Experimenting With Rapid Fat Loss Strategies By Combining ADF And PSMF Together
Probably one of the fastest and most efficient ways to lose pure body fat while maintaining your muscle mass.
Please hear me out on this one. Before you start reading the article, let me be clear that the following protocol is certainly not for everyone. It’s a well-conceived mashup of some scientifically proven fat-loss regimens where we’re talking about deficits of more than 10,000 calories per week.
It takes a great amount of will power dealing with potentially (not necessarily) an interim loss of libido, putting your body through higher cortisol levels (although some other studies state the opposite depending on different factors) and experiencing psychological pressure from abstaining from treats for one’s taste buds that make life somehow enjoyable, especially when you’re out with your co-workers, friends or family.
You can definitely lose weight in less harsh ways by e.g. just subtracting around 15% from your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) without it having any negative effects on your testosterone levels. Unfortunately, it takes several months to see significant results this way which is why you should decide for yourself if that’s what you want.
I for myself know that I sometimes tend to be sometimes attracted by more rigid techniques where you have to sacrifice more in a shorter period of time to achieve certain goals faster in life. Don’t forget that this is all very temporary and so therefore, doesn’t even have to be sustainable long-term. The end results are more than worth it, though. Yes, you might physically feel a little bit weaker during this period of time, but your brain, however, will be running at full speed as a result of your body being in a state of ketosis.
Another thing that is particularly worth mentioning is that, depending on your personality and habits, diets like these can result in binge-eating-like behavior, making it even more important to follow everything as stated — while figuring out a healthy meal plan for when you’re finished with the diet.
Eventually, it’s all about balance in life (thanks to the Scandinavians for introducing Lagom to the rest of the world) which is also why I cannot stress enough the importance of a healthy lifestyle including a diet consisting of mostly unprocessed and micronutrient-rich foods.
Anyway, if you’re currently facing summer and just want to cut as much body fat as fast as possible without having to deal with all the negative aspects of long-term caloric restriction on your hormonal health for more than necessary, this blog post might be for you. Now, lean back, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the ride.
Oh, by the way, I guess that one of your first thoughts after having read the subtitle was: Great, another one of these fat loss articles, as if there were not enough already. And I certainly know what you mean, but listen, most of the stuff out there is either not evidence-based, misinterpreted or just another clever marketing scheme from a so-called lifestyle entrepreneur who cares more about generating passive income than actually wanting to bring real value to you. More often than not, time should be spent researching and identifying the single best source of scientific literature in a given area and then going straight to that source while critically questioning everything on the way.
For example, most of you probably heard about intermittent fasting which usually describes a protocol of fasting and non-fasting during a defined period of time. However, in the scientific literature, you don’t really see it go by that name, but rather find a differentiation between two more common fasting protocols, alternate day fasting and time-restricted feeding, which I’ll explain to you in a second. The majority of media just takes it by what it is without even questioning the actual origin of that term and sticking to science-based facts throughout the whole time.
So don’t get me wrong, I‘m not a doctor or legit researcher in any of these fields and am just genuinely fascinated by the science of health, nutrition and fitness which is also one of the reasons why I’ll experiment with the theory on myself first before suggesting it to anyone. Whatever you’ll read here, know that it comes from the most curious place at my heart. At the same time, I want to challenge you to take everything you’ll read here with a grain of salt, do your own research and profoundly question the quality of your findings. Let me know if you stumble upon something interesting that may differ from my current state of research. I’d really love to hear your opinion on anything mentioned here!
“In science, all facts have a half life, and our knowledge is constantly evolving.” — Peter Attia
Alternate Day Fasting (ADF)
Eat one day, fast the next day. It’s basically that simple and doesn’t get any easier. Imagine finishing dinner today and not eating anything until the day after tomorrow. Gosh, you just have to become hangry, don’t you? There’s just no way that you’ll be going to bed fasted, waking up the next morning without blinding headaches and the strong urge to kill for food. No, no way, right? The funny thing here is, it’s the complete opposite. Most of the time, you won’t feel hunger at all and be constantly focussed as hell. Don’t believe me? Then let me get a little more scientific here.
After fasting for approximately 24–36 hours, your liver glycogen stores have run out and as a result, your body starts producing new glucose from amino acids in a process called gluconeogenesis. At the same time, insulin (a hormone which is usually increased when you eat and serves as a signal for your body to store some of the excess food energy as fat for later use) gets lower. Now, if insulin levels are low enough, lypolysis sets in which results in your body using fat for energy production. Basically, your body starts to eat up itself, but in a good way, getting rid of body fat. It’s also clear that a state of low-insulin in our bodies not only helps with fighting off type-2-diabetes and regaining insulin sensitivity, but also gives our body the needed time to burn off its own fat stores while blunting any hunger pangs by reducing ghrelin, our body’s hunger hormone. Eventually, ketone bodies are produced which are used by the brain for energy usually resulting in a feeling of mental clarity and higher focus throughout the day.
