What and why Intermittent Fasting? by MarcMenz | Forum

Topic location: Forum home » General » Intermittent Fasting
adminfs Sep 4 '17
What is fat?

Basic science is that your body loves its fat cells and tries hanging on for as long as possible. Humans only really evolved because of this great ability to store fat and last long periods without food.

Fat cells work like a fuel tank and expand and contract with fat (something like ten times it's size). They're located all over your body, and vary genetically and by gender (women tend to have more on their legs etc.). Also, your body doesn't create new fat cells after around age 21, so children who were fat tend to have more fat cells. Adults who gain weight after 21 may have an easier time losing fat.
Fat is a molecule and made up of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide - it's basically liquid gas. You don't burn fat, and it doesn't really sweat out either. 84% of fat loss is actually through your lungs and breathing (mostly at night). The rest is through your pee.

This liquid gas (fat molecule) is one of the most potent and effective energy sources our body can utilise - pound for pound it's insanely useful - we don't need to burn much of it to actually function.

Losing fat

The way the body adds to fat cells or removes them is basically through hormones such as insulin. Insulin spikes after a carbs/sugary meal. The hormone signals your liver to send the excess glycogen through your blood to fat cells. I'll get into keto later, but a ketogenic diet's primary goal is to not eat carbs and then utilise 'ketones' as a source of energy instead of glycogen (basically no carbs).

Anyway, when your body doesn't eat, it releases another hormone called 'leptin', which essentially does the opposite of insulin and takes fat from your cells through the blood to the liver to utilise as energy. The excess is fat is breathed out.

Basically, by being in a 'calorie deficit', as well as being in a fasted state gets your body releasing fat while your sleep. Generally speaking, it's hard to eat too many calories if you're only eating 2 meals in an 8 hour window. Also, the whole calorie debate is for another time, however I find the composition of what you eat is more important than actually counting calories.

So why intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is pretty much just not eating anything for 16 hours or more, and then eating within an 8 hour window. Flick through this before reading on: https://www.reddit.com/r/intermittentfasting/wiki/index

There's plenty on the net about fasting, I'll paste some links below, but basically as soon as you eat anything you're breaking a fast. The only things that are generally speaking not breaking a fast are tea and coffee with no sugar, sweetner or milk. Some people get by with zero calorie drinks, others with zero calorie mints. It's called a dirty fast. Also, generally speaking a pure fast is nothing but water. It's all up in the air, but fuck, waking up without a coffee is hard.

Fasting is cool. It's hard, but when you sleep for 8 hours, the bulk of the hard work is while you're unconscious. I first started fasting eating a light breakky at 8am, a decent lunch and a snack at 4pm. I then lasted comfortably through not eating dinner and would sleep around 10pm.

In the first stages, the adjustment period is tough and I would cave in some nights and eat mints to cope. Also I'd keep strawberries in the fridge in case of emergencies. They're practically calorie free and full of good nutrients and fibre, so if you're gunna eat anything, or even have sugar cravings, they're the best thing I found. But try not to eat them, they're actually great for breaking a fast after 16 hours, a punnet of strawberries weirdly used to fill me up for a couple of hours.

To be honest, I fully adjusted and got used to fasting after the first week, but I know people have a harder time of it from what I've read online. Girls especially have a hard time, especially around PMS time, their hormones go nuts.

What I've found above all else is that once you get over the first week or two, which can be a little challenging, your entire relationship with food changes. You'll probably lose a few kilos rapidly (which helps keep you on track), but basically your body starts to realise that you're going through a period of sustained caloric deficit, so the liver gets used to not storing food as fat. Then when you cut out carbs (keto), it works even more crazily effectively.

I keep reading more and more about fasting and how the ancient greeks and egyptians used to do it to ward off illnesses and to get greater mental clarity. Fasting has been a part of humanity forever! Scientists keep finding other random health benefits, and we're only really scratching the surface when it comes to linking brain function with the digestive system. They actually reckon depression may in some cases be caused by digestion.

Anyway, fasting has changed my life and I'm so grateful I discovered it - it gets so easy after a while. In fact I feel weird eating a whole three meals a day now, I feel heavy and bloated. I actually love feeling hungry, I feel like I'm rewarding myself. Hunger is a mental and physical state, and when you're dropping the kilos it's so rewarding.

Some pros and cons:


It's not easy. It's mentally challenging at first.

