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Does Intermittent Fasting (IF) Work For Fat Loss? Could it be a scam? Is it worth it? Should I do it?

Some fat loss diets start with a solid scientific foundation. These plans are based on sound research and scientific evidence. They are designed to be safe and effective for the majority of people. They are also easy to follow and maintain. But as they get more popular, the benefits are exaggerated and the drawbacks are downplayed. Science gets lost in the hype and advertising surrounding these programs. One of the best examples is intermittent fasting (IF).

A lot of people who support IF develop strong convictions and frequently reference studies, especially the "hormonal effects," which give it an air of scientific legitimacy. However, after reviewing all the data, which presents both advantages and disadvantages, it becomes evident that the overall research doesn't substantiate all the claims for IF.

Today, IF is highly sought after in the diet industry, generating significant profits. It's one reason why IF's benefits are exaggerated, oversold, and based more on stories than science. It can work, but it's not inherently better than any other diet that achieves the same calorie deficit. In addition, the benefits of the IF diet, such as its impact on hormones, may not be as big as they claim.

Although fasting diets can be beneficial, there are some drawbacks to them. Dietary restrictions can also lead to social discomfort when you can't join friends, family, or co-workers for meals. As far as this matter goes, IF's not as liberating as some proponents claim. Despite the fact that it limits when you can eat rather than what you can eat, it still counts as a restrictive diet.

IF: Is it a scam?

While intermittent fasting isn't a cure-all or a universally effective diet, it's also not a scam. Research literature and real-world case studies support intermittent fasting's weight loss effectiveness. It must, however, fit your lifestyle and preferences. Don't waste your time and money on a diet you're not sure you'll stick with long-term if you're unsure about it. It's best not to start a diet just because it's trendy.

In spite of the fact that IF isn't a scam, it's important to question its claims. There's a lot of hype and misinformation about IF and its supposed unique properties related to hormones that boost its effectiveness. Also being questioned is whether IF is better for building muscle than traditional diets.

In reality, IF isn't the best choice for building muscle mass, since it restricts calories.

There are two main categories of IF

IF comes in many varieties today, but the two that are most popular are:

1. Using intermittent fasting a part of your routine by abstaining from food for a day once or twice a week (while eating normally the rest of the time).

2. Eating within a condensed eating window. Each day, there's an 8-hour window for eating and a 16-hour fast. For instance, eat all your meals between 12 pm and 8 pm, and don't eat between 8 pm and 12 pm the next day. As the 16:8 method still involves eating every day, some people call it time-restricted feeding.

While these methods differ, they all aim to help people consume fewer calories, which increases their chances of losing weight. You don't need to be a genius to figure it out.

As long as you stay committed and don't overeat because you're hungry, missing a day or two of eating can create a larger calorie deficit for the week. Skipping breakfast and limiting calories to the daytime and early evening can help you create a calorie deficit for the day, as long as you can manage your hunger and don't overeat.

Intermittent Fasting: The Real Benefits... & The Hidden Drawbacks

Diets that allow someone to achieve their calorie deficit more easily than others hold significance for them. A 16-hour fast can be broken later in the morning or early afternoon by skipping breakfast if you have never been hungry in the morning and dislike eating breakfast. It fits their lifestyle and preferences. Around 10% of people don't like breakfast, in my experience.

It's important to note that IF isn't for everyone. My favorite breakfast is an early one (count me in). Some people like to eat more often (I eat five times a day). It's hard for many people to imagine going a whole day without food. When people try all-day fasts once or twice a week or even 16-hour fasts every day, hunger can lead to negative consequences. It can lead to prolonged hunger at best.

Those with bingeing or eating disorders should stay away from diets that resemble starvation and binge cycles. Women may also need to exercise caution, since research suggests they're more prone to bingeing than men.

It's important to keep in mind that IF is a type of dietary restriction with strict rules. IF limits your eating to specific times or even includes whole fast days. In behavioral and psychological studies, flexible diets tend to be more successful in the long run than rigid diets.

Proponents of IF used to contrast themselves with bodybuilders and describe how IF allowed them to break free from the strict regimen of eating five or six meals a day that was the norm in the early 1990s and early 2000s.

As a result of starting IF, they were restricted to consuming all of their calories within 8 hours! It's just another form of limitation, rather than liberating or adaptable.

