Just like any other training or diet tool, fast days are simply another tool in your tool box for building your house.Are fast days necessary to lose fat and “shape” your home? It depends. Note: My definition of a fast day is when you do not consume food for a 24 hour period. You only consume water. Fast days can be a tremendous addition to a fat loss program for certain individuals and completely unnecessary for others.Just like My Complete Opinion On Cheat Days and Fat Loss article, I have zero interest in trying to influence you towards fast days and could care less if you employ the technique. It’s just one technique of thousands of fat loss techniques to contribute towards a caloric deficit – the determining factor of whether you lose fat or not.
Just like cheat days, I’ve used intermittent fasting (the cool way to say fast days) to get under 6% body fat and just recently I did not use fast days to get under 5% body fat.
Interesting, once again, eh?
195 lbs & 5.5% Body Fat – 14 Weeks Of Dieting With No Fast Days
Not Sure My Stats – 3 Weeks Of Dieting With Fast Days Every 5th Day!
In five years I’ve never come out with a specific “diet program” per say. All of my fitness programs simply include meal plans but none of them are tied to a specific style of eating. I consider my meal plans balanced eating, if you wanted to give it a name.
First off, I have nothing against anyone who has authored a specific style of eating. In my opinion, it’s often brilliant marketing and at the end of the day, the better the marketing, the more people you can impact (if that person takes action).
My only problem is when people believe a certain style of eating is the “right” way to eat when most of the latest diets are just fads and brilliant marketing exploiting your fears. The majority of diets are simply sexed up and disguised versions of the simplest fat loss advice – eat less than you burn!
Every latest and greatest diet claims to have found the “magical set of foods” to never eat and the “magical set of foods” to always eat.
Again, I have no emotional attachment to any style diet whether it be a fasting diet, cheat day diet, raw food diet, paleo diet, blood type diet, zero carb diet, vegetarian diet and so forth. To me, these are all tools to be used to construct my house and depending on what kind of house I’m trying to build and how fast I want to build it, I’ll select the appropriate tool.
I feel sorry for people who have reached the point where they say, “I don’t talk about religion, politics…. or diets!” People have found their identity in what they eat and don’t eat to the point it has become an emotional topic. My good friend John Barban put it this way:
“In most cases these diets quickly become like a cult with all of the ugly consequences like becoming socially isolated from other people who are not part of the cult, the development of an elitist attitude about the given way of eating above any other form of eating and a general smugness of it’s followers as they assume they have become ‘enlightened’ to the one and only way to eat.” – John Barban of AdonixIndex.com
The reason I’ll probably never come out with “The Del Monte Diet” (although it has a nice ring to it, eh?) is because I do not rely on one “style” of eating. I focus on fundamental principles and rules to get results. Things like:
1. Never eat fat before a workout or after a workout.
2. Never combine fats and carbs.
3. Rely on pre dominantly whole foods and not food products.
4. Rotate your protein and carb sources.
5. Establish a regular meal cadence.
Nothing really sexy to make a best selling diet book, eh? Fortunately, I’ve discovered it’s the non sexy info that gets you a sexy body!
Note: I’m not a “science guy” and have found that the more science I attempt to read, the more I get confused.
Why? Because Science Guy #1 is actually quite convincing! He has this study and that study and that study to support his theory.
Then Science Guy #2 comes along and completely disagrees with Science Guy #1 by showing this study and that study and that study to support his theory, which appears equally interesting and convincing!
Before you know it, Science Guy #3 comes along and disagrees with Science Guy #1 and Science Guy #2 and his theory is just as exciting and he has the studies to back it up!
So where does that leave me and you?
In a deep, dark whole!
That’s why I avoid the academic debates and go to the guys who are getting results in the REAL WORLD.
Understand that no person can prove every theory to you beyond a shadow of a doubt. At some point you need to put your faith in the research and take action and become a believer or non believer based on DOING & EXPERIENCE, not reading about it.
Intermittent fasting is another topic that you can read about until you’re more dazed than confused and you’ll have little intelligence on the method until you actually test it. If you’re interested in learning about the science behind intermittent fasting be sure to pick up Brad Pilon’s book Eat Stop Eat, which dives deep into the science.
The insights you’re about to read were things I learned without knowing much of the science behind the strategy.
12 Insights, From Personal Experience, On Intermittent Fast Days…
1. I found I was using fast days as a band aid to a bigger problem. For example, I would blow my diet and eat like a glutton on Saturday and rationalize my thoughtless decision to pig out by saying, “I’ll just fast on Sunday.” Fasting is a powerful tool that can be used as “damage control” and to prevent “spillage” but if I had just managed my food choices better on Saturday I would not have to fast all day Sunday. Thinking you can “fix” a bad food day by slapping a fast day is pretty cool if you do it a few times a year but not a smart or fun habit to do on a regular basis.
