “thinks” they need to eat more? It is because that myth is constantly being “pushed” (sold) to the general public as a scientific fact, when it is actually just a great marketing approach!

You will see celebrities on TV getting paid millions to lose weight on those types of programs (when we all should realize now that the real magic is in the total energy calorie deficit, not the amount of meals).

Calories are what matter. If you need to eat 6 smaller meals to keep yourself from binging later on (and going overboard on the total daily calories), then this approach may be the best way for you. If you enjoy eating smaller meals and more times each day, that is up to you and I’m not going to stop you.

But I personally think it is more dangerous to tell everyone they need to eat/snack all the time, as that is just setting up for some mindless and unhealthy relationships with our food. No good can come from that (or should I say “has” come from it).

Once people tire out of those complicated diets (and most all do), they continue that eating/nibbling pattern and the calories just add right back up again! How is this a real and lasting solution?

Time for a better way, and freedom from this obsession.

Believe it or Not…Some Stress is Good

Life “Used” to Be Challenging
Everything in nature is meant to survive on some level, from plant life to animals to us humans (I’m assuming no animal or plant is reading this of course). You have built-in protective systems such as the immune system and the ability to rebuild and repair your own body (think of a broken leg, a doctor just puts it in a cast but the body does all the rest).

You have those protective responses down to the cellular level, as it’s your cells that keep you alive. You are either in a state of health or disease by the condition of your cells (as they are being protected/ repaired or are being attacked/diseased and being destroyed).

Human beings are meant to be able to withstand tough times, stressful circumstances, periods of under-eating, hunting down wild game, varying environmental stressors and more. The natural world is full of change, and we have to be able to survive as a species.

Don’t get me wrong, we are very fortunate nowadays to be living in such a relaxed (in the physical sense in dealing with nature and survival, not talking about mental stress we put on ourselves) and protective modern environment. We have homes for shelter and heat, supermarkets for food, and transportation for travel. But the question becomes, are we paying for this “softer, more relaxed” environment now with our health because we provide less “stress” to our bodies?

Smaller/Shorter Stressors Make Us Stronger
I know what you may be thinking, “stress is bad right”? Well there are 2 kinds of stress we need to think about. The first kind is a very short-term stress, and the second is more prolonged stress that is chronic and lasting over a longer period of time.

Short-term/minor stress is actually good when we think about our body’s natural design, as we are meant to thrive and get stronger with some challenges. For example, doing resistance training (bodyweight or weights) is a stress to the muscle as it breaks down. It is a destructive (catabolic) process.

It is because of that stress that it signals a rebuilding (anabolic) response. You get stronger as an end result, ready for the next workout to overcome and repeat the cycle (assuming you allow yourself to recover). However if you are always working out and not giving yourself enough recovery, the results do go the other way.

Bigger/Longer Stressors Make Us Weaker
With every period of mild/short-term catabolic stress (cellular breakdown/attack), our body generates a powerful anabolic response (cellular repair and rebuilding). But that rebuilding really only happens during the non stressful-recovery phase (as you don’t build muscle in the gym, you start building it when you leave).

This is where very high levels or longer lasting stress will lead to an overall poor health status. Too much breakdown and not enough recovery just take us in the opposite direction (hence stressing out at work all day long is not going to be healthy, as there is no break from it).

Our body, muscles, mind, cells all want to be challenged “intermittently” and become stronger from it. If we don’t. they may get the hint that they are not really needed anymore and just deteriorate (atrophy).

“Hormesis” is our Natural Design
Remember that your body is concerned about one big thing. No, its not how your football team is doing this year or what kind of raise you are getting. Your body wants to survive and when presented with small stressors in your environment, then it adapts for the better (becomes stronger and more efficient at the cell level).

This is what is known as “hormesis” (see the graph above). The body will generate a net positive response to become stronger when exposed to “small” or “intermittent” levels of stress. Hitting that “sweet spot” where you generate the optimal response from your body. However as you will also see in the graph, too much stress will take the net response in the opposite/negative direction. That is not the goal as it leads to long term negative results.
Living Longer by Adding Occasional Stress too?
Aging is a simple net equation of your cells breaking down faster and more often than you can effectively repair them. It is a natural part of life, but can be accelerated too if you are not careful.

In fact you could say that many other diseases out there are also just “symptoms” associated with accelerated aging (cells breaking down/being destructive faster than you can repair them).

The answer could be this simple. If you want stronger cells and to slow down the destructive aging process, then you need to challenge your body with small “intermittent” stressors. Make it stronger and more resistant for the next time, while also reducing the amounts of large/chronic stressors you put on yourself.

Time to Get Back to the Old Ways of Eating
I love this quote personally as it sums it all up so simply:

“The deviation of man from the state in which he was originally placed by nature seems to have proved to him a prolific source of disease” ~ Edward Jenner

It may be that this deviation from our natural eating programming is what is causing most all the degenerative health and obesity issues. This could include:

Eating all day long with no breaks for the body, digestive system, organs or other processes involved to recover

Eating a continual excess of calories, never alternating loads/amounts to signal a low food stressor for the body to adapt to

Eating too many modernized processed foods, that give mixed and improper hormonal responses (especially for blood sugar regulation)

Perhaps it is time we get back to giving our body the small intermittent stressors it needs to become stronger, healthier and a more efficient fat burning machine in the process!
Eating and Survival

“We have left behind the feeding patterns of our ancient ancestors in favor of constant mental activity and limited physical exercise. Due to increases in our day to day activity we have an increased energy (mainly glucose) requirement while our physiology is largely still geared to a feast and famine pattern of energy intake characteristic of our hunter-gatherer homo sapiens ancestors. This dilemma between our modern society/behavior and our ancient physiology will represent a recurring problem for gerontology for years to come.”

Source: “Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: two potential diets for successful brain aging”; Martin B, Mattson MP, Maudsley S.; Ageing Res Rev. 2006 Aug;5(3):332-53.

Health Benefits of Eating Less

No More “Feast or Famine” Stress
One of the biggest stressors and concerns of long ago (but not so much today) was there were times of low (or no) food availability. Remember our primal ancestors had to hunt and gather their food to survive. They didn’t go down to the local supermarket, they didn’t go to the 24-hour convenience store/gas station, and there was no drive-thru for a burger. Either they had enough food to eat, or they didn’t.

There could have been times of poor hunting, bad crops, weather conditions that hurt the food supply or other factors (such as seasonal changes) that made their daily food intake vary. There was no real consistency in calories each day.

This is what is also referred to as “feast or famine”.

Feast = The hunt was good, plenty of food to go around, eat plentiful and enjoy.

Famine = All food is low/used up, now time to hunt/gather and find more…and this could go on for a while depending on the environmental conditions around it.
Am I Suggesting to go Live in a Cave and Hunt for Food?
No, I’m not that nuts. But understand the simple fact that your body is not really designed to survive “optimally” by having excess amounts of food all the time.

Your body is primed to withstand periods of high and low calorie intake, and through “hormesis” (remember that from the last chapter?) can become stronger from it. Low food intake (famine) is a stress to the body, so it must learn to protect itself for the next time it could happen, through having an optimal glucose (blood sugar) metabolism.

It is very important to remember that we are talking about the benefits of “short-term intermittent” stressors (that “sweet spot” on the hormesis chart)…not prolonged or chronic ones. There is a big difference between the two.

Wild Animals don’t have Diabetes
Look at many wild animals in nature (not pets around the house or the ones at the zoo that are under different stressors) and you will see the same thing. Many may not eat 6 meals a day, or even every day but yet they can still be plenty fast, lean, strong and not suffer from many of the degenerative diseases that are more common in humans (cancers, heart disease, brain disorders, diabetes, etc).

Ignoring the eating facts about your natural design may just lead your body to malfunction and become sicker and more dysfunctional at the cellular level because of it.
The Only Known Way to Live Longer
Scientists since the 1930s have been doing experiments on animals to find ways to increase their lifespan. So far the only one that has really ever worked has been using a method of restricting calories (otherwise known as “calorie restriction”or CR for short).

By making groups eat about 30-40% fewer calories than other test groups, researchers have been able to see remarkable increases in life span (by up to 50% in some species).

Can this also apply to humans? Well you don’t have to look far to some of the “longer living cultures” and you will surely NOT see an over indulgence in calories as part of their lifestyle. Apparently Benjamin Franklin knew what he was talking about when he said “To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals” .

Eating Less and Staying Healthy
Looking at all the research out there about what happens in humans when calories are lowered (besides weight loss that is), you will see many other benefits. Such remarkable results from other CR test groups that have been seen are (but are not limited to):

Lowered Cholesterol Levels
Lowered Blood Pressure
Lowered Fasting Insulin (better glucose metabolism)
Lowered Triglyceride Level
Lowered Body Mass

These are all markers to say that the aging process is slowing down, including more protection at the cellular level against diseases. The body is getting stronger and healthier all just by eating less.

We see that our health, longevity and body weight can dramatically be affected by our total calorie intake (in a positive or negative manner…all depending on how much we actually eat).
Excess intake = increased disease risks, accelerated aging and more body weight

Less intake = decreased disease risks (through increased protection), longevity and less body weight

This becomes more and more important as we age and our natural processes start to slow down. Our body will need all the additional help you can provide if you want to get leaner and live longer.

