The 2 Reasons Why Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss Works so Well

  • why intermittent fasting for fat loss works so well

Are you looking for a way to reduce your body fat?

To get a well defined body with a slim waist and six pack abs?

That’s great!

But let’s face it, diets never seem to work.

You start a new diet, and everything seems to go well,

Just to end up quitting within a couple of weeks.

Maybe the diet wasn’t right for you, or perhaps you weren’t actually ready to lose the body fat yet.

But fear not,

What I’m going to share with you is the most powerful and simple method (lifestyle) there is for improving body composition (less fat and more muscles).

This will be a three part article series, where you’ll learn everything you need to know about Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss:

Let’s get started with the first part!

Part 1 – The 2 Reasons Why Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss Works so Well

Let’s take a look at the hierarchy of importance for fat loss.

As you can see, meal frequency and nutrient timing, basically what intermittent fasting is, is placed fourth in the order of importance.

nutrient timing meal frequency1

 

Pyramid inspired by Eric Helm, creator and author of the Muscle & Strength Pyramid books

Wait, what? Fourth?

How come intermittent fasting is located so late in the order of importance, but still being preached as something that works so well?

That’s a good question.

And it’s true; intermittent fasting works extremely well for most people.

But, why is that?

It’s because intermittent fasting makes the 2 most important steps of calorie intake and macronuitrients a lot easier to adhere and stick to in the long run.

I will explain how, exactly, by going through the 2 biggest reasons why intermittent fasting for fat loss works so well one by one.

Reason 1 – Intermittent Fasting Makes Calorie Restriction Feel Like a Breeze

Whoa, that’s a bold statement to make!

I know, but hang in there. Let me back that statement up.

Let’s say your goal is to lose a hefty 1 kg (2 lbs.) of fat per week.

For that to happen, you need to be in a calorie deficit of 1000 kcal per day (or 7000 kcal per week). This is the law of thermodynamics, and why the calories are #1 in the hierarchy.

Now a calorie deficit of 1000 kcal per day is usually very tough. It’s also a higher number than I recommend, but I use it as an example in this article to make the point clearer.

Such a large deficit can be tough because, well you’re starving yourself of maybe 1/3 or even half of the energy you need to maintain your weight, depending on your activity level and body size.

That’s a lot of energy your body must take from its stores.

Good news, intermittent fasting can make even a 1000 calorie deficit feel like a breeze!

Let me tell you how.

The Power of Intermittent Fasting During a Calorie Restricted Diet

In short, of creating an eating window, you will get the following benefits while losing fat:

  1. Better hunger control because of the fasted periods
  2. You’ll find it harder to overeat because of a shorter eating window
  3. You can save a buffer of calories for the evening, allowing you to eat out.
  4. You will spend less time preparing and eating food, meaning more productivity
  5. You’ll have more calories to eat in each meal which means more satiating and satisfying meals
  6. Removes the need to have cheat-meals. With the large meals, every meal will feel like cheat-meals

Benefits of intermittent fasting for fat loss

Let’s look at these more in-depth,

Why I Recommend Skipping Breakfast

The first, and biggest reason why I recommend skipping breakfast is that;

Most people are not hungry in the morning and can easily save calories for later in the day.

Strangely enough, many of us, are getting hungrier a few hours after eating breakfast than if we just skipped it.

Just think about it,

How many times have you experienced the feeling of hunger while not being able to eat at that point, just to find out a couple of hours later that your hunger is gone?

This is a phenomenon that you take advantage of with intermittent fasting. And it’s partly why this method is so effective!

During the fasted time, your sympathetic nervous system increases in activity. With that, hormones such as Adrenaline, Noradrenalin, Cortisol and Human growth hormone get released. These hormones are known for their hunger dampening effects.

This is a huge advantage of intermittent fasting. By skipping breakfast, you achieve better hunger control, you’ll find it harder to overeat, and you can save a buffer of calories later in the day.

The second reason for skipping breakfast;

You are getting the hours of fasting from sleeping. That way, you kick start your day to fast for longer easily and further save up on a huge calorie buffer for later in the day.