2. Not eating for 24 hours is not as bad as you might think. I will admit, after 6-8 hours into my first fast day I thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m gonna die! This is not healthy. I’m losing muscle. I’m not going to be able to train. This is so stupid. I need to eat. Oh my gosh, I’m gonna die!” If you have those thoughts, that’s normal. We’ve been conditioned to believe going extended periods of time will “damage” your metabolism. If it was possible to “damage” your metabolism, I don’t think I would have achieved 5% body fat in the first picture above because I have done some crazy things with my diet. The coolest thing about not eating for an entire day was to say, “I just fasted for 24 hours!” People looked at me like I was crazy and surprised I had survived the traumatic experience!
3. You wake up 1-2 hours earlier the next day! Your body expands about 70% of your energy each day on digestion. Imagine not eating for an entire day. I normally wake up around 7am and after a fast day I will be wide awake around 5 am. Get ready for a long productive day!
4. After a fast day, you’ll feel mentally tougher and confident to stick to your diet. When you go an entire day without eating foods you once thought, “I can’t live without…” you build up enormous belief in yourself by feeling victorious. The feeling of self confidence and achievement about yourself can set the tone for another day of clean eating. Fasting is a powerful experience makings you mentally tougher to sticking with your diet. Heck, if you can go 24 hours without eating bad food than why can’t you go a few hours?
5. You discover how much food influences you and your life. I had no idea how much my life revolved around food until I actually made a decision not to eat for 24 hours. Having fast days identified (stupid) reasons why I ate. For example, every time I go to the movies I feel compelled to get an extra large bag of buttery popcorn, a big bag of M&M’s and sometimes even New York Fries. When going to the movies on a fast day I realized that I really didn’t need to eat 2000 plus calories (with over 60 grams of saturated fat) at 10pm at night in one sitting! I had simply created a bad habit and fast days helped me break that habit. Every once and awhile I do go crazy at the movies though!
6. Fast days are great to break bad habits. After returning from a 30 day honeymoon in Europe, I had packed on over 20 pounds of fat from eating too many banana nutella crepes, ice cream, baguettes, pizza and late night multi-course dinners that were always accompanied by a bottle of red wine, sometimes two. When returning to reality, my wife and I needed to find our bodies buried under all this fat and knew once a week fast days for a month would mentally get us back on track. Once we got dialed into our diets and lifestyle, we dropped the fast days. They were simply a tool to create some positive momentum in our life and break some bad habits.
7. Fast days will accelerate your fat loss. It’s not rocket science. Eating 6 days a week instead of 7 days a week will increase your chances of being in a caloric deficit, the primary mechanism behind fat loss. You also burn fat instead of sugar. When you eat your body burns the sugar first, fat second. When you fast, your body has little option but to use stored body fat for energy.
8. Fast days are not ideal for physique athletes. If you hired me to get you ready for a photo shoot or absolutely shredded, there is a 90% chance we will not use fast days during your prep. My guess is that you’ll probably never see bodybuilders or fitness models employing this technique either. I would prefer to see you manage your calories without any extreme swings in the week. Plus, physique athletes are often times doing body part training and there is no body part (even my strong ones) that I would want to train in a fasted state. Plus, I’m training over 14 hours a week and I only take 1 rest day – Sunday. How in the world will my muscles and other systems recover without eating anything on the day I’m supposed to recover?
9. Fasting can help prevent spillage during a bulking program for skinny guys. Again, we’re using fasting as a band aid but many skinny guys tend to pack on more fat than muscle while bulking up and having a planned fast day once every month or two times a month can help prevent the fat going too high.
10. My favourite time to fast is from 6pm Sunday night till Tuesday morning. That’s actually 36 hours in total and that’s what I consider a true fast. Fasting from 6pm Sunday till 6pm Monday is easy. Anybody can do that. If you’re going to fast I recommend doing the 36 hour version.
11. Fast days are great to schedule on days you’re super busy. I’ll admit. I’ve abused the use of fast days by planning one on a busy work day because I’m just too lazy to cook that day. Don’t get me wrong, you get an enormous amount of work done considering you don’t have to cook, eat or clean!
12. Fast days combined with exercise are a deadly weapon for losing fat. If you have more than 25 pounds of fat to lose than this one is for you. If you’re already lean than I wouldn’t mess around with this, it’s not worth it and not necessary. My good friend, Joel Marion, employs fast days while training not once, or twice but sometimes even three times a day during a fast day. Very, very hardcore and he recently did this successfully to drop over 40 pounds of fat in less than 12 weeks! He told me about this method 1.5 years ago and I took him up on his challenge and fasted every 5th day while training twice a day in a fasted state. I did that for three weeks before my trip to Punta Cana where I took that 2nd picture above and learned a lot from the experience.
