Fasting for weight loss hit the headlines recently, based on some scientific research that has nearly nothing to do with the topic. News media really blew it this time. The research involved a group of people who do not even remotely represent you or anyone else who wants to lose weight. The science behind this report is fine, although the yellow journalism stinks.
Studies: Burn More Fat on Empty Stomach
This is a great title for a news article headline, don’t you think? Unfortunately, the media failed to cite the original work. After some digging I found it on Pubmed. The research focused on world class cyclists, and the results showed that ultra high intensity training with low muscle glycogen led to burning more fat. This, of course, is common sense.
How do you get to a level of low muscle glycogen? Since this is the form of carbohydrate stored in muscle, the only way to go low is by not eating. Of course, this is complicated by the fact that liver also stores glycogen, and that not eating may also lead to muscle loss. No matter to the journalists. The whole idea that research on world class cyclists could apply to you an me is ridiculous from the get-go. Might as well compare us with lab rats.
Of course, if you do ultra high intensity training and are a world class cyclist, then this research may be good news for you.
The Real Story Behind Fasting for Weight Loss
Meal spacing leads to all kinds of hormone changes involving insulin, growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1, and leptin, among others. The pattern of release of these hormones after a meal follows a prescribed response to food and its digestion over time. The most effective fat loss period, due to these patterns, is the 12 or so hours between dinner and breakfast the next day. This is your daily fasting for maximum benefit for weight loss.
Extended fasting all by itself can boost the daily dinner-to-breakfast fasting results. What I mean by extended fasting is no more than 24 hours. The 3-day or 8-day fasts that some people love to do are too extreme.
Weight Loss With Fasting
Fasting specifically directs your body to go after fat, once stored glycogen becomes unavailable. However, there are certain strategies that you must follow for fasting – before, during, and after – to make sure that fat loss is the target and not muscle loss.
Brad Pilon is the world’s leading expert on how to do this right. Fortunately, he has put together a manual for all of us normal people (not world class athletes) to get rid of belly fat through proper fasting. He calls his program Eat Stop Eat, which is cute and clever and to the point. I have linked an icon above to the page where he explains it better than I can. It is also here:
Unlike the stupid media reports that pushed my buttons on this topic, Brad’s ideas are spot on. Go ahead and read what he has to say and you will see what I mean.
All the best for fasting and weight loss,