T Nation

Intermittent Fasting



As of late, ive been hearing alot of noise about Brad Pilon and his "Eat Stop Eat" weight loss protocol.
I dont know if your familiar with it but my main point of contention comes from his recommendation to perform 2 24 hour fasts each week indefinitely!!

The claim being that frequent intermittent fasting has not been shown to decrease test levels and more importantly, has not been shown to increase cortisol levels.
So much so that he claims there is no negative effect from doing weight training for men or women in the middle of the fast day and no negative effect on metabolic rate.

Now, to even forget an athlete for a second, can you see any merit to this system for a standard gym goer even? I like to keep a very open mind on these things and his fired in a few references for good measure to back up his claims.

My question simply is would you personally ever recommend indefinite intermittent fasting protocol for weight loss and is it possilbe to train hard on a fast day without massively elevated cortisol?

Thanks for your time


read this... although pilons fasting recommendations are different than other intermittent fasting protocols



I do a fasting version now where you actually skip breakfast. It sounds crazy. I know. Everybody's been touting breakfast as the most important meal for years. Naturally I was sceptical, but I decided to give it a go, and my experiences so far have been positive. Last year I dieted on six small low carb meals distributed evenly throughout the day, combined with a refeed saturday. It worked, but I lost a little muscle, probably more because I'm approaching middle age than an issue with the diet.

This time I eat three bigger meals a day, the first one around noon, and it actually seems to spare muscle mass slightly better, while I'm still losing about two pounds of fat a week. My carb intake is also much higher than the last time. Some of the people who do this don't eat before three PM, but that wasn't doable for me, because of hypoglycemia.

The reasoning for eating like this is that blood sugar is very stable in the morning. Most people aren't really hungry at that time of day, and the body is also very primed towards fat metabolism. What would make most people sceptical is of course that it's been a long while since the last dose of amino acids entered the blood stream. Apparently there is no need for concern as the protein from the evening meal has been shown to cause protein synthesis for up to twelve to fourteen hours. Also the long intervals without protein seems to make the body more sensitive to amino acids, thus making you more anabolic than normal when you actually eat.

The best thing however is that I don't have to spend so much time preparing food anymore. I plan to bulk up on three meals as well. Recent studies suggest that a three to four meal frequency is more effective for leans gains than eating often.

Here's a sample day:

Meal 1: Chicken breast, three whole eggs, a glass of low fat milk, lots of veggies, olive oil, a box of blueberries or strawberries, and an apple.

Meal 2: 250 grams of grass fed steak, olive oil, 100 grams of whole grain rice, lots of veggies, an orange and some grapes.

Meal 3: A box of cottage cheese, 50 grams of peanut butter, almonds or hazelnuts, two grams of fishoil, a box of raspberries, an orange and 30 grams of whey protein.

In addition I eat bananas and protein shakes pre and post work-outs.


Were you doing any sort of cardio while on this type of diet? Also what version is it?


MAF- thanks for link
CC - interesting approach but i see it a modified version and you dont train in a fasted state.

Ok, some there is some merit to IF in brief periods but really what im asking is

1) is it still productive over regular 24 hour periods without any negative metabolic responces?
2) can you actually weight train in a complete fasted state and have no cortisol elevation?(no supplementation either).

The claim being that after a few cycles of fasting, the body will use fat as its sole energy source during the training without any catabolism issue.


Hey RS,

Have a look at this article on skipping breakfast... dangerouslyhardcore.com/?p=291

Also have a look at these reads on a more conservative (16/8) version of IF... http://articles.elitefts.com/articles/interviews/intermittent-fasting%E2%80%94to-feast-or-not-to-feast-an-interview-with-martin-berkhan/



I have two cardio days. One is a boring old 30 minute jog where I play around a little with the tempo. I do this because two HIIT sessions interfere too much with my lifting, and simply because it's easy to get done. The other day I do hill sprints of about 90 meters at app. a 30 degree angle. I've been adding one every week starting easy with six.

