Castle Personal Training is a Corstorphine, Edinburgh based company who specialise in weightloss/toning and Pre and Post Natal exercise.
Some weeks I just don’t know what to write about and other weeks this thing just writes itself, this is one of the latter weeks. Earlier this week I was watching “BBC Breakfast” (I know, first mistake. If you want decent information inane morning television shows which are essentially the TV version of a crappy tabloid should be ignored) and they had this “Diet Dr” (Oh my word, please tell me he didn’t pick that title himself!!) called Michael Mosley on who talked about Intermittent Fasting.
For those of you who know me know that I have liked some versions of I.F. for a while (more on that later) and so to see this subject made me perk up a bit. Turns out Michael had done a Horizon program “investigating” I.F. for the BBC a while ago. I hadn’t seen it, and wish I still hadn’t, but he was “AMAZED” (I’m guessing only for the show’s sake) at the results of his I.F. experiment. Anyways, he now came back on “Breakfast” to promote his diet-book (Must be nice to get paid to investigate something for the BBC and for the BBC then to also plug your book about it. I don’t mind paying a license-fee..well, not much anyways, but this smells a bit) and I was fortunate enough to be able to watch it. (Google BBC Intermittent Fasting and you’ll see the same bit or just click here)
Michael Mosley is a fairly well-respected journalist, GP etc etc. His wikipage says it all, though it leaves out that these days he’s no better than a Daily Mail Health Reporter, and you can’t really blame him for cashing in here but he really has been trying to peddle his wares really hard lately. This article from the Independent describes it nicely when they said; “Michael Mosley has been making quite a nice living out of trying to live longer just recently.”
Anyway I digress; My issue is that there is no credit given where it’s due. If you want to know more about Intermittent Fasting visit http://www.leangains.com where Martin Berkhan has some excellent information for those wanting to gain muscle whilst staying with a low bodyfat % or read the definitive book on I.F. “Eat, Stop Eat” by Brad Pilon. Sure Martin’s language isn’t as polished as that of a BBC presenter and the Eat Stop Eat site looks like your typical stupid shouty commercial “I-have-the-secret,now-BUY-IT” book site (his own site bradpilon.com is actually much better) but if you want the best info available on I.F. this is where to go.
So, Intermittent Fasting is the “Next big thing”. With the weight of the media behind it, I am sure quite a few people will catch on. Gone are the days when I was laughed at for daring to suggest that skipping breakfast was not necessarily a bad thing and that muslims didn’t die from the dreaded “Starvation Response” during Ramadan. This actually happened during my Personal Training course in Edinburgh BTW and those disagreeing included the ones teaching the course (I’ll write more about how to avoid,and spot, crap Personal Trainers in another article)
There are several ways to go about Intermittent Fasting and, as usual, there are 2 reasons for it.
To gain lean muscle mass without gaining the fat that usually comes with “bulking up”. This allows you to keep a muscular physique and low fat % whilst bulking up. For this I highly recommend going to www.leangains.com as Martin is pretty much the daddy when it comes to this.
You could even go so far as to go for massive “Bodybuilding” type muscle whilst Intermittent Fasting but that’s not considered the most efficient way to go about it.
The second one is the more interesting one for most of the population;
To lose fat, FAST, without losing muscle and do it in a way that’s part of a sustainable life-style.
(I apologise to my non-British friends for the reference to a crappy British commercial you’ve never heard. To my British friends, apologies for the crappy reference to a crappy commercial you have actually seen. I just really like the poster)
Now we’re in business! We can lose tonnes of fat, maintain our muscle-mass and it really doesn’t take that much effort.
How does Intermittent Fasting work then? Excellent question;
The theory is that it works by causing hormonal and chemical shifts in your body towards a more natural pattern of energy use and expenditure. That is, the human organism is designed to work for its meal, is more used to being unfed, than fed, and will thereby partition nutrients more efficiently when the state is corrected.
