If you’re skeptical about what you’ve heard about intermittent fasting and time restricted eating, join the club. For those of us who struggle with losing weight, there are countless sure-fire ways to approach weight loss, until you discover that none of them work.
Intermittent fasting is just the latest trend, but it’s been gaining a lot of traction with health pros who swear by it. We even wrote an article called “A Quick Guide to Intermittent Fasting – How and Why it Works”, because eventually we came around to believing that this method works, based on personal experience.
Intermittent fasting and time restricted eating are almost the same thing, but not quite. We also wrote an article called “What is Time Restricted Eating and is it a Good Idea?”.
This was when we met James of the Youtube channel Wanderlust Estate. James is what you’d call a true success story when it comes to time restricted eating and intermittent fasting. He’s lost a ton of weight, and kept it off too.
His story is incredible, and we were very happy when he agreed to speak to us on how he managed to pull off what most people find impossible.
Enjoy our chat and leave a comment if you have anything you want to add!
Q: For those who don’t know, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do for a living, ie. where you live, how much activity your job requires, zodiak sign, etc etc.
Prior to my malignant neuroendocrine tumour and post hormone balance issues, I worked as a biochemist in the oil and gas field.
I did both work on sustainable renewable biofuels, and in a more traditional oil and gas laboratory, roll producing data on oil and natural gas reserves of different fields that were reported to Wall Street.
Now I am actively developing my primary income source from content marketing and affiliate marketing. But, I still work part time for a political consulting firm. So, ultimately I have a very sedentary work life.
I am currently living in San Diego, CA due to work, but am trying to develop a ‘ location independant lifestyle’.
It’s funny you ask about the Zodiac sign stuff, as I have fun reading up on that. So, here goes too much information, haha.
The zodiac stuff developed independently from both the West and the East. Where Eastern zodiac was born from present day China and has signs based on what year you were born.
My Eastern Zodiac Sign: Earth Horse
The Western zodiac stuff seems to have a much more murky point of origin, and happens to be much more detailed when you get into it.
When most Western folks hear what your zodiac sign is, they respond with their Sun sign, which is based on the months.
I happen to land on ‘the cusp’ when it comes to my Sun sign, which means I’m right on the date it changes from one sign to the other.
My Sun Sign: Cusp of Revolution – Scorpio/Sagittarius
My Ascendant or Rising Sign: Cancer
My Moon Sign: Leo
My Venus Sign: Scorpio
Q: How many times have you ever tried to lose weight in your life?
Several times since my tumour, tried all kinds of diets and exercise, based on what I heard about.
Prior to my tumour, and after puberty, I never really had a weight issue. But, having hormone deficiencies has made me gain tons of weight.
Now, I was pretty chubby during childhood right until 8th grade, when I hit puberty and my total body composition changed. In part from athletics and changes becoming a man, I guess you’d say.
Q: How was your health growing up?
I had relatively good health when I was younger, other than being a butter ball as a kid.
Q: Do you think you naturally have a good metabolism?
I think as long as I was active I did, until my tumour, and then things got so bad that I was gaining weight on a 1200 calories per day diet.
Now I think it’s getting better, because of my my efforts with intermittent fasting and time restricted eating.
Q: Family genetics (what are they like)?
People on both sides of my family struggle with body weight. Especially on my mother’s side.
On my mother’s side I don’t know any relatives who haven’t had some periods of struggle with weight gain, and some have HUGE problems with it.
We have a handful of 500 pounders, where they roll around on mobility scooters and can barely walk.
Add to that, I don’t know a single relative on my mothers’ side who hasn’t dealt with type 2 diabetes by early to mid 50s, with many being type 2 by mid thirties.
Now my dad’s side is more of a mixed bag, but there are certainly a lot of weight struggles there as well.
Q: What’s your junk food weakness historically speaking? ie. the thing that you eat at midnight when no one’s looking and you can’t stop yourself
Anything Peanut Butter and Chocolate. ..especially ice cream. Man am I bad! I’ve been known to eat a whole half gallon of ‘Reeses’ brand ice cream. Next biggest weakness is ‘Snicker Doodle’ cookies. Both of those sweets are the devil.
Q: When did time restricted eating / intermittent fasting come to your attention?
After I first was told that I had high blood pressure. I was 322 lbs. and had hurt my back, so bad that I couldn’t sleep. I was taking Ibuprofen, Tylenol and Aspirin all together, just so I wouldn’t be a jerk to everyone because of my miserable pain.
I took a day job loading a truck by hand, with loose hardwood floors that had been rejected at a job site, when I twinged my back and things just kept getting worse.
When I went to the doctor my blood pressure was 143/90, and I’d never had a blood pressure problem in the past.