Some nights on fasting, your mind is racing and you get fidgety and some people find it hard to sleep (although I wake up with monster boners when fasting).

Cutting out a meal can be hard socially, especially with a partner, and especially if you're used to eating together. However an 8 hour window is quite a bit of time. You can have breakky at 10am and dinner at 6pm.

Not shitting: Personally when I'm on one meal a day, I burn everything I eat and I might go a few days without a dump. But it's not like constipation which is uncomfortable, it's literally just not having anything in your gut. It's all used!

Weight loss can be all over the place. I find you smash out 2-3 kilos in a few days, but then you can hit plateaus. I'll explain below.


Your relationship with food changes, and when you eventually eat everything tastes so much better.

You get a slower metabolism - which is the opposite of what people think! The slower you digest, the longer you stay full and more nutrients your body ingests. A slow metabolism is a great thing. Those with a fast metabolism are never satisfied. Those with slow metabolisms that eat three meals a day may have a hard time however and gain weight... I'm one of them.

You lose weight easily and effectively, and everytime you have a blow out weekend you can generally lose the weight easily by Tuesday.

Bloating: It's hard fasting on a hangover, but doing OMAD (one meal a day) on Sunday after a big Saturday night is golden. You can have the greasiest most delicious bacon and eggs and something sweet in a two hour window, and it keeps you full right through to the next day.

Inflammation and bodily repair, basically when your body is not digesting it focuses on fixing problems, joints, cells etc. these benefits get even greater when fasting for 36 hour periods or longer. Some research has even been done on the heart and they're starting to find benefits like reversal of blocked arteries etc.

Testosterone. The science is a bit all over the place with this one, but there have been plenty of studies on ramadan, and generally speaking testosterone levels are up or down. Personally I feel like testosterone goes through the roof when I fast! I also feel that with weight loss comes a unique kind of energy that boosts testosterone. Some morning though I do wake up a little flat. I haven't fully figured it out, but if I eat well, and fast a few days a week, I generally feel great and feel like my sex drive and testosterone are on point.


Recognition. If you can tell your missus that three or four nights a week you're going to skip dinner, and you stick to it, then it's a great mental thing and she'll understand why you're doing it. Stick to your guns and sacrifice and they'll appreciate it. But I recommend lock in a dinner date once a week and go out and have a great feed with her. You don't need to fast every night!

IF (intermittent fasting) also teaches you mental strength in the long run with food. To be able to smell food and desire it and not eat it is fucking hard but makes you so strong. You get to the point where fasting and weight loss feels so good that you don't mind not eating. Also "Nothing tastes better than being skinny" Kate Moss.

Gas. After a solid fast, especially the longer ones that are around 48 hours, you have no farts at all and just feel great on the inside. It's a hard feeling to explain until you try it. It also gives your gut bacteria a chance to chill. There's something like trillions of bacteria in our lower intestines, in fact 50% of poo is bacteria, 25% is water and 25% is indigestible food like fibres. Alcohol and carbs can increase the numbers of those bacteria exponentially and generate gas. When you fast you feel a million bucks. Also, food can take 36 hours to leave your system, especially heavy meats. So generally after a big epic 48 hour fast you're nice and empty and straight up burning fat cells, you even get a nice little high from it.

Brain function. I find when I'm right into a fast, my mind is operating at full capacity. I've done 72 hour fasts and weirdly, you're body is slightly tired but your mind functions reallly well. You get into adrenaline mode. Our bodies are capable of going hunting after days or weeks without eating, if we couldn't do this our species wouldn't have made it this far.

Longevity. This is still open for debate, but when mice are given restricted eating schedules they tend to live a lot longer. See the resources down below!

Weight loss tips:

Weigh yourself everyday! You're going to find weird fluctuations in weight, up and down. Basically when you're fasting, you drink a lot of water to help with the hunger and cravings. This has numerous benefits which isn't worth going into, but you can imagine. All this excess water will make your weight fluctuate, but on average you will lose weight.

I find on the days I do a 16 hour fast, I tend to lose about 200grams in weight when I eat well (averaged out over a month).

Some days I'll wake up a kilo lighter, some days I won't lose anything and sometimes I might even gain. The reason for the weird fluctuation has a lot to do with the water your body holds, and this has to do with sodium/salt as well. But I find when I'm doing 16 hour fasts it averages out to about 200 grams overnight. So If I do 20 days of 16 hour fasts in a month I'll lose around 4kg. But we all have our blowouts, and weekends, weddings, dinners etc. Just factor them in! If you know you're going out for a big dinner, skip breakfast and have a late lunch. It's easy math. I find it a little harder to lose weight now, however - my body is trying to hang on to what's left, so it's very hard in the very last stages.

