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Intermittent fasting guru offers weight loss wisdom for couch potato nation

Lose weight with more exercise and fasting twice a week.
Lose weight with more exercise and fasting twice a week.
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We're a nation of couch potatoes. On average, obese women devote 11 seconds daily to vigorous exercises, while men and women of normal weight average two minutes daily, according to the latest exercise data reported Feb. 21 by the Los Angeles Times.

To obtain that data, scientists placed sensors on nearly 2,600 people to monitor their exercise. In addition to the tiny amounts of vigorous exercise, normal weight individuals spent about 2.5 to four hours daily doing moderate exercise.

And for those who want to lose weight, the dramatic difference between their current sedentary lifestyles and the amount of exercise needed for significant weight loss can seem daunting.

“We've engineered physical activity out of our daily lives and that’s causing the health disparities that we have in this country,” said the study’s lead author, Edward C. Archer, a nutrition and obesity researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“How you spend your day determines whether you store your food as fat or store your food in your muscle, healthfully.”

But scientist and researcher Dr. Michael Mosley, known as the guru of intermittent fasting through his best-selling book "The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting," thinks he has the solution: Train everyone to benefit from High Intensity Interval Training (HIITs), such as staircase sprinting, he revealed in a recent interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I want to start a campaign for the best staircases (for fitness), because most staircases are impossible to access," says Mosley.

What's the magic of staircases for boosting your weight loss and fitness level?

"The staircase is probably the best form of exercise you can do, because gravity is pulling you down," he explains.

Mosley first became known as a weight loss guru when he demonstrated in a documentary how you could shed significant amounts of weight, burn fat faster and extend your life by semi-fasting two days of the week. He followed up that documentary with a book that became a best-seller: "The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting" (click for details).

So just how much time do you need to spend each day doing HIITs? Mosley cites research indicating that just 10 minutes a day can do the trick. And he's created a book to guide others on how to take that research and put it into practice, whether you want to do cardio such as running or calisthenics such as lunges: "FastExercise: The Simple Secret of High-Intensity Training" (click for details).

Combine high intensity training of 10 minutes a day with intermittent fasting, and Mosley says that you have the recipe for quick and permanenet weight loss success. He cites himself as an example: He lost weight and decreased his risk of diabetes, which had killed his father.

We interviewed Mosley to find out if he's succeeded in maintaining his weight loss with the combination of intermittent fasting and high intensity training. The answer: Yes.

How his approach works: Two days a week, you reduce your calorie intake:

  • For men, the calorie total is 600 calories on those two days.
  • For women, the total is 500 calories on those two days.

"On the other days you eat as normal, though it will work better if you exercise restraint. One thing that happens is you stomach shrinks as a result of the fasting days, so people tend to eat less overall," explained Michael.

To make it easier on the restricted-calorie days, Michael recommends eating more protein.

"I eat eggs for breakfast, rather than cereal or toast, and I eat handfuls of nuts rather than chocolate bars," he says. He also has contributed to a cookbook to make the fasting days easier: "The FastDiet Cookbook: 150 Delicious, Calorie-Controlled Meals to Make Your Fasting Days Easy" (click for details).

A sample fasting day for Michael:

  • Breakfast: Two eggs with ham for breakfast.
  • Lots of water, tea and coffee (no milk or sugar).
  • Dinner: A large plate of vegetables and small serving of steak.

And in addition to weight loss, "people report sharp falls in the blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels," says Michael.

A current study is following 5,000 dieters on the plan. They've each lost an average of eight pounds in their first month.

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