Proven Benefits of Eating Less Every Other Day

“Since May 2003 we have experimented with alternate day calorie restriction, one day consuming 20-50% of estimated daily caloric requirement and the next day ad lib eating, and have observed health benefits starting in as little as two weeks, in insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, infectious diseases of viral, bacterial and fungal origin (viral URI, recurrent bacterial tonsillitis, chronic sinusitis, periodontal disease), autoimmune disorder (rheumatoid arthritis), osteoarthritis, symptoms due to CNS inflammatory lesions (Tourette’s, Meniere’s) cardiac arrhythmias (PVCs, atrial fibrillation), menopause related hot flashes. We hypothesize that other many conditions would be delayed, prevented or improved, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, brain injury due to thrombotic stroke atherosclerosis, NIDDM, congestive heart failure.

Source: “The effect on health of alternate day calorie restriction: eating less and more than needed on alternate days prolongs life.”; Johnson JB, et al. Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(2):209-11.

The natural “stressor” signal that comes from eating less overall seems to be a key part of the equation. One that allows the body to stay strong and even “recycle” the older or worn out parts.

“Go Green” and Recycle at the Cell Level
One of the main processes now being explored by scientists responsible for the longevity in those CR models is the activation of more “autophagy”.

Inside the cells we have little power-plants called the mitochondria, which burn fuel for cellular energy. The cell is exposed to many destructive forces on the outside and inside including oxidation and free radicals (especially just from the simple act of producing more energy).

Our internal cellular power-plants (mitochondria) are very susceptible to damage, so it’s important we make sure they are being taken care of. Over time there will be damaged parts (proteins) and it’s up to the body to continually repair and rebuild (like a house that needs to be taken care of to withstand the environmental stressors around it).

Recycle and Repair Damaged Parts

“Reduce, recycle and rebuild is as important to the most basic component of the human body, the cell, as it is to the environment….Cutting calories helps rodents live longer by boosting cells’ ability to recycle damaged parts so they can maintain efficient energy production.
UF scientists studied 22 young and old rats, comparing those allowed to eat freely with those fed a low-calorie, nutritious diet. The stress of a low-calorie diet was enough to boost cellular cleaning in the hearts of older rats by 120 percent over levels seen in rats that were allowed to eat what they wanted. The diet had little or no effect on younger rats.”

Source: “UF scientists reveal how dietary restriction cleans cells”; University of Florida News Release; August 23, 2007

Recycling cells, especially damaged ones, is important. If you want a strong brain as you grow older (as our natural autophagy slows down with age) you have to get rid of and replace any damaged parts. It is a natural repair system that is turned on especially when you signal a low food intake stress.

However if you are always full of excess energy (food) and never have that stress, you will not be signaling for an increase in autophagy and the body will age faster with less internal recycling/repair going on. So if you want to have your body in a healthier state, especially the glucose based metabolism that regulates fat “storing” and “burning”…then you will need to take times to eat less!

Short Fasting as a Fat Loss “Tool”

Time for a Quick Overview of the Basics
With all this talk about glucose/blood-sugar based metabolism, I thought it was a good idea to do a quick review of how fat really is stored and released/burned. I did cover this in more detail with the free special report I am giving away at the IF Life (if you haven’t got your copy already, just click here to read/download it directly), but here are the big highlights.

Fat cells are basically storage tanks, holding potential fuel that can be used up later on (this is the natural design for survival). They are waiting on instructions from the body on whether to “store” or “release” all based on a complex blood sugar regulation system.

While you need to burn up more calories than you take in (state of calorie deficit) for long-term weight loss, extended low calorie “crash” diets will only lead to more fat (especially stubborn) gain and compromised metabolism in the long run. This is NOT the goal.

Hormones are the chemical messengers that tell our body/cells whether to store more “fuel” (fat) or release it from storage to be burned up in the muscles (why we like having them). We manage the release of these hormones through our food choices, movement/exercise and lifestyle factors.

The process of using the right hormones to release fats from storage and convert them to free fatty acids (or FFAs), is known as lipolysis.

Monitoring blood sugar (high or low) and the hormones involved are directly tied into lipolysis (insulin being the primary one to focus on). Interesting to note that we have several blood sugar “raising” hormones and only one real blood sugar “lowering” hormone (insulin). So it seems that high blood sugar is not supposed to be a “normal” state for the body to deal with frequently.

High blood sugar (mostly from quick digesting foods) will in turn cause the body to elevate insulin (to handle the high blood sugar levels), and lower the hormones that increase lipolysis (which means less FFAs released in the bloodstream).

The name of the weight loss game is having an efficient glucose-blood sugar metabolism (by keeping insulin levels low/stable), being in a small calorie deficit state (to not store more than we burn for energy or the long run) and maintaining a healthy metabolism with healthy foods, keeping muscle and avoiding chronic stress (low calories and/or other lifestyle factors).

This means taking the right daily steps to reduce chronically high levels of insulin through blood sugar (glucose) levels. This in turn will balance and optimize the other hormones needed to release the fat. This is also what we call our glucose based metabolism.

So if you want to lose that fat, it is time to turn up the lipolysis hormones (such as glucagon, growth hormone or GH, catecholamines, T3-T4, etc) needed to release FFAs and keep those hormones from being lowered by high blood sugar/ insulin levels.

This is done each day through our eating and lifestyle choices, including exercise, sleep, stress (which you will learn about correct exercise and lifestyle factors later).

Understanding that “Stubborn” Fat

We all have those trouble areas that seem to stick around, but do you know why? Those are the fat cells that are not getting a “strong” enough signal to “release” the stored fat to be burned (hormones are not getting through enough).

This could be because of receptor blockers / resistance at the fat cell (blocking what messages it gets) and/or not strong enough message getting to the cell/receptors in the first place (which could be from lack of hormonal response or blood flow to and from the fat cell).

If your goal is to lose more of the stubborn fat, then it becomes more vital to really focus on the right kind of eating & exercise and increasing the right hormonal responses for lipolysis, the sensitivity of and the delivery to those stubborn fat cells!

I’m Guessing You Want to Burn Fat….Without Being Miserable!
While we have learned that restricting our calories is a great way to be healthier and leaner, there is a down side to calorie restriction (CR). It is a fact, that calorie restriction (eating 30-40+% less than normal every day) is not really so enjoyable.

Calorie restriction can have other negative effects we may not desire in our lives such as loss of muscle mass, loss of performance, excessive loss of weight (becoming too skinny), increased negative mood swings and other wonderful (note sarcasm) things like that.

But what if I told you there may be another way that allowed you to keep your muscle (and build more) while losing fat, keep performance levels high, keep insulin low(er), keep you more alert and happy, and while still giving most the benefits of calorie restriction? In fact just looking at everything listed above, it is giving more benefits than just CR alone.

That my friend is what is commonly known by many as Intermittent Fasting/ Feeding (or “IF” for short). Now this is something worth looking into, and is at the heart of the IF Life (get it, the “IF” Life?).

IF as a Better Way over CR?
When it comes to improving our health conditions via nutritional parameters, it seems there are two strategies we could use. Those being either a calorie restriction approach (CR) or more alternate day restriction/fasting (also known as intermittent fasting/IF).

We already talked about some of the drawbacks of a CR approach daily (increased hunger, mood swings, loss of lean muscle), but could intermittent periods of fasting deliver a better solution?

Not only that, could it help more people achieve their weight loss goals all while not wasting muscle in the process (as muscle loss is not our goal for a long-term healthy metabolism)? Let us see what we can learn from IF and how it can apply to your lifestyle.

Improving Your Glucose Metabolism
Remember at the heart of everything is your body’s glucose metabolism: regulating blood sugar, energy burning and storage (fat).

So when your glucose metabolism is running efficiently (low fasting insulin levels, low insulin resistance) you are healthier and in an optimal “fat burning” state.
However when your glucose metabolism is compromised (high fasting insulin and high insulin resistance) you are in a state of decline (more inflammation and increased disease risks) as well as in a “fat storing” state.
By using short intermittent periods of fasting you will actually allow your body to lower insulin/glucose for longer periods of time. This will help improve the overall function of the glucose metabolism, even more so than we see with CR approaches (because those still allow eating all day, even if very small doses).

Intermittent Fasting (IF) Lowers Glucose/Insulin more than CR

“Nevertheless, intermittent fasting resulted in beneficial effects that met or exceeded those of caloric restriction including reduced serum glucose and insulin levels and increased resistance of neurons in the brain to excitotoxic stress. Intermittent fasting therefore has beneficial effects on glucose regulation and neuronal resistance to injury in these mice that are independent of caloric intake.”

Source: Anson RM el al, Intermittent fasting dissociates beneficial effects of dietary restriction on glucose metabolism and neuronal resistance to injury from calorie intake. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A (2003) 100: 6216-20.

What Happens When We Eat
First it makes sense to understand what is going on energy-wise when we eat and in-between meals. When we eat something, we enter what is known as the absorptive (fed) state. In this state we are digesting our food and utilizing the nutrients from it.

Most of our energy (mainly from glucose) can be coming from the food being digested and released into the bloodstream, while excess can also be stored (or used for other purposes such as rebuilding and repairing proteins), a process that is mitigated by insulin (the blood sugar hormone we talked about before).