The doctor said he was really concerned about my B.P. and my weight. He wanted to put me on a Statin. Coming from a stem field background, I always research any medicine before I take it.
When I saw all the potential side affects I was shocked! The one that really bothered me most was how frequently eyesight was being damaged by this drug.
As a guy who had a high risk of becoming blind, there was no chance I was going to take a Statin, so I began to look for an alternative.
All I found to deal with high B.P., was to make sure that my balance of Sodium and Potassium ions was right, and to lose weight. I had had such a hard time losing weight every time I tried.
So, having a background in Biochemistry I decided to try and see what the academic research had to say on the matter. I was shocked at how much info there was out there and how little of it was ever shared by doctors.
All I ever hear about from doctors is ‘calorie restriction’ and ‘low fat’ diets. This is disturbing to me, because the academic journals show a grave expectation when it comes to this.
Most people end up never losing even 10% of their body weight, and those who do, rarely ever keep the weight off for more than 2 years. These are not good results.
I also always heard slow and steady weight loss is the best and most successful. This according to a 200 patient Australian study is completely inaccurate. This 200 person study is the largest one that has ever been done, and it is the only one I can find that followed the people for more than 2 years post weight loss.
The study showed that those folks trying to lose weight by moderate calorie restriction were far less likely to lose weight, and those who did succeed in losing at least 10% of their body weight were no more likely to keep the weight off even a year out.
Which flies in the face of the entire fitness guru industry and medical establishment. And it even suggests crash dieting might be a better route. Crazy stuff.
While searching through everything I could find via Google Scholar, I found very promising information on intermittent fasting and time restricted eating. The 2 of them are similar, but there are subtle differences that are very interesting.
I also ran into a couple of other shocking angles with fluid manipulation and probiotics. I wasn’t at all surprised by the fluid balance literature and the amount of water consumed being able to influence weight loss, but I was surprised about the temperature having an affect.
32oz of really cold water (under 35 F) in the a.m., can boost your resting metabolism and daily caloric expenditure.
Now what I found about probiotics was the second most interesting.
I was researching the best diet for humans, and at first what I was reading seemed contradictory. Basically, there doesn’t really seem to be a ‘best diet’ out there.
For weight loss and maintenance there seems to be evidence for both a high carb/ low fat diet that you hear about all the time, but there is also just as much evidence for a high fat/ low carb diet.
What really shocked me was that only one group determined that the ‘best human diet’ was correlated with foods that cause the lowest spikes in insulin for an individual.
Which makes sense, because when insulin levels are high, it’s impossible for your cells to give up fat to be burned as energy.
What turned out to be shocking for me was that, other than foods that were both high in fat and sugars (which are usually junk foods), the best predictor of how an individual would respond to a certain food is most directly connected not with their own genetics, but the genetics of the bacteria and microbes found in their gut.
Crazy stuff! The group doing this research is the Segal Lab, who is in the process of building algorithms for the CDC, based on genetic profiles obtained from people’s stool samples.
So, in the future, we can hopefully find out exactly which is the best diet for us individually. The last cool thing I discovered, is how our response to foods can be modified over time by modification of our gut bacteria and microbes.
In all of my research though, the biggest break-through in knowledge was learning about intermittent fasting and time restricted eating.
Q: Do you differentiate between those two concepts?
Yes I do, although the differences are subtle, and certain general health benefits beyond body fat loss only extend to a certain period of time.
Those differences are that time restricted eating has your eating window only during daylight hours, as it fits the circadian rhythm for humans. This seems to have the biggest impact on liver health and function.
The second major difference is that during time restricted eating, you consume absolutely nothing but water because you’re trying not to activate your GI tract at all, whereby in intermittent fasting you’re just trying not to illicit an blood insulin response.
So, you can have some things that time restricted eating does not allow like black coffee for instance. There are some even more subtle differences that we could discuss, but we’d have to go “total science nerd”, and I’m sure that I’m already on the edge for most now.
Q: Do you have anyone in your life that perhaps pushed you to do this kind of thing?
No, actually very much the contrary. Most told me it’d be bad for me, or they thought it’d be worthless. Some even said I’d lose my muscle and get even fatter later.
Q: Did intermittent fasting always seem like a good idea to you from the outset?
I was skeptical of it, but figured it represented the smallest, most- easy- to- continue- lifestyle change for me.
And, it seemed like a small sacrifice to keep up long term than any other suggestions. This is important, because the only thing all the research literature, doctors and fitness gurus agree on, is you gotta keep on doing whatever you did to take the weight off to keep it off. So, I chose to believe in the science and follow it to the ‘T’.