You can never put one method of fat loss under a microscope without looking at the context it’s being applied. As you can see above, every time I warranted fast days, there was a different goal or unique situation behind it’s usage. That’s how you should make your decisions. Does it make sense for my goals and for right now?
And as always, make your opinions based on ACTION and EXPERIENCE. Not what you might think will happen or what someone else told you should happen. Your a human being and allowed to make your own decisions, even when it comes to diet and training. How refreshing, eh?
Understand what the tool can or should be used for and if that tool makes sense in helping you build your house, hammer away. If not, pick up a different tool.My Opinion Of Cheat Meals & Fat LossIs it really possible to eat your favourite foods and still lose fat? It depends.I believe that cheat meals and cheat days are absolutely necessary for some people and a massive mistake for others.
This article is not designed to lead you any one way because in my nine years of bodybuilding I’ve used cheat days to get under 6% body fat and just recently I did not use cheat days at all to get under 5% body fat.
195 lbs & 5.5% Body Fat – 14 Weeks Of Dieting With No Cheat Meals
Not Sure My Stats – 3 Weeks Of Dieting With Cheat Days Every 5th Day!
I have no emotional attachment to cheat days and could care less if use them or not.
As you can see I look great in both sets of pictures and it wasn’t the cheat strategy that was the determining factor. I personally think I look better in the first picture but some people think I look better in the second picture.
Just like every training and diet technique, you can only learn so much from reading about it. At some point you just need to take action and find out for yourself and that’s what I did and have the pictures and experience to prove it.
If you have not experimented with cheat days before, they can become the focal point of a diet. Let’s dive into what I’ve discovered from being a cheater and not being a cheater!
8 Insights, From Personal Experience, On Cheating…
1. The leaner you are, the more often you can cheat.
2. Fat people (30 lbs overweight) are better off with cheat meals, not cheat days.
3. Cheat meals should not be an excuse to “force down food” and eat to the point where you become sick.
4. Skinny guys can schedule one cheat meal a day to help them grow big and muscular.
5. If you are eating clean the majority of time than your hormones will be in balance and you won’t crave or desire crappy food.
6. If you’re going to cheat, it’s better to do it in the second half of the day (from 4pm till midnight) than the first half of the day. If you start earlier and go crazy than you can set yourself back a few days. It’s very challenging to cheat on the first half of a day and than eat clean the second half. Trust me!
7. For some people, psychologically, it’s very difficult to stay disciplined after a cheat meal. After you have “starved” your sugar craving, which have started to lose their grip, are charged back to life.
8. In my opinion, you should be striving for a lifestyle that is not dependant on cheat days to keep you going. You should not feel like you’d go insane without a cheat meal or cheat day. Your goal is to find yourself not wanting them and not walk into a grocery store and see a bag of cookies and say, “Wow, I would love to eat those right now!” You should strive to a level that allows you to walk into any party, restaurant or grocery store and not want to eat the crap food. Sound impossible? It’s not. It will take months and years of good nutrition habits to reach this level, which very few attain.
Factors That Determine If A Cheat Day a.k.a. Treat Day Is Warranted!
a.) Your metabolic rate. For example, a hardgainer i.e. ultra skinny guy, could afford to have at least one cheat meal every single day. In fact, when I bulked up from 214 lbs to 227 lbs, my coach had me eating one “freebie meal” every day and this could consist of anything I wanted. A few slices of pizza, a burger and fries or anything I was craving. Scheduling one freebie meal a day for a endomorph i.e. someone who has a hard time losing fat, could set you back weeks.
b.) Your body fat levels. In my opinion, if you’re 30 or more pounds overweight, you don’t deserve a cheat meal, yet. You’ve been cheating for long enough and I feel you should knock off at least 15-20 pounds before you even think about a cheat meal or cheat day. Besides, the first 5 to 10 pounds you lose when you first start dieting and exercising is just water weight and glycogen.
c.) How hard and how long you’ve been dieting. Sticking to a clean diet for 6 days at a time can be a huge accomplishment for certain people and in that case, a cheat day on day 7 is warranted and they should enjoy it guilt free. This is a true TREAT DAY. In my case, I consider myself a professional athlete and do not need to baby my body every 6 days. Although it’s not easy, I’ve gone weeks at a time without a cheat meal. It is possible if you’re committed to your goals. And guess what? It wasn’t that bad!
d.) Your level of seriousness. Let’s be honest. The majority of people say they want to lose fat but they’ll be fat till the day they die because they are not prepared to do what it takes.
e.) You have not dropped your target body fat levels at least two weeks straight. My goal was to drop 1% of my body fat every week and I was starting around 227 pounds, which means I had to drop around 2 to 2.5 pounds a week. In my entire 14 weeks prep, there was not a single time that I stalled for more than 2 weeks at a time. If I had, I would have informed my coach and he might have scheduled me a cheat day. But if I’m dropping, on schedule, every week then why in the world would I give myself a cheat day?
