Diet Myth News Flash: Eating Less Does Not Cause Fat Loss.

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Articles, Fat Loss

I'm all about shattering diet myths.

For example, you may have already seen the news flash that snacking doesn't actually increase your metabolism, despite the fact that most “diet experts” tell you to graze on several small meals per day to keep that metabolic fire stoked.

Today, I've got another diet myth news flash for you: eating less does not cause fat loss.

Yes, you heard me right. You're about to find out why eating less does not cause fat loss – but first you should know that today's diet myth comes straight from Jonathan Bailor, author of a brand new book that I highly recommend you check out: “The Calorie Myth: How To Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight and Live Better“.


Why You're Losing Muscle, Not Fat.

Let's begin with a quote:

“The reduction of energy intake continues to be the basis of…weight reduction programs…[The results] are known to be poor and not long-lasting.”

– George Bray, Pennington Biomedical Research Center

Eating less does not create the need to burn body fat. Instead, it creates the need for the body to slow down. Contrary to popular opinion, the body hangs on to body fat. Instead, it burns muscle tissue, and that worsens the underlying cause of obesity. Only as a last resort, if the body has no other option, it may also burn a bit of body fat.

Why does the body hang on to body fat and burn muscle? To answer that question, let’s look at it another way.

What does our metabolism want more of when it thinks we are starving? Stored energy.

What is a great source of stored energy? Body fat.

So when our metabolism thinks we are starving, does it want to get rid of or hold on to body fat? It wants to hold on.

Next, what does our metabolism want less of when we are starving? It wants less tissue (which burns a lot of calories). What type of tissue burns a lot of calories? Muscle tissue. So when our metabolism thinks we are starving, it gets rid of calorie-hungry muscle tissue. Studies show that up to 70% of the weight lost while eating less comes from burning muscle—not body fat!

Burning all this muscle means that starving ourselves leads to more body fat—not less—over the long term. As soon as we stop starving ourselves, we have all the calories we used to have but need less of them, thanks to all that missing muscle and our slowed-down metabolism. Now our metabolism sees eating a normal amount as overeating and creates new body fat.

In the Journal of the American Medical Association, researcher G.L. Thorpe tells us that eating less does not make us lose weight, “…by selective reduction of adipose deposits [body fat], but by wasting of all body tissues…therefore, any success obtained must be maintained by chronic under-nourishment.” It is not practical or healthy to keep ourselves “chronically under-nourished,” so we don’t. Instead, we yo-yo diet. And that is why eating less is not an effective long-term fat loss approach.


The Bad Side Effects Of Food Deprivation

Imagine watching TV and seeing a commercial for a new medication. The ad tells you the medication slightly improves your vision as long as you keep yourself chronically sleep-deprived. At the end of the commercial, a quieter voice lists the medication’s long-term side effects. One of them is that your vision will become much worse if you ever go back to sleeping a normal amount.

Would you ever use that medication? Of course not. You cannot go through life tired. Its temporary benefit is not worth its long-term side effects.

Now imagine another commercial.

This one is for a mail-order weight-loss meal program that slightly reduces your weight as long as you keep yourself chronically food-deprived. At the end of the commercial a quieter voice goes though the program’s side effects. The side effects include making you much heavier if you ever go back to eating a normal amount.

Would you ever use that program? Of course not. You cannot go through life hungry. To escape the superstition of starvation, let’s dive deeper into the science of its side effects.

My favorite experiment showing the side effects of eating less took place at the University of Geneva and involved three groups of rats all eating the same quality of food.

Normal Group: Adult rats eating normally.

Eat Less Group: Adult rats temporarily losing weight by eating less.

Skinny Group: Young rats who naturally weighted about as much as the adult Eat Less group immediately after this group ate less.

If the study were conducted on humans, the Normal Group would be typical thirty-five-year-old women. The Eat Less Group would be thirty-five-year-old women cutting calories until they fit into their high school jeans. And the Skinny Group would be high school girls who fit into size four jeans without trying.

For the first ten days of the study, the Eat Less Group ate 50% less than usual while the Normal Group ate normally. On the tenth day:

The Skinny Group showed up and ate normally.

The Eat Less Group stopped starving themselves and started eating normally.

The Normal Group kept eating normally.

This went on for twenty-five days and the study ended on day thirty-five.

At the end of the thirty-five day study, the Normal Group had eaten normally for thirty-five days. The Eat Less Group had eaten less for ten days and then normally for twenty-five days. And the Skinny Group had eaten normally for twenty-five days.

Which group do you think weighed the most and had the highest body fat percentage at the end? The Skinny Group seems like an easy “no” since they are younger and naturally thinner than the other rats. Traditional fat loss theory would say the Eat Less Group is an easy “no” as well since they ate 50% less for ten days. So the Normal Group weighed the most and had the highest body fat percentage at the end of the study, right?


The Eat Less Group weighed the most and had the highest percent body fat. Even though they ate less for ten days, they were significantly heavier than those who ate normally all the way through. Eating less led the rats to gain—not lose—body fat.

MacLean at the University of Colorado describes this general metabolic behavior: “[When we eat less] metabolic adjustments occur…[which] contribute to a large potential energy imbalance that, when the forcible control of energy intake is relieved…results in an exceptionally high rate of weight regain.”


Super Accumulation of Fat

Talk about side effects. Eating less was worse than doing nothing.


After our metabolism is starved, its number one priority is restoring all the body fat it lost and then protecting us from starving in the future. Guess how it does that? By storing additional body fat. Researchers call this “fat super accumulation.” From researcher E.A. Young at the University of Texas: “These and other studies…strongly suggest that fat super accumulation…after energy restriction is a major factor contributing to relapsing obesity, so often observed in humans.”

The most disturbing aspect of fat super accumulation is that it does not require us to eat a lot. All we have to do is go back to eating a normal amount. The Eat Less Group in the study gained a massive amount of body fat quickly while eating the same amount as the Normal Group and the Skinny Group. The metabolism was trying to make up for the past losses.

There is another reason: eating less slowed the metabolism. Put the same quantity and quality of food and exercise into a slowed-down fat metabolism system, and out comes more body fat.

The University of Geneva researchers discovered that the Eat Less Group’s metabolisms were burning body fat over 500% less efficiently and had slowed down by 15% by the end of the study. They remarked: “These investigations provide direct evidence for the existence of a specific metabolic component that contributes to an elevated efficiency of energy utilization during refeeding after low food consumption,” or once eating less stops.

