(Off-Topic Note: Wouldn’t this also make a great title for some really strange children’s book?)
The concept of fasting has been around forever in various forms and for various reasons (weight loss, health, religion, etc.), and the concept of intermittent fasting (IF) for the purpose of improving body composition (more muscle, less fat) has also been around for quite a while.
However, it wasn’t until the last few years that IF really began to grow in popularity in the diet and fitness world. Why the sudden surge? Well, for starters:
- Martin Berkhan and Leangains (My favorite of the group.)
- Brad Pilon and Eat Stop Eat (My second favorite.)
- Ori Hofmekler and The Warrior Diet (My least favorite.)
Anyone using any sort of intermittent fasting approach right now for the purpose of building muscle, losing fat or anything similar is likely doing it as a result of someone on that list. Of the group, Martin Berkhan’s version is definitely my favorite. Although, I don’t actually use it myself.
Intermittent Fasting Isn’t For Me… But Maybe It’s For You
It’s not that I have any problems with intermittent fasting. It’s just that it doesn’t really appeal to me or fit my personal dietary preferences or needs. But if it fits yours… then by all means, use it.
Because honestly, IF’s true benefits (especially Martin’s version of it) appear to lie mostly in diet adherence and helping you stay happy and full while improving your body composition.
Not to mention, it’s often the perfect change of pace for people who feel inconvenienced, unsatisfied or just generally annoyed as a result of forcing themselves to eat EXACTLY 6 small meals per day EXACTLY 2-3 hours apart to get benefits that don’t actually exist. (More about that here: How Many Meals A Day?)
But beyond that, there’s really nothing magical about IF. It’s just one of a bunch of effective methods of eating that will better suit some people more so than others.
So, long story short, intermittent fasting isn’t something I currently do because it just doesn’t appeal to me or fit my preferences. If that describes you as well, then you probably shouldn’t bother with it either. But if it DOES appeal to you for whatever reason, then I highly recommend giving it a try. Again, Martin’s “Leangains” approach is the one I like best and recommend most.
As for everything else I have to say about intermittent fasting, that will have to wait for its own full article. This article, despite what it looks like so far, isn’t actually about intermittent fasting.
Why I HATE Intermittent Fasting
Again, I don’t actually hate IF at all as a diet method. What I hate however is that it has become the new cool bandwagon every dumb-shit fitness guru has jumped on.
And if there’s one thing I truly hate, it’s dumb-shit fitness gurus. IF is just guilty by association.
You see, even though many of us were well aware of intermittent fasting and certain approaches to it for quite a few years now, it wasn’t until very recently that it became more mainstream and viewed as this new cool diet method.
And since fitness gurus always tend to be WAY behind the curve of what’s actually new and cool (and often correct and accurate) in their own industry… they are just now getting around to jumping on its bandwagon. It’s not a coincidence that this jump happens to coincide with IF’s recent rise in popularity.
Fitness gurus may be dumb as a rock when it comes to diet and fitness, but when it comes to making money from diet and fitness, hell… they are borderline rocket scientists.
Welcome To The IF Bandwagon, Baby!
So what have these fitness gurus done exactly as part of this jump? Well, most have done a complete 180 in terms of their meal frequency recommendations. They are now in full support of intermittent fasting and fully against the higher frequency 6-small-meals-per-day stuff.
They went from being all about super strict meal schedules and diet organization to a more relaxed, laid-back and all around flexible approach to eating that the rest of us sane people have been using and recommending for years already.
Many others have taken their bandwagon jump a big step further and actually “created” their own version of an IF diet.
Granted, they don’t all actually refer to it as intermittent fasting. Many have given it their own gimmicky brand name and proceed to lay out what is essentially just their version of intermittent fasting (which is often just a rip off of someone else’s version).
Why Does This Bother Me So Much? I’ll Tell You…
What annoys me about all of this is that every single one of these fitness gurus are the same idiots who (incorrectly) swore that 6 meals per day eaten once every 3 hours exactly was an absolute requirement for getting the results you want.