Contrary to popular belief, fasting for a couple of days doesn’t even slow down your metabolism, but can rather boost it up by up to 14 percent. In fact, it’s because your body starts to produce more adrenaline which is used to release all of the stored glycogen. That process eventuates in you feeling fairly energized and therefore stimulates the metabolism, too.
Finally convinced by the facts? Then give it a try, fast for at least 36 hours and see it for yourself. If you’re more adventurous and not feel hungry which you most likely won’t be as we’ve just learned, you could extend the fasting period until lunch or even dinner. Usually, it really helps when you fast at least until midday, so you’re able to eat bigger portions at the second part of the day. It also helps you to feel fuller after finishing your bigger meals.
Interestingly enough, it seems that most of the current scientific findings even stemmed from a slightly modified way of alternate day fasting where test subjects were allowed to eat 500 kcal on fasting days. Something like that is usually called a fasting mimicking diet which is an attempt to maximize the benefits of caloric restriction while minimizing the downsides.
Be aware though that you have to stick to only drinking water during your fast if you want to gain all the benefits of autophagy, a mechanism in your body which helps to recycle certain cell components and gets rid of unneccessary and dysfunctional cells by apoptosis. Apparently, drinking anything else than water still requires digestive enzymes for your body to process, so technically, it would break a fast. However, if black coffee, herbal tea or bone broth make fasting more enjoyable for you, definitely stick to them. Just pay attention not to steep your tea for too long because the tannins in tea can make you feel nauseated on an empty stomach. Moreover, add some salt to your drinks if you start feeling dizzy or light-headed during your longer fast.
Time-Restricted Feeding (TRF)
Fast for 14–23 hours and just eat during a specific feeding window. That’s it. Unfortunately, most of the previously mentioned benefits of fasting only apply to longer periods of abstinence from food. However, shorter fasting periods have been also shown to increase HGH (human growth hormone) which helps to preserve muscle mass, but won’t really increase stem cell production or allow for the clearing away of damaged cells as you’ll see with prolonged fasting due to autophagy. Yes, THE growth hormone which you can also find in mother’s milk and bodybuilders usually love to use in *cough* appropriate manners. Did you also know that intermittent fasting can increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF) which grows new neurons in your brain?
If you want to dive deeper into the beautiful world of fasting, you should definitely check out the work of Dr. Valter Longo, Dr. Jason Fung, Dr. Satchin Panda and Dr. Krista Varady. Brad Pilon also offers excellent information about the topic. These are the leading researchers in the scientific field of fasting and will help you understand the impact fasting has on health, well-being, cognition, longevity, cancer cells, metabolism and more.
Protein-Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF)
Now that we have thoroughly talked about all of the benefits of fasting, there’s another big game player in the scientific field of rapid fat loss which we should not neglect. It’s called a protein-sparing modified fast which is basically not a real fast per se, but a very low-calorie diet where you only eat lean sources of protein, some vegetables, drink lots of water and supplement with vitamins, minerals, salt and fish oil. The latter is particularly important because your brain and body absolutely need the essential long-chain form fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for optimal performance.
When buying a fish/krill oil supplement, pay attention that they are in a triglyceride, or even phospholipid form for maximum bioavailability. However, you’ll usually get the most bang of the buck (more of the essential fatty acids) if you stick to the good old fish oil instead of splurging on krill oil. Get at least 1.8–3g of combined EPA/DHA per feasting day. Even the cheapest fish oil from the supermarket will work. You’d only have have to swallow like 10–12 pills though.
Perhaps you ask yourself why plant-based omega-3 sources aren’t recommended yet and the main problem with these is that they only contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a short-chain omega-3 fatty acid which usually gets converted into the more important long-chain forms (EPA/DHA). However, the human body is extremely inefficient in doing that with a conversion efficiency below 5% which is why it is so important to get them either by eating sufficient amounts of fatty fish or salmon roe throughout the week or taking supplements. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you should definitely use microalgae oil for that purpose.
When on a low-carb diet, you should also pay close attention on getting enough sodium throughout the day. Due to a more rigid water loss, you tend to flush out electrolytes way faster than usual. Try getting at least 5g of sodium (not to be confused with just salt) on PSMF days. If you don’t get enough fiber through your vegetables and salads in your diet, you could also try supplementing with psyllium husk.