Essentially this states that your body will become more efficient at processing food (nutrients). Eating small meals 5-6 times a day is not required, and for many of us simply not feasible as we have kids, work etc. so this sounds ideal.
How should you go about Intermittent Fasting?
There are, essentially, 3 approaches to it;
A; The Michael Mossley Method. He states during the BBC interview that he’s on a 5-2 split. So for 5 days a week he eats normal. But for 2 days a week, for instance a Monday and Thursday, he drops his intake to 600 calories per day. WOW, This seems tough going! Yes it is and it’s not one I would recommend for 99% of the people interested in this. It’s hard work and we all like food too much so we know it’s not sustainable.
B; The Warrior Diet. I kid you not, that is what it’s called. Essentially the claim is that you should eat all your daily calories in one sitting. So for 22 hrs of the day you have a zero calorie intake and for 2 hrs you eat all your calories. Sounds stupid and like it’s not going to happen? That’s because it is. There are more variations of this that also state you should eat everything in a small time-frame but this has received the most attention so I’m mentioning this one. Just don’t bother with it. If you’re interested though; Here’s the link.
C; The Leangains approach, at least with regards to time-frames. (calorie intake depends on your goals and I don’t recommend the BCAA supplements that Martin takes as you’re unlikely to need them).
Essentially this means that you’ll have a 14-16 hr fast. In my case I do the following; If I have my dinner at 7PM this means that I’ll have my breakfast at 9AM if I’m on a 14 hr “fast”. Considering that I sleep at night, it really isn’t difficult to go without eating for 14 hrs. There is no law anywhere that says you need to eat breakfast at 7AM if you’ve had your dinner at 7PM, is there? We all know the “evening snacks” are usually not the best idea in the world (when’s the last time you were peckish at 9.30PM and decided to make yourself a healthy snack rather than eat a few pringles?) so I don’t eat after 7.
This 14-16 hr timeframe is EASILY sustainable for everyone! It doesn’t mean that “I have to eat at 9AM or I’ll die!!“. No, quite often I am busy in the morning and don’t eat till 10 or 11AM. (14-16 hr fast, remember?) I do make sure that what I eat during the day is enough. I don’t drop my calorie intake because I’m having breakfast later in the day! If you’re a woman trying to lose weight/fat on a 1500calorie a day diet (also known as; the healthy way) you will still have 1500calories that day. Just not from 7PM till 9AM (or 11AM depending on the length of your fast).
So at 10AM when all your colleagues get the biscuits out during their coffee break, you have your breakfast. You really won’t go hungry as you’re not under-eating and it’s a great way to stay off the biscuits.
So what are the benefits of Intermittent Fasting? Again, an excellent question!
There seem to be many, even beside the fat-loss, keeping your muscle and it being easy to stick to (even on holiday!).
It appears that life-expectancy might increase. It is definitely the case in mice and monkeys and it follows that the same goes for humans, though this is not proven yet.
There appears to be a link between some forms of I.F. and insulin resistance and diabetes.
There is other research going on with regards to lower Cholesterol levels (and mentioned in the piece by Michael Mosley and in various other pieces) etc. etc. but those are ongoing and therefore not peer reviewed.
The evidence is building up rapidly though and, if you choose the correct form of I.F. you really should not have an issue sticking to it. But MAKE SURE YOU EAT ENOUGH! The main problem I find when I go on an Intermittent fasting routine is that my calorie intake drops to below what it should be. I still get enough protein, as I supplement that anyway, but sometimes I just don’t eat enough as I’m not hungry enough and this is a problem.
Is Intermittent Fasting for everyone? No. Some people are happier having 5-6 meals a day, and that’s fine. Other people might prefer to give this a shot though.
All in all, the research available shows that you do NOT need to eat 5 small meals a day, which quite a few sites claim. Breakfast is also not the most important meal a day. You don’t have to “Kick-start your metabolism”, it was fine for your parents and grand-parents to believe this but there’s no excuse for you to still do so.
As always; don’t just jump into a new diet and take care