What Happens When We Stop Eating
About 3-4 hours after we eat, we enter what is known as the postabsorbtive state, where insulin starts to drop. This is where energy used by the body starts coming form internal sources. The liver is a primary source of stored glycogen via glycogenolysis (instead of the muscles, unless they are engaged in activity).
Also with insulin dropping (and blood sugar coming down) comes an increase in lipolysis (freeing up fats and using them for energy) and gluconeogensis (converting non-carbohydrate sources like glycerol and amino acids into glucose).

Levels of the lipolytic hormones such as glucagon, GH (growth hormone) and catecholamines are increased (as well as the sensitivity of the body to them), allowing more fats to be released.

The longer one goes without food (and insulin/blood sugar lowers), the more these processes increase. A perfect example is when we go to bed and sleep without eating during the night. Most of that time our liver is spent supplying our brain (which is a glucose hog) with glycogen and burning fats.

Short Intermittent Fasting can lead to More Fat Burning
To simply sum what you just read, having short periods of not eating (fasting) will start to increase lipolysis (the process of releasing fats). This is done with lowering insulin and increasing lipolytic hormones (such as glucagon, growth hormone and the catecholamines).

The fat cells get stronger messages and open up their doors. More free fatty acids (FFAs) means more chance for the body to take them to the muscles and burn them up as energy.

Fasting Increases GH Pulsing

“Serum GH concentrations are increased in fasted or malnourished human subjects. Two days of fasting induced a 5-fold increase in the 24-h endogenous GH production rate.

This enhanced GH production rate was accounted for by 2-fold increases in the number of GH secretory bursts per 24 hr.”

Source: Hartman ML. Augmented growth hormone (GH) secretory burst frequency and amplitude mediate enhanced GH secretion during a two-day fast in normal men.. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1992 Apr;74(4):757-65

Keeping to the “hormesis” rule you also want your intermittent fasts done correctly to hit that “sweet spot” to get the most out of it. This report will show you how.

There is Nothing Left to Fear

Be Afraid…Be Very Afraid!
One of my main dislikes about most mainstream media (besides being driven by advertising and product placement) is that they also sell scare tactics for ratings and/or marketing. There are 3 main “knee-jerk scare-tactic” responses I hear mostly from people who just hear the word “fast” and immediately jump to conclusions.

The real facts however usually requires a bit more independent thinking (as there are many variables to consider). Here are the ones I am going to help put out to pasture once and for all.

“You’re Just Going to Starve Yourself!”
This generalization is of course false just based on not knowing any other variables (such as overall total calorie intake). IF is NOT about starving yourself when you keep the fasting “intermittent” and/or “short” while eating enough calories overall.

Heck most people don’t know what starvation really is. Want a real glimpse? Go to a starving 3rd world country and see it first hand. Then maybe we can realize missing a meal here and there is not the same thing.

Starving yourself is eating so low in calories/nutrients that your body starts to break down and health declines because of it. You can starve eating 6x a day too if the calories are minimal. It has nothing to do with the frequency of how often you eat, just the overall summation of calorie load over longer periods of time (days, weeks).

So if skipping a meal still scares you then ask yourself, are you really afraid of starvation…or are you just so mentally attached to food that it hurts to even think about taking a break from it once in a while (which may be the most important thing you need to do)?

“You’ll Slow Down Your Metabolism!”
Lets not forget the myth about eating more often and a faster metabolism. It’s still about total calorie intake, not frequency of meals. Plus the body works on a long-term schedule of days/weeks, not hour by hour when it comes to metabolic function.

In fact it has been shown that in up to 72 hours of fasting, the metabolism is not slowed down (Macdonald IA, Webber J, 1995) and it actually increases a bit. Yes I said increased! (once past 72 hours though it declines)

This means short-term fasting will NOT decrease your metabolism by itself. As long as you don’t do extensive fasting and still eat enough, you will be fine and some even notice a bit more metabolic boost too!

The media (and people selling products) are just over-marketing this term about “metabolism” because people are buying into the fact that they have that much control over it. Outside of a “real” starvation diet, days/weeks of fasting, or organ malfunction (such as thyroid diseases), continual meal frequency is not the primary factor to worry about when it comes keeping your metabolism strong (healthy).

“You’ll Waste Muscle when you Don’t Eat every Couple Hours!”
Do you really think your body’s internal survival mechanisms never took into account periods of not eating and want to just eat up valuable muscle so quickly?
That “muscle loss” paranoia is mainly spread by the bodybuilding/fitness magazines because it fuels a whole supplement industry (billions of dollars!) of protein shakes/bars.

It is true that with a CR approach long term there is higher risk for the loss of lean body mass (muscle). But instead when using an IF approach, your body actually wants to preserve the muscle. There are different hormonal signals that make an IF approach better than a CR based one for this reason.

As we have seen growth hormone (GH) is one of the hormones involved in lipolysis that increases with fasting. GH also has a “muscle sparing” property as well, mostly demonstrated through fasting studies (where people do not lose lean mass in an elevated GH environment).

One study (Norrelund H et al, 2001) compared a test group undergoing 40 hours of fasting (normal) and fasting with suppression of GH (through drug intervention), it was found that the group with the GH suppression drugs had:

Increased muscle protein breakdown
Decreased levels of FFAs (free fatty acids) and lipid oxidation

Direct results showing that GH does have a role in both increased fat burning and muscle sparing (protein-retaining) effects as seen in fasting.

So, Do You Still Think You Need to Eat All the Time?
In the end the choice is yours of course, but hopefully you have some better insight into what really happens now when you do and don’t eat. Most of the mainstream fears are unwarranted and gossip at best, used to keep selling more and more weight loss plans/supplements to an already confused and misinformed public.

As Albert Einstein once said, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius…and a lot of courage…to move in the opposite direction”.

Once you try and use the simple strategy of IF, you may quickly discover that all the other complicated mainstream ideas on weight loss (and keeping/building muscle) are no longer for you!

Intermittent “Feeding” Windows

Condensed Eating/Fasting Disclaimer

Reminder that the hours, calories and/or plans listed for condensed eating windows with either an alternate day or daily IF approach are just examples for informational purposes only and not professional dietary or medical advice. What you choose to do is up to you and done so at your own risk!

Enter the IF Lifestyle
There are of course many different approaches that you can use with any kind of intermittent feeding/fasting program. The “2 meal solution” program is just one way that I believe to be easy and effective for most to implement, and also covers the important aspects needed for a lasting healthy lifestyle.

There are many factors and variables that come into play when it comes to using IF. The most important thing to remember is that you can modify and adjust IF to fit your own personal lifestyle/ goals. Once you understand how, you will never have to go on any “diet” ever again! You will have complete control and flexibility over your eating lifestyle!
This is NOT a Detox Diet…Nor is Anything Else
I want to get this off my chest, as I hear many people saying how great IF is and then go on about using some “fad” detox program instead. You may see some Hollywood/celebrity diets out there promoting “detoxing” (and weight loss) using a fasting routine. I’ve seen NO scientific evidence that shows any way of eating can actually “speed up” the rate your body detoxes (as it tends to go at one speed).

There is nothing magical about any diet that claims “quick” detox or weight loss, except how they market and make their money. Too bad they will also leave out how quickly you will probably regain all the weight back once you get back to eating normally.

The people I see always talking about detox diets are also usually suffering from yo-yo weight loss/gain too. Hence the importance of knowing also how to eat on a regular basis and not worrying just about quick weight loss with a “fasting” type of diet (this is NOT what IF is about). OK…just had to get that off my chest.

Intermittent Fasting vs Feeding
Many when talking about IF like to say how long they have been fasting such as 16, 18, or 24* hours. This means that since the last time they ate on the day before, till the first meal of the next day has been “X” number of hours.

*24 hour fast between meals is not skipping a whole day, that just means 24 hours has gone by such as eating at 6pm on Monday and not eating until 6pm Tues. Skipping Tues and going to Wed is a longer fast (32+ hours).
While this is fine when it comes to long-term results, how a person “re-feeds” after a fast is as important as the fast itself (since there is still a long-term calorie equation involved overall).

A downside to just focusing on fasting for weight loss, is the potential to take this more extreme than it needs to be (like the people doing those “detox” type of diets). You can’t fast until you just lose all your fat, you have to eat still to live! This will also result in a weight gain as well down the road, because you are not properly creating the right long term environment to change up your body’s natural weight.

Don’t worry, the fasting parts do happen of course with the 2 meal solution. But stressing over exactly how many “exact” hours to fast every IF day is not something that needs all your energy (and takes away from the natural simplicity and flexibility of it all). So I suggest to think of it in another way.

Intermittent “Feeding” Windows
An intermittent “feeding” window is simply the number of hours in a day that you allow yourself to eat. In this case with the 2 meal solution, we are talking about intermittently using a daily “condensed” feeding window around 2 main meals.
Here are a couple examples to help understand how the feeding (and fasting) windows work.

Example #1: Monday you eat normally and stop at 8pm. Tuesday (your IF day or condensed eating day) you wait and don’t start eating until noon with your first meal and have your last meal around 6pm. You do not eat again until the next day (Wed) at your normal time of 8am.

So in example #1, you would have a 6 hour condensed eating window on your IF day (noon-6pm). Around that (before you started your eating on the IF day) you also had additional fasting of 16 hours (from Monday 8pm to Tues at noon).

Example #2: Saturday you eat normally all day until about 9pm. Sunday as your IF day, you decide to go for a bit longer and wait till about 4pm till your first meal and then eat your next/last one around 8pm.