Lastly, the third reason why skipping breakfast is highly beneficial;

You spend less time preparing and eating food in the morning. A lot of people find this extremely liberating. During the mornings, we are often in a hurry getting to work, school or whatever occupation we might have. By saving time from cooking and eating at this time, you can either sleep longer if you’d like or save some time for being productive instead.

By skipping breakfast, you cross off most of the steps in the list and infographic above.

Now, let’s look at the benefits of eating later in the day.

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Why I Recommend Eating More During the Second Part of the Day

The first reason for eating later in the day is;

For satiety and satisfaction.

And it’s the BIGGEST reason why intermittent fasting for fat loss works so well.

Remember what I covered in the intro?

I said that; removing calories from the day can be tough.

I take that back with a big, hell no! Not with intermittent fasting.

When you skip breakfast, you save a buffer of calories for later in the day. This allows you to have more calories at each meal, meaning more satiating and satisfying meals.

Even in a CALORIE DEFICIT!

Imagine feeling satiated and satisfied, all while losing 0.5-1 kg (1-2 lbs.) of fat per week.

It’s like having the cake and eating it too.

having the cake and eating it too

The second reason for eating later in the day is;

When you save a buffer of calories for later, it allows you to eat out and participate in social events and gathering.

This is huge.

What does almost every social event and gathering, such as parties, hanging with friends, going to see a movie or having a family dinner have in common?

Yes, they usually take place at night!

So, it would make sense to save all your precious calories for the evening meals, right?

I would say so. It’s highly enjoyable to be able to feast during these events. Not having to be the “dieting guy” no one likes, that always say;

No, I can’t eat that…

Or,

I’m over my calorie budget…

This segues perfectly into the third and final reason I recommend eating more later in the day;

It removes the need to have cheat-meals.

In fact, with the large meals, every meal will feel like a cheat meal.

But first, what is a cheat meal?

A cheat meal is a meal that’s outside the standard of the planned diet, often foods such as hamburger, pizza, sushi or other “junk-food.”

Cheat-meals are a notion made up by the fitness industry, that everything which tastes good and is easy to overeat on is “bad” or “junk” that should only be eaten very rarely, as a cheat meal.

Fortunately, intermittent fasting crushes this notion.

When you’re purposely eating large meals, you can include these “junk foods” in your diet rather easily!

How do you wonder?

I’ll give you an example;

When you begin your eating window, depending on your daily activity and body size, you might have a buffer of 2000 calories to eat for about 8 hours.

Let’s say that If you stick with eating these 2000 calories every day, that will put you in a 1000 calorie deficit per day, meaning you’ll lose 1 kg (2 lbs.) of fat per week. (Again, this is a very large calorie deficit, and often larger than I recommend, and a smaller one would feel even easier!)

Now, let’s put 2000 calories in perspective:

two pizzas intermittent fasting for fat loss

2000 calories are equal to ~two small sized pizzas (if you chose the lighter ones, without sauce and extra cheese, etc.)

That’s a lot of food to eat in only 8 hours.

And the satiety and satisfaction will be huge, all while simultaneously losing fat!

Now, to be completely clear. I’m not saying that you should eat 2 pizzas a day.

I’m just saying that when it comes to the role of calories in changing your body composition:

  • You can eat 2 pizzas a day (or any other “junk-food” for that matter) and still lose fat.
  • Bigger meals are highly beneficial for satiety and satisfaction, two key components for long-term adherence to a fat loss diet.

Intermittent fasting certainly has an enormous potential for making a calorie deficit feel like a breeze.

Now, let’s look at the second reason why intermittent fasting for fat loss works so well:

Reason 2 – Intermittent Fasting Allows You to Eat all the Macronutrients

macronutrients intermittent fasting for fat loss

First of all,

Are we talking about fat loss right? To make sure you’ll only lose fat and not just weight, being both fat and muscle. You must eat enough protein and resistance train.

This is mainly why eating 2 pizzas as I daringly showed you above, isn’t the greatest idea. Because you’ll run short on protein, and risk muscle loss.

You’ll also miss out on important micronutrients and fiber that you need to sustain good health.

Coming back to this article,

With intermittent fasting, the only thing you restrict is a few hours of eating daily, and that’s pretty much it. You still allow yourself to eat all the macronutrients protein, carbs, and fats, which is very important!

Let me explain why.

