I enjoy eating pretty much continually throughout the day. As a result, the idea of fasting, even intermittently, never appealed to me. I first heard of a form of “fasting” known as a Protein Sparing Modified Fast from Jamie Lewis in his magnum opus of nutrition; Issuance of Insanity III: Nutritional Psycho. It was a part of his Apex Predator diet (my absolute favorite name for a diet) and consisted of consuming nothing but protein shakes all day. Aghast, I never considered it. I heard Menno Henselmans discuss the PSMF in one of his many interviews and how he will use it for one or two days a week with some of his clients for faster results. With two people who I have deemed credible sources of information espousing the idea, I took another look.
Basically, the idea is to cut calories hard to force the body to loosen up stored fat and burn it for energy, but provide enough amino acids so it doesn’t cannibalize the muscle tissue we work so damn hard to build. You basically eat your protein requirements for the day, but little else. I knew I wasn’t going to do it Apex Predator style and drink shakes all day, so I decided to try it by eating as I normally do, but making leaner protein choices and not adding any fat over the course of the day, which meant no pork rinds, nuts, avocado, coconut oil, etc. Instead of ground beef, I ate chicken, tilapia and tuna. Instead of 2-3 eggs with a hot dog, I ate 1 egg with 3-egg whites and skipped the frankfurter.
I ended up eating 1243 calories on Monday, which is about half the calories I typically eat in a day! I thought I would feel like hell, but I really didn’t. Sometimes we humans just like to eat, not because we’re hungry, but because it’s a fun activity and it feels good. When I felt that coming on, I ate a sugar free jello cup and then chomped on gum until my jaw hurt. I chose a non-training day to do this and when my next non-training day arrived, I went for it again. I had a very similar experience, that is, I wasn’t uncomfortable nor did I feel lightheaded or have any general malaise apart from my typical apathy.
So what happened? Well, since I started my Low Carb Paleo diet a little over a year ago, I have dropped 10 lbs. It’s been a very gradual loss of blubbery adipose: for example I averaged 185.4 lbs in May of 2016, 183.5 in June of 2016, 181.6 in July, etc. You get the idea. My weight has stabilized between 174 & 176 since March of this year, so for approximately 3 months now I have been in this tight range. This week, with two PSMF days mixed in with my usual caloric input, I finished the week 1.3 lbs lighter than last week, averaging 173.7 lbs.
One week does not a conclusive study make, but I feel it’s enough evidence to support continued use of this fat loss tool. I don’t think the weight loss was water weight since I’m on a very low carb diet all the time, and I didn’t drop carbs any lower on the two PSMF days (a drop in carbohydrates when the body is accustomed to receiving carbohydrates every day causes sudden and rather dramatic weight loss as it dumps the water it uses to hold the stored glycogen in the cells). While the body doesn’t work quite this methodically, I assume this is what is happening on those PSMF days: Being fat-adapted for fuel since I’ve been on low carb/keto diets for years now, my body burns the fat I eat for energy every day. If it needs more energy than what I provide with food, I’ve got lots of fabulous fat stored up in my fat cells that is available to make up the difference. On those two PSMF days, I ate very little fat, so the assumption is that my body tapped into those stored fat cells and dumped them into the system to make up for all the fat I wasn’t eating. It’s hard to tell in the mirror because we see ourselves every day, so the occasional snapshot is important to measure progress. I’m reasonably pleased with my current state of body composition, but as I’ve often said, you can never be too rich or too lean.