Starvation does not make us thin. It makes us stocky, sick, and sad. It’s bad for health and it’s bad for fat loss. Your body just doesn’t work that way. Eating less does not cause fat loss.

Want more myths shattered from author Jonathan Bailor? Be sure to check out his new book “The Calorie Myth: How To Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight and Live Better“. You may also want to tune into my podcast with Jonathan entitled “Can Some Foods Cripple Your Body’s Ability To Burn Fat?” – or you can check out the episode where I was a guest on Jonathan's podcast entitled “A Bit Of Biohacking“.

Questions, comments or feedback about how eating less does not cause fat loss? Leave your thoughts below!



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Ask Ben a Podcast Question

127 thoughts on “Diet Myth News Flash: Eating Less Does Not Cause Fat Loss.

  1. Sandy says:

    Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up! 🙂

  2. Travis says:

    Hi Ben,

    The information presented in this article seems to run contrary to my understanding of fuel consumption, and in particular our bodies fuel during a fast. In this article you relay that the body prefers to utilize glycogen for fuel, followed by muscle while holding on to fat during times of not eating. I thought that during an extended fasted state, after you’ve depleted all glycogen, your body will enter ketosis whereby using fat as fuel, not muscle. Can you please clarify or try to explain any misunderstanding I have of this? Thanks bro!

    1. July says:

      I think he was more talking about calorie intake and food restriction in order to lose weight, rather than fasting, which is not the same thing

  3. Alex says:

    Hi Ben,

    This is very helpful as I’m now realizing that I’ve been over-restricting calories and carbohydrates for years, and even when I started dabbling with ketosis last Fall I was also over restricting calories. It’s been incredibly frustrating because I’ve been eating very healthfully and remaining active for most of the past decade, and have never been able to get the physique I want, and any time I cheat a little, the regression is really disheartening.

    That said, what is the best way to get the metabolism back to normal after over restricting calories for so long without gaining a tonne of fat back or doing any further damage? Is it as simple as eating what should be your maintenance calories for a while, biting the bullet on the weight gain as your metabolism fixes itself, then slowly restricting 500-1000 max to cut back down properly? Or is there a faster/more efficient way, like an extended water fast (1 – 5 days), after which I’d return to what should be the maintenance calories, then slowly cutting from there?

    Thanks so much for all you do and all the information you provide, I wholeheartedly appreciate it.

    1. Here are a couple good resources I recommend checking out: and

  4. Victoria says:

    It’s good that you are explaining this topic with so radical example. But losing weight is building the calories deficit. You can do this either by working out or eating less. Of course combining this results with quicker slimming, but for the people who are lazy/never diet/ never workout it’s hard to do anything. Only slowly changing your diet you can get good results and remember that it is healthy not to lose more than 7 lbs per month. One of the best book about good slimming process is the Just Cut It Method by Jennifer Morris

    1. Caroline says:

      Hi Victoria! thanks for mentioning the Just Cut It Method. I was always trying crash diets etc., but of course they did not work. What you are writing here, and what Jennifer Morris wrote sounds so much reasonable!

  5. Beerus says:

    I had stomach dimples 6 weeks ago, ate 700 cals less each day and lifted heavy that’s all and now have 8 pack. Still gained strength on all major lifts +10lbs on bench +1 rep on pull ups etc. Did my body canabalize my muscle yet still allow me to gain a bit of strength, ya right…. This article = massive troll lmao. If someone were to make a case against 1000 cal or greater deficit, I’d listen. For the 500-700 range, I say do it.

  6. Sara says:

    Thank you so much for this article. This has been my experience my entire life. Every time I did a diet I knew it wouldn’t work but everyone else was telling me different. But more and more information is coming out indicating that I am not crazy. My suspicion is that this is not the case for everyone. I mean if you have a high metabolism and not a lot to lose, you will think that “eat less, exercise more”, works. Because your metabolism won’t fall enough to stop you from getting to goal. I suspect strongly I have done this to myself. I have been dieting since I was 16 and each time I lost weight… within 2 years I had large “super fat” accumulations directly after. Lose 10 lbs, gain 20. Lose 15 gain 30. Why would I do that to myself? I wouldn’t. If I had the discipline to be on the diet in the first place, I wouldn’t just dive into the candy – over and over again after finishing? I didn’t. When your body has been made super sensitive to calories, you will gain hand over foot if you don’t stay on the diet forever. I am talking 10 lbs in one week.

    But here is the question, what to do? Not sure if I missed a blog. I am trying this… there was a diet that was successful that was called the 2 week diet. Diet for 2 weeks and then eat maintenance calories for two. While slow, it could only get you 1lb per month, it will make sure that the “super fat accumulation” effects do not get started or, if they do, the effects will be minimal. Previously I had tried a 13 week on 13 week off diet. But it didn’t work. I gained like crazy on the 13 week off. Now I know why..this study indicates that you can have a metabolism reduce within 25 days! At the time of the 13 week diet I absolutely had not thought it could change that quickly. But you see, it does?

    1. Damian says:

      You need to make small changes to your nutrition that will leave you in a slight caloric deficit whilst also doing regular exercise.
      No ‘crash diets’ etc.
      One of the big problems is that people always consume more calories than they think they do.

    2. Sara, here is the follow up to this article (pay special attention to resources in "Summary"):… …. Could also be a good idea to look into some testing. I recommend WellnessFX:…

  7. Robert Paul Hingston says:

    Low carb diet means your be eating less that’s why it works.

    If your cutting out carbs your cutting out calories… do I really need to explain

    1. matt says:

      What? Broad generalization, no? Why can i not decrease my carb intake and increaase my protein or fat intake? Same calories.

    2. Just Liberty says:

      This is not a necessary conclusion. Many people find that the first couple of weeks of going “low carb” they can eat as much as they want; steak, cheese, bacon; you name it. And they still lose weight even if consuming more calories than they were before. It is kind of amazing.

  8. marryclaire says:

    Stop eating or less eating can’t stop fat loss. I totally agree with you. If anybody wants to lose his/her fat then he/she must have to do exercise.

  9. You must really have the right exercise and also diet is a must. Having a proper diet and the correct exercise is very important as well.

  10. andy macaroon says:

    Soooooo if you stopped eating completely you would stay just as fat? I think a lot of folk from WWII POW and concentration camps, and folk living in famine areas would probably call bull shit on this, if you stop eating you loose weight period.

