I touched on the concept of fasting in one of my recent emails and received a lot of questions on the subject.
Most of the questions surrounding fasting to lose weight are the result of some of the confusion and contradiction that exists in the diet industry.
In this post I will explain why fasting can have a positive impact on two powerful fat burning/muscle building hormones in your body and why this can be helpful if you are trying to lose weight. After reading this you can then decide for yourself if fasting for fat loss is right for you.
The first hormone is insulin. Insulin is known as a storage hormone and it impedes the use of fat as an energy source by inhibiting the release of glucagon- a hormone that helps transport fat to be burned as fuel. High insulin also reduces the levels of a fat release enzyme called Lipoprotein Lipase. Low insulin levels are necessary for fat burning to occur.
Fasting and Insulin
Whenever food is eaten insulin levels will rise. It doesn’t matter what foods you eat- any food that is consumed will result in an insulin response. However, some foods such as healthy fats or proteins will have a more favorable response than fruit juices or refined wheat products. When you fast you are not consuming any foods or calorie
containing beverages and the result of this is very low insulin levels and increased fat burning potential.
The second hormone is Human Growth Hormone (HGH). HGH is a powerful hormone responsible for increasing lean muscle mass and decreasing body fat.
Fasting and Growth Hormone
HGH is secreted throughout the day but approximately 75% of HGH release occurs while you sleep. This is one of the primary reasons why getting adequate sleep is a vital component to health and body composition. However, this delicate process can be disrupted by eating.
Optimal fat burning occurs when HGH is high and insulin is low. The time when this happens naturally is when we are sleeping. When you are sleeping you are fasting and during this sleep/fast period the body is in fat burning mode. However, this process will be impeded if you eat right before going to bed.
Fasting Methods You Can Try
There are several ways that you can fast however there are two methods I have used personally that I have found to be effective and not cause me to feel irritable.
The first is a daily fast. With a daily fast you are simply extending the fast you are already doing while you are sleeping. Here is how it works- consume your last meal of the day no later than 7 pm. Go to bed as usual (the earlier the better) and eat breakfast at 7 am. This provides a full 12 hours of fasting. For even greater HGH release you can extend this to 14 or 16 hours of fasting.
The second method is a weekly fast. With this method you will be forgoing food for a full 24 hour period one day per week. Here is how it works- consume your last meal of the day no later than 7 pm. Go to bed as usual (the earlier the better) and eat a light dinner the following day at 7 pm. Eat as normal beginning the following morning at
Fasting and Exercise
Your body has the highest fat burning potential when insulin is low and HGH is high. Because of this I always recommend performing cardio is a fasted state (early am being best). This is a technique that has been used by physique competitors for many years and now you can understand why it works.
I have tried both of these methods (daily and weekly fasts) and they both work to speed up fat loss- primarily due to the resulting decrease in caloric intake but also due to the favorable hormonal response.
If I had to pick one method I would choose the weekly fast simply because I do not want to lose excessive amounts of fat at the moment. On the other hand, if my goal was to drop fat fast the daily fast with cardio in the morning would be my method of choice.
Give one (or both) of these methods a try and let me know what your experience is.