One of my pals recently started following intermittent fasting, and dropped the classic line:
“When I do intermittent fasting, I can eat whatever I want!”
No you f**king can’t.
It’s the current trendy diet of the year, and there are plenty of myths surrounding what you can and can’t do in order to get results, so today I’m going to bust one of the most popular crazy statements sweeping the internet.
But before I do, I want to say this:
Intermittent fasting is a great fat loss method.
It’s a dieting principle that a fair few of my clients use, and I have used it myself to great effect over the years, but let’s not get carried away with ourselves…
The laws of thermodynamics still apply, and timing our meals correctly won’t rip a hole in the space/time continuum and suck our belly fat into it.
Any self-proclaimed “guru” telling you otherwise, needs to go chew a dumbbell.
(Only between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m., of course, because the calories won’t count!)
Calories Still Apply To Intermittent Fasting
The diet industry is full of s**t.
I know that sounds blunt, but it’s the truth.
There’s very little money to be made in telling people to get into a slight calorie deficit, and ensure you are getting the correct amount of protein per day to support muscle growth.
So instead we get gimmicks like the cabbage soup diet, the honesty diet, the big booty cutie diet, etc.
(I made that last one up!)
Unfortunately, even proven weight loss techniques like intermittent fasting fall victim to this trend, so we get adverts talking about “eating ice cream and getting ripped”, etc.
While we’re on the topic, here’s my favorite diet hack:
The full conversation went like this:
“Basically, I can eat whatever I like between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The foods themselves aren’t important, I change them every day, but it’s the fasting period which helps me burn more body fat.”
Sadly, this was an all too familiar tale for my friend.
He was always getting sucked into the latest craze, but never achieving the results which were promised. This was just the latest one.
Does his body not require sufficient protein to maintain lean mass?
Does intermittent fasting overrule the principle of calories in versus calories out?
When put into context, those two questions should sound as ridiculous as they look…
But as I raised an eyebrow of skepticism, I knew it was already too late to talk sense into him.
He’d have to fail on his own.
Over the next few days, his initial enthusiasm changed to arrogance.
“Calories don’t work for me. Intermittent fasting is working, though.”
(Let’s not go down this road…)
But, sure enough, as the days turned into weeks, the weight began to creep on until eventually he weighed heavier than he was at the starting point.
If I remember correctly, the next discovery was the sugar free diet.
I’ll save that for another article!
Why Did Intermittent Fasting Not Work?
You already know.
He ate too many calories.
Unfortunately, intermittent fasting has become the trendiest diet of the year and this means every fitness charlatan looking to make a quick buck is out there trying to cash in on it by selling systems and supplements around it.
See those adverts as you scroll your social media newsfeed?
“Trainers hate him”… “He’ll show you one weird trick to melt belly fat!”…
Yeah, those motherf**kers…
These self-proclaimed “gurus” are currently leading people to believe that intermittent fasting is some kind of miracle at work, but it is not. Next month, they’ll be saying the same s**t about something else.
I actually like intermittent fasting a lot, and have used it plenty of times over the years, but it isn’t the holy grail of fat loss.
It’s a technique which will either fit around your lifestyle and help you control your calories better, or it won’t…
You’re going to have to experiment to see if it works for you.
But while the fasting period itself holds a few fat loss benefits, they are minuscule in comparison with the calorie control aspect. The reason you’re losing weight while practicing intermittent fasting is because consuming your entire daily calorie intake in a short window of time is stopping you from over-eating. (3)
It is that simple.
So the next time someone tries to sell you a magic system, or a friend gets caught up in the hype like mine did, refer them back to this article!
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- Smith, C. F., et al. Flexible vs. Rigid dieting strategies: relationship with adverse behavioral outcomes. Appetite. (1999)
- Stewart, T. M., et al. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite. (2002)
- Howell, S., et al. “Calories in, calories out” and macronutrient intake: the hope, hype, and science of calories. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. (2017)