    1. YouSillyTurtle says:

      You’ve got some things wrong friend. It’s quite true, you will lose weight if you stop eating. However, over the course of starvation the body will lose weight in terms of muscle before it loses weight in terms of fat. The article does not state, that you won’t lose weight through satarvation. It simply states that if your intention was to primarily lose fat, then starvation is a shoddy method.

      1. David says:

        1. Your body will only eat away at excess muscle, unless in complete starvation and malnutrition. There will be a point where your muscles will deteriorate to the point that it instead consumes the fat storage.
        2. Fat and muscle will be consumed at the same time. So this is still of benefit.
        3. You can encourage your body to consume its fat storage primarily instead of your muscle. Simply include more protein in your diet and do a little LIGHT lifting. You’re not going to make any gains, obviously in a calorie deficit and you will lose muscle, but not as much in comparison to if you did not exercise and were only in calorie deficit without proper amounts of protein. It’s a trick to encourage your body to protect its muscle groups.
        4. It’s probably better to slim down first regardless. Slim down. Muscle and fat both. Get to your desired weight and thinness and THEN start eating more calories and working out to build your muscles.

        Do people really like the dad bod look? The look where a person is active and works out, but is incredibly thick, because under that muscle is a ton of fat. It looks strange. It always has. This is because of improper dieting, misinformation and frankly laziness. I get the temptation to skip steps, but your body will be better for it to get fat percentage down below 15%. You have the rest of your life to tone muscles. That’s the easy part.

        Science always wins.

    2. Fran says:

      Correct, something I have always pondered on myself.

    3. Tara says:

      Those WWII studies have caused the obesity epidemic. Those *men* likely had never been starved before and likely maintained a strong metabolism and had a lot of muscle. But today after a lifetime of modern *mostly* women dieting and gaining and dieting and suppressing their metabolism and gaining mostly fat you very well could stop eating and stay fat. Case in point. My sister died of stomach cancer. No one realized she had been throwing up and not eating because she didn’t lose any weight. Finally in the hospital they put in a feeding tube because she couldn’t keep food down. She lost zero weight in the 3 months she had it. Zero. She had spent her life losing and gaining and losing and gaining and by the time she go to this point… her body easily adapted to the low calories. Has any study been done about this? I am betting not because the diet industry would be up a creek.

    4. Sean Mccosker says:

      Yea this article is bs. I weigh more if I eat like a horse and indulge in sweets. If I eat what I need to and only have sweets on Sunday I lose weight quickly. No, it’s not muscle like this article can suggest. Rather, I can see my muscles ! Lol

  11. Big Pete says:

    Weird how you reference umpteen scientific papers, many of which are not specific to your article!

  12. Sade Jafir says:

    Eating less calories than your body uses will make you convert fat into energy. That is a fact. But simply eating less food is not a healthy way to lose weight, and can cause malnutrition and health problems. A healthy way to lose weight is to eat healthy food and exercise with a small calorie deficit until you have lost the amount of weight you need, and then eating the right amount of healthy food for your body and regularly exercising.

    1. Sadie Kelly says:

      Eating less energy than your body uses will cause your body to convert fat into energy. This is a fact. A calorie deficit is the only reasonably effective way to lose fat besides surgery. For your body to turn more of the energy you consume into fat or your metabolism to slow to the point that you would gain weight eating less calories than your body needs you would have to eat an extremely low, unreasonably, and unhealthy amount of calories. But just eating less is an unhealthy way to lose weight. It is also necessary to eat healthy food and exercise to become healthy. This article was deceitful and cherry picked information, as if to misinform people so they would spend more money.

      1. Talley says:

        You just said the exact same thing the article did. However, your grammar skills were quite poor. You had the suffix “ly” to adjectives and adverbs describing a plural noun or verb, not a singular one. Just thought I’d inform you of that bit of information, since you felt the need to repeat the article in the comments. Then go on to claim the information and say the article was trying to make us spend more money. ???

  13. Scott Manuel says:

    Just have a balanced diet like exercise and eat healty foods as well as fruits and vegetables.

    1. George Cates says:


  14. sophiejo says:

    I do not think that it is a good idea to dismiss as nonsense what this article says about the lack of correspondence between weight loss and eating less. When ‘less’ is so little that you are constantly hungry, you lose an awful lot of get-up-and-go, i.e., energy. If you then cannot afford to do less because you have to keep up your usual routine (work, child-minding, etc.), you will become so run down that you are very likely to become ill. Where this article fails somewhat is in that it does not emphasise that your meals cannot be so big that you are over-eating. I.e., You should know what is the optimal calorie intake (of good whole foods, no sugar-and-starch muck) for a person of your size. And you should not eat more than that. If you do not, you are very probably not overweight to begin with. See my point?

  15. Phil says:

    Not sure about this article. I’ve lost 75 pounds in a year (average 2 pounds a week) I did reduce calorie intake but not significant. I reduced 500 calories less than what my body needs per day (1000 calories a day toward the end of my diet but it was 1500 calories a day at the beginning of my diet when i was 225 pounds, I slowly drop calorie intake as i lose) . I eat 5 times a day, 200 calories each time i eat so basically very small portions. Above all, avoid SUGAR at all costs, alcohol, and most meats. Sugar stores into fat . I have not had any cookies, cakes, sodas or add sugar in products. There is always natural sugar i eat (bananas, fruits,etc) and some foods will always have some sort of sugar, but i avoid refined sugars and alcohol. Alcohol is a no-no as it can have toxins in your body after it metabolized and it can hang on to fats. Red meats is full of saturated fats and some bad bacteria, replace meat with protein drinks. The above article on some things are false, your body will burn fat first then muscle however, not enough proteins you eat regardless if you starve or not you will lose muscle mass as well along with fat and the less muscle you have, the harder it is to burn fat. Muscle is needed to help burn fat. So I drink protein drink daily in the mornings to keep my muscles going.

    1. Jo says:

      The issue is what happens when you go back to eating normally, or are you planning to always eat around 1000 calories? This is what the article is about. And this is the problem with diets, that once you start, you must continue on them because when you stop dieting and go back to eating normally, you will put on the weight you dropped, and some.

