I found out about Brad Pilon’s ebook Eat Stop Eat from my friend Rusty Moore. I had a few weeks before my summer vacation trip and he wrote a post in which he mentioned the eat stop eat book. In this video Brad explains how intense exercise and fasting have similar effect on your body. In both cases insulin levels drop and growth hormone goes up. This causes free fatty acids to be released in the blood and this means increased fat burning.
So I decided to get it and was amazed how easy it was to follow the plan. I quickly lost 5-7lbs and kept it off during the vacation even though I ate whatever and whenever I liked there. It was hardly a diet.
The Eat Stop Eat Plan
The idea is simple – twice a week you don’t eat anything between, say 6pm and 6 pm the following day. Any other combination is also possible – for example – from 8am to 8am the next day, from 2pm to 2pm, etc. You can drink water, coffee and tea but no sugary drinks. This puts you in a 20-30% weekly caloric deficit and you lose weight.
It is possible to not eat all day and still exercise. You see, when we eat the food converts to sugar and then goes to be stored in the liver and in the muscles as glycogen. The neat thing is that sugar cannot leave the muscles and can be burned off only with exercise. So even though you may be fasting today, the food that you ate last night has fueled up your body with energy for quite a workout.
Here is a photo from the vacation, sporting the Magnum P.I. Hawaiian shirt. No I’m not in the desert 🙂
You Won’t Lose Muscle While Fasting
Because of the specific hormonal activity, you will not lose muscle mass while fasting. Brad however emphasizes that the Eat Stop Eat program is a combination of fasting 1-2 times weekly for 24 hours and resistance training 3 times per week.
This combination preserves the muscles from wasting away when there is no food. If you don’t train, however, the body will eat up the muscles. This is called atrophy – muscles shrink from not being used.
The Hunger of Fasting Goes Away Quickly
It is true that you will sometimes feel hungry on the program. However you will quickly get used to this feeling and won’t be bothered much by it. Brad Pilon mentions the numerous health benefits of following the Eat Stop Eat plan.
Among them are decreased insulin levels and increased insulin sensitivity – which means increased fat burning, increased glucagon levels – which means less fat storage, increased epinephrine and nor epinephrine (also known as adrenaline and noradrenaline) levels – which causes mental alertness and clarity.
Currently, as part of my fat loss transformation challenge I train with weights on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday and fast on Tuesday and Thursday. I find it I have more productive workouts when training on days I don’t fast. You should be flexible and fit your diet and training around your life and not the other way around.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Fasting
No training or diet plan is perfect. The negative things are that it is a form of restriction and that you may feel the urge to overeat after a fast which can hinder your progress. Until you get used to it after 1-2 weeks, the sense of hunger can be distracting too.
The advantages however far outweigh the negatives. I really like the flexibility of the plan – you can start and stop the fast whenever you like. I really appreciate the mental alertness, clarity and warrior-like feeling I get from the epinephrine/norepinephrine surge. Also, on days you fast you don’t have to worry about preparing food. Plus, on this plan you can enjoy going out to parties and restaurants, as well as eating deserts and drinking with your friends.
How to Make Sure the Plan Works for You
Here are some mistakes to avoid. Make sure you don’t overeat – you need to continue to eat normally on off days. Also, make sure to train with weights 3 times per week – this is what will preserve your muscles.
If you want to test drive the plan – choose two days when you feel it would be least intrusive for you to fast. I recommend weekdays so you can enjoy weekends with your friends and family fully. The day before you fast eat your last meal, say dinner at 8pm. The next day, wait until 8pm to eat again. You can drink water, tea and coffee throughout the day.