In example #2, you would have less of an eating window with only 4 hours (4-8pm) on your IF day. Because of that you also have a longer fasting period of 19 hours (9pm on Sat till 4pm Sun) beforehand.

While the numbers are not meant to be set in stone, here’s a quick table that shows the eating window to the accompanying fasting window in a 24hr period (assuming the same first/last meal for each day for simplicity reasons).

Feeding Window
(IF day)
Resulting Fasting Window
8 hours
16 hours
6 hours
18 hours
4 hours
20 hours

So as long as you are keeping with an eating window around 4-8 hours on your IF days, you can expect to also be getting fasting windows around 16-20 hours as well. I personally think this is a good time frame to aim for and can fit into most anyone’s schedule (while allowing enough flexibility as well). Of course if you change up some of the times on different days it can vary, but that should be plenty enough for your weight loss goals to happen.

Longer Fasting for Increased Health Benefits?

It would also be fair to note that there “may” be additional health/repair benefits with longer fasting periods (32-72+ hours). However unless you are resting properly and not over-stressing yourself during a longer fast, this can lead to more harm than good (as well as additional muscle loss).
If you wish to add in periods of longer fasting (which I am NOT suggesting that you have to do), it would be wise to do them only during times which you can really rest and much less frequently (a few times only during the year). Otherwise shorter intermittent fasts and eating healthy should do you just fine (plus some proper exercise too for maximum benefits).

Smaller Eating Window with 2 Meals
As the name implies, the “2 meals” would be how you condense your eating windows on IF days. You only have…(drum-roll please)…2 meals! I’m not leaving much to the imagination, I know…although I would say the beauty of it all is in the simplicity.

So on your IF days you will cut out “breakfast” and then only eat between a “lunch” and “dinner” (hours can vary). Technically speaking, your first meal is always “break”ing the “fast”, but it could be later in the day now. It is a simple yet effective way to not only lose weight, but also “free” yourself from an obsessive eating mentality.

“To rise at six, dine at ten, sup at six and go to bed at ten, makes a man live ten times ten” ~ 16th century proverb

Why not 1 meal on an IF day? Well, many have tried that approach (including myself) and it can have a few drawbacks such as:

Overeating in one meal, basically using it as a pass to binge eat (which is not a healthy mindset…nor ideal for body composition)

Not making ideal choices for foods, which can also add in too many calories and/or lead to excessive blood sugar/insulin spikes. Both of which you still want to keep in check when weight loss is the goal.

Experience more hunger during the day, not making it enjoyable or anything you will continue with (as a lifestyle change is really what you should be after, not some quick fix that only leads to weight gain down the road)

With 2 meals however you should be able to still eat healthy, keep control of your calories and find a way of eating that you can enjoy. You can also adjust your meals and timing based on your scheduling and or lifestyle needs (performance or recovery based).

Now I’m going to show you how exactly to use them!

Beginning with Alternating Days

You Should NOT Start Using the 2 Meal Plan Every Day
I know most people when they hear about IF get all excited and want to jump right in full steam ahead, which is great! However if you do too much right off the bat, the IF experience may not be so positive.

When it comes to IF, it is important to start slow and understand how your body will begin to react to such a new concept (as it may be used to eating all the time). You will have to make sure there are no major negative reactions (physically/mentally) in a controlled manner, and if there are know how to adjust as you go.

Remember that each one of us is very individualistic in our needs and how we react to using IF. I have a different calorie requirement than you most likely, and another person may have even more/less. Many variables come into play such as your daily activity, metabolic rate, lifestyle and food choices.

So in the interest of finding a lasting solution, it is better to start off slow and know how to adjust till you discover what does…and does NOT work for you. This really is a lifestyle plan, that you should enjoy the journey of every day and know how and when to change things.

Beginning with the 2 Meal Plan
If you look at many of the research studies on mice and humans involving IF, you will see most are usually an alternating day fasting protocol (also known as AD-F for short). This means not feeding the subject anything (100% fasting) every other day.

While that may be easy to do with lab rats, humans are a different species. We get hungry, moody, grumpy and even have the potential to overeat upon re-feeding. So complete fasting every other day is not such a good idea (nor something you would even enjoy) for a permanent lifestyle.

By adding food but fewer calories in a condensed eating window on alternating days (AD-IF), you can still get the benefits without experiencing too many of the negatives. This is the most likely best way to start off with IF.

Alternate Day Eating (Less) Benefits

Here are some results from an 8 week alternate day CR (calorie restriction) diet on subjects with asthma, put on 20% of normal calories every other day (ad libitum “freely” other days).

Levels of serum beta-hydroxybutyrate were increased and levels of leptin were decreased on CR days, indicating a shift in energy metabolism toward utilization of fatty acids
Decreased levels of serum cholesterol and triglycerides
Reductions in markers of oxidative stress and increased levels of the antioxidant uric acid.
Symptoms and pulmonary function improved, and oxidative stress and inflammation declined in response to the dietary intervention.

Source: Johnson JB et al. Alternate day CR improves clinical findings and reduces markers of oxidative stress/inflammation in overweight adults with moderate asthma. Free Radic Biol Med. 2007 Mar 1

Keeping calories in check on your IF days will play a huge part to you seeing benefits, especially if you also want to eat more “freely” on the other days (as what other diet lets you do that?). Much will also depend on how much you do eat on your non-IF days in relation to your recovery needs (calories).

More Benefits with the AD Approach
Another big benefit of starting with AD-IF also allow an ease of moving into a weight loss lifestyle. It can still allow you to enjoy many of the foods you already do (yes..even dessert) without getting too strict. No more feeling deprived in your path to lasting weight loss, like so many other diets.

For many who disliked diets in the past, it may be easier to just keep the same relative lifestyle and food choices but then throw in alternate days in which you take a break from food worry and eat less (and cleaner).

Having alternating days with IF also allow you to experiment to find your ideal eating window without getting too excessively low in calories overall. You still have the other (non IF) days to eat normally and balance it out just in case.

Alternating IF with normal eating days is an easy checks and balances system. One in which you can finally learn more about how to eat right, see what eating plan gives you more energy, not feel restricted all the time on your choices, have a social life, and never need to depend on some “expert” to tell you what to eat again!

Sample Alternate Day (AD) IF week
Here is a what a sample week for you can look like, and you can always adjust the days to fit your lifestyle. Note that you could keep the same IF days every week for ease of scheduling/habit and not really worry about the extra day on the weekends (2 normal days of eating Sat and Sun back to back, so Mon is always an IF day).

Sample Weekly AD-IF Schedule
Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
X
IF
X
IF
X
IF
X

X = normal eating day (no real restrictions on times/foods)
IF = condensed feeding/eating windows

Start with picking an eating window that works for you, usually between 6-8* hours (*but not limited to), when you will start with your first meal and end with the second meal. So for example, if it makes sense with your work schedule to eat between noon and 6pm, then that is the eating window you are aiming for.

Sample Weekly AD-IF (Feeding) Hours
Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
X
Noon –
6pm
X
Noon –
6pm
X
Noon –
6pm
X

However there is nothing wrong with varying shorter/longer windows (which may even drive home more of the “intermittent” factor). Your lifestyle may always be changing, so just make your IF days fit around them.

Sample Weekly AD-IF (Feeding) Hours
Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
X
11am – 6pm
X
Noon –
6pm
X
2pm –
8pm
X

“How big/small should my eating window be on IF days?”
With alternate day IF you can make the window as big or small as you need it to be. The smaller the window, the more hours spent fasting (up to when you finally do eat). Since the calorie intake is smaller (say around 50-70% of normal daily levels) on AD-IF days, you should be easily able to get in 2 meals within a 6-8 hour eating window. Here’s a simpler way to understand all this:

If you are a bigger eater with many excess calories (over daily requirements) on your non-IF days (especially when enjoying high calorie food choices like desserts and so forth), then aim for smaller eating windows (6 or less hrs) to keep calories lower (balance out) on IF days.

If you are already a small eater on non-IF days (or just not having a high excess over maintenance levels), then you can do with a larger eating window (8-10 hrs) on an IF day while still being able to achieve less calories (compared to maintenance levels) overall. This could also fit better into a schedule for those more active that have higher calorie/recovery demands,

Keep in mind those are just sample feeding windows. Much of this philosophy revolves around the fact that you don’t really want to “have” to count calories. You can count calories starting off if you like, but it’s not something I would want to do long term. Adjusting condensed eating window sizes is one simple way to do that. Most people end up usually falling in the range of 6-8 hours but that is not the “only” right answer.
Fear Not, there are No Complicated Meal Plans to Follow
It is important to realize that in the world of eating for health and weight loss, one size does NOT (and should not) fit all. Everyone is individualistic in their state of current health, functioning metabolism, and performance/recovery needs. For that reason you will not see any complicated or specific meal plan in details here.

I am not a dietician, medical doctor, nutritionist or someone just selling a “diet fad”. I can not tell you exactly what to eat all the time. But what I can do is give you the tools to understand eating and let you make things work on your own.

Sure there are some recommendations and rules coming up on what can help provide optimal results, but it will also be up to you to listen to your body and tweak it as you go.

There are No “Magic” Food Ratios to Worry About
Unlike what many diets try and promote out there, there is no one perfect ratio that you should worry about. By ratio I mean the percentage of the 3 major macro-nutrients in your diet, those being carbohydrates (carbs), protein and fats. What works for one person may be a disaster for another.