  16. Lauren says:

    I looked for information on why I lost weight after eating more than usual when eating less was not working. When I ate the normal carb burning weight my weight was going up and up no matter how healthy the food was as I tried to ‘eat less’. Then I started eating keto and I dropped 40 pounds which was a relief but still have more to lose and have been staying the same. I saw a doctor recently and she has zero interest in my calories being reduced which was a shock to me. I do have some injuries that keep me from being as active as I normally would be. She is focused on dealing with that so that I can more comfortable recover some of my normal activity. And they the past few days I have eaten more and noticed that my weight has gone down every day despite my thinking it might go up. At least for me this article seems to be showing me something real. Obviously I am not eating garbage or anything that would throw me back into carb burning. I am actually eating more fat the past few days and seeing more weight loss, very different than the results my brain is wired to expect.

  17. Not sure if this stuff is true or not. Interesting though… maybe somebody wants to try it out and report back how it went? :)

  18. Shawn phillips says:

    Eating less does not cause fat loss….you cannot be serious! Bro science right there. Typical nonsense that gets put out there these days

  19. Surprised says:

    My parents died the day i started medicine school. I starved the next 6 years (only one meal per day, sometimes zero). I had to walk daily 10km(go and back) to university, and still spend the night awake to study for tests(how i did not kill myself i have no idea). I was so skinny it seemed a joke. No muscles, no fat. i graduated and started to eat abnormally big ammounts of food. My BMI is still 18.

    I don’t think this study applies to me and many africans out there starving. Weight is a white’s man syndrome i guess.

  20. Billy says:

    Is this author high? What did I just read.

    1. Kevin says:

      I’m thinking the same thing too

  21. honey says:

    Not eating even a small amount of food causes you to be more big?

    1. Darkpigen says:

      I think this article must be a work of satire! There is absolutely no truth to any of these arguments. In fact the opposite is true. I see all the references listed below and that means a whole lot of nothing. Evidence based medical research including studies done on Auschwitz survivors until present conclusively proves that fat is burned when a food source is not available not muscles. Studies show that the body will use muscle and organs last as a food source at less than 3% body fat(BMI of less than 18.5). Staving your self will work for dieting and you will lose fat. The body will also bounce back to maintain homeostasis when it can. Its no different than a bear getting fat for the winter. What happens when the bear hibernates? Oh I see his body utilizes its muscle and not fat to survive those months!!! The way we burn and use fat is not different than our friend Smokey the Bear. Humans have had to live through lean times throughout our evolution. Also our bodies cant change the laws of physics. We burn calories to maintain life and bodily functions. This is a very set process. Of course their are many variables… temperature, energy loss, energy gained etc. If we could slow down calorie burning we would be an enigma in the animal kingdom. But were not and burning calories continues despite our lean times. There is a slow down and it comes from less calorie needs as your weight lowers and heat requirement not from the bodies attempt to ration our energy during “Starvation Mode.” Starvation mode doesn’t exist. As we get smaller or lose weight our bodies need less calories to maintains a smaller system. A good piece a nutritional advice, take a Medical Doctor’s opinion on nutrition over a dietician or nutritionist. They aren’t trying to sell you their book. Its just good advice. They make their money from seeing patients. When you make your money of books, diets, and supplements, you need a shtick to sell. Often they do so by taking studies out of context. I do not trust them. Evidence based Medicine. Learn it live it love it!

      1. Flex says:

        Thank you! OMG I am glad I am not the only one …

      2. Baffled at the stupidity says:

        You’re completely full of shit. In order to maintain muscle, you have to feed it. I stopped eating three meals a day and went to one for six months. I ate fish, chicken, hamburger meat and breakfast bars for my sugar cravings. When I started I had about 20 or 25 pounds of unwanted fat on my body. I literally starved myself. I ate once a day. I lost about 35 pounds of muscle and not an ounce of fat.

  22. kevin says:

    LOL @ this BS: “Contrary to popular opinion, the body hangs on to body fat. Instead, it burns muscle tissue. Only as a last resort, if the body has no other option, it may also burn a bit of body fat.”

    The human body is the product of 3.5 Billion years of evolution. It has survived 200,000 years under “survival of the fittest” conditions. During times of calorie surplus this miracle of evolution has the innate intelligence to store energy in the form of body fat. We have literally been designed to go weeks without food if necessary. But according to your logic this same intelligent machine is too stupid to go ahead and use the energy it carefully stored. No, instead it decides to burn through vital muscle mass and organ tissue and essentially kill itself. Leaving behind a fat corpse. Yeah sorry I have a little more faith in the intelligence of human body than you do.

    1. FALSEinformation says:

      YES – I was just about to type the SAME thing! There are COUNTLESS examples of people with REAL results shown via vlogging (video taped progress) who SAID they ONLY reduced calories and added some activity and had 60+lbs of weight loss over 1-year period. It makes NO sense whatsoever that the body will somehow get FATTER as you decide to eat LESS. People who believe this NONSENSE should be forced to EXPLAIN why we can see the BONES of an anorexic then in basically EVERY case I’ve ever seen rather than them holding on to weight or worse getting fatter? Educated FOOLS are attempting to ruin everything but we know better. This article is ridiculous!

      1. Lots of unintelligent fucks in the comments says:

        Y’all aren’t reading the words in the article apparently. It never says the body will get fatter if you eat less. It says the body will gain fat quicker if you starve yourself in order to lose weight and then go back to eating the same as you did prior to starving yourself. Which is very much the case. I’ve done it. And if you’ll research starving pigmy’s you’ll see that it is possible to starve and grow larger. Talk about uneducated

  23. Richard wicks says:

    This is complete bullshit and utterly unsupported in research

  24. Alex says:

    You are an idiot…

    1. Andy T says:


  25. There is so much research about this and still we don’t know what is really going on with weight loss:)))

    I can really only speak from experience here. The most important element is exercise for me. When I go climbing/bouldering twice a week and just eat normally I become fitter and fitter. If I don’t do the exercise that I slowly get heavier. I can then try to diet and sort of maintain my weight. But it’s difficult and eating a bit too much causes weight gain again.

    I go back to exercising 2-3 times a week and start loosing weight again. Even though I usually eat more (working out makes hungry).

    Ok, why this story. Because I know that this works for me as a human (vs mouse). So there is a considerable change that it will work for others too. As long as they find a cool sport, do it 2-3 times a week and stick with it.