Talking about supplements, these are probably the single most important part of your diet during your cut which is why you should always keep an eye out on highly absorbable forms of each vitamin or mineral supplement that you buy. Something like magnesium citrate or glycinate, for example, is way more bioavailable than magnesium oxide or carbonate which, to the contrary, is only poorly absorbed by the body. As a general rule, I’d add vitamin D3, vitamin K2 and magnesium to your basic supplemental stack, even just for general health.
Well-Known Scientists: Dr. Lyle McDonald.
A Two-Week Experiment
Alright, the following protocol basically consists of two weeks which are divided into 12 days of dieting and 2 days of refeeding on mostly starchy carbohydrates afterwards.
Day 1: PSMF + Workout A/B
Day 2: ADF
Rinse and repeat.
Diet: Try to get at least 1.6g/kg of protein to maximize muscle protein synthesis and help preserve muscle mass. Base it off your activity and body fat levels. Depending on your current body fat percentage, you should evaluate for how long you could realistically stick to the diet. The more body fat you have to lose, the longer you can stay in such an aggressive caloric deficit and would need less refeed days. If you’re under 15% body fat, you should definitely cut no longer than 10–14 days before returning to maintenance calories for 1–2 weeks and giving your body a chance to restore your hormonal levels. Take a look at Lyle McDonald’s books if you want to learn more about it. Consume less than 800–1000 calories per day, most of these should come from protein.
Exercise: Focus on strength training/heavy compound lifts targeting multiple muscle groups and cut your weekly volume of hard sets by up to ⅔. Stick to the same intensity, though. Lyle McDonald recommends two full-body workouts per week, so you’d have enough time to recover from your workouts. Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT) could also help with not roasting your central neurosystem with each set. Alternatively, some cardio is fine, but don’t go crazy on it. Supplementing with caffeine/black coffee, salt or just regular salt and glucose before working out helps keeping the training intensity high. Rest days could be spent walking and doing mobility work or yoga, as long as it helps with recovery.
My Simple Full-Body Workouts (Leangains-Inspired)
Workout A: 3x Romanian Deadlifts RPT, 3x (Weighted) Dips RPT
Workout B: 3x Front Squats RPT, 3x (Weighted) Chin-Ups RPT
Strength Levels, First Hard Set, Before/After:
Romanian Deadlifts: 130kg x 8 / 130kg x 8
Weighted Dips: +45kg x 6 / 45kg x 5
Front Squats: 100kg x 8 / 100kg x 8
Weighted Chin-Ups: +20kg x 6 / 25kg x 7
Important: If you weren’t working out before starting the protocol, it would be better for you if you leave it like that. Rigid caloric deficits aren’t the best time to get started with new training programs and don’t forget that you don’t have to exercise if your goal is just to lose weight. It’s way more efficient to create a sufficient caloric deficit through your diet than to lose your mind on the treadmill. You can start playing around with new forms of exercise as soon as you’re done with the diet.
Average Weekly Caloric Deficit:
~11,550 kcal (1.5kg / 3.3lbs Fat Loss Per Week)
Grilled Chicken Tuna Salad w/ Arugula, Iceberg Lettuce, Apple Cider Vinegar, Pink Himalayan Salt, Black Pepper, Curry & Dried Basil
900 kcal (185g Protein)
Total Caloric & Protein Intake On Feasting Days:
~1100 kcal (incl. ~200 kcal from Supplements)
Enough said, really. If someone reads this, congratulations that you made it this far and I hope you could at least learn something new today. To put it into a nutshell, I felt pretty good and clear-headed for the whole time. You’ll physically feel a little bit more exhausted after having fasted for more than 36 hours, but your brain will be running on high speed, trust me. On some days, I was more tired than usual and had to take a power nap in the afternoon. You can definitely expect your workouts to be more difficult due to more or less emptied out muscle glycogen stores, however, that doesn’t mean that you’ll lose your strength. Everything will fall back in place as soon as you start to eat normally again. Interestingly enough, surviving social events on fasting days wasn’t even that difficult. Just stick to your guts and drink water while enjoying the party. And don’t let your brain fool you into thinking that you need that piece of brownie right now. There will be the right time for it soon, just not yet.
More importantly though: Pay close attention to how you’ll end your diet after all these days. It’s okay to eat some junk food on the refeeding days, put try to stick mostly to starchy carbs, still continuing to get your usual dose of protein and all of the supplements daily. Unfortunately, I tended to stuff myself with not the best food choices the following days after finishing the diet and had to spend a couple of time developing a healthy eating regime again. Nonetheless, I fell off the train even before starting the diet, so it’s not fair to blame the diet for it which is why you should definitely try it out yourself. Everyone’s different here. But as Coldplay’s frontman Chris Martin put it beautifully into words: “If you never try, you’ll never know.”