If you work out, and you’re looking to lose fat, but you want to keep as much muscle as possible, you may want to try intermittent fasting.
It’s actually how I diet, when I want to lean out and show that six-pack to the world.
Some studies have found this new science-based diet strategy could help you maintain muscle mass better than traditional diets (it’s hard not to lose muscle on a diet—but fun fact: women lose less than men).
That diet strategy is called “intermittent fasting.” Maybe you’ve heard about it. It’s getting more and more popular. With good reason, I think.
Let me list a few:
1- It’s easy to do (sometimes you eat, sometimes you don’t—it’s that easy)
2- No food is off the list (even “cheat” foods—you can eat a little of them once in a while)
3- It may let you keep more of your muscle mass while you lose fat than traditional diets
This last point is a big one, and I’ll expand on it. In short, I’m saying it “may” maintain muscle mass better because the scientific community is split. Let’s look at 3 reviews:
– Varady (2011) concluded that it may indeed “be more effective for the retention of lean mass.”
– Alhamdan et al. (2016) said that it “may be superior to very-low calorie diets for some patients because of ease of compliance, greater fat-mass loss and relative preservation of fat-free mass”
– Seimon et al. (2015) said: “Intermittent fasting thus represents a valid–albeit apparently not superior–option to continuous energy restriction for weight loss.”
As you can see, these researchers don’t all come to the same conclusions. That happens often in research: scientists don’t agree, even when they review the same literature. It’s part of why science can be so damn hard.
Personally, I still use intermittent fasting, because it’s easy. And maybe, maybe it helps me keep my muscle mass better.
If you’re looking to lose fat, and you’ve never tried it, I think you should.
Now, I could write a whole book to explain how it works. But instead, I’ll just refer you to Brad Pilon’s book, Eat Stop Eat. Brad has an MS in Applied Human Nutrition and a lot of experience helping people lose fat with intermittent fasting.
Here’s a 4-star review I found on Goodreads that sums it up nicely:
“Brad’s website looks like a giant internet ad. The sort of thing you only really notice if you forgot to install an ad-blocker extension on your browser. Stock photos everywhere, big bellies right next to chiselled abs, giant text headlines with bold claims.”
“If you get over your carefully nurtured distrust – moulded by years of ignoring those sort of web ads – and get the book you might be in for a big surprise.”
“It really is a great book. It’s written in clear, unpretentious language. Its chapters are varied and well organized.”
“Fasting sounds right from an evolutionary viewpoint and it’s supported anecdotally by years of religion tradition. These are all things the author mentions, but then backs by old and new scientific studies made on the matter. There are over 300 citations here, methodically scattered through the various chapters , carefully disassembling years of common wisdom and industry-pushed concepts that were fed to the general public.”
“Take the next step, like I did, and start doing what he advocates and you’ll see your weight lowed, your health markers improve and you’ll even have extra time from not having to buy and prepare food in those fasting periods.”
“In the end, maybe the Eat. Stop. Eat website should be viewed as a trojan horse of sorts. A disruptive idea disguised as spam. An ironic twist on all those «Lose fat, build muscle!» internet ads that have desensitized us. Perhaps losing weight really is easy with this one simple trick.” -João Bruno
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So, if you want to lose fat while keeping your muscle mass, and you’re curious to try this approach, check out Eat Stop Eat.
Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear about your experience with intermittent fasting. For me, it does the trick (‘cuz hey, I like being efficient, and eating just 1 or 2 meals a day saves me a boatload of time).