Eating a balanced profile of macronutrients is a great way to have more satiating and satisfying meals.

balanced-macronutrients

Again, we’re always looking for satiety and enjoyment when losing fat.

Because why not?

There’s no point of doing something harder than it has to be.

By including all the macros carbs, fats and proteins (protein being on the high end) in your meals, you will feel a lot more satisfied. This is because you’ll get a balanced release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, etc. in the brain which effectively promotes well-being.

Also, when you include enough protein and carb sources, you’re getting high voluminous foods that are taking up a lot of space in your stomach. Especially if you pick carbs like potatoes, brown rice, quinoa or other that are rich in fiber. This will make you feel fuller and more satiated on fewer calories.

Finally, when you allow for both carbs and fats, you’ll get tastier meals, which means more satisfying meals. Eating both carbs and fats allow for tasty things like fries, dressings, and sauces, etc. making the food a lot more fun.

Now you might ask,

Isn’t fries and sauce unhealthy and will make me fat?

Nope, as we’ve just gone through, it’s the calorie intake that cause weight gain or loss.

And with intermittent fasting, it gets downright easy to lose weight and fat while enjoying the foods you like if done right. (Which I’ll cover how in part 2)

That’s a quick run through of the benefits a balanced macronutrient profile has on satiety and adherence.

Let’s also look at the physiological benefits.

Eating a balanced profile of macro nutrients is great for optimal health and performance

Carbohydrates

intermittent fasting for fat loss carbs

First of all.

Don’t fall for the myth that you can’t have carbs or you won’t burn fat.

This has been a big misconception in the fitness industry, especially in context with intermittent fasting.

The common disbelief has been that intermittent fasting puts you in a fat burning state when the hormone insulin is low. But, remember, it’s a calorie deficit that causes you to lose fat not low insulin directly.

It’s still true though, that the hormonal changes with lowered insulin, etc. will take place.

But, it’s important to understand that the calorie deficit causes the changes, and not what cause the calorie deficit. This has caused a lot of confusion.

A lot of proof is supporting this as well. In countries such as Italy, France and Japan statistics show the average person eats up to 70 % of their caloric intake from carb sources. While being some of the leanest and healthiest populations in the world.

In fact, eating carbs has lots of physiological benefits for healthy and active population:

  • More quick energy available as glycogen during the days, especially to fuel your workouts.
  • Improved muscle recovery when combined with protein.
  • Better hormonal balance. Studies have shown a better testosterone-cortisol ratio, especially in physically active men.
  • Increased intake of dietary fiber. Of the three macros, carbs are the only one that provides dietary fiber.

Let’s look at fat

intermittent fasting for fat loss fats

 

Fat is essential, which means that you must eat it to survive. Fat is also very important for optimizing health, and I highly recommended not going too low in fat for a few reasons:

  • Fat helps protect and run your immune system
  • Fat allow good production of testosterone and estrogen
  • Fat plays an essential role in nutrient absorption. Like taking up important vitamins like D and E
  • Fat help all of the cells in your body work as intended

What you can see is just how important it is with a balanced intake of macros for long-term adherence when it comes to achieving a lean and ripped physique.

During a calorie restricted diet, you give your body less total nutrients, which makes it more sensitive to changes in food composition.

What I mean by this is, if you go too low in either carbs or fats for too long, you risk causing some deficiency, and your health can suffer from it. And if anything you certainly make your meals less fun to eat.

What about protein?

intermittent fasting for fat loss proteins

 

I chose to discuss protein last because contrarily to carbs and fats, a certain amount of protein is required if you’re looking to lose fat and keep muscle.

As you might know, protein is the building blocks for all cells in the body.

Training breaks muscles down, and you need protein and rest to build them back up. Under the correct circumstances, you’ll build the muscles up a bit extra to better handle that specific stress from training in the future.

Now, when you’re in a calorie deficit looking to lose fat, your protein intake must be slightly higher than when you’re maintaining or gaining weight.

This is because your body receives less energy from food than it usually does. Which can cause your body to start transforming, both the proteins you eat as well as your muscle protein into glucose, to use as energy.

Also, your very energy dependent muscle building system called; Muscle protein synthesis can get downregulated a bit following a calorie restricted diet which further reduces your ability to build muscle.

Okay, so how much protein to eat?

