Skipping Breakfast and Fasting – The key to maximum fat burning, laser like focus and energy

Yes! You read the tittle correctly. For maximum fat burning and overall health benefits I am a strong believer in skipping breakfast. But how could this be? I mean unless you live in a cave you’ve probably heard over and over again that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I mean most people are told to eat like a King for breakfast, a Queen for lunch and a Pauper for dinner.

Well I tried that approach and it never seemed to work for me. For one I wasn’t particularly hungry in the morning and stuffing food in my face when I wasn’t hungry in the morning seemed to be illogical especially when trying to get lean. (Sometimes I would feel hungry in the morning but that was false hunger that would go away soon after). Secondly a big morning breakfast would make me hungrier throughout the day. I thought this was unusual but after talking to a bunch of people they’ve had similar experiences. Wow talk about counterproductive. In addition a big breakfast would make me sluggish and tired. Lastly eating like a king for breakfast and a pauper for dinner isn’t very convenient. I love to have big dinners with my friends or family. Rarely do people get together for breakfast (except maybe the occasional weekend brunch).

For a 2 week period I followed the shake / salad diet. This is where you have 2 shakes and 1 big chicken salad. This is a super strict diet but it gets results. What I found was that when I had my first shake in the afternoon (around 1-3pm) it was much easier to stick to the diet. Whereas when I had my protein shake in the morning I would go crazy.

But if you don’t eat in the morning won’t your metabolism slowdown and won’t you lose muscle?

The short and sweet answer is no. You won’t lose muscle and your metabolism will not change. In fact in one study, researchers found that when they made people fast for 3 days, their metabolic rate did not change. In addition fasting for 72 hours did not cause an increased breakdown in muscle, nor did it slow down protein synthesis. This is 72 hours without food. So much for needing to eat every 3 hours.

NOTE – I found out all of this info from Brad Pilons book Eat Stop Eat. Eat Stop Eat is definitely a great read and allows you to let go from all the dieting myths that have been holding you back.

The Warrior Approach to a Chiseled Spartan Physique

Ori Haufmekler, author of the warrior diet explains why humans are inherently night eaters and why eating big meals in the day will shut off fat burning and cause you to be tired.

- Humans are better off using fat for fuel not food. This is because using fat for fuel stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) which promotes alertness, focus, creativity, energy and strength. This makes complete sense because back in the hunter/gatherer days humans had to hunt for food. They did not have a bowl of cheerios waiting for them when they woke up. They had to rely on their fat stores (stored energy) to provide them with energy to catch their prey.

- When you have a meal you shut down the sympathetic nervous system and turn on the para-sympathetic nervous system which promotes relaxation, rest, recuperation. This is why when people have big breakfasts or big lunches they become tired and sluggish a couple hours after.

A little spin on the warrior diet

In the book the Warrior Diet. Ori Hofmekler recommends having one major meal at night. I prefer to split that up into 3 separate meals spaced 3 hours apart. The first meal is the post workout meal and should be your biggest meal. The second and third meal should be slightly smaller consisting of mostly protein and fat. The benefit of this approach is that by having your biggest meal post workout there is practically no fat absorption. This is because exercise stimulates GLUT-4 (glucose transporter type 4) which causes your calories to be stored in your muscle cells. Another benefit is that by spacing your meals out you won’t be as full and your stomach won’t increase in size. That is one of the problems with the warrior diet. Eating one huge meal at night increases your capacity to eat bigger and bigger meals.

What is the optimal Daily Fast Length?

I have found that 16-20 hours is ideal for me. Usually my fasts last around 18 hours. So if my last meal was at 9pm than I would have my first meal at 3pm the next day. In Brad Pilon’s book eat stop eat he explains that the ideal fasting period is 24 hours. This is because from 18 hours to 24 hours HGH levels steadily increase. Brad only recommends doing these 24 hour fasts once or twice per week. Whereas 16-20 hour fasts can be done easily every single day. And since you are going to be working out on an empty stomach your HGH levels will already be maximized therefore you won’t need to fast the full 24 hours. (You can throw in a full 24 hour fast once per week if you are up for it).

Empty Stomach Training

One of the greatest benefits of daily fasts lasting for 16-20 hours is that you get to perform your workouts on a completely empty stomach. In fact working out on an empty stomach causes you to use fat for fuel (thereby stimulating the sympathetic nervous system which will give you a kick of energy) and Human Growth Hormone is maximized (HGH is the strongest fat burning hormone in the human body and HGH is also beneficialfor building muscle). In addition when you workout on an empty stomach protein synthesis is higher during your post workout meal. NOTE – I like to have some caffeine before my workouts to give me some extra energy. I find this very helpful.

