Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss and the Fasted State

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Fasting to some people may seem like an extreme practice of starving and stuffing your face, but it’s really not. It is something you can comfortably practice on a daily basis. Essentially, intermittent fasting is consciously choosing what time of the day you will eat so that you can place your body in a “fasted state.”

That begs the question: What is a fasted state?

A fasted state is just the state your body enters when it has burned all the food in your belly. So it is no longer drawing nutrients from food you consumed but from its own fat storage.

The way our bodies are built, they are designed for survival. Therefore, to survive, your body wants to hold onto all of its precious fuel in case an emergency comes up and there’s no food around. As a result, it will always choose to burn the nutrients from food before it targets its own fuel storage; also known as “fat.”

So if you want to burn fat (your body’s nutrient storage) you want to enter a fasted state.

How Do You Reach Fasted State?

How long does it take to reach a fasted state? It depends on your body chemistry and what you ate recently.

For instance, more “natural” carbohydrates like those from veggies and fruits, are complex carbohydrates. Those take longer to break down and digest than carbohydrates from processed foods.

Processed foods are full of simple sugars and lack the same nutrients as non-processed foods, so they digest fast and you find yourself hungry more quickly. This is why I suggest brown rice over white rice in my guide How to Get Abs in 28 Days – Without Doing ANY Cardio!. White rice is processed. It has fewer nutrients and complex carbs than brown rice and burns up faster in digestion, which can leave you hungry.

Processed Foods and Health

Processed foods are full of simple sugars and lack the same nutrients as non-processed foods, so they digest fast and you find yourself hungry more quickly.

So how long does it take to reach a fasted state? We just explained “it depends” based on the quantity and quality of the food you eat, but having some sort of time frame is both beneficial and important.

Some sources claim it takes as few as 6 hours to enter a fasted state and some say as many as 16 hours. Let’s say it takes about 8-10 hours for your body to approach a fasted state. Ideally, you’d fast approximately 16 hours to reach prime fat-burning status.

When you exercise without a glucose and glycogen (a starch stored in your muscles for fuel) supply from food, your body is forced to begin burning the only available energy it has: its fat and muscle.

Your Body Will Burn Its Muscle for Fuel Too…

That’s right, your body will burn muscle for fuel too.

This is why the post-workout whey protein shake has become a staple in the fitness community. To “protect your gains.”

Proteins are the building blocks of lean mass. Whey protein is fast assimilating protein, one of the proteins your body can absorb the quickest. When you consume whey in powder form immediately following a workout, you are actually feeding your muscles what they need so they don’t break down. Pretty neat huh?

Branched Chain Amino Acids

If you don’t really want to break your fast but want to feed your muscles some energy, there is a neat little work around called branched chain amino acids or BCAAs.

BCAAs are essential amino acids that make up proteins. They are essential amino acids meaning they must be consumed, your body cannot make them.

Anyways, your muscles use BCAAs for fuel. So if you consume some BCAAs before or during your workout, you can preserve lean mass while still getting the fat burn of fasted training. That’s right, you get the best of both worlds because BCAAs can be consumed in powder form that doesn’t break your fast because it is only 15 or so calories to a serving.

I recommend Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard BCAA Train and Recover. It has BCAAs plus electrolytes for energy, Wellmune for immune support, and rhodiola, which is known for its fat burning and energy boosting properties. You can see my review of Gold Standard BCAA here or you can buy Gold Standard BCAA off Vitamin Shoppe.

You can also consume black coffee and unsweetened green tea for energy without breaking your fast.

So what DOES break the fast?

Why Fasting Works and the Six Meals a Day Myth

So we know that your body will burn fat and muscle if it needs fuel in a fasted state. We know we are able to slow the effects of muscle breakdown by consuming fast assimilating protein post-workout, or BCAA powders right before or during our workouts.

So how do we break a fast?

What happens when we break a fast?

Why won’t we burn as much fat if we aren’t fasted?

A super quick and easy way to explain this is to lay it all on insulin. You see, when you eat food your body puts out insulin to transport nutrients everywhere. Insulin just happens to inhibit fat burning also. When you are fasted, there is no food or nutrients to be broken down, and there is no need for insulin. Therefore, your fat burn is not being inhibited by insulin.

Some other side benefits of this knowledge is the ability to improve your body’s response to insulin.

The more you fast and the longer period you fast, the more sensitive your body becomes to insulin. The more you eat and the more frequently you eat, the less sensitive your body becomes to insulin. Reduced sensitivity to insulin (or insulin resistance) is a huge factor for all sorts of health problems; like heart disease and cancer.

So put the whole fat burning issue aside for just a moment, and note that maintaining proper insulin sensitivity and regulation is a primary factor for good health in general.

But I Eat Six Meals a Day to Keep My Metabolism Up

Good news! You can stop. Not only is six meals a day a pain to keep up with and track, it never lets you feel “full.” Believe me, I’ve tried it. As a result, I actually felt way hungrier doing six small meals than the three or four large meals I eat now.

In an 8-week study that you can check out here, it was shown that when everything was held equal except meal frequency, the group that had more small meals did not show improved body weight loss than the control group.

Playing devil’s advocate for a moment: this is only one study and the sample size was only 16, so I’m welcome to someone showing me more (scientific, published, peer-reviewed) data on the topic.

But even with that in mind, I say that my experience with intermittent fasting, mentally and physically, has been far more favorable than when I tried the six small meals a day. Therefore, while I will accept new information, it won’t change my behavior because six small meals was complete misery and I didn’t have to do that to get abs.

Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss and the Fasted State
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Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss and the Fasted State
Intermittent fasting is consciously choosing what time of the day you will eat so that you can place your body in a “fasted state.”
About the author

Kyle Milligan

I'm Kyle Milligan. I really enjoy writing. I wrote a couple novels (The Hang-Ups and Hangovers series) and now I blog frequently on a bunch of different websites. I also enjoy lifting heavy things and and writing about it.

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