Also, over the years I find I lose around 4kg in a week of solid fasting with a well behaved weekend, but then I'll plateau for 2 to 3 weeks and not lose any weight. It's kind of disheartening when you get on a roll and then you hit a wall. I've learned how my body works however, and I've accepted it. So if I need to lose 16kg, I'll plan it out over a 4 month period, losing 4kg a month, or 1kg a week (on average). So if I lose 3kg in the first week, I still need to keep fasting in the next few weeks, and I may or may not lose weight. Remember your body really wants to hang on to fat!

Another thing, everytime I have a big weekend coming up, I might go extra hard and do a few 22 hour fasts e.g from Monday to Thursday. They're hard, but when you get to the weekend you feel incredible and you feel like you could eat a horse!

Working out:

Ok, here's what I've learned. It's not impossible to lose fat and gain muscle, but it's very, very hard. I haven't figured it out yet, but I feel like I'm close to getting a balance where I stay lean and bulk up. Basically, when you're fasting and aiming to lose fat, I highly recommend going into 'maintenance mode' with the weights. This means no cardio, just a solid heavy lifting session a few times a week to make sure you keep what muscles you have and to help melt away fat while you fast. I also don't recommend it in your first couple of weeks of fasting. Don't go too hard in the early stages.

Now the general consensus with muscle is that you simply do not lose it from fasting (for periods under 72 hours). Muscle loss is called catabolism which is literally when your body runs out of fat and needs to eat something. This is an incredibly toxic and strenuous thing for your body to do! You don't simply eat your muscles. What may happen is you may 'deflate' after a big long 3 day fast, but it's from the lack of sodium and water storage. As far as 16 to 48 hour fasts are concerned, there is barely any muscle loss, and I'm telling you that from a couple of years experience. I've lost size on my legs, and a little bit from my chest, but I think it's mostly because I've lost the layer of fat adding bulk. But I've gained plenty of definition, and I think I actually look 'bigger' because I can see muscles I've never seen before now that layers of fat are gone.

So working out fasted can be hard for some people. On the day prior to fasting I tend to eat lunch around 12pm and not eat anything through until the next day. I drink a tonne of water the night before a workout. I'm at the gym the next day at 6am and haven't eaten since previous lunch, but I've had a couple of espresso's before gym. To be honest, I've never had a problem with this and I've gotten used to training fasted and kind of love it.

It's hard to put in a full hour of cardio and weights in on a fast, but not impossible. I've found a half hour of weights is more than enough to maintain muscle, and realistically only need to do it three times a week. I tend to go to the gym a couple more times a week if I know I'm going to be eating a lot on the weekend.

Some people have a hard time training fasted, but it's mostly in their head. Your energy stores have nothing to do with what is in your stomach. In fact the more food you have in your digestive tract, the less energy you actually have. When you pump out weights fasted you lose so much fat! Plus on the upside you get to eat some huge meals on workout days. Smash the protein and fat, keep carbs low.

This is also a matter of trial and error, and every one is different. I also recommend you read into leangains if you have time. https://www.reddit.com/r/leangains/ and http://www.leangains.com/search/label/Success%20Stories

Ketogenic diet.

Read this first:


Basically, cutting out carbs and sugars means no more glycogen, and you end up only burning ketones. Also, your fat cells on your body are a form of ketones. Ketones are a bit weird to explain. Some people have amazing brain function while in ketosis, and personally I loved it. I had keto flu for a a day when I was last in proper ketosis, but it was just a tiny bit of dizziness. Some people have a really hard time adjusting to no carbs.

I don't practise proper keto, pretty much cause I can't be bothered. It's too hard to really sit there and make sure you're eating virtually no carbs. But I definitely do low carb. Most my carbs come from veggies and the occasional quinoa or cous cous that comes with a meal. I eat lots of nuts, and occasionally eat dark chocolate, so I can't say I cut out all carbs.

Keto is much harder than fasting in my opinion, but when combining keto and fasting and working out, as well as keeping weekend drinking and eating low, you will literally drop the weight so quickly. It's hard to do for extended periods, but I'd suggest going hard for two weeks then relaxing a while.

