Thursday, 1 July 2010

The most important meal of the day?

Hey all,

Im back with the next blog one day before schedule because i just cant wait to share things with you. The reality is that in Bahrain, after work, sleep and the gym... there aint much going on (unless you want to drink or eat yourself to a fatty grave! but thats another blog).

This is how things work at the gym... I talk to my clients for about 7-8 hours a day (mostly rubbish, some pure gold) and they sometimes talk back to me. When we stumble across a good topic, i instantly get my notebook and pencil out (Yes, i am that guy) and jot down the idea for a worthy blog.

Note: If you do not write your ideas down, in 37 seconds they will be lost forever (source unknown)

Do you forget your best ideas?

So me and Nancy were into our usual chit-chat mode in first few minutes of our session when BOOM! we start to talk about fasting. You know, when you dont eat anything for a period of time? And particularly around breakfast time.

Its a great subject and one in which i have been testing on myself on/off in 2010. So here i go, i always wanted to be controversial...and this always gets people telling me im wrong.

The current thoughts on fasting

If you believe any overly fat person who has not eaten in the past hour, you would assume that if you dont get your regular fix of sugar every 2-3 hours you will run out of energy (and surely die!).
A light snack to top off energy levels
If you believe Vegans, you would scowl at anyone who eats animals and explain that they will get some nasty disease which will take 10 years off your life? While this may turn out to be true, In the words of John Romaniello ( "If eating steak means i will die when im 65 not 75 then im happy with that" well, they were kind of his words but im in the same thinking camp as JR.

If you listen to bodybuilders (why would you?) you would be eating clean, balanced meal every 150 minutes, following a strict "no smiling, no joy" (as it burns too much facial muscle) 12 week program. Boring hell! Unless you compete as a professional bodybuilder (again, why would you? there is zero money in it unless you are top 10 globally) dont train/eat/live like one, its pretty miserable.

My point is everyone is different, everyone has a diet and routine that suits their lives/goals and social activity. Very recently i got the chance to speak to THE leading name in sports nutrition personally and he was a fan of fasting (albeit for spiritual reasons) and practises a 24 hour fast every 14 days. Also i discovered recently that another famous (Internet) trainer Vince Delmonte ( listed 24 hour fasting in his "things i learned in 2009" blog. Interesting. Are these guys onto something?

Think about our ancestors for a minute, they would have had to wake up to... (yes, to a pretty rough looking spouse) but more importantly, they would have woke up without food. The first thought of the day and for survival would have been to hunt, gather and prepare a feast for the evening. Think of the earliest ever form of fasted-state cardio and you will get the picture. Im guessing that some days they would have definately gone without for days and survived on the smallest of meals. Maybe we are designed to operate better on low food levels?

Your great, great, great... grandad was ripped!


Well, if you're a busy guy or gal (if your a PT, you should be) then fasting periods can be useful. For example i had 4 PT sessions back-back this morning so worked from 7 until 11am, so not eating for 4 hours was easy for me. Now if i purposely stopped eating at 6pm the night before i have just created a (easy to follow) 17 hour fasting period. More on this later.

The main benefits of fasting periods would be:

- Early work starters can 'sleep in' longer and save time on preparing breakfast
- Fasting periods can be used to concentrate on increased water intake
- The body gets a chance to process and clear foods eaten
- Creates set rules for diet planning (people need boundaries)
- Good feeling the day after (cleansed?)
- (for low carb diet) Fasting seems to work amazingly well for elimination (staying regular)


In a word, fasting (at first) sucks!

Strict dieting can get you down

Most people (i mean myself) fail when they realise and tell themselves... "i dont need to do this, I can eat a healthy meal and feel better instantly so why keep torturing myself with this fast?" I think the missing link here is boredom.

I recently did the Xtreme fat loss diet created by Joel Marion/John Romaniello. The program combines different diet/exercise days to enhance fat burning and works really well. In fact the hardest days were the ones where i could eat whatever i liked (Cheat days) and the easiest seemed to be the fast days? The main lesson i took from the whole program was that i only felt hungry when i wasn't busy. I was always thinking of eating when i felt bored. When you fast, you create 2-3 hours extra each day when you are not creating or eating each meal, therefore you need to have an activity plan to stave off hunger.

The major drawbacks of fasting are:

- Its boring.
- You dont really need to do it to be healthy and lose fat/weight
- It is seen as 'extreme' by everyone you mention it too (your social group may not approve)
- Some people genuinely feel lousy cutting out food for long periods

A classic fasting recipe... a delicious warm bowl of nothing

My conclusion

So what am i trying to say about eating breakfast?

I have been there, done it and tried it in terms of nutrition. Over the past 10 years i have used myself as a guinea pig in the quest for what works for all physical goals. My personal conclusion is that (early morning/late evening) fasting periods are a great addition for busy people who find they have a low appetite in the morning and have a individual goal of STAYING LEAN. I highlight this because i believe it does not suit guys/girls who are trying to pack on size and strength and/or athletes involved in high performance or endurance sports.

"Introducing fasting periods will help overweight people lose weight by limiting late eating and ultimately helping to cut down overall calorie intake"

Its not the answer, i just found it has worked well for me. If you asked me honestly what my recommendations are i would say "eat a well balanced diet of protein, vegetables, good fats, fruit and low GI carb sources and most important exercise 5 hours per week". that should get you close to where you need to be.

Here is how my 11-7-11 eating pattern looks:

6pm - last meal - Super shake  (frozen banana, protein powder, soy milk, flax, walnuts, cocao nibs, almond flakes) with 4-5 fish oil capsules

5.30am - Probiotic drink with psyllium husk (fibre intake)

11am - Chicken salad with apple and green tea (add fish oil capsules)

Pre workout - Labrada Super Charge training drink

Post workout - Protein shake with added 5g creatine and fruit

Afternoon snack - Organic peanut butter on rye bread (add fish oil capsules)

4.30 pm Optional meal - Scrambled eggs, quinoa, vegetables and salsa (add fish oil capsules)
6pm - Super shake (Frozen strawberries, flax, peanut butter, soy milk, vanilla protein powder) with 4-5 fish oil capsules

Fast until 11am and repeat                                    

It's a pretty solid plan covering all the bases, it should be enough to get you leaner in around 6 weeks. For improved fat loss, cut out the Rye bread, Quinoa and lower the fruit intake.

That is all folks, please add your feedback/comments below

Stay strong and healthy,


  1. Check out the new video section which links to my new youtube channel

    Have a look at what we do every day @ RCC

  2. Hey Nath, I like what you're getting at. As you know I also have had success with diets similar to this. But I've also cut down very quickly just by training my ass off and eating whatever I like. Personally i wouldn't recommend eating too little for long periods of time. It will slow your metabolism and hold you back from your fitness goals. But every once in a while I think it is good for you. After a fast, not only will you develop a deeper appreciation for food, But you will be mentally stronger and realise that you didn't actually need all that shit you'd been eating in the first place.

  3. by the way, Is that your new girlfriend eating the cake?

  4. @ Matt

    no, its the old girlfriend, she was taking the p*ss with the cheat days so had to go!

    great point about the 'appreciation' factor. after a 24 hour fast you do realise that you eat too much, it is worth that experience alone.


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