Q: How long did it take you to incorporate this type of fasting into your lifestyle and make it stick?
I had a really hard time at first, when I tried to rush to get to a 16 hour fast and 8 hour window, but I usually ended up not making it, and then ended up binging when I broke it. Which made me feel bad about myself.
The breakthrough came when I just focused on not eating after 9 p.m. and skipping breakfast. I wouldn’t be hard on myself for an early lunch either. Once I had mastered that I felt good about myself. Although I didn’t see much of a change in weight loss.
After mastering the 9 p.m. thing, I widened my fasting period by 10 minutes a day until I was at a ’16 hours fast’ and 8 hours eating. Then I pushed myself to have the 16 hour fast match where I didn’t eat before sunrise or after dusk.
Along with that, I started breaking my fast with probiotic packed fermented foods. Eating unpasteurized kimchi, drinking either unpasteurized kefir or kombucha (whichever one I could find) and live culture pickles.
The first week I got all these rolling together, I lost 9 pounds, despite eating fast food on my other meals. This process took me about a month of struggling.
And the first 2 weeks I would be absolutely starving by 10 a.m. But, then my hunger started falling off and it got easier.
By about a month in, I started feeling better during ‘the fasting window’ than I did while eating.
Q: How long before you started to see / feel any results?
I’d say a month from trying to get to it, but once I was actually on it with no breaking, it happened pretty much immediately. So, I can’t say really if it was like ‘a switch’, or if the process of getting there was priming me.
Q: What was your typical schedule / diet for this at the beginning?
16 hours fasting and 8 hours eating. Where I break the fasting, I’d eat only fermented foods until I feel full. Then I’d eat whatever I wanted once I got hungry again until my eating window closed.
Now it’s important to not eat once the fast was broken. I’d wait to get hungry again before I ate anything. I think this stopped any binging. When I got bad hunger pangs while I was fasting I’d chug 32 oz of water, and the hunger usually went away.
Q: What is it like now, and how has it changed?
To be honest its easy now, I rarely get hungry during my fast and when I do I chug a bunch of water and hunger goes away. I’m now on a 20 hours fasted and 4 hours eating window.
I’ve lengthened my fasting period every time I started to have a plateau. I’m really starting to slow down again and thinking of making another change. I’ve only lost about 0.2 pounds per week over the last 3 weeks.
I have also added Apple Cider Vinegar at meals and ashwaganda supplementation. I’m probably going to go to one super large meal a day next.
Q: Can you tell us about your overall progress since you started your journey?
First week: 9lbs lost
First month: 23lbs lost
First 90 days: 48lbs lost
Fell off the wagon Christmas Holiday and New Years that led to me putting 12 lbs back on. It was kinda hard to get back on the program again, and I struggled for a week or so, but weight came back off fast.
First Month Back: Lost the 12 lbs gained & 5 lbs more
6 Month Mark: 71lbs
Fell off wagon again in June, only for 2 weeks or so, and had an aweful hard time getting back to it. Struggled through most of July before I got back on track, and I’d gained 9lbs during the trouble.
Since End of July: Took 9 gained off & another 13 lbs
Total Weight Loss: 84lbs
Starting Weight: 322lbs
Current Weight: 238lbs
Goal Weight: 218lbs
Q: Can you tell us what is different about you now from when you started, that you maybe couldn’t do before? ie. leap into the air, catch a frisbee, and do a backflip all at once.
LOL, biggest thing is that I can run more than a block or 2, and no longer breathe heavily walking up a hill. I also don’t need as much sleep either. I no longer even like donuts, they make me feel sick now.
Q: Are you happy with how far you’ve come?
I’m most cerainly happy, I don’t know many people that have ever kept weight loss off for 10 months, let alone consistently lose it that long.
Q: What would you say to someone who’s just starting out with intermittent fasting?
Set reasonable goals to begin with. Shoot for at least a 16 hour fast and 8 hour eating program to begin with, but don’t try to hop on it from day 1.
First off, try to not eat anything after dusk and do not eat before daylight. Once you’ve mastered that for a week, widen the window 10 minutes a day until you reach your fasting window and hold on, don’t let yourself off the program until your happy with your weight or appearance.
Q: What would you say to someone who was told by their doctor or their mom or dad that fasting is crazy and you’re a lunatic for doing it?
They don’t know what they are talking about, unless you have a severe case of diabetes or heart disease, and, if that’s the case, tell your doc you’ll do it with or without their help, but that you really want to have them monitor you, and help you get onto the program safely.
Q: Any other general tips for people who might be curious to try it?
Water is your ally for getting rid of hunger pangs, and I certainly think raw fermented foods have a synergistic function in doing this sort of program.
Thanks for reading!