Intermittent Fasting to Lose Weight: Results from John Berardi | Not Your Average Fitness Tips

Intermittent Fasting to Lose Weight: Results from John Berardi

I’ve been a long time advocate of intermittent fasting weight loss approaches.  While my experience and the experience of others clearly show how effective intermittent fasting for weight loss can be, the results and research from Dr. John Berardi go one step further.  For years, Dr. Berardi has eaten meals every 3-4 hours and helped 100,000+ clients lose weight by doing so.  He decided to experiment with intermittent fasting after reading numerous success stories.  As a researcher, Dr. Berardi was able to track every aspect of his intermittent fasting results, from weight loss to blood work changes.  His free report, Experiments with Intermittent Fasting, documents how he successfully used intermittent fasting to lose weight.  I’d like to summarize some of his key findings and show how they’re congruent with my experience.

Intermittent Fasting to Lose Weight

In general, there are two broad Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss Approaches.  There’s weekly fasting where you go 24 hours without eating for 1-2 days per week and there’s daily fasting where you go 16-20 hours without eating every day.  From my personal experience, I successfully lost a lot of weight using weekly fasting (Eat Stop Eat) but switched to a daily fasting approach (Leangains) to achieve my lowest body fat level ever.  Ultimately, if you want to successfully use intermittent fasting to lose weight, you’ll have to create a caloric deficit.  Fasting days just make that easier to achieve and allow flexibility to have cheat days as well.

Intermittent Fasting Results

Let’s jump right to Dr. Berardi’s results.  He lost 20lbs and reduced his body fat from 10% to 4% with no discernable loss of muscle mass or strength.  That’s impressive on its own and consistent with the experience of others who have tried intermittent fasting.  Take a look at his before and after photos:

Before: 190lbs at 10% body fat

After: 170lbs at 4% body fat

Dr. Berardi started with the weekly fasting approach.  He found the most success when fasting one day per week.  When he tried to do two days per week, it was too difficult for his body to adjust.  Remember though, Dr. Berardi was already really lean and ate a very clean diet.  If you have a lot of weight to lose, fasting twice per week might just be what you need to create a significant caloric deficit.  I liked fasting twice per week because it allowed me to indulge in more of my favorite foods and still lose weight.

For the next part of his experiment, Dr. Berardi performed daily intermittent fasting, specifically utilizing the Leangains approach, developed by Martin Berkhan.  This approach is more than just fasting for 16 hours per day as it involves fasted exercise, meal timing, carb cycling, and mostly clean eating, amongst other things.  I’ve found that this approach is highly successful for both adding lean muscle mass and cutting fat.  In fact, some research suggests frequent short term fasts like this can help reduce stubborn body fat.  That seemed to be the case for me as I was able to reduce my body fat to 8-9% by utilizing as many Leangains tactics as my work and family schedule allowed.  I continue to use a lot of these methods even while I’m going through Visual Impact Muscle Building and have seen some excellent gains in muscle mass with little to no fat gain.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Aside from using intermittent fasting to lose weight, Dr. Berardi describes other potential benefits of intermittent fasting.  A few highlights include:

  • Reduced triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation
  • Increased fat burning, growth hormone release, and metabolic rate
  • Improved appetite, blood sugar control, and cardiovascular function

As Dr. Berardi points out, most of these intermittent fasting benefits are achieved with a longer fast of 20-24 hours.  There are indications that you can achieve these same benefits in 16-20 hours if you exercise in a fasted state.  More studies need to be done before any ultimate conclusions can be drawn.

Is intermittent fasting for you?

I really think everyone ought to give intermittent fasting a try.  If a lifelong six meals per day advocate like Dr. John Berardi can do it, then you can too.  His intermittent fasting results speak for themselves.  At a minimum, download and read his free Experiments with Intermittent Fasting book so you can see the benefits of intermittent fasting for weight loss.  After that, if you have a lot of weight to lose, I’d recommend reading Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat.  If you’re already in great shape, then consider the Leangains approach.  Either way, you should be able to use intermittent fasting to lose weight and build a lean, defined body.  I can honestly say that both approaches worked well for me.