    1. Sorry for the crappy spelling: Change = chance

  26. Claudia says:

    Healthy lifestyle came from 80% food intake and 20% from exercise. Everything depends on the food we take. Try to observe healthy and balance meal from the experts.

  27. Rob says:

    This article leaves out a lot of information. Sorry, but the ONLY way to burn fat is by a calorie deficit. It’s all a matter of how big of a deficit you are practicing. Do an internet search and find a TDEE calculator. Figure out what your maintenance intake should be, subtract 500 calories per day and you will lose about 1 lbs. of fat per week.

    As long as you provide your body with a reason to keep muscle tissue (strength training) you will not lose muscle. I started intermittent fasting about 8 months ago while still maintaining a progressive overload on my strength training. I went from 185 lbs at 23% bf down to 164 lbs at 12% bf (as of yesterday) and I am still progressing gaining strength every week and toning out nicely. I am a 31 year old male at 5’10”. I currently eat anywhere from 500 to 800 calories under my maintenance.

    Bottom line: This article is mostly false. It is trying to tell you to not change the way you eat and expect to lose weight. Common sense should tell you to laugh at this. Eat at a reasonable deficit while getting a good mix of macro and micro-nutrients, do strength training 3 days a week hitting all major muscle groups, and maybe some light cardio (swift walking) for about 30 minutes per day. Drink plenty of water. You will see results I promise.

    I would like to add: The study they did with the control group is completely ridiculous. The “eat less” group basically starved themselves for ten days, ate at their previous habit, then repeated this 3 times. OF COURSE THIS IS GOING TO CAUSE WEIGHT GAIN!!! Are you kidding me? Ten days is not enough to promote fat loss and reduce urges. So when you return to normal eating after 10 days of STARVATION, your body is going to create more reserves naturally. This was a biased study that measures the effects of erratic eating, not a controlled healthy calorie deficit.

    You can read a lot of those sources as well, please. Most are studies on rats and are picked at for specific information that serves the author’s confirmation bias. I love the one about how weight-loss causes a decrease in non-resting energy expenditure. “Oh really? You mean someone who weighs 160 lbs and runs a mile uses less energy than someone who weighs 250 lbs and runs a mile? Gee… that’s revolutionary.” I mean come on… no sh**!

    1. FatGuy says:

      Rubbish. I have a maximum of 200 calories per day, sometimes less and sometimes none at all. 15 years. And I haven’t lost ANY fat or gained it.

      1. Andy T says:

        You’re lying. I think you’re a fake account trying to make it seem like this guys article is truth, but in reality, how can you keep replying to these posts saying you haven’t lost a single ounce in 15 years of no eating? By lying. That, or you’re still EATING WAY TOO MUCH. The Jews in Nazi concentration camps would like to show you their diet.

      2. Richard wicks says:

        200 calories a day? Absolute poppycock. Perhaps you are missing a 0 there.

        If what you are saying is true, and I know it isn’t, you would be a marvel for research.

    2. Jen says:

      I read these comments and they go to show, that people are still just repeating what was taught to them over many years. In my experience, this is exactly what happened and still going on. After 20 years of eating disorders and over exercising, i had enough, and cut workout in half, and started trying to eat like a normal person, still struggling with that. Gained 20 pounds RIGHT away! A layer of fat now lives on my body. I have had kids, and never have i looked this way. All because i am trying to eat just the basic amount of food. It is a struggle and it is real. There is a reason why people have trouble losing weight and it starts with restriction…and hormones as well i believe. Not always about ” calories in, calories out.” The bodies main goal is to keep you alive.

      1. Jo says:

        This is an old post, but you’re right Jen. It’s def not that simple, as we age, diet, pregancies, etc. change us and our bodies ADAPT and do so the best way they know how. It’s survival: your body wants to keep you alive and if you went on yo-yo diets, your body will adapt to the new lower calorie intake because your brain thinks that you are starving. It does so because it thinks that in that environment you are now in, there is no food, so you become more effcient at utilising the energy. In leaner times, this mechanism was a literal life saviour, nowadays when food is available everywhere, not so much. Understanding this is important, not because you will not lose weight while on a diet, you will, but every time you go back to eating normally, as in the way you ate before, you will likely weigh more, so for anyone caring, think about going on a diet, VERY SERIOUSLY as it will change how your body adapts to energy intake. Of course, if you’re seriously overweight, you may have no other choice, but at least think about how restrictive and sustainable your diet is, because you need to do something you can do for life.

        First time I dieted it was due to taking contraceptive pills which made me put on like 4 kgs, that is 56kgs from 52 (I was 19). I lost the weight, but never went back 52 unless dieting. And every time I dieted and stopped, I would put on more weight, raising the set point, i.e. the place/weight that my body felt had to defend. So I ended up putting on and losing weight to 70kgs when I finally got to 57.5 and maintained it with set backs for more than 11 years. I maintained it for years because I sort of stopped dieting and then started exercising but it took a long time for my body to re-adapt and stay that way, and I was 57 now, not 52, but at least I wasn’t 65 or worse, 70, right? Exercice eventually was very effective, but I was training hard, very hard and I was very lean, even at 57kgs, wearing small size clothes, etc. But when I fell pregnant, despite putting on only 10kgs, I was unable to go back to 57. I dieted for the past two years trying to go back from 62ish kgs to 56.5. I reached my goal weight but did so by starving because exercise for me didn’t work anymore, however, maintaining it has been impossible. The calorie deficit I was in to lose the weight in the first place was very low (and lowest ever to reach that weight) which meant that every time I would go back to eating normally for only 3 days I would put on a lot of weight. So I had enough of trying, because I tried for too long, and decided to not weigh myself anymore and just to eat a healthy diet, packed with veggies, eating mindfully and slowly (most times) and when hungry, and not deprive myself constantly. I decided I would allow myself to eat, and it’s not easy when all you want is to fit in those pants again, the way “they used to” but dieting constantly is not a way to live. I’ve stopped dieting about 3 weeks ago (i.e. counting calories, saying no to certain foods, etc.) I may have put on a kg, but honestly, I could not live in dieting mode anymore. Too stressful and too focused on food to a degree of obsession and too restrictive. The thought of living again thinking that I “can’t” eat something is crazy now to me to be honest. I don’t want to put myself through that again, and if I have to put on weight eating healthily and enjoying life, enjoying the huge opportunity we have nowadays to eat this amazing variety of food, I am going to take that chance. Life is too short and our ancestors would have loved to have the chance to basically eat anything we are so spoilt to be able to eat. I am not saying eat pizza everyday, I eat very healthy, very, but I eat varied and I enjoy it. It’s very sad that we are so caught up on our self worth being measured by our scales or tiny size jeans.

