If one more person asks me about intermittent fasting, I may never eat again.

If someone comes up to me at a conference and asks, “Hey, have you heard about intermittent fasting?” I might just stare at them until they walk away, or I’ll play dumb…“What’s that? Please tell me all about your confirmation bias and the magic of not eating.”

I guess if you are after weight-loss, not eating could be magic. Some really, really big Scottish dude did it for over a year, lost two of himselves, and took a shit once per month. Sounds like a great time.

In all honesty, I like when I get emotional about topics. I don’t try to sugar coat anything. So let’s go for the jugular of intermittent fasting even though I really don’t care what they hell you eat or when you eat it.

If you are after weight-loss in a complex obesogenic food environment, then perhaps encountering food less often is a good idea. BUT, if anything, the eating frequency research (this was my dissertation topic so please don’t try to argue with me on this) tends to lean in the direction of higher eating occasions for weight loss in the general population (albeit not strongly). If intermittent fasting had such powerful food voodoo, we would not expect this out of those useless meta-analyses. In the equally useless RCTs, IF and Alternate Day fasting do not seem to outperform continuous caloric restriction for weight loss or changes in insulin sensitivity.

That’s not to say that not eating sometimes does not work; it just doesn’t work any better than eating less, most of the time.

Not sure what I am talking about – read Why Your Stupid Diet Is Stupid. The trump card for metabolics in unhealthy humans is pulling energy through the system and getting out of a state of over-nutrition.

Also, we have to take into account that fasting looks a lot like disordering eating, and what I have found is that people don’t have time to eat, and all of sudden they start justifying their fucked up schedule with cherry picked intermittent fasting google searches.

“I wake up, drink some coffee, drive to work, pound away at my computer, and then eat spoonful of almond butter at 3 pm. It’s delightful. I then eat a piece of lettuce at 5. I am so happy. Have you tried intermittent fasting? I’m pretty sure it would work perfectly for you…and HIIT – have you tried that? Together they are extra magicful.”

Fuck you. You forgot about all the times you accidently fell into a pool of queso…I just couldn’t say no…yeah, because you are literally starving.

If you are an untrained sedentary human, it honestly doesn’t really matter what you choose to do with food quantity, quality, or timing, if you are not going to lift and get off your ass. Humans just can’t seem to regulate low energy intake and low energy expenditure. We aren’t wired that way.

But But… intermittent fasting is related to increased longevity!

Yes, cells and animal models tend to live a little longer when they don’t eat enough, and I am not against the occasional fast to increase metabolic flexibility, but why would you think not eating would turn you into Wolverine? Talk to Dr. Mike T Nelson about this topic. He is loaded with great ideas.

Still not buying it? Please send me a 50-year longitudinal trial on fasting and all-cause mortality in humans. Yes, Longo’s studies are cool, and I enjoy reading them. But, long-term human trials don’t exist, and the idea that a 10% caloric restriction will increase lifespan in humans has been dug into by Dr. Brad Dieter at length. Besides not eating enough forever sounding terrible and being a giant unknown, it seems to be directly inverse to putting on muscle and being strong; two of the most important factors determining longevity.

To this end, I am unaware of any study in trained subjects (like really trained) showing positive muscle gain while intermittent fasting (if you have one, please send it to me; I would love to read it – maintaining LBM 100% possible). (Again not to be a dick, but I just don’t really find research in baby humans becoming less baby that interesting as everything seems to work in that population.)

I reviewed a recent 2016 study on IF here in trained subjects in which no one really gained muscle, and training volume was pretty damn low. Even then, the authors spun these lackluster findings into pure fasting gold.

For putting on muscle, I am with the majority of the nutrition community who really lifts and advocate four eating occasions per day with adequate protein at each eating occasion (at least 0.2ish g/lb). Three eating occasions might cut it, and two is probably less better. I also think this probably becomes even more important as you get further along the training continuum.

Again, if you are 30% body fat, strap your pedometer to your dog, and still buy Cheez-Itz, I don’t care what you can do with nutrition as long as you can do it forever.

Now, if you are a jacked human trying to get more jacked, I am into you. There is no reason to beat around the bush; I think you are verrrry nice. I dig your Christmas tree and your effort. Thank you.

So let’s play out what 3,300 kcals looks like in “Clean Food” at macros no one will put up a hissy fit about.for a 190ish pound jacked male at a healthy 9-14% body fat.

Macros: ~190-200 PRO ~375 CHO ~115 FAT

Total Food for the Day:

15 ounces of Lean Protein (Chicken Breast, Turkey Breast, or Fish – Steak one to two times per week.)
1.5 Scoops Protein Powder
45 oz of Sweet Potato, 35 oz White Potato or Brown Rice, 28 oz of White Rice or Plantains, or 21 oz of Yucca
4 Servings of Fruit
7 TBS of Oil
10 to 12 serving of Vegetables (at least 1.5lbs)

Just try to fucking eat that in two eating occasions. Seriously try.

Three. No problem.

Four. Easy work.

So why would you make it harder on yourself for literally no reasons?!

Intermittent fasting will likely make you undereat (especially if you eat well), and 3,300 kcals isn’t even that high for dudes I deal with. If you are an advanced or working on being advanced trainee, being in a kcal excess is likely a necessity for putting on more muscle mass, so intermittent fasting is likely in direct opposition to your ultimate goal. Being more bigger.

Again, if you want to get better at spinning around in the park on one leg, I don’t fucking care, please don’t eat.

But, I’m Keto…

Make it stop.

Well, now you are playing with multiple unknowns. Can one put on muscle on extremely low carbohydrate intakes? I would actually guess it is possible, and I am not really averse to Keto at all. I just again don’t think there is any magic there, and the majority of the population doesn’t seem to be able to adhere long-term, and it is insanely socially isolating for most.

Also, carbs are delicious, and if you don’t have them, you may not eat enough food/energy, again shooting yourself in the foot. Besides not having delicious carbohydrates, Keto may have an appetite suppressing effect. Just look below, I don’t want to eat that, so an attribute that might be helpful in the gen pop is shooting you in the foot…again.

Macros: ~150-160 PRO ~50 CHO ~275 FAT

Total Food for the Day:

15 ounces of Lean Protein (Chicken Breast, Turkey Breast, or Fish – Steak one to two times per week.)
20 TBS of Oil or 3 pounds of Avocado
Vegetables 1.5lbs of Non-starchy Vegetables

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Yes, I understand you could take out the oil and get all YOLO with fattier meats.

But, bro you don’t understand me. I am a Keto-Vegan Intermittent Faster because life isn’t hard enough as it is.

Macros: ~150-160 PRO ~50 CHO ~275 FAT

Total Food for the Day:

6 Scoops of some Chalky Ass Vegan Protein Powder
20 TBS of Oil or 3 pounds of Avocado
Vegetables 1.5lbs of Non-starchy Vegetables

You could probably fit a few ounces of beans in there somehow, but I just can’t appease you.

Humans love to be martyrs with their diets. The harder it is, the better that diet must be!

Just keep stacking fad dietary rigidities on top of each other, eventually you will be so micronutrient and calorie deficient you will likely believe your own bullshit. (If someone was really about it, I could probably make all of these scenarios work with supplements)

Focus on the fundamentals. Eat real food. Move. Sleep. Lift. And groom other humans you care about, and stop asking other people about what and when they are not going to eat.