f.) You’re in a complete daze. It’s okay to be in a daze for a few days but if you’re barely functional than it’s time to refuel. I remember telling my coach, two weeks out from my show, “I think I’m going to die…” and he responded with enthusiasm, “That’s awesome. It means you’re dialed in!” That wasn’t the response I was expecting!
g.) If you are ahead of schedule than a cheat day is cool. One of my good friends, Liam Mailer, a top fitness model from the UK was visiting me a few weeks ago. He was 7 weeks out from his show and already had shredded abs and sitting around 6% body fat. He has a full 7 weeks to lose the last 1-2% of fat so if he had a cheat meal then he should be fine.
Here Are Some Benefits Of A Cheat Day:
a.) Spike your metabolism. When you reduce your calories your thyroid can slow and by introducing a cheat meal you can continue your fat loss without hitting a plateau.
b.) Refill your glycogen stores. Your muscles are like a ballon and as you cut your calories they begin to look deflated. Having a cheat day will re inflate your muscles with water and glycogen and make them look fuller and harder again.
c.) Give you a surge of energy. To burn fat you need to train harder and harder and having extra calories will inject your workouts with some new life and intensity.
d.) Rewards you with a mental edge. Every time you perfect your diet for a stretch of days you’ll become mentally tougher and believe in yourself more and more. Rewarding yourself every X number of days after sticking to your diet helps create mini wins and makes your long term goals feel less daunting and more achievable. Many of my clients admit they can follow their diets for 6 days if they know on the 7th day they can eat whatever they want.
A Few Extra Notes On Fat Loss:
1. It’s okay to be hungry. You need to make hunger your friend when you’re goal is fat loss. When I was hungry I told myself, “This is good. I’m not eating a lot and this means I’ll lose fat.” Stop freaking out if you’re hungry. Your body can survive 40 days without food so stop being a wuss when you feel a little hunger coming on. You’re not going to lose any muscle and you’re not going to die. Suck it up. stop feeling sorry for yourself and get yourself those abs you’ve always wanted.
2. If you’re going to cheat, do it right, and stick to the entire program. Cheat days are a powerful tool if you’re following the entire program that allows them. My good friend, Joel Marion, the nutrition renegade who has popularized cheat days with two award winning diets teaches how to manipulate your hormones so the cheat day is a mandatory part of the program. Now that’s a cool program! Now, Joel would tell you that if you do not follow the strict days that surround the cheat day than you’re living a dream if you think you’ll lose fat. It’s not the cheat day that makes the diet work but the entire diet, synergistically working together, that makes the diet work. Don’t forget that!
3. Cheat days are another tool in your tool box. As you saw, I have got super shredded with and without cheat days. If your fat loss diet calls for no cheat days, follow it. If your fat loss diet calls for cheat days, follow it. The bottom line is, the best diet is the one that you follow and tweak based on your bodies response from week to week.
4. You are a individual so find a diet that suits your personality. If you’re someone that is appalled by eating junk food, high fats and high carbs and high calories in the same day than a cheat style diet is not for you. I have no interest in trying to change your mind and no one else should either. However, if your someone who enjoy’s being strict for a period of time and than rewarding yourself with your favourite foods, a cheat style diet could be the winning solution for your best physique.
At the end of the day, after you look at the research and the strategy behind the diet ask yourself, “Does this diet make sense for me?” If the answer is yes, give it an honest shot for a full 3-4 months and see what happens.
Never be afraid to make your own decisions. There are certain diets that tell you to eat only once a day and even if that promised me 12 pack abs in 2 weeks I would not follow it because my personality would not function on 1 meal a day.
Don’t forget that you’re a unique individual and your personality will impact your ability to follow through on the diet and as I just said, “The best diet out there is the one that you follow!”
Vince DelMonte is the author of No Nonsense Muscle Building: Skinny Guy Secrets To Insane Muscle Gain found at www.VinceDelMonteFitness.comHe specializes in teaching skinny guys how to build muscle and gain weight quickly without drugs, supplements and training less than before.
About the Author:
Vince DelMonte is the author of No Nonsense Muscle Building: Skinny Guy Secrets To Insane Muscle Gain foundat VinceDelMonteFitness.comHe specializes in teaching skinny guys how to build muscle and gain weight quickly without drugs, supplements and training less than before. A world famous fitness coach and author, Vince DelMonte is known as the top “Skinny Guy” expert and has helped more skinny guys and girls defeat their muscle unfriendly genes without drugs and supplements.Vince is a national competing fitness model champion, the most sought out fitness coach in his area, a regular contributor to Men’s Fitness magazine and the author of the world’s top muscle building course for hardgainers, No Nonsense Muscle Building. You can get more information at VinceDelMonteFitness.com