  28. Derrick says:

    Ive done a few self experimentations which seem to suggest this is right. I’ve tracked my maintenance calories and found I need around 3300 a day to maintain. At 14% bf I want to get down to 10% Bf so tracked my intake over two weeks and trained my brains out. Of course I was training before but this was daily effort. I then took a few days of recovery. My calorie intake was 2400/day and protein over 2g/kg. Sleep 8hrs a night. Rechecked my body fat with skulpt (measured 5 times) and body fat came in at 17% with no weight change. Lean mass is down 2kg ish and fat up 2kg. Maybe the measures are wrong but measuring tape measures show a reduction of about 4cm (arm, chest legs etc) which seems to confirm muscle loss. Based on mathematical models this effectively means the calories to prevent weight gain is 900 calories and weight loss is almost no food. Obviously that’s pretty absurd so either I am chronically overtrained (not a huge change in volume though, just a lil more consistent) or my data points weren’t accurate (unlikely as I used digital scales, multiple measures etc).

  29. Joe says:

    Ok, so I currently have a calorie intake of ~1500 a day (this is a guess since it used to be 1000-1500 and now I used protein powder) and do 4 gym sessions a week, each being 4 hours long with 3 hours of strength and 1 hour of cardio. I am currently taking lean protein around each gym sessions so I get 50g protein before and 50g after.

    I am targeting to increase muscle mass and reduce body fat and while I am getting stronger, there has also been an increase in body fat. I am confused about what I can do to rectify this as I am not exactly being sedentary or over-eating.

    1. There could be a bunch of different things going on here! It's best to book a consult at <a href="” target=”_blank”> and choose 20 or 60 minutes and we'll get you scheduled to go into detail.

    2. FatGuy says:

      I have 191calories a day. 15 years, I’m still fat. I don’t gain but I don’t lose either.

      I eat once a day.

      Article is spot on.

      1. asdfghjkl says:

        If you ate 191 calories a day for 15 years, you’d be dead a long time ago

  30. Nick says:

    Eating less is measurable, and must be measured to be considered.

    1. Measure your current calorie intake (for at least 2 weeks to get an average, maybe a month or 2 to be more accurate).

    2. Restrict that calorie intake, and measure it. Weighing is the most reliable method. Using volume can be accurate, but it can also be easily messed up (i.e. a rounded tbsp, vs. a tbsp by liquid volume).

    The study with the women… it lasted for 10 days? Hardly long enough. Also, how was food measured? By the women, in their home? We need more details.

    **Are there fat people where there is a food shortage?

    1. J says:

      Hell yes there are. Pigmies!

  31. Ben says:

    It’s a nice list of references and research. However from my personal experience, I’ve managed to loose 50 pounds of weight couple of years ago and in the process lost only 5 pounds of muscles. Rest was fat and water. All done by a combination of calorie restriction and exercise. Since then I stopped under-eating (I was actually eating slightly over my RMR), continued my exercise, put back on 7 pounds of muscle and just under 2 pounds of fat. What does the ‘science’ have to say about that I wonder?

  32. Perry says:

    “Eating less does not create the need to burn body fat. Instead, it creates the need for the body to slow down.”

    Yes, the body does slow down, but not that much at all.

    If it were not true, you’d see the majority of people out there being fat.

    Hell, I lost 30 pounds easily by eating less, and I held on to my muscle..


    “Contrary to popular opinion, the body hangs on to body fat. Instead, it burns muscle tissue. . . .”

    Please show links to legitimate studies from medical staff, including biology.

  33. Perry says:

    Ben, I think you should study up on biology.

    The human body burns carbs, fats, and then muscle.

    The only exception is if the body is under A LOT of physical stress, and the fats cannot be burned fast enough, so muscle has to kick in.

    If your assumption is true, there would be A LOT of us with very little muscle on our body.

    1. FatGuy says:

      Over time….Your body is smart, so smart, it knows when you eat and what it needs to survive, so it keeps the fat because it is more important than MUSCLE TISSUE, sure it won’t eat it all, it’s not stupid…But it does eat it first if it’s read that you’re not eating at times it needs it. I know that for a fact…Sure, over short periods. But if you go from eating 3 meals a day, healthy or not, to 1 meal a day for years like I have, your body knows to hold the fat. Why am I still fat on 1 meal a day? I don’t gain weight, but I don’t lose it either and I’m losing muscle power and muscle mass..

      This article is spot on.

      1. RecoveringAnorexic says:

        Doesn’t matter how many meals a day you have… What matters is how many calories you consume in a meal. If that “one meal a day” consists of over 2000 calories then there’s no way you’re gonna lose weight.

      2. Andy T says:

        Lol. You’re very wrong, your body does NOT want to hold on to that fat… It wants to burn it, but it will not in your case because you’re still eating too much.

  34. Shawn says:

    I did not eat at all and did cardio on the same day thinkinng i could tap my fat stores…i had a migraine headache out of this world…smh

  35. Kayla says:

    Nothing here states what kind of food was eaten. I do believe in calories in vs out, but the type of calorie does have different effects on hormones and such. Also, your body holds fat as excess energy, so when energy isn’t being consumed, it’s there to be a backup. Why would your body get rid of muscle first? It’s your chance at surviving, to be strong enough to “hunt.” Your body is smarter than that. Also, even anorexic people have a tendency to binge because they have restricted for so long. Going low calorie when you don’t have a lot of self control does tend to rebound. It has nothing to do with the body holding on to it all, it’s because they probably binged in excess calories. I agree that it isn’t best to eat every few hours because that does keep insulin spiked, which is responsible for fat storage. However, the reason why metabolisms slow down when restricting calories is because as you lose weight, your BMR also decreases, it’s just the way it is, no matter what diet you’re on. It wouldn’t make sense to have the same BMR after you’ve lost 20lbs. But yeah, misinformation hurts.

  36. S says:

    What happens if you take the same groups of rats and instead of underfeeding for 10 days, overfeed for 10 days – does the metabolism correct in this case also?