Most of those diet trends are assuming that if you take out certain options (such as fat or carbs), then you will also be making better food choices. It will eliminate many desserts and higher calorie options, while still promoting fewer calories overall (which we know is the only real diet secret).

What you will find going on is people able to lose weight on different ratios (of fat/protein/carbs) as long as they are still in some state of calorie deficit, and have sufficient amounts of the essential nutrients.

You will see some guidelines on how to use certain cycling/pulsing plans (in the coaching program and bonus chapter) to help you get the most from IF and body composition. But for the most part, don’t sweat any special ratios.

Perfection is Not the Goal…Isn’t that a Relief?
Life should be all about keeping things simple, listening to your body, not obsessing over food and enjoying life. You don’t have to eat clean all the time to get results, and shouldn’t fixate on that. 100% perfection is not the goal, as life does happen and temporary setbacks do occur.

Your eating journey is always going to be day to day (as there is no other way to do it). So the most important factor of any lasting eating plan, is that you don’t give it up just because things are not going as planned all the time. That is the danger of all those other strict diets, you may get sidetracked at some point and then just give it up altogether.

Life changes will happen whether holidays, vacations, or other aspects of your work/home lifestyle. Don’t worry so much about being perfect. Just make sure that you don’t stop trying altogether when things aren’t going as planned. With IF it is nice to know that you can balance things out, and I’ll show you how.

The 2 Meal Rules

How to Eat on IF Days, the 5 Simple Rules to Follow
Since there really are no general rules for how to eat on your non-IF days, the IF days are the ones to then focus on. When it comes to making your IF lifestyle work there are 5 main eating rules you should follow that will get you better health and weight loss results.

Rule #1: Eat Fewer Overall Calories
Your IF days are when you really want to focus on eating fewer calories. To give you an idea of what you can aim for, is anywhere around 50-80% of your normal daily requirement/average of calories and then adjust from there.

It makes sense that the more you eat on your (normal) non-IF days, then the less you need to eat (% wise) on your IF days. The opposite is also true that if you are eating less on your non-IF days (over calorie maintenance levels), then you can eat more on your IF days. It is all about balance after all for long term weight loss.

We know from the past studies seen that most of the benefits come when calories are kept in check (restricted) on those alternating days. Eating the same amount every day (and just trying to shove it all down in fewer meals on IF days) is not a good plan especially if you are looking for weight loss (which requires a calorie deficit state at some point).

You don’t have worry about so much an exact calorie number or % as above, but more just keep in mind that IF days are for “fewer calories”. You can count calories if you like, but in one of the next rules coming up I will simplify it down even more for you!

Rule #2: Don’t I.F.O.C.
This is always a fun little saying to keep in mind, but I think it gets the point across. What is IFOC? Well I use it to stand for “Intermittent Feeding On Crap” (figuratively speaking of course).

This means that on your condensed eating IF days, you are not going out and eating loads of junk foods, ice cream, and all the other things you “know” you shouldn’t. Eating excess “crappy” food is not the goal for you on IF days (as it can also pack a hidden excess calorie load).

“He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Remember you have the flexibility of eating what you enjoy (without overdoing it of course) on the normal non-IF days, but aim to keep your IF days free of those excess guilty pleasures. Trying to eat too much, especially of the wrong kinds of foods, in a condensed window will not help you hormonally (insulin responses) nor optimize body composition (can lead to more “stubborn fat” gain). IF is not a pass or excuse to binge eat, but rather enjoy your foods in healthy moderation.

Rule #3: Eat “Real Foods”
This simple rule will pretty much make sure that you are also doing #1 and #2 (keeping calories in check and not doing IFOC).

First is the question, “what is real food?”. Simply put “real foods” are the natural foods that have been around for 100s if not 1000s of years. These are foods made by “nature” and not by “man” (processed foods).

“Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”
~ Michael Polan

A simple list would include: fruits, vegetables, eggs, meats (chicken, fish, beef, etc), rice, potatoes, and various nuts/seeds/legumes. What it does not include are the processed cereals/snacks, baked goods, soda or anything prepared in a harmful manner such as being fried or containing added sugars.

They advantages to eating real foods is that they will provide necessary vitamins/minerals for your body, help keep you fuller longer (less hunger), help keep your blood sugar stable between meals (more energy, less cravings), and will ensure that you will not go overboard on calories (overeat on apples, I dare you).
Rule #4: Cut Down on the Snacks and Hidden Calorie Drinks
Many people let the hidden calories “sneak” in with snacking and drinks containing extra calories. These may seem harmless in little doses, but when the doses are more frequent that calorie damage can add up.

Not too mention that many snacks are not “real foods” and have added sugars which will play havoc on your blood sugar/insulin and resulting rebound hunger/cravings/energy levels.

So with the IF day, stick with meals of real foods and try to limit all the other snacks and calorie drinks. You shouldn’t need to them sustain your energy (and if you do, then you may want to look into what you are eating for your 2 meals as well).

Note: Those who advance into more advanced “daily” IF (coming up) will have more leeway when it comes to eating snacks, mostly because there are fewer higher calorie non-IF days to balance out.

Rule #5: Keep it “Intermittent” at Heart
Try and remember to keep the “I” in “IF” still. Remember the “hormesis” curve from early on? It showed that small stressors provide a positive feedback response from the body, but excessive/chronic will take it in the opposite direction.

Trying to eat less all the time (chronic calorie restriction) while helping you to lose weight initially, will also cause negative feedback loops on your metabolism (thyroid/adrenal activity, muscle loss) and general health (energy, mood, immune system). Then you are just doing a “crash diet”, which never lasts or works.

Taking days off IF to eat however you like (and re-load on higher calorie intake to signal a release from lower calorie “stress” to the body) can be an important part of your success…and sanity!

Think of Your 2 Meals as Eating “Bookends”
Once you have planned your IF window, now focus on your 2 main meals at those times. Such as for an eating window from 1pm to 7pm:

Waking Up – 1pm – Drink water/tea/*coffee (*see next chapter)
1pm – Meal #1 (example: eggs, bacon, hash browns)
7pm – Meal #2 (example: dinner salad, grilled salmon, rice, glass of wine)
In between 1pm Meal and 7pm Meal – Limit snacking and high calorie/sugar based eating (otherwise you mess with blood sugar levels and risk eating an excess of calories). Better options (but not limited to) include fruit, nuts, yogurt, or cottage cheese.
After 7pm Meal – Bedtime – Drink water/decaf-tea

Follow the 5 rules and you should easily be able to have a “non-stressful” way to lose weight and enjoy eating, as that is the way it should be!

Warning Signs about IF Gone Wrong

This is Very Important…and Many Times Overlooked Until Too Late
It is so important I wanted to give it a chapter on it’s own just so you pay attention! You will see a recurring theme (and again later), but it is important to remember that IF is a “stress” on your body. One that can be handled only if you are not putting things already out of whack (as there has to be time for recovery too). The warning signs that something may not be right include:

increased nervousness or anxiety (nervous system overload)
feeling run down/sick (lowered immune system function)
mood swings (depression/irritability)
loss of overall energy (could be a sign of hypoglycemia, low blood sugar)
muscle weakness/pain (bigger issues with thyroid or other organs)

..and anything else that may seem out of the ordinary. This could mean that you are putting a “chronic” stress on your body and need to get back to more of an “intermittent” one instead while also going over other factors in your lifestyle (work, sleep, exercise, etc).

If you continue down this road without addressing these warning signs then you can eventually just lead to a total “burnout”. Once that happens, then you really need to take a full break from all IF based stressors (eat more and stop the short fasts).

The more your body is taxed through those excess stressors, then the longer it will need to take off and recover. If you hit total “burnout” then it could take weeks to get over properly…or longer depending on your lifestyle! Sadly I have seen many people (including myself long ago) have to learn this lesson the hard way…but it was a strong lesson learned!

It is a Good Idea to Dial Down on the Caffeine
IF can increase adrenaline response/sensitivity of your nervous system. You should take caution with using excess caffeine while in a fasted state as it may increase nervousness, anxiety and cortisol response.

It is advised that you drink less caffeine during fasting times. On your IF days while you are fasting before meal #1, your adrenaline response (blood level and sensitivity) will increase. That means adding in more caffeine in the mix may lead you overboard (anxiety, nervousness). This can also lead to over production of cortisol, which we should avoid. Down the dosage on IF days or switch to a lower dose option like tea.

Eventually you should not need much (if any) caffeine, as your body will be producing energy on it’s own..and your sensitivity to caffeine will increase as well. One small Americano (less caffeine than coffee) or tea is all I need to keep me going all morning/afternoon long…but a cup of strong coffee and I become a nervous wreck!

Since IF increases adrenaline response/sensitivity of your nervous system, one may also experience more anxiety, depression or other emotional responses. If you think you also already have adrenal/thyroid issues (since adrenaline is made by the adrenals and impacts thyroid function), then you will also want to take caution.

Anyone who has a history with any of those (or any other serious medical condition) is advised to take things slow and always check with your physician first before making any drastic changes to your eating lifestyle. Think of IF as a “tool” that must be used correctly, not abused to create more damage.

Exercise and Lifestyle Also Play a Part
You will also see in the upcoming chapters about how exercise and other lifestyle factors (outside of eating) play into your overall stress load on your body (as you are the sum of all your parts!).

