Use of the word fasting can be a trigger. While the practice of fasting carries with it a myriad of potential health benefits, it can also ignite a war.
I know. I've been attacked by proponents of intermittent fasting many times. Why? Because I use the term "modified fasting."
Related - Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
The debate goes something like this. You're either fasting or you're not. You can't modify a fast to include food!
I agree. Sort of.
Back in the "olden" days, or somewhere around 2007 and long before intermittent fasting became a thing, there was a style of eating called the Warrior Diet. The Warrior Diet was a book and eating lifestyle created by Ori Hofmekler. It went something like this:
- Undereating phase - About a 20 hour fasting window.
- Overeating phase - Eat one big meal, mostly clean, whole foods.
- Calorie counting is not needed.
- Stop eating when thirst sets in. Hofmekler claims thirst indicates that you are full.
- You are allowed a few light snacks during the day. These snacks can include raw veggies, low glycemic fruit (strawberries, blueberries), Greek yogurt, a small portion of almonds, or even casein protein powder.
This is not a complete guide to the Warrior Diet, but it is enough to understand the gist of things. The Warrior diet has been around for over a decade. It didn't invent fasting, but it did include small snacks during the underfeeding window.
These small snacks are considered heresy by many because they "break the fast." Indeed. Ori Hofmekler realized that even though you were breaking the fast, there still might be health benefits to severely limiting food intake for an extended period of time.
I didn't mention the Warrior Diet to stir up a debate over what is - and isn't - a fast. Instead, I wanted to show you that the concept of a modified fast wasn't something I created. I borrowed the concept from Ori Hofmekler and adjusted it to fit my lifestyle - a lifestyle that wanted muscle mass and to look my best.
In fact, I also based my modifications on advice from Hofmekler himself. Back in the day, I asked Ori if an individual after muscle mass should modify the diet in any way to maximize retention.
He had suggestions.
They were to add in some whey/casein shakes during the underfeeding window. And so I did.
Modified Fasting Diet
The modified fasting diet presented in this article is based on seven years of real-world experience. I practiced this exact eating lifestyle from 2007 to 2014. It was only after losing 100 pounds and conquering type 2 diabetes that I decided to tinker around with my diet and eat more during the day.
This eating plan does NOT present itself as a strict, by-the-book fasting lifestyle. Let's set the record straight. It is a modified fasting lifestyle. It's also not a magical fat loss plan.
My modified plan exists to help big nighttime eaters learn how to handle/manage their cravings and tendencies while also losing fat. This is an important aspect of weight loss success.
We must learn to understand and work with current eating habits instead of pretending they don't exist. If you love to eat more at night, why would you opt for a diet plan that leaves you only 500 calories for dinner?
And if you enjoy snacking throughout the day, and find it unbearable to fast for 16-20 straight hours, why in the world would you fight against your eating tendencies just to adhere to "conventional" fasting dogma.
We aren't trying to adhere to dogma here, or live a perfect fasting lifestyle. The goal is to lose fat and regain our health WHILE working with existing eating habits.
Nuff' said. Enter, modified fast. Here are the rules.
The Modified Fasting Eating Lifestyle
Here are the guidelines. I hesitate to call them "rules" because a rule must be strictly adhered to. Feel free to break these guidelines to better suit your needs, within reason.
- Underfeeding - Limit food intake during the day (before 6 P.M.) to under 40% of your overall calories.
- Overfeeding - Consume the rest of your calories in the form of meals or snacks.
- Food choices - Unless you need a lot of food to maintain weight, 90% of your intake should come from whole food, single ingredient sources.
- Protein intake - For men, generally 150 grams or more per day. For women, 90-100 grams or more per day.
- Carbs and fat - These come down to personal choice but make sure at least 25% of your daily fats (approximately, not a rule) come from healthy fats sources.
The goal here is simple: to save the majority of your calories for the evening. Oh, and we also want to help you to improve your health and longevity while maintaining muscle mass.
Simple, right? Of course not. Next, I'm going to provide you with a few more specific eating plan templates and then sample diets. First, the templates:
Monster Eater Plan - 80% at night, 20% during the day. For the nighttime eater that enjoys a massive quantity of food during the evening.
Major Eater Plan - 70% at night, 30% during the day. For the nighttime eater that enjoys large meals and snacks during the evening.
Minor Eater Plan - 60% at night, 40% during the day. For the individual that tends to eat more during the evening and doesn't like going to bed hungry.
You may need to choose a meal plan based on how much or little food you need during the day, rather than how much you need at night. Keep in mind that even the minor eating plan allows for quite a bit of food intake after 6 p.m.
Now, let's dig into the details. Here are some sample diet plans.
For the sake of example, we'll assume you workout after work, then go home and eat. If you're a morning lifter you may need to schedule a few extra calories post-workout.
Monster Eating Plan Example
NOTE: This eating plan is for an individual looking to consume about 2,500 calories per day. Only 500 calories will be eaten before 6 p.m.