    1. I don't know. That study hasn't been done!

  37. SallyP says:

    All this is quite confusing to a lay person trying to lose weight. The thought that one must purchase additional books and diet informtion after they have already spent so much on diet shake programs in order to tap into “the secret” to fat loss. From what I have learnt I think the blanket statement “Eating less does not cause fat loss” has SOME truth in it but because its only part of the story it doesnt help. In the end its all a matter of balance Eat less and better nutrient rich foods (if you were overeating and eating the wrong foods before) and do a moderate amount (or more) of excercise BUT dont under eat or your energy levels will be too low for your requirements and it will wreak havoc with your metabolism. I lost 10 kgs 9 years ago and kept it all off for 8 years by eating the right amount. I need to do it again now and lose that 10 kgs. Events in my life lead to overeating and the weight crept on. I forgot about the importance of eating a certain amount and not “too little” and thought it was just a matter of willpower: No its not just willpower it is also a matter of balance and eating enough to live happy. Thank you for all your helpful comments although not all agree.

  38. Carol says:

    This kind of nonsense title only serves to benefit the monopoly food corporations. Everyone knows that it’s about calories and not this or that “micro nutrient” or molecule. Energy in and energy out.

    1. Kelly says:

      Oh Carol, what is this, 1988?

      You couldn’t be more wrong if you tried.

  39. Ben says:

    Total click-bait. If you’re really into helping people, you shouldn’t post articles with titles like this and you should represent the whole truth in the text.

    The whole truth is that eating less, in most cases, DOES help you lose weight. Eating less calories will help you lose weight. Eating less sugar and saturated fat will help you lose weight. Combine it with exercise and you’re almost certainly going to lose weight (perhaps with the exception of extenuating circumstances). This is true because a large majority of people in western societies eat portion sizes that are far too large (look at American’s for example).

    “Research on rats does not apply to humans. This article contradicts all the research cited by Brad Pilon where he shows that fasting of reasonable duration does not affect muscle mass. I believe in Brad’s work based off my own results from fasting and creating a caloric deficit (aka eating LESS).”


  40. RAY CRONISE: “Let’s talk about basics. Fat is a storage organ. It is there for times of famine. The body constantly taps into this storage organ when we enter the fasted state (~4-6 hours after a meal). So here is what they are saying, in a nutshell – if you don’t eat the body holds onto the back up reserves. That’s backwards thinking. Further, it’s posited that the body will instead use lean tissue (from muscle/organs) and accelerate that loss – all to preserve our fat storage organ.

    Reflect on that for a minute.

    Why would the body hold onto this precious fat storage and instead cannibalize our vital organs and muscle tissue, because of food scarcity? How might that helped the evolutionary process? Seems to me that those who digested their heart or leg muscles before using fat reserves when there wasn’t any food wouldn’t have jumped into the gene pool with all the vigor as those of us that actually lived on our storage organ. Don’t you think? I’m imagining the number of people it took to build the pyramid stopping 3-6 times a day for a quick pick-me-up. Don’t you think they tossed them some water and said, “keep chiseling! pull the rope” and perhaps they ate some bread etc… a little later?

    Now, the body absolutely has some adaptive changes to accommodate food reduction. There are metabolic shifts and changes in how we use fuel. I learned last year that even after 30 days of a VLCD followed by a medically supervised 14 distilled water fast I wasn’t deficient in anything. I don’t want to cloud the discussion with ketosis, fat adaption, etc… as it’s all somewhat tangential to the main point. Let’s for a minute put aside the debate over metabolism havoc. Let’s acknowledge we can’t explain everything and yet our bodies managed to get you right here staring at a screen from a single cell without help and perhaps in spite of what we swallowed. It’s remarkable.

    When in the fasted state we use reserves. That’s why they are there. Fat and glycogen are long and short term (respectively) storage organs. You’ll be fine on the 4 hour flight without peanuts.”

    ~from Ray’s latest article “Starvation Mode” []

    So far I have lost 20 pounds of fat in the last 2 weeks by merely keeping my body burning its fat storage. Do you know what would put the weight back on…? I do. By overeating. I have learned that the only way to lose fat and keep it off is to stop eating CRAP Calorie-rich and processed foods for a period of time long enough to see the reserves used up. That’s happening for me now that I’ve finally understood how the human body utilizes its energy.

    I hope everyone will go check out Ray’s blog and his extensive research in the science of nutritional and caloric energy balance.

    1. Rob says:

      If I would have read your comment first, I would not have posted anything, seeing that you hit every topic. I can only hope that anyone who thought about taking this article seriously reads your post and changes their mind. Well said.

    2. FatGuy says:

      I’ve been fat for 15 years and I eat once a day, sometimes not at all because I’m not hungry when I drink distilled water. I am very very weak I’ve noticed and still fat. 15 years. I eat good food too. Still fat. Less muscle mass. And much weaker. Explain that? This article is SPOT on to me.

      I’ve learned that the body adjusts. So if you start eating 3 meals a day, it will let go of the reserves instead of muscle tissue because it knows your bodies clock. But stay with one meal a day like me as long as I have and it will never let it go because it knows I eat once a day…I’ll need it to survive because I don’t eat the correct amount of food. This is totally logical to me now why I haven’t lost ANY weight but still eat non-fatty foods or sugars. I eat eggs everyday and maybe sometimes lambchops and veggies and salads and fruits and only ever drink water…I don’t even have sugar except for what’s in the fruits I eat.

      And I’m still fat.

      Until I get back into a proper regiment, I think my body will continue to hold my fat and take what it needs when it needs it, guessing why I’m not dead yet.

      1. Andy T says:

        That’s because you’re still eating way too fucking much dude, doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure that out. Need any more help? I suggest you do this diet: skip eating every other day. Have one big meal one day, dont eat the next. Keep up the fluids.

      2. Aenwyn says:

        You are certainly not counting your calories correctly, if you eat “eggs everyday and maybe sometimes lambchops and veggies and salads and fruits” all of that stuff adds up to way more than 200 calories a day, lol.

        One egg is around 80 calories. You’re telling us that you eat the equivalent of 2.5 eggs a day, hard-boiled. But you’re clearly eating a bunch of other stuff too, in your own words.

        I believe the metabolism is adaptable but you’re not being honest with your calorie intake.

    3. Sanjana says:

      20 pounds of Fat in 2 weeks??????


      How did you that?

  41. Robert says:

    Excellent article Ben. This explains exactly why short-term crash diets don’t work. People just pack the weight back on plus a few extra pounds for that rainy day that just isn’t coming!

