The Secret Weapon to Quick Holiday Fat Loss

Intermittent Fasting: The Secret Weapon for Quick Fat LossAre you upset with yourself for having gained weight over the holidays? Maybe you’re not upset, but you definitely think it’s time to get things back under control.

Fun was had, and now you have to undo what’s been done.

We just let it go

I know how you feel. My wife and I wanted to behave ourselves between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we had other plans that got in the way. Like how we wanted to make Christmas cookies and fudge. Finally we just decided we’d generally take it easy but not stress the non-plan foods, knowing that in January we’d get back on track.

You’re getting back on it too. Visits to the site literally tripled on January 1 from the entire two months prior. You’re going to lose the holiday weight, and I’m going to tell you how.

It’s not very difficult to lose weight quickly

I sort of accidentally found the most effective way I’ve ever encountered to drop substantial weight quickly. It’s not sustainable for me (I hear some people do this as a lifestyle, but I can’t), but anyone can do it for a week or two. And the results have been astounding.

Not only did I lose all of the holiday weight I gained (5 lbs) in the first couple days, I’m actually less than I was before Thanksgiving.

I say I accidentally found it because in reality I wasn’t looking for it. At least not specifically the most effective way I’ve ever come across. Tim Ferriss’ Christmas app comes with a week-long plan that he was using to get people to drop fat before Christmas. My kindle didn’t come until just before Christmas, so I decided I’d use New Year’s Eve as the first (cheat) day and go from there.

Here’s the secret you’re looking for:

Intermittent fasting

There are a ton of IF protocols around the internet, but perhaps Martin Berkham is the name I’ve heard the most when it comes to fasting. Another solid guy is Brad Pilon (Eat Stop Eat).

The one I am currently following is the one in Tim’s 4 Hour Chef teaser app. I’m not going into all the detail, because you should just get the app for that. I will tell you how I’m carrying out the fast, though.

The protocol starts with our good friend, the cheat day.

The second day is an almost-full-day fast. You start the day with a liter of water and then some green tea. I drank water and tea (yerba mate, actually) all day. I even played football in the morning and had plenty of energy (I like to think I’d been storing it up for a while). The only time I ate was just before bed. I had a small amount of chicken, maybe half a breast or less, and some kimchi.

The third day you get to eat. Start with water again, and around mid-morning eat a smallish meal. 8 hours later, eat a large meal. You’ll want a pretty big one by then. My small meal was less than a chicken breast and cauliflower, and my dinner was the rest of that one plus another breast in a curry my wife made. I was still hungry, so I ate half of a grapefruit. Once you’re done with dinner, you’re done eating for the day.

The fourth, fifth, and sixth day are very similar. The only difference is exercise, but I’m not doing any this time (I was curious how well it would work). You’ll finally get three meals a day! You eat around mid-morning the largest meal of the day, and your other two are moderately sized. Your window for eating is only 8 hours. So for example, I ate at 10:30, 2, and 6:30.

The seventh day is just like your third day.

Then you can start over with your cheat day and enter a new week.

Notes and nuances

There are a few things I should point out about my version of this intermittent fasting protocol.


Tim talks about three supplements in particular during the fast:

  1. BCAAs
  2. Athletic Greens or something similar
  3. Protein shake (whey isolate)

I should note that I didn’t take any of the supplements. I was going to do the branched chain amino acids and some type of greens powder mix, but I couldn’t find them when I went to the (non-health-foods) store. Had I found some, I’d have been taking them. The protein shake would only be consumed after a workout.


Most days had some type of workout, but I only did the ones that for me fell on non-work days. Sort of. The full fast day had a strength circuit, but I played football for 3 hours. The three days you got to eat the most have kettlebell or HIIT workouts, and all of them have you doing some type of quick cardio.

The workouts are supposed to be timed specifically, and that wasn’t going to work in my schedule. Instead of try to figure out when else I could do them, I took the lazy route and didn’t. If I do this again, I’ll be more diligent in getting the workouts straight. I’m sure they would have helped more.

How I felt

This was the most intriguing bit to me. The full fast day was by far the easiest day not to cheat. I don’t know if it was because I was still burning sugar from the cheat day or what, but I never felt hungry nor did I feel short on energy.