I have four lifting sessions on an upper-lower body split where I use a Norwegian cluster system called myo-reps. You start with a regular set, and lift until you have one or two reps left in you, take eight to ten deep breaths and tack on clusters with that interval until you have anywhere between nine and sixteen extra reps, depending on frequency, volume, ability to recover etc. You start with a priming phase designed to increase capilarisation. For the first two weeks you do 20-25+5+5+5, but with autoregulation, so it's never an absolute. The for the next two weeks you move down to 15-20+4+4+4+4. Then you start the actual building phase, and go gradually lower until you're doing six plus singles.
I've done it before on a bulk, and it is by far the most effective method I have tried.

I made the diet myself, but the ideas are partly based on myo-rep creator Borge Fagerli's advice. He doesn't advocate fasting for everyone, but it works for a lot of people. He says that you should listen to your body, and then decide. The idea that fasting this way might be smart comes from among other things this study, and a few other studies made on meal frequency and hypertrophy. I, however always eat prior to training to get enough energy to go balls to the wall:

Increased p70(s6k) phosphorylation during intake of a protein-carbohydrate drink following resistance exercise in the fasted state.

Deldicque L, De Bock K, Maris M, Ramaekers M, Nielens H, Francaux M, Hespel P.

Research Group in Muscle and Exercise Physiology, Institute of Neurosciences, UCLouvain, Place Pierre de Coubertin 1, 1348, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

The present study aimed at comparing the responses of myogenic regulatory factors and signaling pathways involved in muscle protein synthesis after a resistance training session performed in either the fasted or fed state. According to a randomized crossover study design, six young male subjects participated in two experimental sessions separated by 3 weeks. In each session, they performed a standardized resistance training. After the sessions, they received during a 4-h recovery period 6 ml/kg b.w. h of a solution containing carbohydrates (50 g/l), protein hydrolysate (33 g/l), and leucine (16.6 g/l). On one occasion, the resistance exercise session was performed after the intake of a carbohydrate-rich breakfast (B), whereas in the other session they remained fasted (F). Needle biopsies from m. vastus lateralis were obtained before (Rest), and 1 h (+1h) and 4 h (+4h) after exercise. Myogenin, MRF4, and MyoD1 mRNA contents were determined by RT-PCR. Phosphorylation of PKB (protein kinase B), GSK3, p70(s6k) (p70 ribosomal S6 kinase), eIF2B, eEF2 (eukaryotic elongation factor 2), ERK1/2, and p38 was measured via western blotting. Compared with F, the pre-exercise phosphorylation states of PKB and p70(s6k) were higher in B, whereas those of eIF2B and eEF2 were lower. During recovery, the phosphorylation state of p70(s6k) was lower in B than in F (p = 0.02). There were no differences in basal mRNA contents between B and F. However, compared with F at +1h, MyoD1 and MRF4 mRNA contents were lower in B (p < 0.05). Our results indicate that prior fasting may stimulate the intramyocellular anabolic response to ingestion of a carbohydrate/protein/leucine mixture following a heavy resistance training session.


I'm not sure, but I think Fagerli refered somewhere to the guy in the elitefts article.

I suspect we'll see a paradigm shift when it come to meal frequency over the next years. It always starts with a few pioneers, and then boom. Everybody does it.


i personally, and am pretty confident CT would say the same, would never weight train in a fasted state. too catabolic and there's nothing to help you recover afterward.

also, i think fasting can have its place BUT should not be abused


There's one thing I forgot to mention which in the end is what has made me decide to stick with this for good. I used to have poor digestion with lots of gas and bloat. The combination of cutting all gluten sources from my diet, and the fasting has made everything perfect. No more fat lumps in the stool. No more gas. For the first time in my life everything is regular, always.
It could be just the removal of gluten, but I've tried cutting significantly in bread before, and didn't get a result anywhere near as good as this.


most definitely. I have no more gas as well.


