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Should You Incorporate Fasting to Help Lose Weight?

By Joe Talarico on Sep 19, 2019 11:00:00 AM
5 Minutes Reading Time

Short answer - no.

Ok, it depends. Let me start with who it’s NOT for.

What is your current relationship with food?

If you eat emotionally, with periods of binging or starving during times of stress, with no real awareness of what macronutrients you should be taking in, then fasting is not a good idea at all. Fasting is a stress to the body. So you are now adding yet another stress to the body, which will spike cortisol, and hinder your progress. You need to focus on why it is you switch to these extremes and what is triggering this behavior.

Do you already struggle to eat enough calories?

If you are on a bulk but unable to gain weight, or in general, frequently undereating, then fasting is not for you. All fasting is going to do is further perpetuate your lack of awareness and deficiency of micronutrients. It can even put you on the road to an eating disorder. Saying “I’m fasting” can very easily turn into anorexia. Focus on the bigger picture of eating enough quality foods at a pace that works for you.

Are you a binge eater with no control?

If the moment you take a bite out of a cookie, you HAVE to eat the entire sleeve, then fasting is not for you (although there is a caveat to this later). All fasting is going to do is limit your time frame to eating, which can promote even MORE excessive binges further ruining your idea of how food works. Focus on your relationship with food, and see if you can minimize your periods of excess eating first.

Is this your first time dieting to lose weight?

Fasting is definitely not for you. You are new to the game my friend. Focus on what a macro is. Get a grasp on how proteins, fats, and carbs affect your body. Sure, doing a quick fast for three months will get you into a deficit that will help you lose weight quicker. But what is the one year effect after that when you never took the time to learn how to sustain that progress? Instead of making your focus eliminating time, and food from your diet, try INCLUDING food. INCLUDE veggies! Eat MORE protein. If weight loss is the primary goal, adding veggies in adds volume without the high caloric intake. Adding protein keeps you fuller, longer. This combination leaves you fuller and more satiated while being at a deficit which will help you reach your fat loss goal more effectively.

Fasting, believe it or not, is an advanced tool. You need to have a really good understanding of your body before throwing that into your wheelhouse. When you do include it, people tend to stay on it for years on end and that, like any other diet, is no good either.  

“Oh but the benefits are so amazing! Autophagy! And blah blah!”

Yes, fasting can cause amazing physiological changes that help with longevity. So then use it for that purpose, and only for as long as it suits you. Like anything else in this world, if you continually stick to the same routine day in and day out those benefits minimize over time. I guarantee you aren’t getting the same benefits even a year down the road from when you started if you haven’t taken any break. In fact if you fast for too long, and are at a deficit, your metabolism will slow down causing you to retain more fat.

So who IS it for?

Are you someone who thinks if they don’t even every 3 hours they’re going to lose all their muscles?

On the opposite route, if you’re a bro who thinks they HAVE to eat all day every day cause “gainz man” then fasting may be for you. It can teach you that you don’t always have to be eating. It’s actually a good thing to take a break once and awhile. Think about that. In your whole life have you ever NOT eaten for more than 10 hours? Imagine leaving a car running that often. Focus on giving your digestive system a much needed break to recover. It will also be a nice new stimulus for the body to adapt to. Just don’t stay on it too long.

Are you someone who has a good relationship with food, but maybe snack a little too much or only occasionally lose control?

Then fasting may be for you. For a small percentage of people (usually snackers), it can actually help their excessive eating. I know for me, I’ll snack all day if you let me. I need rules and boundaries. If you tell me I only have an 8 hour window to feed I will stick to it, and thus lower my snacking. Or at the very least, be way more conscious of not going overboard.

Try This

Instead of following the popular 16/8 fast, if you are going to fast, the focus as said before, should be for the health benefits not the fast loss. Any high quality diet following consumption of whole foods and a deficit of calories will get you that result. And if you’re trying to maximize benefits then you’ll get the MOST benefits from either a 2-3 day fast a couple times a year, or a 24 hour fast a couple times a month. It puts your body into a more effective cell repairing state.

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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