I have been experimenting with a fat loss diet that has been so effective, pleasureful and simple that it would be a crime not to share it with you right away! This is a diet that has allowed me to consistently eat low calories without feeling deprived and thus get lean rather quickly. It has also freed up massive amounts of time cooking and cleaning in the kitchen. Since following this diet I have plenty of energy all throughout the day, laser like focus and I sleep like a baby at night. I would now like to run you through the diet program and how it works. Enjoy!
On this diet you will eat all of your meals in a 6-8 hour eating window. This is best accomplished by going 5-6 hours upon waking before having your first meal. Your last meal should be around 2 hours before going to sleep. Example – Wake up at 10am. Meal 1 at 3-4pm. Meal 2 at 6-7pm. Meal 3 at 10pm.
By skipping a morning breakfast you force your body to break into it’s fat stores to fuel itself instead of burning food energy. In addition, by pushing your first meal later into the day you can enjoy big, satisfying healthy meals while staying in a caloric deficit.
If you haven’t skipped breakfast before it may take some getting used to. After a few days of skipping breakfast your body will learn to thrive in the fasted state. You will stimulate the sympathetic system and feel effects such as alertness, laser like focus and a hunger blunting effect.
Coffee in the Fasted State
Consuming 2-3 cups of coffee while fasting will accelerate your metabolism, reduce your appetite and make you feel good. If you are going to be working out then the coffee will have a positive impact on your strength and stamina. The effects of coffee seem to last up to 6 hours so even if you train later in the day you should still get an extra kick from the morning coffee. Furthermore, coffee is a rich source of anti oxidants and has been shown to have numerous health benefits.
Breaking the Fast
I recommend keeping the first two meals very healthy and modest in size. If you break your fast with a big meal you will shift your body out of the sympathetic mode and into the para sympathetic mode. This will shut off fat burning and make you tired. Definitely not ideal for the midday/afternoon. Moreover, a big meal during the day doesn’t seem to be very effective for limiting hunger (my own personal experience, could be different for you). Lastly cooking, eating and cleaning a large meal during the day is a hassle and is not very lifestyle friendly.
Your best bet is to eat just enough food to nourish your body and stave off hunger without overtaxing your digestive system. This will allow you to maximize energy and focus. I like to have a smallish meal of 300-400 calories. I opt for some quick/easy protein, fruit and some healthy fats.
Meals 1 & 2 Example:
1) Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese topped with berries and almonds.
2) Can of Tuna, Apple and 1tbs of olive oil
3) Chicken breast, Salad Greens, Apple and Half an Avocado
4) Omelette (2 whole eggs + 0.75-1 cup whites) and Berries
5) 40g whey protein mixed with 1 cup almond milk (unsweetend), 20g almonds and serving of fruit
As you can see all of the sample meals include a convenient source of protein, fruit and some health fats. This food combination is what I have personally found to be the most effective for staying satisfied on low calorie meals. The fruit is highly nutritious, easily digestible and is effective at replenishing liver glycogen. By increasing liver glycogen you will bring your body into an anabolic state and reduce hunger. I recommend including the fat source (nuts, olive oil or whole eggs). If you keep fat too low in these small meals you will get hungry again very quickly. I pretty much stick with Greek Yogurt (250g), Fruit and Nuts (25g) for these two meals. It’s quick, easy, doesn’t require cooking/preperation and tastes amazing. I will usually throw some cinnamon in too.
The Grand Feast
By this point you have fasted, consumed two small meals and thus have creating a very large calorie buffer. It is likely that you have only consumed 600-800 calories by this point. When on a fat loss plan I like to eat around 10 calories per pound of goal bodyweight per day. This level of calories has never failed me at getting lean even with the absence of cardio. Depending on what your goal weight is this may give you 600-1200 calories to play with. I generally keep this meal around 800-1000 calories in size. I recommend keeping this meal high in protein with moderate amounts of fat and carbs. If you are having a very lean source of protein (chicken) then you can use fats more sparingly (butter with potatoes or rice, coconut oil for cooking, cheese for topping). If you are going for a fattier cut of meat (beef, salmon) then I recommend staying away from any additional fats.
1. Chicken Breast, Veggies, Brown Rice, Coconut Oil (add 1-3tsp to rice and 1tsp for cooking chicken)
2. Chicken Breast, Veggies, Potato Wedges (boil for 5 minutes and cook on skillet in 2-3 tsp of oil)
3. Steak, Veggies, Sweet Potato (add cinnamon)
Question & Answers
- Why have you included carbs in the main meal? I thought carbs make you fat? Carbs are only problematic when eaten excessively, beyond what your body requires. As long as you are eating low calories then carb intake will make very little difference in respect to fat loss. In other words, two diets of equal calories with varying levels of carb intake will result in the same level of fat loss. If you are still unsure then you can read this brilliant article by Lyle Mcdonald, Low Carbohydrate Diets Have No Metabolic Advantage. In addition, carbs in the main meal serve very important functions such as increasing leptin (improved satiety and metabolic rate), refilling depleted muscle glycogen stores and triggering the release of serotonin which will improve your quality of sleep and make you feel good.
- Can I have Fruits instead for the Main Meal? I recommend avoiding fruits for the main meal. Fruits are rather inefficient at replenishing muscle glycogen and don’t have as much of an effect on leptin levels as grains/tubers.
- Won’t eating a big meal before bed make me fat? As long as you are in a calorie deficit then meal timing is irrelevant. In some cases large late night meals have been shown to preserve muscle mass better on a diet and result in a greater loss in body fat percentage. I highly recommend reading Martin Berkhan’s article on the subject – Is Late Night Eating Better for Fat loss and Health.
- I am hungry during the day, what should I do? Give your body time to adapt to fasting and under eating during the day. This adaptation process may take a few days or a couple weeks. The best part about this diet is that while you might feel slight hunger sensations at times there will be no junk/food cravings. Many people including myself find it easier to deal with a little intermittent hunger then to deal with sneaky food cravings. As well everyday you get to look forward to eating a very big and satisfying meal at night. This takes the grind out of dieting.
- Can I have a cheat meal? Once or twice per week you can have a treat. Remember you will have 600-1000 calories to work with in the main meal. This should make it pretty easy to enjoy some of your favourite foods or go out to a restaurant with friends/family. Just make sure to not go over the calorie budget for the day. If you do end up going over the calorie budget for the day then you can compensate by slightly reducing calories the following days.
- Won’t I lose muscle and have no energy if I train on an empty stomach? I have had my best workouts completely fasted! Once you adapt to training in the fasted state you get a boost of energy and strength. I think this goes back to stimulating the sympathetic system (fight or flight). In addition Fasted training has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and improve nutrient partitioning. This means that your body will be more efficient at directing nutrients into muscle cells and away from fat stores. Thus training in the fasted state makes the subsequent meals more anabolic. With that said pre workout protein is beneficial at increasing protein synthesis, elevating metabolism and reducing muscle breakdown. Therefore I recommend 10 grams of BCAA before fasted training.