22 Responses to “Intermittent Fasting to Lose Weight: Results from John Berardi”

  • John:

    Great article. Interesting that you switched from the 1-2 days a week of Eat Stop Eat (24 hours fasts) to the more aggressive daily fasts. I know that for my goals, sticking to Eat Stop Eat 1-2 days a week is best for me. Leangains definitely works, but I am not at that level and I am not sure I want to…HAHA. Anyway, great article and I look forward to reading the Dr. Berardi article.

  • For the last 6 weeks I have been trialling a 24 hour fast 1 day a week. I have found the results to be fantastic. I have dropped from about 13% body fat, down to just under 10% without loosing any strength. My only concern with intermittent fasting (IF) is that people will see it as a quick fix to their shitty eating habits. When not fasting I still eat 6 clean meals a day. I would hate to see people fast for a couple of days a week to compensate for a crap diet. I think people should only use IF if they have already dialed in their diets.

  • Dave,

    Nice to see another strong testament to IF. I typically follow the once per week schedule, but during the holidays, I move closer to the daily schedule because of all the festivities and it works really well to keep me lean amidst all the binge eating going on!

    Alykhan

  • KN:

    I wouldn’t last half a day without eating. I think I’ll just go with weekly cleansing and detox diet.

  • Toni:

    Dave,
    This post has me wondering about IF…yet again. I’m going to have to wait until I gain a little more but I’m really sick of eating 5-6 times a day. I seriously want to try it again when I’m at my goal weight because the constant eating is starting to wear me down a little. Maybe after the New Year, we’ll see. And what a physical transformation he made, that’s proof in and of itself!
    ~Toni

  • John,
    I only made the switch recently. ESE is probably more sustainable over the long term for most people but I’ve never been a big breakfast eater so Leangains is something I can sustain long term as well.

    Niko,
    I saw similar results when I added in intermittent fasting as well. I’ve since cleaned up my diet a lot but I did previously use it so that I could still enjoy a lot of my favorite junk food (1 & 2 year old bday parties are full of temptations!).

    Alykhan,
    Intermittent fasting is a perfect solution to the holiday binges. Fast the day before, fast the day after, just do something to mitigate all those extra calories.

    KN,
    I’ll bet you could easily do a 12 hour fast since a good portion of that is spent sleeping.

    Toni,
    You can still gain weight even if you do intermittent fasting. Leangains is proof of that. Martin generally recommends 2-3 big meals during the 8 hour eating window so you’d avoid those 5-6 meals per day. However, you would just have to be sure to get enough calories in those 2-3 meals so that you don’t lose weight.

    Dave

  • I love how different the lighting is in his before and after photos.
    That did make me laugh :)

    I mean, the lights are almost switched ‘off’ in the after shots.
    Id like to see how dramatic 10% – 4% is under similar conditions.

  • Kris:

    The IF folks definitely have the science on their side, the only reason I can see for daily snacking and eating 5-6 meals per day is to avoid excessive cravings due to hunger.

    I’ve seen some studies where intermittent fasting is comparable to calorie restriction, which is probably the
    “healthiest” diet of all. Not good for muscle mass or general well being but incredible for disease avoidance and longevity.

    It seems that IF may bring the same benefits as caloric restriction, without the negative effects.

  • Clint,
    Good point about before/after pics…unfortunately all too common in the fitness industry but he’s definitely a lot leaner in the after pic.

    Kris,
    Great insights on IF. Thanks.

    Dave

  • SInce september I have just been maintaining off 2-3 workouts a week, lately its been more likely 2. I have found the lean gains approach the best at keeping lean during this period. Just dont have the motivation to do a 24 hour fast, as you said in another post, its winter, only my gf is gonna see me shirtless so being 4-6% bodyfat isn’t necessary for me. Both work great as you mentioned though. Gonna add some lean muscle over xmas when i have a month off uni, using phase 2 of Visual Impact.