Maintenance mode:

This is incredibly important once you've started losing weight. You need to figure out what you can get away with, how long you need to fast, how often you gain weight and how quickly you can lose it. Once you've gotten used to fasting and have lost the weight, you can go back to eating 'normally'. But if you find you're gaining weight while eating 'normally' then maybe you need to skip a meal here or there. Find what works for you. Some people just do one 36 hour or 48 hour fast a week (Eating Sunday lunchtime and not eating until Tuesday lunch time - effectively only skipping Monday fully, but getting a 48 hour fast).
Personally, if I've had a blow out weekend I do the 48 hour Monday fast. It resets everything I did on the weekend and I can relax with the fasting for the rest of the week. I won't lose weight, I won't gain weight, but I find I just chill comfortably. We can talk more about maintenance in future, but it's ultimately trial and error.

Some other tips:

When I was in Europe, I didn't gain any weight for 5 weeks, nor did I work out. I simply skipped breakky most days, walked a lot, and when I did eat a meal I made sure it was low on carbs. The only place I blew out was Italy with all the pizza and pasta, I don't know how much I gained, but I lost it pretty much within a few days in greece eating souvlaki and greek salad and swimming a bunch. I also did 50 pushups and some squats and lunges every few days just to feel like I was in shape.

Water. Smash the water, all day and all night and until your pee is super clear. Before breaking a fast drink water. During meals, drink water. You'll eat less and feel full.

Sleeping is hard for some people on an empty stomach. I think it's possible to get used to. I sometimes think about the 200 grams of weight I'll be losing and that's enough to force me to go to bed hungry. Also make sure you have plenty of water. I find that when I'm fasting I go to be super early (9pm sometimes) simply because I'm hungry and I can't wait to wake up so I can eat. Everyone is different, but do what works for you!

Alcohol is a tricky one. Basically, when you drink booze, your body does everything in its power to expel the poison. Your liver stops digesting and goes into overdrive to get the booze out, that's why you dehydrate and pee, it's also part of the buzz we get. Also, your digestion basically stops functioning properly too. I've experimented with this and my conclusion is that when drinking alcohol, don't eat - when eating a meal, don't drink too much. Never eat food with beer. Drinking alcohol without food means you don't need as much booze (probably half what you'd normally drink) to feel it. It's very hard to avoid a greasy kebab or pie after a night drinking, but a big glass of water before bed is so much better for you. Look, alcohol is a shit thing on the whole, and not many people would condone drinking without eating, but in my experience, you end up drinking less, you smash a water in between drinks and you kind of feel better the next day. Learn and do what works best for you, but I've had a lot of nights out without food and it's very doable. Also, fasting on a hangover day is quite interesting, I find it teaches a shit tonne of discipline and weirdly burns the most fat. I've had a few big

Forums - don't believe everything you read. There are a lot of douchebags on the net, and reddit can be a bit all over the place. In saying that, there's some great subreddits for things like progress, ketoscience, weightlifting etc. I highly recommend getting on them and learning from other people's experiences. Some people rubbish fasting and keto, but maybe that's because another method worked for them and they had a hard time actually doing IF.

One meal a day (OMAD) is a 2 hour window for me, so I'll munch on nuts, cheese, veggies, tuna and a big ass lunch meal when I eat in my 2 hour fast. I keep the carbs low so I don't blow out the insulin. I also do OMAD between 10am and 12pm on weekdays, which works well for me. The more protein I eat, the longer I stay full. However on weekends, I do between 2pm and 4pm, just because I can last longer in the day until I need to eat and I extend the previous day's fast.

Calories in and calories out: CICO sometimes works for people, and especially for women who aren't muscle conscious. My sister swears by it, she portions everything and knows the exact calories in pretty much every piece of food she puts in her mouth. She takes lunch to work and preps every meal. Personally I can't be bothered. I'd rather just skip a meal and then eat comfortably when I do eat. I don't eat until I blow up, but I eat until I'm solidly content. I eat like a pig when I do one meal a day though! It's up to you, as long as you don't eat more than your daily calorie expenditure (don't stress too much on this) and as long as you keep carbs low, you should be ok.

That's about it for now! Hahah but that's most of what I know and what I've done, it's worked wonders for me and probably the only thing that I've ever done that's worked and kept the weight off. Good luck, happy to continue chatting and answering questions, but here are some more resources:










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