I’ve seen people go wrong with IF because other parts of their lifestyle are still out of balance (outside of not eating enough in the first place) especially with:

Doing excess amounts of exercise, which I will show why it is NOT needed to lose weight effectively (just exercise the “right” ways)

Having too fast-paced/stressful lifestyle with less time for recovery (slowing down, relaxing, getting adequate sleep, etc)

Like I said above, your body is the sum of ALL stressors on yourself. IF and eating less (intermittently of course) is a stress, but only just one part. If you are forcing IF into a lifestyle that is already out of balance, then the results will not be optimal and/or can lead you down to burnout eventually (and set you back even more in the long run). The good part about all this though, is that it really does prioritize focusing on all aspects of your lifestyle as well. As balancing it all out is really the key to a simple and lasting healthy lifestyle!

 

Advancing into a Daily IF Lifestyle

Advanced Programming Notice

This chapter is going to talk about a more “advanced” form of IF known as the “daily” version. I call it advanced because I believe it is NOT where most people should start off. Someone who is new to IF really should begin with alternate days to keep things in check and learn as you go. Sometimes the learning experience with IF may come first from finding ways that do NOT work (as seen in things that can go wrong in the last chapter), so you can adapt to find what DOES work. I would only suggest advancing into a daily program once you feel confident that your nutrition and lifestyle are balanced using IF in an alternate day style format first.

I Have My Own Daily Routine That I Enjoy
I wake up, maybe do some reading, sometimes check email, go off to the local coffee shop, grab an Americano (espresso shots in water) or tea, relax, maybe a quick bodyweight workout, and set simple goals for the day. All of this even before I think about eating. It is just how I like to start my day.
My first meal of the day varies usually between 10am and 2pm. Having done an IF style of eating for many years, I just now have learned how to listen to my body. If I am really hungry (or sense I need to break the fast), I go eat earlier in the day. But for the most part my morning Americano/tea or water keep me satisfied till later on.

It just seems having a condensed eating window, which can still vary in times and total calories, is a simple and freeing lifestyle to do most every day! I mean, why not if it is working, right? Of course the key word there is “working”.

Progressing into a more Daily IF Schedule
Most people like the condensed eating window so much, that they just find it more enjoyable to go that route almost everyday. This “can” work for many people, but there still should be a “checks and balance” system in place (especially by still having some non-IF days throw in).

If you have first done well with the alternate day style of IF (no negative feedback and lifestyle factors in check) and would like to do it more often, then I suggest one of the following strategies (which are geared more towards a “weekly” schedule):

2/3:1 plan – using a flexible condensed eating window daily while taking every 3rd-4th day off to eat more freely (and change up calorie intake levels). In other words, for every 2-3 days of condensed eating you have 1 day of free eating (marked with X below), and then repeat.

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
IF
IF
IF
X
IF
IF
X

5:2 plan (the weekly plan) – using a flexible condensed eating window daily while taking weekends off to eat more freely (and change up calorie intake levels). In other words, for every 5 weekdays of condensed eating you have 2 days off on the weekend.

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
X
IF
IF
IF
IF
IF
X

You can also play around with alternating long and short IF windows during the week (see below). For example if you do strength training on Mon, Wed and Fri you could plan on eating more for recovery on those days.

Sample Daily-IF Hours

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
X
IF
Noon – 8pm
IF
3pm –
7pm
IF
Noon –
8pm
IF
3pm –
7pm
IF
Noon –
8pm
X

In general the windows should be big enough so that you are getting in the nutrients you need, and not so small that they cause you to binge/rebound overeat due to excess hunger (or cause a lack of will power because of it).

Once you get to this stage, you really are in control and can find what does work with your schedule (and it could change week to week, as life is all about constant change…nothing stays the same).

A Daily IF plan can work well for a person who…
Already eats pretty clean, so going overboard on calories any particular day is not really an issue (calories still kept in check).

Enjoys eating bigger “real food” meals to make sure calories are not too restricted (not a chronic crash diet stress) and you are getting enough essential nutrients such as protein…which will be covered in a bit.

Does not need to rely on large daily amounts of stimulants, such as many cups of coffee, due to issues related to low blood sugar or fatigue (which may be signs of things not working/stress overload).

Is not doing excessive amounts of activity (especially chronic cardio) and still have enough calorie intake for recovery needs.

Keeps their lifestyle stress under control while fasting. Otherwise you will risk burning out your metabolism (adrenal/thyroid, increase insulin resistance) and also increase muscle loss over the long run.

Still has plenty of time to relax and sleep. A lifestyle with enough recovery to allow the body to generate positive responses from any smaller stresses.

Remember in your weight loss lifestyle you want to enjoy eating less while still promoting an environment that will maintain (not waste) our muscle. Muscle is key to that long-term fat burning metabolism.

“All our overeating comes from, first, the false belief that strength is gained from eating; second, the habit of eating so many times a day whether hungry or not; third, the continual tempting of the appetite through variety of dishes. Of course, the latter two causes are branches of the first.

The cure and the proof of the new physiology is to eat plain foods, cut out one meal a day*, and take 36-hour fasts once a week for say four or five months. The improvement in feelings and endurance, and the change in appetite and tastes will prove the matter to all but the most hopelessly prejudiced minds.”

Source: E Towne, W Wattles, The New Science of Living and Healing, 1924

Proper Exercise for Peak Results

“Is working out with IF really vital to getting leaner?”
The people that tend to have the most success with IF (or any other calorie deficit plan) over the long run, are doing the right kind of exercise to build and retain muscle. It is also those people that have the best muscle definition as they get leaner (or as some say, “tone”) and don’t need to do hours of cardio to maintain.

Muscles are Your Fat Burning Factories
Remember how “fat burning” really happens? Well a quick review is that your fat cells are holding onto stored fat. Then the right hormones come along and tell the cells to “release” the fat (lipolysis) into the bloodstream, where they are now free fatty acids (FFAs).

Those FFAs are now transported through the bloodstream to the muscles where they are burned up as fuel inside the cell powerhouse, known as the mitochondria.
So the more muscle you keep around, the more fat burning factories (mitochondria) you will have working 24/7!

This is why you see lean/fit people with good muscle definition who are able to maintain their body shape without hours in the gym daily (we are not talking about bodybuilders here). All they need to do is keep their muscles around with some sort of resistance/intensity training a few times (and of course eat right).

One Study that Says It All
There is an eye opening study (Bryner et al, 1999) about the importance of resistance based exercise (vs just aerobic) during a very low calorie (800 cal) diet. Half of the test group (men and women) were put on aerobic exercise only program, and the other half resistance training only (3x/week).

What would you expect to happen over 12 weeks? Well the “aerobic only” group lost more weight, but also had lean body mass loss (muscle). The “aerobic only” group also lowered their RMR (resting metabolic rate).

But guess what, the “resistance only” group did not lose any lean mass and had a slight increase in RMR! Let me repeat that, the group only doing resistance training kept all their muscle, lost more body fat and slightly elevated their RMR all while on a very low calorie diet for 12 weeks!!

Even on a VERY low calorie diet, resistance training helps maintain your lean body mass (muscle) and allows you to burn more fat without dropping your metabolism!

A Quick Note for the Ladies
I get that most of you are not looking to get all “big and buff”. Over my whole personal training career, about 80%+ of my clients were women…and I never made any of them into award winning bodybuilders! But that doesn’t mean you should be afraid to build muscles, as that is what keeps a lot of women from getting the real definition they are after. Instead know that if you replaced 5 lbs of fat with 5lbs of muscle, all your clothes would be smaller. You can be strong and lean!

People Forget…Exercise is a Stress on the Body
Remember back from our talk about “hormesis” about how short-term stressors provide a positive response but long-term ones do more damage? Well the big thing people neglect to remember is that exercise is a stress on the body.

Like any stress the higher the amount and length of exposure to it, then the greater the chances are that it could be damaging to the state of the body as a whole. This is especially of importance to know for the people mentally “addicted” to their long workouts.

Exercise Excess May be Harmful
While being active is a good thing, when done to excess (especially with sustained higher heart rate training) it is possibly taking your health and weight loss goals in the opposite direction. This in turn can do more damage down the road such as:

Driving more hunger and cravings especially for sugar (and a high sugar intake just turns off the fat releasing hormones). Eating more also can take you out of calorie deficit, stopping weight loss too.

Excess levels of the hormone cortisol (known as a stress hormone but it’s actually a blood sugar one at heart). Leading to more muscle loss, fatigue, immune depression, bone loss and more.

Loss of muscle = loss of fat burning factories (remember the more muscle you have, the easier it will be for you to stay lean). Being able to maintain muscle should be a goal in our lifestyle.

Increased Inflammation and tissue damage (which can also slow down the net recovery overall). This is real damage down to the cellular level and can lead to more serious health issues if ignored (such as heart disease).

Suppressed natural GH releases for up to 24 hours (one of our daily fat-releasing hormones).

Long-term, it can lead to bigger issues with chronic fatigue and all sorts of hormonal imbalances. Which can also end up storing more fat and giving you less daily energy.

If you mess up your hormones, you may be stuck gaining weight no matter how much exercise you do. I can’t stress this point enough. All you have to do is find someone with messed up hormones and see their struggles to lose the weight they put on because of it.