  • Marcus:

    In addition to the lighting, I think he lost water weight in addition to body fat. That was my issue prior to starting fasting protocols within my eating habits. How I know is if I eat foods that are very salty and high carbs for a day or two, I will gain a few pounds but if I eat in the opposite fashion, I lose that weight soon after.

  • Michael,
    Sounds like we take a similar approach. I’m doing Phase 1 of Visual Impact again right now and seeing great results utilizing many aspects of Leangains. It’s a nice combination for gaining mass.

    Marcus,
    Water weight always seems to come off when fasting or eating low carb so that plays into the effect. I’d like to think that Dr. Berardi had sophisticated enough equipment to tell the difference between fat loss and weight loss including water.

    Dave

  • Hey Dave,

    Love this article. Great to see someone like John Beradi give intermittent fasting a go instead of just writing it off. The results he achieved are nothing short of spectacular but I can’t say that I am surprised. Intermittent fasting makes getting lean much more effortless.

    I myself have been using the leangains 16/8 approach with amazing results.

    I have a feeling intermittent fasting is going to become more and more mainstream in the future.

    Keep up the great articles.

    Greg.

  • Greg,
    I wish I could do more of the Leangains routine. The 16/8 intermittent fasting is obviously a staple, but Martin has a ton of other great strategies as well. No reason that intermittent fasting shouldn’t continue to gain momentum.
    Dave

  • It should be noted that this “experiment” is not an experiment in the scientific sense and the outcome could be down to many factors outside of those he attributes it to.

    I’d willingly embrace his results were they published in a peer-reviewed journal, where we could truly see how he did it and made sure no errors sneaked in.

  • Evilcyber,
    Good points. The only thing I’d say is that Dr. Berardi has always been the opposite extreme of intermittent fasting so if anything his bias would have been toward proving intermittent fasting wasn’t as effective. As with many things, it comes down to overall level of trust with the person offering the results.
    dave

  • melissa:

    I have to say I always heard you have to eat every 3-4 hours to keep your metabolism high, but for some reason that would always make me more hungry and not really ever satisfied! Also it triggered me to eat more. I tried intermittent fasting for 3 days and lost 2 lbs without changing any of my diet. I fasted 8 pm to 12 pm. I am shocked that i can lose weight without having to be a cow grazing all day lol!

  • Melissa,
    The eating every 3-4 hours myth has been prevalent for a long time and it will take even longer for it to go away. Not a week goes by without a mainstream magazine or website advertising that you should eat like that. I’m glad intermittent fasting has been good for you.
    Dave

  • Stan:

    The numbers you provided simply don’t add up.

    190lbs at 10% body fat and 170lbs at 4% after.

    That means John went from 19 lbs of fat to 6.8lbs. That’s a lot of 12.2lbs, not 20. Where did the other 7.8lbs go? It had to be muscle, as I cannot see that much of a water weight fluctuation.

  • Stan,
    Those are the numbers Dr. Berardi quoted so you either trust him or you don’t. It’s always hard to get accurate body fat measurements but I’m guessing he has sophisticated enough equipment to properly track his results. Honestly 8lbs of water weight loss due to intermittent fasting doesn’t feel overly extreme. In the past, I’ve seen a loss of 4lbs of water weight in a couple days.

    Of course you bring up a good point about the definition of muscle. In my opinion, lean muscle includes everything that isn’t fat which would imply an overall loss. However, his skeletal muscle probably remained the same or increased because he was getting stronger. I have a hard time believing muscles shrink when a person is increasing the amount they can lift.

    Just my thoughts though.
    Dave

  • Stan:

    The water weight issue is indeed tricky. I suppose he could have been on creatine and stopped, which would explain a significant loss of water.
    As for skeletal muscle vs. lean muscle, I agree with you entirely. On one hand, he did get stronger, so he must have gained some skeletal muscle. However, his muscles probably lost a significant amount of water, which could explain the weight. Strangely, he didn’t get any weaker, thus I have to believe that assuming his measurements are accurate, he had to have gained denser muscle due to hypertrophy, versus water weight.

  • Stan,
    I think we’re on the same page. These things are always tough to figure out!
    Dave

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