How much protein to eat has been a confusing topic. Luckily, the research is getting a lot clearer on this.

And it’s good news!

The protein intake doesn’t need to be as high as previously thought.

However, this number does depend on a few factors like; age, training, experience, the size of the calorie deficit, training volume, and leanness.

Which gives us the range of:

1.6 – 2.2 grams per kg body weight (0.8 – 1 gram per pound of bodyweight) (1)

The older you are, the less training experience you have, the larger calorie deficit you use, the more training you do, and the leaner you are, the higher your protein intake needs to be, and vice versa.

Protein intake example:

For me who are:

  • 25 years old,
  • Have 4 years of lifting experience,
  • Uses a calorie deficit of 500-700 per day,
  • And do 3-4 whole body – medium volume workouts per week.

It’s been working perfectly to aim for around 1.8 – 2 grams per kilo (~0.9 grams per lbs.) of body weight per day.

This is a high enough and secure protein intake, which allows me to eat more carbs and fats, giving me better adherence to my diet and a lot more energy both in and outside of the gym.

Protein is the most important macronutrient for creating a good-looking and healthy body composition.

However, more protein isn’t better. Higher intakes than the recommended range above won’t make any difference in how much muscle you spare or build.

In fact, you will have a harder time sticking to your diet.

By increasing your protein intake, your fats and carbs must get lower to account for the added calories from proteins. This would deprive you of the previously mentioned benefits of having more carbs and fats.

We’ve just covered the 2 reasons why intermittent fasting for fat loss works so well. Which is making the calorie deficit and macro intake as easy as possible to adhere to.

To finish this article up. It’s a great time, if any, to debunk the myths surrounding intermittent fasting when it comes to creating a lean and ripped physique.

Myths surrounding intermittent fasting for fat loss

nutrient-timing-myths

Short-term fasting has been thought to have some negative effects on body composition, muscle growth, and metabolic rate which are shown to be false, myths such as:

  • You need to eat small meals to ramp up your metabolism. Not true
  • Smaller meals are better for appetite control. Not true
  • Eating in the evening makes you fat. Not true
  • Short-term fasting leads to muscle loss. Not true
  • You need to eat protein every three hours to maintain your muscle mass. Not true

Meal frequency and food distribution don’t affect fat loss and body composition. Eating 2 meals or 6 meals per day will yield equal results for fat loss and muscle retention, at least for recreational trainees.

The problems seem to appear when going to the extremes. In both cases!

Eating only 1 large meal per day might cause you to develop unhealthy relationships with food where you train yourself to eat enormous amounts of calories at one sitting.

On the other hand, eating more than 6 meals per day creates the opposite problem. You will think about food all the time because you have very small meals every hour or two that don’t satisfy you. Either end of the spectrum makes your adherence to the calorie deficit tougher than it has to be.

Recently there was a meta-analysis done by Alan Aragon, Brad Schoenfeld and James Krieger that looked at the effect of meal frequency on body composition. They found no difference. Their conclusion was:

Given that adherence is of primary concern concerning nutritional prescription, the number of daily meals consumed should come down to personal choice if one’s goal is to improve body composition.”

This puts the nail in the coffin that when intermittent fasting for fat loss is set up correctly, it can have all the ups with none of the downs for successfully achieving a lean and good-looking body.

Conclusion

There’s nothing magical about intermittent fasting.

It’s just a highly effective method for increasing comfort during a fat loss phase.

Intermittent fasting will make the 2 most important factors for fat loss, calories and macros, extremely easy to adhere to.

Give it a try and turn into a fat burning machine!

In the next part of the series we look at; How to correctly set up intermittent fasting for fat loss.

I’ll see you there.

What do you think about intermittent fasting for fat loss? Do you have any own experiences or ideas? Let me know in the comment section below.

 

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By | 2017-10-10T13:35:44+00:00 August 14th, 2017|All Articles, General Fitness, Nutrition|2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Patty August 14, 2017 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    Great article! Will you be discussing training in a fasted state at all in this series?

    • Niklaslampi August 16, 2017 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Thank you! I’m glad you liked it 🙂 Yes I cover it shortly in part 2 and 3. Actually I’m also in the making of a whole series around training in conjunction with fasting that will be done soon as well.

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