These are the same idiots who (incorrectly) claimed that an extremely rigid OCD-like eating format (you MUST eat these foods in these meals at these times!!!!) was the key to building muscle, losing fat, health, performance, becoming rich, picking up hot chicks (or dudes) and taking over the world.
These are the same idiots who (incorrectly) said your muscles would fall off and every calorie you ate would magically turn into fat if you skipped breakfast, ate less frequently than every 3 hours, ate less total meals than 6 or dared to color outside the lines of some ultra strict form of diet organization.
And now? HA!
Now these are the very same idiots who are completely ignoring everything they’ve been saying for the last 100 years (some as recently as a few articles ago) and jumping on the “laid-back” intermittent fasting bandwagon because it’s the new cool thing and that means there is new cool money to be made from it.
And in case you didn’t know, it’s all about the money. That’s requirement #1 of being a fitness guru.
The Difference Between “This” And Just Changing Opinions
Now, it’s one thing to change your opinion or recommendations on something based on new knowledge you’ve gained over time through research and experience.
For example, prior to 2007, I used to mention “6 small meals per day” as my default suggestion for the same reasons everyone else did. It seemed to make sense, and I had success eating this way as did the countless others who took my advice (not to mention the likely millions of others who took this same advice from someone else).
But then for me, things changed. Various research and the experience/advice of certain people I highly respect made it seem like meal frequency may not actually matter (it doesn’t) and that frequent meals may not actually provide magical body composition benefits over less frequent meals (they don’t).
Since I’m not one to just blindly agree with the things I read or hear, I decided to test out this theory for myself.
I ate less frequently, more frequently, big meals, small meals, 3 meals, 6 meals, 4 meals, 8 meals. You name it, I tried it. Do you know what I found? That as long as your total calorie and nutrient intake remains what it needs to be for your goal… there is no difference. In terms of fat loss, muscle growth, not gaining fat, not losing muscle… the results were always the same.
Really, all that truly matters in terms of any of this intermittent fasting VS 6 meals per day stuff (or just strict VS relaxed in general) is diet adherence and doing whatever is most convenient, enjoyable and sustainable for you.
That’s my official “diet method,” and everything I’ve written about meal frequency or diet organization since early 2007 reflects it. For example, these: When & How Often Should You Eat? and The Best Foods For Your Diet
If any new research comes out or I discover anything different through my own first-hand experience, my advice will again change to reflect it. That’s how learning happens, folks.
Here’s The Difference…
But what I’m talking about here with fitness gurus jumping on the intermittent fasting bandwagon is something completely different. This isn’t a case of learning something new and changing their opinions and recommendations to reflect it.
These are people blatantly jumping on a bandwagon (in this case, IF) solely because it’s the new cool thing everyone is talking about and interested in… and that’s where the money is.
So what if doing this makes all of your previous advice, recommendations and products look completely wrong and stupid? As long as your NEW advice, recommendations and products support this new cool thing, the money will keep on rolling in.
And as soon as intermittent fasting becomes less new and cool and some other diet method replaces it as the newer and cooler thing everyone is talking about? It will then be time to jump on over to that bandwagon instead. Just rinse and repeat and you too can become a dumb-shit fitness guru!
So What’s Your Point?
Well, other than that most “fitness gurus” are idiots/used car salesmen who should be avoided completely in general… just be wary of whose advice you take.
Once again, if intermittent fasting doesn’t really appeal to you or suit your dietary needs or preferences, don’t do it. You won’t be missing out on anything. But if it DOES appeal to you for whatever reason, then I’d recommend you try it out and see if it’s right for you.
But before you do, just keep in mind that the person making it seem like intermittent fasting (or whatever else) is the most amazing thing in the world today may be the same person who yesterday made it seem like 6-small-meals-per-day was the most amazing thing in the world.
And you can bet they’ll be the same person tomorrow making it seem like some other diet or fitness method is the new most amazing thing in the world.
In reality of course, it’s just the newest bandwagon they’ve jumped on to capitalize on its popularity and somehow get your money. Consider this my friendly reminder to keep that in mind.