Review of Brad Pilon's Eat, Stop, Eat By Mike Westerdal of CriticalBench.com
Brad Pilon is a Canadian bodybuilding/fitness expert with a nearly lifelong interest in nutrition. He has a degree in Human Nutrition and has done extensive research in the field. Fasting is an area of particular interest for him. So much so that he's written an entire book about it entitled, Eat, Stop, Eat where he takes his extensive knowledge and experience and presents a radically different approach to nutrition, diet and fat loss.
You probably already know that fasting is when you deliberately deprive yourself of food for some reason such as religion or health. You can fast for just a few hours, a few days or even several weeks. Even though people have been fasting for thousands of years it kind of has a bad reputation. When most of us think about people who fast, visions of skeletal, gaunt holy men or political protesters come to mind. In reality, this only happens with long-term fasters. For the kind of fasting that Brad proposes, you don't have to worry about losing all your muscle mass and getting so skinny you'll blow away with the next strong breeze.
Brad starts off with a basic introduction of himself a quick discussion of the fundamental concepts of Eat, Stop, Eat. First, prolonged caloric restriction is the only proven nutritional method of weight loss and second, human beings can only be in one of the following states: fed or fasted. Basically this means that we're either eating and storing the calories that come from food or not eating (fasting) and burning the calories that were stored from the foods we ate.
In the next section Brad dispels some of the common myths about diets, eating patterns and fasting. One interesting point he makes is that you generally don't read much about the positive aspects of fasting--mostly because the nutritional and supplement companies dominate the health, fitness and diet magazines and media. He also discusses how from a marketing perspective, fasting just isn't very sexy.
This part of the book is followed by an informative, well-written chapter about fasting and its impact on the body's metabolism. Here, Brad essentially talks about how strategic fasting periods of about 24 hours can enhance the body's capacity to burn fat. That's because by design, our bodies are programmed to burn fat--not muscle--when we're fasting. For the most part, the body only chooses to burn muscle over fat when the hormonal systems have been thrown off balance (e.g., poor nutritional habits, fad diets, etc.). Another interesting point Brad makes here is that fasting has been shown to actually increase the levels of human growth hormone (HGH) in our bloodstream. As you know, HGH helps maintain growth and lean body mass during those times when we don't have access to food. Subsequent chapters provide information about how fasting can have a positive impact on fat burning, maintaining lean mass, the brain, blood sugar, weight loss, athletic performance, gaining mass and more.
Once we've learned about the many benefits that controlled fasting has to offer, Brad introduces the "Fasting way of life," where he discusses what it takes to implement the Eat, Stop yourself. For me, one of the biggest questions I had about fasting is "how do you deal with the constant hunger?" I start getting grumpy if dinner is 15 minutes late so I was relieved to see that Brad takes guys like me into account when laying out his fasting plan. To make hunger easier to manage he recommends that you start your 24-hour fast after your evening dinner, starting to eat again at dinner time the following day. That sounds like something even a guy like me can manage without too much difficulty.
The foods you eat while following his plan are another area where Brad diverges from the industry norm. With Eat, Stop, Eat, there aren't any special carb-protein-fat formulas or complicated, strict diets to follow. Basically he says eat less but eat the foods you enjoy, consume plenty of fruits and vegetables and make liberal use of herbs and spices. Most important, he says, is to "spend less time stressing over the types of food you are eating." He does however make it a point to state that just because you're fasting for 24 hours doesn't mean your 'feeding days' should be free-for-alls where you gorge on anything you feel like eating.
On the whole, I give this one a positive review and would say that if you want to experience the health and fitness benefits of fasting for yourself, you should check out Eat, Stop, Eat. Brad offers a well-researched, informative and sane approach to fasting that is simple enough for anyone to follow.