- 7 a.m. - (1) One egg, (2) Half of an apple, orange, or 25 calories of strawberries or grapes, (Optional) Fish oil softgel.
- 10:30 a.m. - (1) Casein protein shake or two pieces of string cheese, (2) seven walnut halves.
- 2 p.m. - (1) StarKist Tuna Creations pouch or 70 calories of a protein-rich food, (2) Half of an apple, orange, or 25 calories of strawberries or grapes, (Optional) Fish oil softgel.
- 6 p.m. - 1,000 calorie meal with at least 50 grams of protein and one serving of veggies.
- 8 p.m. - 1,000 calorie meal with at least 50 grams of protein and one serving of veggies.
Major Eating Plan Example
NOTE: This eating plan is for an individual looking to consume about 2,500 calories per day. 750 calories will be eaten before 6 p.m.
- 7 a.m. - (1) two eggs, (2) Apple, orange, or 50 calories of strawberries or grapes, (Optional) Fish oil softgel.
- 10:30 a.m. - (1) Casein protein shake or two pieces of string cheese, (2) seven walnut halves.
- 2 p.m. - (1) QuestBar or 190 calories of a protein-rich food, (2) Apple, orange, or 50 calories of strawberries or grapes, (Optional) Fish oil softgel.
- 6 p.m. - 1,000 calorie meal with at least 40 grams of protein and one serving of veggies.
- 8 p.m. - 750 calorie meal or snack with at least 40 grams of protein and one serving of veggies.
Minor Eating Plan Example
NOTE: This eating plan is for an individual looking to consume about 2,500 calories per day. 1,000 calories will be eaten before 6 p.m.
- 7 a.m. - (1) Three eggs, (2) Apple, orange, or 50 calories of strawberries or grapes, (3) 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal, (Optional) Fish oil softgel.
- 10:30 a.m. - (1) Casein protein shake, (2) 14 walnut halves.
- 2 p.m. - (1) 6 ounces of chicken breast, (2) 4 ounces of cooked quinoa, (Optional) Fish oil softgel.
- 6 p.m. - 1,000 calorie meal with at least 30 grams of protein and one serving of veggies.
- 8 p.m. - 500 calorie meal or snack with at least 30 grams of protein and one serving of veggies.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need fish oil and walnuts?Need? No. Is it important to vary your omega-3 fatty acid sources? Yes.
You can certainly derive omega-3 fatty acids from your evening food choices. With that said, by opting to use fish oil and eat a few walnuts each day, you allow yourself a little more freedom to eat what you would like during the evening.
Does it matter how or when I eat my evening calories?
No. If you are really hungry, eat a little more earlier in the evening. Remember though, it's always better to save a few calories in case you get the hungries before bed.
What if I hate fruits and veggies?
Use Machine Greens.
This is the golden question, and there are many ways to answer it. Without overcomplicating things, you want to lose about 2-4 pounds per week. Here are some more specific goals:
- Male - Morbidly obese: Lose 2 to 5 pounds per week.
- Female - Morbidly obese: Lose 2 to 4 pounds per week.
- Male - Overweight: Lose 1 to 3 pounds per week.
- Female - Overweight: Lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.
I suggest that men start with around 2,400 to 2,500 calories per day, and women 1,500 to 1,600. Make adjustments as needed from here.
During the first seven to 10 days of a new eating lifestyle, you will experience a substantial amount of water loss. Remember, this is NOT fat loss.
Don't make adjustments to your daily calorie intake during this break-in period. Wait until the second week of your diet is done to make any required adjustments.
If you are not losing any weight, drop daily calorie intake by 100-250. Give this adjustment two to three weeks before making any more changes.
Some of you will want to go into more detail here, but honestly, it's not required. This modified fasting diet plan allows you to:
- Clean up your diet.
- Improve your health and longevity.
- Lose weight and keep it off by working with current eating habits.
You'll look better and feel better. After you've lost the fat you want to lose, you can simply increase your daily calorie intake to maintain weight.
The beauty of this plan is that it's not restrictive. You can pretty much eat what you want, how you want. More than this, it allows you to go to bed full and satisfied. This is a huge plus, especially for those of you that struggle with binge eating and after-dinner snacking.
A note regarding binge eating. Yes, it can be dangerous and a bad habit. But let's take small steps.
Regain your health by losing weight and learning to eat better. From here, if you feel you have a binge eating problem, I suggest you focus on trying to make small steps to improve.
Small steps applied consistently over time lead to big changes. While you're taking steps to address binge eating, at least you'll be healthier and happier.
While not fasting by definition, this approach is certainly a departure from many of us eat. We are used to a carb-heavy diet filled with processed foods and convenience foods; a diet that results in sluggishness and surprisingly low energy levels.
Reducing the amount of calories you eat before dinner will be a challenge for several weeks. But after that point you'll find that you feel better, have more energy, won't feel nearly as sleepy during the day, and are losing weight while going to bed feeling full.
Try modified fasting and let me know what you think.