Back in the 90’s, circa 1997, when I ran Ironmag; the first real online magazine of its kind, we featured the Animal Diet, one of the first real ‘intermittent fasting’ diets for bodybuilders and gymrats. It was tailored for fat loss and simply consisted of a pre-workout snack and a post-workout ketogenic-style meal. That was it, and it still was better than most other ‘intermittent fasting’ diets that followed 10 or even 20 years later.
With that said, for fat loss, I do not recommend ‘restricting’ your energy intake. Instead, I prefer a highly nutritious animal-based diet with a few strategically planned days of full fasting.
However, for health and longevity, I do recommend a kind of ‘intermittent fasting’ strategy, as in a ‘feeding window,’ to be implemented year-round. And that takes us to a recent article by T-Nation’s “Chief Content Officer” Chris Shugart, where he reviewed the ‘90/90 study’ on intermittent fasting. So, let’s see what the study was about and what Chris had to say.
As always, when dealing with ‘intermittent fasting,’ Chris begins with telling us that, “most of these plans can be summed up as ‘skipping breakfast.’ So, if you have a snack before bed, sleep 8 hours, then fast until lunchtime, you’ve fasted for about 12-14 hours.“
Yes, unfortunately, this is how most people totally oblivious to human physiology defines ‘intermittent fasting,’ and in the long run, it’s incredible unhealthy. This definition was most likely coined because the movement was hijacked and the ‘elites’ do not want you to be healthy. As I’ve said for 15 years or more, you should always eat early in the day and stop eating before the evening. Always have your last meal 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. The reasoning is extremely simple and logical. When in a ‘fasted state,’ our bodies go into ‘repair mode,’ as in recycling damaged cells, releasing more hormones, and increasing detoxification processes.
Digestion usually takes 3 to 6 hours depending on meal size and composition, so by cutting off feeding in the evening you actually get into that ‘fasting state’ during your entire sleep when it is supposed to happen. This will allow your body to do what it is supposed to do while sleeping and resting, and it will improve sleep quality like nothing else.
Now, I cannot say for certain if these industry writers and influencers are that frikkin’ stupid and ignorant, or if they just want to keep you from getting healthy so they can push new stupid ideas and supplements in front of you as the next ‘big solution’ to your problems. You know, like an never-ending cycle that just happen to line their pockets with money.
Well, that is the strategy employed by Big Pharma, the Food Industry, and the Supplement Industry — and T-Nation is run by Biotest, a supplement company, so you do the math…
With that little rant out of the way, let’s see what this ‘90/90 study’ was all about.
In short, it was a 10-week study where the participants were given the simple guidelines of delaying breakfast with 90 minutes and having their last meal 90 minutes earlier than normal. That was it. Simply narrowing their ‘feeding window’ by 3 hours while still eating what they normally would do.
As for results, those following the 90/90 plan lost twice as much body fat as the control group, which just ate normally. Again, I need to point out the silly fixation with ‘fat loss’ in all these ‘studies.’ That is not really any indication of getting healthier or improving quality of life. Sure, if you have hundred of pounds to lose, it might be a priority before anything else, but for the average man or woman (especially those into fitness,) there are much more important variables to consider. Still, with some logic, this ‘90/90’ approach is still somewhat better than most other ‘intermittent fasting’ protocols, simply because they made sure you had your last meal earlier in the day, allowing for at least a 90-minute longer nightly fast.
As for losing body fat on this protocol, it was most likely due to the fact that they restricted eating in the evenings when most of the programmed sheep fall prey to mindless snacking in front of their indoctrination devices (TV/Phone/Tablet.)
Interestingly, and I’m quoting Chris’ takeaway here, “more than half (57%) of the study participants said they wouldn’t want to maintain this plan. Why? To them, it was a pain in the ass socially and tough to work into their normal schedules. Delaying breakfast 1.5 hours may cause your first meal of the day to fall right into the timeslot where you have to be at work, school, or the gym. And moving dinner up 1.5 hours may not jibe with work schedules or family mealtimes.”
Yeah, the excuses of the sheep. First, there’s no point in delaying breakfast. That is only a one-sure way to develop cortisol (stress-hormone) issues. Sure, depending on your routines, you can delay it for a few hours, but make sure to either eat in the morning or forenoon. Never wait until lunch or later.
As for the last meal, if you have kids, simply eat as soon as everyone is home, that should still be 3 to 4 hours before bedtime, if not more. Just make sure no one is eating after that. Also, make sure to have breakfast together.
Of course, Chris concludes his article with promoting protein supplements, especially for those who train in the morning, as he claims that fasted weight training is counterproductive. Well, if you want to gain muscle mass, having something prior might make it a few percent more effective, but in reality, it does not matter much. It’s all about the training stimulus and getting all the nutrients your body needs on a daily basis. And if you lift weights a few times a week to maintain a healthy strength foundation and avoiding muscle loss, it does not matter at all.
My conclusion is that it would be better with a ‘240 Diet,’ that is, do not eat during the last ‘240 minutes’ of the day. If you go to bed at 10 pm, do not eat later than 6 pm. And if your lifestyle allows it, make it ‘360.’
Simple and effective.