IF advocates had some good arguments against traditional bodybuilding diets that called for five or six meals a day. To lose fat, you don't have to eat that often, and eating more doesn't increase fat loss or metabolism. Maintaining a consistent calorie deficit is the key to fat loss. It's important to pick a meal schedule that works for you.

According to current recommendations, there are no strict rules about how often you should eat. I recommend sticking to a consistent eating schedule since my program is rooted in bodybuilding nutrition principles. However, there's no set meal schedule. It's up to you how you schedule your meals.

Here's my stance on intermittent fasting (IF):

IF is a good choice if you've done thorough research, gained experience, and made an informed decision that's enjoyable, sustainable, and aligns with your preferences and lifestyle.

However, IF isn't necessarily better than other diets. For most people, IF isn't the best starting point when it comes to fitness and fat loss.

Instead of intermittent fasting, I recommend everyone follow the proven fundamentals of bodybuilding nutrition.

When you understand the guidelines and have a clear sense of your own identity, you can deviate from the norm. Customize your meal schedule and frequency based on your preferences.

I recommend eating three times a day to lose weight and four times a day to build muscle. Your meals can be scheduled throughout the day as you like, without any strict timing restrictions. Protein intake should be evenly distributed throughout the day, though.

Some intermittent fasters eat only twice a day, preferring larger meals less frequently than smaller ones more frequently.

Despite that, eating protein less than four times a day isn't recommended for muscle growth and protein metabolism. Most bodybuilders still eat a lot more frequently for a reason.

Give yourself the freedom to pick between three and six meals a day. It's best to eat whole foods, but you can also add snacks and meal replacement supplements if you want.

Make sure to include a protein source with every meal to maximize muscle growth and promote fat loss. It is important to ensure that you meet your daily protein goal, especially if you choose to have fewer meals.

It's important to keep in mind that meal timing is not the top priority when it comes to losing fat. Consistently maintaining a calorie deficit is crucial for achieving fat loss, while ensuring you meet your macro goals, particularly for protein, is also of great importance. Choosing to consume primarily whole, nourishing food is a fundamental aspect of prioritizing one's health.

Discussing the relationship between fasting and health will have to be saved for another article or forum post, but we can touch on the topic of muscle briefly.

Building muscle with IF

Intermittent fasting has primarily been studied and implemented for weight loss. The excitement surrounding IF has included claims about its muscle-building potential, suggesting that it may even be better than traditional bodybuilding diets.

When it comes to building muscle, intermittent fasting is still a topic of debate (as long as you meet your calorie and macro requirements every 24 hours).

I once heard a very well respected fitness coach say that fasting doesn't promote muscle growth. It may have been said with a hint of sarcasm, but think about the common sense behind it. Muscle building takes dedication and effort.

You might not want to do IF if you want to build muscle fast and efficiently.

My final thoughts

It's important to experiment with different nutrition and training methods over time if you haven't found your ideal formula yet. The most important thing is to tailor your diet and training to your preferences, personality, and lifestyle. Beginning with established fundamentals, such as a bodybuilding nutrition approach, is best. You can gradually explore different strategies over time if you believe they will help you achieve better results or make it easier to stick to a modified plan.

The exploration of new and unique diets is absolutely fine. Following whatever diet trend is popular at the moment, and constantly switching between programs, is often a recipe for failure. Trying every new diet you see online will only leave you feeling overwhelmed, confused, and stuck in a never-ending cycle.

The number of people who started their journey here a decade ago, experimented with IF, keto, paleo, and other popular diets, only to return to this place and adopt a bodybuilder-style meal plan after experiencing multiple setbacks or short-lived victories has become overwhelming.

Diets are constantly changing and unpredictable. Throughout my extensive experience spanning three decades, I have seen countless diets come and go, each touting itself as a revolutionary solution. When they first become popular, it's important to be careful before getting involved until you fully understand the advantages and disadvantages.

"Fundamentals are timeless," said Jim Rohn, a well-known author on personal success.

If your current approach is already effective, why change it? Considering a change based on the potential for improvement requires a thorough examination of the research to distinguish between factual information and passing trends. It is also crucial to carefully consider whether a particular program is a good fit for your individual needs and preferences.



My name is Steven Goldstein

With over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, I have worked with clients of all ages and fitness levels. From professional athletes to individuals aiming to lose weight, I have helped countless people achieve their goals and improve their overall health through customized training and nutrition plans.

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Consistency leaves clues

Hundreds of clients of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities have put their health in our hands over the years and achieved truly remarkable results. 

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