Skip Breakfast to Get More Shredded? Coach Sean on Intermittent Fasting
When attempting to drop body fat into the low, single-digit range, expect that your body is going to put up a good fight. Despite what the magazines and some of your favorite social media accounts might have you believe, the vast majority of us just weren’t designed to be walking anatomy charts 365 days of the year. Sure, there are some genetically gifted freaks that defy the rules, but for us normal humans, to keep the results coming, training and nutrition variables have to be strategically manipulated in phases to keep the results coming and to maintain a strong fat burning signal throughout the process. But what happens when you’ve addressed the common variables such as calories, adjusted your carb intake and macros, introduced supplements, increased cardio to a max level and you seem to have run out of variables to manipulate? There are always more options and one of those could be short term fasting.
It’s been shown in research that fasting for 12-14 hours can stimulate an increased production of growth hormone – a powerful fat-burning and muscle building hormone. This can potentially be just one more powerful tool to be used in your arsenal while on a fat burning program to keep the shredding process going. Please note that this is not something I would recommend for all clients. This is something that is reserved for a select few that have legitimately hit the wall and need to tap into that last few pounds of fat AND are at a high level of conditioning and free from any metabolic issues and have no history of eating disorders.
While it’s a highly debatable point among trainers, I am an advocate of morning fasted cardio to support fat loss. Opponents of this claim that you’ll sacrifice muscle in the process because of the presence of the dreaded stress hormone cortisol. Yes, cortisol levels are slightly higher in the morning; however what some people forget is that temporarily elevated cortisol levels in the absence of insulin work to actually mobilize body fat, not store it. The problem is when cortisol is chronically elevated throughout the day – this is when it becomes problematic for fat loss. Any muscle that you allegedly “lose” doing some morning fasted cardio is quickly regained when you return to your regularly scheduled meals, and you get some carbs back in you to re-stock muscle glycogen and amino acids to shift nitrogen retention back to positive.
Please don’t take this to mean I’m an advocate of Intermittent Fasting, because straight up – I’m not. This is simply one more variable to consider when clients aren’t dropping. It’s also for all those people that think I.F. is the best way to shred down. Although some have achieved great results on IF, in my opinion, they take it a little too far. Research has shown that fasting for periods longer then 14 hours can be metabolically disadvantageous for fat loss and for muscle building. This is why I would recommend limiting the fasting period for no more then 12-14 hours max. So if your last meal of the day is at 10pm, you would eat your first meal at 10am-12 noon, latest. If you feel any signs of low blood sugar starting to affect you (ie. weakness, dizziness, vision changes), EAT! Don’t be stupid and try to ride it out. As your conditioning improves you will be able to last the 12-14 hours.