My thoughts exactly MAF. Catabolism would seem completely unavoidable without some kind of supplementation at least. To be honest, that particular claim bothered me and the referencing was suscept at best on some matters and pretty much square pegged to suit his claims. I dont disagree that supplemented fasting has a place... just how big a place is the question. And for the average person, i think its guaranteed to be abused. The "more is better" mentality will see to that.


Thanks for sharing. A problem i have and many others on the board no doubt. A definite positive.


yeah just take note that Pilon's target audience isnt really bodybuilders. from what i can tell its untrained middle aged men and women with poor diets.

if you're interested in weight loss (or prevention of fat gain) that fasting can help with, you could just try something like a really low calorie day. i used to do something like this. something like a scoop of good casein once when you wake up, another 5 hours later, again 5 hours later and then a final scoop before bed. obviously no exercise on this day


Your are right of course but i was looking at it from the perspective of the standard person trying to lose weight as stated in first post. Regardless of level, the workouts would still be intense so training in fasted state will still have pronounced effects. Of course, not as much as it would for a bodybuilder but i feel it would still be a concern.

I use that type of protocol to reboot my stomach sometimes. 2 scoops whey/casein mix, 1 Tbsp Primal Greens and 15g glutamine 5 times a day. Not quite a fast but a welcome break from 7000+ kcals.


Skipping breakfast and eating late to get lean - Has anyone tried an approach like this? Does it work?

I've read about high cortisol in the morning elsewhere and these articles from clutch on the dangerously hardcore site seem to make some sense.

Here's part 2:

Part 1 link again:


Yes. Like I said above. That's basically what I'm doing at the moment. It works, and I feel fine.


Sorry captain, I read your post yesterday and I'm having one of those Mondays. Not really thinking too clearly today

You say you don't eat until noon, what's your meal spacing like with 3 meals? For example, if you go to bed at 10:30, would you eat at noon, 4:30 and 9?

How do you deal with an empty stomach from 6:30 to noon, water?


I don't get up that early, usually around eight. I'm not a morning person. Meal 1 is around noon, but that's not an absolute. I just wait until I feel really hungry. If you have a hunger scale from 1 to 10 where 10 is famished. I wait until I'm at around seven or eight. The next meal is somewhere between 4PM and 6PM, again depending on how hungry I get. The last meal is usually between 22 and 23. I usually go to bed between 0000 and 0030.

And yes I drink plenty of water all day. It doesn't really quench my hunger like it does for some people, but that of course is no reason not to drink.


Well, ive been trying Martin Berkhans method of fasting (fasting 16hours, eating 8 hours) and it works like a charm!
* I basically eat the first meal at 12 to 2 o clock, and then the last between 8 and 10! Some days it can be 12-9, or 2-7, but it really dosnt mather that much.
* 3 Meals during the 8 hour eating windom where i gorge like a madman (doubble stakes, chicken filles, vegetables, olive oil, salats etc.)
* Statchy karbs on traing days, low carbs, but higher fat on non-training
* IF TRAINING from a fasted state, EAT 10G of BCAA right before training.
* After training have the biggest meal of the day (about 40% of days total carbs)

The morning hunger is just a problem for 1-2 days for my part, and now its all good. Not even hungry before 12-1 these days. I drink coffee (black offcourse) in the morning.

Weight is dropping, i feel much more focused during the morning hours (just had my exams like this with no food and it went awesome - real clear feeling in ur mind) so to be productive, and training is going good.

This stuff makes your body more senstive to prepre for some serious, hmm, drowsyness after the big meals. Going from fastet to superbig meal makes u want to sleep :stuck_out_tongue:

If u want to know more just google Martin Berkhan or Leangains ! then u will find all the latest science on the matter etc, good stuff! :slightly_smiling: The dude actually walks year round with about 5,5% in fatpercent and deadlifts 270kg which is quite good! He was a former fat boy, so being that lean didnt come automatic to him!

I recomend people to try it out, esecially those like me who have troubble dieting with a bunch of small meals etc