Mini-Fasting Has Kept Me Strong And Lean Into My 50s
Seriously, it's a game-changer. This is all about cutting your daily caloric intake, while simultaneously optimizing your body's ability to burn fat. This can be done by way of a little daily caloric restriction.
At 52 years of age, I have around five per cent body fat. And I haven't done a lick of cardiovascular exercise since I gave up playing soccer in my late 20s due to a knee injury.
Seriously, the only exercise I do is some weight resistance training.
You want in on a little secret?
What if it promises to extend your lifespan and keep you looking and feeling your best well into old age?
What if all it involves is a small adjustment to your daily routine?
And there's no catch. It's even cardio-free. So there's no huffing and puffing or sweating involved.
Seriously, it's a game-changer.
OK, enough of the infomercial stuff. This is all about cutting your daily caloric intake, while simultaneously optimizing your body's ability to burn fat. This can be done by way of a little daily caloric restriction.
The payoff at the end of the day is that you still get to enjoy a hearty, fully-satisfying evening meal. That's the reward for not eating (or hardly eating) from daylight to sunset.
All you have to do is get into a daily routine of some "mini-fasting" (mostly done while you sleep) followed by a light lunch (or none at all) and a big protein-packed dinner.
I find this unorthodox routine is the best way to keep my metabolism operating in high gear. In other words, I simply skip breakfast and go as long as I comfortably can without re-fuelling.
Now it's not easy for everyone to skip breakfast. After all, we're culturally conditioned to eat before starting our work day. But this isn't biologically necessary for most of us. (However, if you have certain health issues, consult your physician before modifying your diet.)
So if you're not ravenous each morning, you can easily subdue any minor hunger pangs by drinking a large coffee (an appetite suppressant) and/or plenty of water (carbonated water works best).
Proof in the pudding
Fortunately, I've found some scientific validation for my long-held intuitive belief that skipping breakfast can be a good idea: Studies reveal that fasting for 16 hours can lower your body's insulin concentrations. In turn, this should discourage your body from producing and storing fat.
Personally, I believe that doing without food for as little as 14 hours a day also works well enough.
Mini-fasting this way also reduces your body's glycogen supply, which is a form of stored energy that is found in your in muscles and liver. It kicks in when all the glucose in your system (produced from digested carbohydrates) is used up as your primary energy source. So when your glycogen reserves also become depleted, you finally start to burn your body fat for energy.
When you eventually get around to eating at night, try to make your meals protein-dense. Also, feel free to eat as many starchy (but healthy) complex carbohydrates as you like. As for vegetables, eat plenty of them because they're a key part of a nutritious, well-balanced dinner.
Why calories count and meals don't
Science has now shown that you don't have to eat three main meals a day (or even half a dozen or so small ones, like many bodybuilders do) to efficiently burn calories.
All that matters is that your total caloric intake stays the same, regardless of how many meals you consume.
One such study involved two groups of overweight men and women, who were randomly assigned to very strict low-calorie diets. Each participant consumed the same number of calories per day. Yet one group only ate half as often as the rest of the study volunteers.
Nonetheless, both groups lost equivalent amounts of weight.
Snack a little if you like
If you follow my lead by eating just one square meal a day, rather than three (or a handful of under-sized meals), it can be beneficial to do a little healthy snacking, too. This is especially the case if you're physically active during the day and need a little additional fuel for energy.
Light snacks are best because they help regulate your appetite and keep your energy level from dipping.
Remember that I'm not talking about processed foods like potato chips or hot dogs. I'm referring to small, nutritious pick-me-ups. For example, eat some organic fruit, a handful of mixed nuts or some raw veggies with a little cheese or almond butter... you get the idea.
Alternatively, an organic fruit and vegetable smoothie also makes for an ideal energy booster in between meals. Finally, keep in mind that a snack should merely be just enough food to take the edge off your appetite for several hours.
Optimize your fat burning to become forever lean
It's a lot easier to "mini-fast" during the nighttime and mornings than most of us imagine. As little as 14 hours should allow your body to effectively burn fat. But again, this can only happen when all the carbohydrates stored in your system for energy have been used up first.
So learn to save your appetite for a big, satiating (but healthy) evening meal. In between, feel free to eat a light lunch and even an occasional small but nutritious snack. What's most important is to abstain from food during the night and the following morning.