  42. Aquarius Moon says:

    It depends. Asians are generally leaner and, when visiting a western country for the first time, are shocked at the portion sizes. The reverse is true for those visiting Asia for the first time.

    Nowadays, as more Asian countries get more affluent, portion sizes are getting larger and there’re more overweight people.

    Humans have survived on enough food to sustain us without starvation and hunger; not what makes us feel stuffed. There’s a difference.

  43. Meade says:

    Then how do you explain Holocaust victims? People starve to death from not eating. This is bunk. Of course you’ll lose some muscle, but unless you’re already super lean, you’re gonna lose fat as well- in fact quite a bit. When I eat more, I gain fat. When I eat less, I lose fat . The myth is that eating more will somehow help you lose fat and keep muscle. It doesn’t matter. A calorie is a calorie. And the reason why people gain fat is because they have too many calories.

    1. tguven says:

      Were they not fatter than they had been after resuming normal lives?

      1. No…there is no evidence that eating more than 3 meals a day is necessary.

  44. Nan says:

    I think this blog post is not giving the whole story and damning lower food intake and stating you don’t lose fat from not eating….I eat very little and have been for the past 6 years.
    I have tried most weight loss programs and the only one that has been successful
    for me has been to eat less. My health improved, I don’t feel bloated, I sleep better and I’ve had NO muscle loss, in fact I’ve gained muscle and my testosterone levels are higher also. So I think to just say eating less does not cause fat loss is a MYTH in itself,
    What works for one may not work for another, so I urge people to try it for themselves before just reading a half arsed blog post with a blanketed view.

  45. This is indeed a very handy contribution. I really enjoyed studying diet myth news and what causes actualy fat loss. Losing weight is a great burden and over fatness is not good for health. I'm on a campaign to lose weight and very inspired to accomplish my goal by reading such inspiring blog post. Thanks.

    1. Rob says:

      So… you’re going to take his advice and not change the way you eat and hope to lose weight? Let me know how that goes.

  46. Embarrassed says:

    This is so misleading

  47. DivineTrader says:

    Research on rats does not apply to humans. This article contradicts all the research cited by Brad Pilon where he shows that fasting of reasonable duration does not affect muscle mass. I believe in Brad's work based off my own results from fasting and creating a caloric deficit (aka eating LESS).

  48. macwillim says:

    good information , thank you

    1. Robert says:

      Your right the body uses fat first that’s how it works eat less then 2000 a day with exrsize and a person will loose weight eat over 2000 and not eat healthy gain weight the extra calories is stored in fat some

  49. shapetrainer1 says:

    It is not mandatory that if you are physical fit there is no need to doing exercise.Physical fit people also do work out just to stay healthy.

  50. danco1212 says:

    ^^^^ Thanks! Your always my voice of reason and understanding. You have knowledge in both scientific and real world application. You live what you coach.
    I guess that is why I decided to become a superhuman coach under your guidance.

  51. Sem says:

    Took you long enough to figure it out.

  52. Dan says:

    It seems that calories seem to matter when want to get to lean body fat percentages. What is your take on this Ben? Something like Leangains or other programs where calories are tracked to ensure a deficit to shed fat. That coupled with a good strength program to ensure LBM.

    Seems to have worked for many and most in the past. Perhaps it is about the plan or way of eating once you are at a level you want to be at. I can see how most once done getting lean put it back on just by overdoing it in the other direction.

    I know Jack Kruse takes about calories don’t matter but there seems to be some sort of accountability to break plateaus and or get a bit leaner.

    Calories may not matter for one trying to achieve good health, maintain a healthy weight, modest lifestyle. Choosing good whole healthy foods and living a healthy lifestyle goes a long ways for sure. But what about athletes and those that want to be a little leaner, strong and athletic?

    I do eat a Keto – epi-Paleo diet, use CT, ground, get sun etc. but still to be a bit leaner I need a bit more accountability and or some fasting to keep the lean state I desire.

    What are your thoughts? Trying to get my head around it.

    1. Calories matter but WAY less than most athletes think. Just track hormones and weight sometime, then bump up nutrient dense calories by 400-800 calories per day. Do you gain weight? Or stay stable with a nice hormonal response (e.g. bump in testosterone, estrogens, etc.). I'd track it, along with HRV of course!

      1. danco1212 says:

        Thanks for the reply Ben.
        So in order to bump up calories by 400-800 one must be tracking intake before that… So in a sense calories do matter…. just not as much as one thinks…. A n=1 test can tell you by how much. I understand that there are many variables and we aren't a closed energy system….. but calories can matter to get one in the ballpark and with testing, can make some composition and health changes….

        Is my thinking right…..?

        1. Yes, I think your thinking is right. It's a shame that our primary measurement for "amount of useable food" is exactly the flawed measurement that we are trying to escape. It makes conversations like this… tricky.

        2. what would be a better measurement?

          1. It doesn't exist yet, but check out the website Cronometer for a good start!

          2. Rob says:

            Ben’s comment below is pretty hilarious. Cronometer is a site (or smart phone app) that helps you eat a healthy REDUCED CALORIE diet. Granted, its focus is on making sure the diet you are on utilizes a healthy balance of micro and macro nutrients, but the bulk of this program is that it’s a freakin’ calorie counter. The tool someone uses when they want to reduce their calorie intake and not over eat… This article is going to cause problems for anyone that decides to apply it to their life.

  53. CrunchyChemist says:

    So then how do you lose fat???

    1. Do a search for "fat loss" at the top of this page!

    2. None says:

      You can’t apparently. Maybe by reading articles about less calories mean more fat… like this says.

  54. megs1768 says:

    So what if you did slow down your metabolism by "eating" less? Can it be fixed without getting fat? Or everyone who has done a low calorie diet is f#@$ed?

    1. The key would be in what you eat after "eating less". Don't go back to NORMAL start eating naturally nutrient dense, real food and your metabolism will ramp back up. The damage doesn't have to be permanent!

  55. Vinny Grette says:

    I lost weight successfully and kept it off by eating all I wanted of super-foods and doing without the baddies, namely processed foods, white flour and suga… and alcohol. And I limited saturated fats (but enjoyed red meat when I wanted). All is good!

  56. leogarcia says:

    how does this fit into intermittent fasting?

    1. There are benefits of fasting that go above and beyond mere weight control. I talk about many of them here:…

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