PUTTING IT TOGETHER

Meal 1 (30-90 minutes after workout – I have this meal around 3pm)

- Chicken, Fish or Beef with brown rice, wild rice or sweet potatoes and veggies. (600-800 calories)

Meal 2 (2-3 hours later – I have this meal around 6:30pm)

- Chicken, Fish or Beef on a Salad with avocado (400-500 calories)

Meal 3 (2-3 hours later – I have this meal around 9pm)

- 3-4 egg omolettle with veggies and berries (400-500 calories)

TOTAL = 1400 to 1800 calories

The results?

I have fine tweaked this eating style after only a few weeks but it has helped me tremendously in terms of getting leaner. Here are some recent pictures of me.

super diet caleb lee Skip Breakfast

As you can see there I haven’t lost any muscle and I have become quite lean. I am going to continue this style of eating to drop another 5 pounds of fat. From there I will increase the size of the meals slightly to maintain.

Tips if you are Hungry

  • Drink tea or coffee throughout the day. Helps reduce appetite and increase energy
  • In addition working out before your first meal is helpful as exercise temporarily shuts off hunger.
  • Pay attention to whether your hunger is real or whether it is psychological. If you are craving meat and vegetables than your hunger is probably real. However if you are craving high carb processed foods than that is a false hunger.

Recommended Reading

I strongly recommend reading Eat Stop Eat. When I first read this book it completely freed me from the need to eat breakfast, the need to eat every 3 hours and many other dieting myths. In fact after reading Eat Stop Eat thats when I began to become much leaner without having to give up my life. Eat Stop Eat is one of the few diet books backed by scientific research and studies.

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Comments

  1. harry

    do you still recommend this diet plan for a 15 yr old guy who is at 13 percent body fat trying to get down below 10 percent but an athlete? Also, how long do you think it will take me to get down below 10 percent if i fast 2-3 times a week..?

    • admin

      I like daily fasting. Keeps me mentally strong and helps me create a calorie deficit. It all depends. You are going to have to drop 6 lbs of fat to get under 10%. Give yourself 3 weeks.

    • admin

      Mark.

      I like to skip breakfast everyday now. I have my first meal at 1 pm and my last meal around 9 or 10pm usually. Although sometimes i’ll have breakfast but not most of the time.

  2. swimpal

    This is absolutely true !!!! I have stuffed myself in morning again and again
    it didnt work…. now I fast till 11:00 am and I have big meal at 11. My sugar
    levels are really stable after this morning fast and feel more energetic…
    I am loosing at the rate of 2 pounds per week, ofcourse I have been doing 2-3 times
    high intensity running for 2 -3 times week with some weight lifting… but I have never
    seen such success in last 4 years of repeated attempts of trying out everything…
    I STRONGLY recommend please fast in the mornings and skip breakfast…IT Works ! It might be harder initially but you will get used to it…. the only thing I consume is a 3/4 gallon of water and it literally flushes everything bad out…its a great feeling….

  3. This article actually made me wonder something… gyms and fitness trainers will always tell you to eat a lot. Is this possibly a way for them to just keep you fatter so you’ll keep paying to work out there?

    • Greg

      If fitness trainers are telling overweight clients who want to lose weight to eat a lot then they have no grasp of fat loss and should lose their jobs. I doubt trainers/gyms would want to see their members stay fat. When results aren’t coming people will be less motivated to keep putting in the time and effort. If they lose the weight they will still need to go to the gym to keep it up or perhaps they will have new goals.

      It could also be that many overweight people go on crazy crash diets that fail in the end, when they get off them they put all the weight on and then some. Therefore it is possible trainers are telling their clients they need to consume more then the 800 calorie crash diet they did before hiring a trainer.

  4. John- Luke Shelley

    Hello, I was just wondering, if your having your first meal at 1pm , (one) what would you have to eat and, (two) how do you maintain energy levels whilst working out. I usually train at around 4.30/5.00 pm every day. I’m scared that if I follow this fasting thing I will not have enough energy to perform my reps thus not being productive in the gym. I would like to try it because I was 20% BF and I have dropped to 13% BF but I get seem to get below 13%
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Greg

      The human body is a highly smart and capable machine. I have found that I have my best workouts while on an empty stomach. Strength and endurance is maintained even when fasting for up to 24 hours and longer. If you don’t believe me you can look into a book called eat stop eat which has plenty of studies to show this.

