Lose the "Dad Bod" - Alternate-Day Fasting
By Raymond Shipley
The "Dad bod" has become the bane of modern man's existence in terms of fitness. Even an otherwise great physique can be marred by the presence of belly fat, and it is unhealthy to boot. There must be a quick way to get rid of the "spare tire" without sacrificing one's hard earned gains.
Most diets focus on how much a person eats, or the macronutrient ratio. Such diets attempt to restore insulin sensitivity and reduce fat promoting properties by dropping carbohydrates and glycemic index/load. Diets such as the Zone Diet, South Beach Diet and Atkins Diet have all had their wins and losses, but there appears to be another factor to be considered: when a person eats.
Fasting refers to a period of time when a person does not eat. While not a long term solution, it can aid in reducing weight in the short term. Lengthy use is clearly to be discouraged as it can lead to immune suppression, bone loss, organ damage and death. In other words, no one is suggestion long term fasting for weight loss. It must be stated, however, that fasting can be utilized in measured doses to provide fat loss benefits without sacrificing lean mass or negatively impacting health. Animal studies and human trial data supports this claim.
Intermittent fasting or alternate-day fasting involves eating as one wishes one day, while fasting the next. In truth, it is suggested a person consumes about 25% of maintenance calories on fasting days in order to provide sustenance to basic functions. Although it would seem allowing a client to eat as they wish every other day would lead to binge eating, the findings do not support this conclusion. It is true a person will eat more than normal on their "on" days; however, the fasting days will provide a substantial calorie deficit which leads to fat loss.
One study on alternate-day fasting showed an average weight loss of 6.5% in eight weeks. These findings also revealed the diet allowed for the retention of lean mass, with most of the weight lost coming from fat. Moreover, the long term calorie deficit that accumulates during fasting days allows for an increase in the liberation and utilization of stored fat, more efficient use of stored energy and positive change in cardiovascular markers.
Incorporating a Mediterranean-style twist to such alternate-day fasting enhances both fat loss and lean mass retention. Diets rich in olive oil produce high insulin sensitivity and lower adipokine levels (adipokines are fat cell hormones that increase calorie burning and suppress appetite and improve insulin sensitivity). Likewise, olive oil rich diets prevent fat redistribution to the abdomen that is so often seen in high carb diets. A nutrition plan with supplemental olive oil and low carbohydrates is recommended for optimal fat loss and lean mass retention.
As has already been stated, consistency is key. With that said, however, every now and again one needs to get back on track from a momentary hiatus. For that, alternate-day fasting combined with olive oil and low carbs should do the trick.