Smarter Training that works with IF….is “Intense” and “Intermittent”
I’m not going to talk about the “calorie burn” of anything you do…and you shouldn’t care about it either! Why? Well we are now talking about smart training, the kind that takes into account hormonal and metabolic responses. More exercise does not mean more fat loss over time (especially if all you are doing is messing up your hormones and eating more calories because of it in the process).

Don’t burn yourself out with excess exercise especially with IF, as it’s stress overload and unnecessary. Instead why not try and use more “intensity”, workout in less time and create a simple fat burning environment all day long?
Chapter 14
“Intensity” Fitness Done Intermittently

The Benefits of Shorter/Intensity Training
“IF” can also stand for “Intensity Fitness” in your IF Lifestyle. What Is intensity fitness? It simply means that you are focusing more on intensity of exercise (not duration) in shorter periods of time.

I’m not talking about hours in a gym daily, but being able to exercise smarter and harder in less time (strength/volume). Then allowing the stress that you put on your body through that exercise (shorter) to generate positive effects from it during recovery periods (as muscle does not grow in the gym).

The specific hormonal responses that happen when more intensity is applied to your workouts can include:

Elevated REE (Resting Energy Expenditure) through increased protein synthesis/muscle repair*

Elevated FFAs (Free Fatty Acids) from increased catecholamine hormonal responses (more adrenaline/noradrenaline released from the body during intense activity)
Elevated 24hr GH (Growth Hormone) pulses for increased FFAs and muscle retention

Increased muscle mitochondria to give you more fat burning factories

Increased muscle insulin sensitivity that will enable you to create a more optimal glucose metabolism over time (more efficient at building muscle and burning fat)

The big realization here is that doing more intense, especially resistance, training (vs steady state cardio alone) will actually help elevate your REE, keep your metabolism strong during calorie deficit, increase your fat “releasing” hormones and keep your muscle around.

Ongoing Muscle Repair Takes Energy

“It has been shown that muscle protein synthetic rate (MPS) is elevated in humans by 50% at 4 hrs following a bout of heavy resistance training, and by 109% at 24 hrs following training.

This study further examined the time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis by examining its rate at 36 hrs following a training session.
It is concluded that following a bout of heavy resistance training, MPS increases rapidly, is more than double at 24 hrs, and thereafter declines rapidly so that at 36 hrs it has almost returned to baseline.

Source: The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise; MacDougall JD, et al; Can J Appl Physiol. 1995 Dec;20(4):480-6.

Repeat Your Intense Workouts….Intermittently
Just like how you can use fasting “intermittently” (or feeding windows, however you want to term it), you can also do the same thing with exercise. Use shorter and more “intense” kind of workouts as another “tool” in your lifestyle to generate the right kind of hormonal responses you are after while also having a long term fat burning state (eating less overall).

The stress from intense exercise will also in turn enable a genetic expression to allow the muscle to become stronger and more efficient (especially at the cell powerhouse level) to a more youthful state. As who wants to “act their age” anyways? Not me!

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because
we stop playing.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Main Kinds of Intense Style Workout Plans
When it comes to intensity and getting the right hormonal responses, there are several different ways you can go about with your workouts. The 3 most popular ones are:

Circuit program – Using resistance training movements with weights or bodyweight in a circuit (one right after another). Usually involves short/no rest between exercises, full body workouts and more moderate weight resistance/reps. Example of a circuit could be:

10-15 reps (with a challenging resistance/weight) of pushups, bent over rows, squats, dips, pullups, lunges and then rest/repeat 2-3x. Rest is usually minimal between sets, moving quickly from one exercise to another, and then a longer rest between full completed circuits.

Strength program – Heavier resistance training programs focused more around free-weights (dumbbells, barbells). Can involve different body part/exercise split routines and longer rest periods (due to focus on intensity with heavier/less reps). Examples include:

3×5 (3 sets of 5 reps) of deadlift, squats, push press, clean, or other heavy weighted movement. Rest between sets is usually longer (compared to circuit training) around 2-3 minutes per set/exercise.
Cardio intervals – Do repeated cycles of higher intensity/sprints with recovery phases over a period of time: Example:

Treadmill (or track) workout of sprinting for 20 seconds, and walking for 40 sec, then repeating several times (such as for a total time of 10-15 minutes).

They all can work when it comes to weight loss and each has it’s own advantage. Whatever kind of workout you enjoy or do currently, just know to keep it short, intense and intermittent otherwise you risk “burnout” with anything else that is unnecessary.

Personally I’m a fan of doing bodyweight based workouts more often. Combining the benefits of a fat burning and muscle building circuit while focusing on strength in movement. Using full body exercises such as pushups, dips, pullups, rows, squats, and lunges to target all those muscles at once.

Who needs an expensive gym membership/equipment when you can get an effective workout done in as little as 10-20 min anywhere with your own body?

Have an Active yet Relaxing Lifestyle (Or as I like to say…Go Play!)
Remember that now your goal is not to do excess amounts of exercise just to “burn calories”. Otherwise you risk start blunting the hormonal responses you do get and interfere with muscle repair/recovery. Taking time off to let your muscle tissues rebuild, will allow them to respond better (increase sensitivity to hormones) and help optimize what spikes you get from intense exercise.

Also keeping your CNS (central nervous system) rested and not on high gear will allow the body’s “fight or flight” system to recover and keep muscle around (as well as keep cortisol lower).

So get off the couch, stop watching TV, turn off the computer and just go do things that you enjoy! Stop worrying about calories burned, heart rate monitors and all the other distractions that are not the primary focus of your weight loss. Your active lifestyle is NOT supposed to be your “intense workout”.

Make everything you do a “fun” pace. Whether you enjoy swimming, biking, hiking, playing tennis, martial arts or whatever it may be. Get outside and make it stress relieving too. Just go out and play!

Fasted State Workout Strategy

*Important Please Read – Fasted Workout Caution

Remember because we don’t want blood sugar to drop too low (hypoglycemia), this is meant for healthy individuals and anyone attempting must proceed with caution.

Doing too much can result in blood sugar drops which can be very dangerous. If you feel dizzy or light headed, this could be a sign of hypoglycemia and it is recommended that you stop immediately (and have something to eat to raise blood sugar). Do at your own risk!

What is the Fasted State?
A fasted workout means that your body is not in the “fed” cycle (digesting the food you just ate). This is best achieved either first thing in the morning when you wake up (before your first meal, especially if you are using IF) or even later in the day as long as the last meal was about 2-3 hours prior (depending on how big it was too).

What are the Advantages?
By working out fasted you are guaranteeing that your blood sugar and insulin levels are lower (important for those fat releasing hormones to elevate). This will allow your body to produce maximal fat releasing (lipolysis) hormones from an intense based workout.

Lipolysis hormones such as GH will NOT be high if your blood sugar is also elevated (as why does the body need stored fat to be accessed if there is an excess of sugar in the blood available for use?).

With this strategy not only will you access fat during your workout, but you will also allow yourself to continue to release and burn fat long after your brief intense workout is over with.

In the AM You are Already Geared for More Fat Release
When you wake up you are already in a better fat burning state than later in the day. Giving yourself an extra little boost to your daily fat releasing first thing in the AM, as well as staying active (slow and steady), will allow you to be a more optimal fat burning machine during the day.

It is not uncommon for people to also report better performance (more energy and strength) while working out in a fasted state. So many also prefer to do their workouts this way just for that reason alone!

Does it always have to be first thing in the AM? No, you can go by your schedule for later in the day (not eating hours before), but going into a workout in the “fasted” state is a great approach to help get the most from your intense workouts!

Intense Workouts and GH Responses

“An exercise intensity above lactate threshold and for a minimum of 10 minutes appears to elicit the greatest stimulus to the secretion of hGH. Exercise training above the lactate threshold may amplify the pulsatile release of hGH at rest, increasing 24-hour hGH secretion.”

Source: The exercise-induced growth hormone response in athletes; Godfrey RJ et al. Sports Med. 2003.

“The aim of the present study was to determine the time course of the hGH response to a 6 s and a 30 s maximal sprint on a cycle ergometer. Metabolic responses were greater after the 30 s sprint than after the 6 s sprint. The highest measured mean serum hGH concentrations after the 30 s sprint were more than 450% greater than after the 6 s sprint. Serum hGH also remained elevated for 90-120 min after the 30 s sprint compared with approximately 60 min after the 6 s sprint.”

Source: The time course of the human growth hormone response to a 6 s and a 30 s cycle ergometer sprint; Stokes KA et al. J Sports Sci. 2002 Jun;20(6):487-94.

Additional Fat Burning by Not Eating Immediately After
In fact, if you want to keep burning fat for energy (and your blood sugar is stable…which is important) wait another 30-60 minutes after a workout and just keep active at a slow pace (such as walking). Too high an activity here may cause a blood sugar crash, so it is important to be slow paced.

While the brief intense workout has now increased the fat releasing hormones, doing some additional slower paced activity after has its advantages. It will increase the rate (blood flow) at which those hormones are delivered to the fat cells, thereby also increasing the rate at which it takes away the FFAs to be burned in the muscles (which you are still using with your slower movements).

This is NOT about high HR (heart rate) level cardio time after your intense part of your workout (as you will crash and burn!). Because you are also going slow and steady you will keep cortisol at bay and allow your muscles to be spared, and your recovery to be improved (so you can train more often).