      In your case you will be training after eating so I don’t even understand your hesitation. Protein, veggies and a piece of fruit makes a pretty good meal to break a fast.

  5. Mikey

    Hey Greg,
    I Just a few quick questions. I’m a fan of you and Rustys approach to getting lean and muscular and ave been following VI these past months. I’ve incorporated a lot of your “eating styles” (I.e. everyday IF for 16-18 hrs) and have been doing great. I’m down to those last few “hard pounds” of fat to lose around my midsection and have been having trouble reducing that for the past 2 weeks! The results were coming, at a quick rate, but now they’ve kinda halted. I would say that I just need about 5-7 more pounds to lose in order to lose that last bit. About 3 days ago, I started the “shake and salad diet” to see if that would help. My questions are 1: would still following VI phase 3 where rusty advises HIIT after every workout would be too much? (Too much meaning, do you think id be overdoing a daily calorie defecit). I’m asking if it would be too much due to the mandatory PT the army’s making us do right now (2 mile run minimum everyday for fast times). 2: if I stick to phase 3 and the mandatory runs everyday along with the shake and salad diet, how long do you think it’ll be till I lose those last pounds? And 3: I’m getting ready to start the Bonus Phase in about 2 weeks, right before I head back home, (currently deployed in afganistan) will my gains from the Bonus Phase still be good if I somehow don’t get rid of those last few pounds? Again, I really appreciate your response and everything you’ve contributed to my transformation. Thanks Greg!

    • Greg

      The last 5 lbs can be tricky. The biggest mistake you can make it to up your training and lower your calories. Don’t add any interval cardio on top of your training. You don’t need it. Sounds like you’re already very active. Additional cardio will just increase your appetite.

      Bring up your calories to about 500 under maintenance. You don’t want to lose more than 1 lbs per week in this fragile state of very close to your lean goal. Also this will make it more easy to transition into maintenance mode.

      • Mikey

        Ok cool thanks Greg. Also, would the gains I make on the bonus phase (shrink wrap) still be good if I don’t reach at least 10% body fat? I’m currently at 12%. I understand the “shrink wrap effect” won’t be as great as it can be if I reach my lean goal of course, but will I still look pretty ripped or bigger after I finish? And I am planning on using Creatine for this part. Thanks again man.

  6. Alex Ellis

    Hey,

    I’m trying to put on weight and also doing your football workout / Alan Ritchson workout.

    Would you still recommend this method, maybe increase the cals though? Or is this more of a maintenance / fat loss diet?

    Cheers,

    Alex

  7. Mike

    Hey Greg,

    Could you please describe the 2 shake and chicken salad diet with more detail (like the shakes and salad macros and calories)?

    I`m following VIMB but I might not be able to buy the protein, so I` d like to know the macronutrients of the diet so I can create my own similar diet ( I`m thinking of replacing the shakes with milk and the salad with beef or omelets).

    Thanks.

    • Greg

      It’s a very strict diet and don’t really recommend it. IF you’re going to do it then it’s pretty much just lean protein, veggies/greens and 1-2 apples per day. You’re looking at about 1.25g of protein per pound of bodyweight, 50-100g of carbs and 30-50g of fat.

  8. Ahmed

    Hey Greg,
    i am a real big fan of your’s,and i just love your dieting techniques…….i wanted to ask that you mentioned “you can have tea…..coffee….and water!!!” (during the fast)…..milk should be included in tea and coffee or not???
    i mean tea if taken with milk has about 45 to 50Kcal
    and similar calories are found in coffee……
    so is it neccessary for us to take tea and coffee in raw form….balck form(without milk)?

  9. Raza

    So, how would you work around working out two times a day? I am trying to lose a lot of fat, I would say I am around 20-22%. I would like to get down into the low teens. I am planning on doing cardio in the mornings, and then lifting at night. How you would you recommend I space my meals? Thanks

    • Greg

      You could have your first meal around lunch time, a light afternoon meal and a dinner after lifting. Then again, there’s really no need to train 2x per day.

  10. Sander

    Hi

    Is it a good option to go to the gym in the morning at 6 o’clock right after I wake up. And after the gym eat the first meal. Should I eat a light meal before going to the gym? I don’t eat breakfast, but I was just wondering will the workout in the morning be as good as any other time of the day?
    Thanks!

    • Greg

      If you’re training fasted and you want to get the best overall benefit then I recommend taking just 10g of BCAA before the workout. Working out in the morning is perfectly fine and you don’t even have to eat right after training. You can wait a few hours until your first meal.

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