The Keys to the Fasted Fat Burning Strategy

Do a short intensity style of workout in the AM or a several hours after your last meal while insulin/blood sugar is stable.

Use some interval style (work/rest) workout to help achieve a lactic threshold training intensity. Intervals can be anywhere from a 20-60 sec work. Keep rest minimal and repeat for increased GH pulsing. Continue the work/rest intervals for about 10-20 minutes total.

Full body movements (like bodyweight circuits) are great to help increase blood flow to all muscles and parts of the body (stubborn fat access tip).

Don’t eat immediately after and keep moving at a slower less stressful pace like walking (keep blood flow going to muscles to burn up those FFAs).

Important Note: Eat something immediately at any point during/after the workout if you feel light headed, weak, nauseous or other symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Have your normal meal an hour+ later (or whenever you had plan on having it anyways while using IF).

Lifestyle Balance of Stress & Recovery

The Stress and Recovery Equation
A big part of using IF is also knowing that your overall lifestyle still has to “allow“ it to be successful. What that means is there still has to be some balance especially when we talk about overall stress and recovery.

Going back to the “hormesis” curve once again, you saw how a short/intermittent stress can cause a beneficial response. However a higher dose/chronic stress load will eventually take the body down a negative feedback loop.

This could be known as the overall stress “load” that you put on your body. It not only comes from what and how you eat, but also everything else included in your daily life such as work, exercise, activities, home life and sleep.

Being successful with IF (and keeping a strong, healthy metabolism) will depend on you still being able to keep your overall stress load under control.

It ‘s “Fight or Flight”, Not “Worry All Day”
Your body and hormones react to the “fight or flight” built in survival response (long ago you may have had to fight or run away to save yourself) by raising adrenaline, heart rate, and blood pressure for increased blood sugar and delivery to muscles for action.

It is actually a short destructive process that allows you to survive for another day, one that you “should” easily recover from and be stronger too (because it was short and there is plenty of time to rest and repair afterward).

What you are just not equipped (hormonally speaking) to handle well is those stressors over long periods of time, while still being able function optimally. That is the real danger, the chronic and ongoing reaction to physical and mental stressors.

Stressors of Today
The type of stressors from long ago (like being eaten by something bigger than us) are no longer like the daily stressors of today with work, deadlines, traffic, taxes, global issues and much more.

“We live longer than our forefathers; but we suffer more from a thousand artificial anxieties and cares. They fatigued only the muscles, we exhaust the finer strength of the nerves.” ~ Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Also the stressors of today are more frequent and ongoing, which also means more internal damage and less recovery time. Too much and/or too often and you just start going in a destructive path that can include loss of muscle, gaining more fat, lowered immune system function and other ill-health.
Now add to that eating less often (IF) and you are putting your body in a high stress state (creating a recovery debt) with little chance of it being able to bounce back.

Adrenaline vs Cortisol
The main hormone/neurotransmitter raised during a “fight or flight” response is adrenaline. It is secreted by the adrenal glands as your body is priming you to take quick survival action.

Adrenaline will increase not only blood glucose through glycogenolysis (at the liver and muscle), but is also a catecholamine used for increasing lipolysis (releasing stored fats). Adrenaline is also very short lived, as it peaks and then goes back down rapidly (assuming the stress is over).

There is also another blood sugar hormone used in times of longer stress, this one is called cortisol. It is also secreted by the adrenal glands and has many natural purposes such as tissue regeneration and giving you the energy to wake up in the morning.

However it has a longer life span (a half-life of several hours) in the system compared to adrenaline. The real danger compounds with every adrenaline peak allowing the cortisol response to keep growing and growing (seen above).

It is that chronic physiological triggering of stress by the body that will cause the biggest damage in the long run.
Adrenals + Metabolism, Energy and Muscle
If you are overusing your adrenals to produce adrenaline and cortisol, you are going to overwork them. Like anything, if you use it too much it will eventually start to wear down. Pretty soon you have adrenal fatigue and then exhaustion.

Having healthy adrenals is going to be key to not only daily energy, but also your daily metabolism (through healthy thyroid activity). Compromised adrenals and thyroid will lead you down a hormonal weight gain path.

The adrenals also are key in making the hormone Testosterone, so you might want to not wear them out so fast if you like building muscle. Chronically high levels of cortisol are a growth inhibitor, as it will also put a halt on your muscle building goals.

Other negative outcomes that can come from an overload of “chronic (not intermittent) stress” and not enough “recovery” include:

Lowered immune system function (get sick more often)
Low energy/chronic fatigue (adrenal fatigue/burnout)
Increased inflammation (also increases risk of heart disease)
Increased muscle pain/weakness
Slower healing and recovery
Increased risks of degenerative diseases (heart disease, cancers, etc)
Increased anxiety or other negative behavioral responses
Increased stubborn fat (insulin resistance issues)
Increased muscle breakdown (for fuel)
Lowered exercise performance/strength
Lowered protein synthesis/resting energy expenditure (through decrease amino acid uptake by muscle cells)

In the process of using IF while maintaining a healthy metabolism overall (including the functioning of organs and preservation of muscle tissue), chronic stress can be a real killer. You can see now the importance of reducing the chronic stress load we put on ourselves (physically and mentally) and having enough recovery time.
Repair Hormones During Sleep
Our body has a natural way in which it wants to be active and then rest and repair. Today most people are trying to do more activity and less repair, which can only lead to a “broken-down” body even sooner (we see more people having more metabolic dysfunction in their 30-40s now, rather than later on in life).

Human growth hormone (GH) is one of our greatest assets in repairing our body. Like every hormone it can have alternating levels (pulses) throughout the day but usually peaks at a certain time for a reason.

GH’s largest spike of the day is in our first couple hours of sleep when the body goes into repair mode. What is interesting though is that timing does matter to the body.

In a study done at the Washington University School of Medicine (Y. Takahashi et al, 1968) comparing GH release at normal sleeping times (about 10pm) and keeping people up later than normal (going to bed later like 1-2am) there is a dramatic difference in the amount of GH released (and number of peaks during the night for those who sleep less).

It seems that staying up later than normal will only suppress the natural spike of nighttime GH released (and this is not something we want). Most people nowadays are staying up way too late, watching TV, being on the computer, staying out socializing, working longer/rotating shifts or whatever the reasons may be.
We need to understand that sleep is an essential part of our health and if disrupted may be a big factor that leads to many illnesses including diabetes, weight gain, behavior/mood swings and brain disorders. There is no getting around this, it’s part of who you are and what your body needs.

Learn from the Top Performers
Here is a great quote not from any health book, but from the Harvard Business Review (“The Making of a Corporate Athlete”, Jim Loehr, 2001):

“The real enemy of high performance is not stress, which, paradoxical as it may seem, is actually the stimulus for growth. Rather, the problem is the absence of disciplined, intermittent recovery. Chronic stress without recovery depletes energy reserves, leads to burnout and breakdown, and ultimately undermines performance. Rituals that promote oscillation, rhythmic stress and recovery, are the second component of high performance. Repeated regularly, these highly precise, consciously developed routines become automatic over time.”

Stress helps us get stronger and grow, but without knowing how to recover it is just going to bring us down. So make sure you prioritize recovery times in your life!

Work/do things smarter, not harder or longer than they really need to be. Simplify and get rid of all the unnecessary distractions along the way too.
Take routine breaks during the day to just sit quiet and relax (like a 10 min break every hour or so). No phone, no email, no TV…just sit and let go.
Cut down on the information overload, as most news/media out there is 24-7 fear and negativity. You don’t need that, no one does.
Focus on what you can do only right now, and stop worrying about the rest.
Make later in the day more about winding down, especially at night before bed (don’t stay up late watching TV).
Do activities you enjoy that are slower and relaxing (walk outside, a hobby, reading, yoga, planting a garden, etc).
Get to bed at a regular hour and make sure you are not skimping on what your body needs for recovery (or you may just pay for it down the road).

Final Thoughts

It really isn’t that hard to have lasting results when it comes to weight loss, once you understand the simple steps you need to take daily. Too many people are looking for quick fixes and end up doing more harm than good with every attempt.

Look around and you will see in this world many people who have no issues staying lean, never read diet books/fitness magazines, don’t belong to a gym and never worry about their weight every day.

I want you to become one of those people too!

Eating can and should be enjoyable. If you do things smarter, you can still enjoy many favorite foods while keeping lean and healthy. Then spend more time not in a gym or counting calories, but outside in the world living life to the fullest!

You are the one in full control now, so go make it happen! I know you can do it!

 

 

Make IF Work for You and Enjoy the Freedom to Eat the Way You Like!
Finding what does work for you is important. We are all individualistic in our glucose tolerance (from foods), insulin sensitivity, intensity of workouts, muscle glycogen replenishment needs, food preferences/choices and much more.

The metabolism is a very tricky and complex system filled with many feedback loops. The biggest thing to remember is that chronic stress leads the body to a negative metabolic state, and will not help you lose weight (you will plateau). Don’t put your body in a chronic state of balancing low energy/blood sugar via adrenaline and cortisol pathways (that is the fast track to burnout and rebound weight gain!).

Keep things continually changed up (carb intake, days off, calorie loads) and use IF the right way. Soon enough you will find the simple balance that does work for you. After all that is the end goal, to find a way to enjoy your eating journey through life!

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