Once I started eating, though, it was a completely different story. The 8 hours between my meals on the second day was the hardest 8 hours of the experiment. Even eating large quantities of food when I get to eat across a span of 8 hours (days 4, 5, and 6) I feel hungry within about 3 hours. My stomach doesn’t necessarily feel empty, but it feels like I need to eat. My only assumption is that it became familiar with the 16 hour fast and didn’t like that.

Can I recommend it?

Absolutely. This was my first experiment with Intermittent Fasting, and I really, really like it for a way to quickly drop some weight. I won’t live this way forever, but I’ll probably do one every couple months just to see how they keep working. It’ll probably be a nice way to break a plateau.


Oh yeah, you might be curious about how much weight I lost last week on the protocol:

12 pounds.

What about you? Have you done any IF? What questions do you have about it?

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  1. Do I get to say “told you so” ?? LOL

    This is interesting because this is very similar to what I have been doing when I combine the lean gains protocol with SCD and Paleo.

    I kind of let myself go over the last few months, got a BF% done the other day and it wasn’t good.

    The exercise and the exercise timing is a huge part of this plan and I think you may have missed a lot of the benefits from that.

    I would recommend you consider cycling and IF protocol every couple weeks, or going on one for more than a week. It takes a couple weeks just to get used to it from their it is easy. I think the leptin adjustment takes that long.

    • Sure, you can say it. 🙂

      I’ve actually considered doing something along these lines on a more permanent basis. For example today I didn’t feel like eating breakfast, probably because of a cheat afternoon yesterday, so it was essentially a 16 hour fast before I ate, and I’ll only two meals today within the 8 hour window.

      The biggest reason I didn’t do the exercises was because of the timing. I’ll have to check out Martin’s stuff to see if there’s a workout regimen he recommends that’ll fit better.


  2. I’ve neither an ipad nor a kindle and won’t be getting either. Is the Christmas Countdown Experiment written down anywhere? Google fu leads to a million mentions of the app and places to d/l it.

    • Leanne, I haven’t seen it written anywhere but that doesn’t mean it’s not out there. I also don’t know yet if by writing it out here I’ll be breaking some copyright laws. I’ll work on a more detailed but still-legal explanation of what I did and post it either here or on


      • Thanks Jason. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble and I know Tim is big on these kind of exclusive preview/hype machines. I had to stop getting his RSS a while ago because I was just getting too bogged down by stuff I couldn’t read (I always read your stuff, tho, Jason, I like your honest writing). Anyway, I thought he might have posted the basic outline of the protocol on his site or something after the launch of the app for folks who don’t have enough funds to have 14 different apple products that all do basically the same thing 🙂

  3. I’ve had good luck with incorporating a bit of IF into my weekly routine. When I was doing full on cheat days, I would fast until about 4 or 5 o’clock on Sunday, and by Monday the extra weight was usually gone.

    The detox plan I’m following this month strongly recommends the ‘don’t eat unless you’re hungry’ rule and actually recommends back-loading your protein toward the end of the day because it take longer to digest and breakdown. Totally different than Slow Carb, and I thought I’d be STARVING, but after a few days I totally adjusted and it works well for me. I don’t think I could have eaten this way straight off the standard American diet, but because I’ve been Slow Carb/Paleo for so long, I think I’ve mostly killed cravings and wild hunger pangs you get from eating carbs.

    I am starting to wonder if TF’s 20-30g of protein is really helpful in the weight loss or if it’s more of a tool that encourages people to fill up so they don’t get super hungry and chow down on crap food by 11am.

    • There are a lot of things I wonder the real reasons for that he’s got in the book. 🙂 It wouldn’t surprise me if what you’re thinking is actually the real reason. Especially when IF works so well (and he recommended it as part of his Christmas experiment). Whenever you ask someone about it, the only reason they’ll have is that TF said so, and the only “proof” is that it worked for his dad.

  4. Just a hunch, but I’d be willing to bet on it. Eating a big breakfast with eggs + legumes, you are simply not hungry for hours so you’re less likely to have cravings and “cheat”.

    IF rocks, and quite honestly, I just am not down with force-feeding myself first thing in the morning. Had I gotten stellar results from the Slow Carb Diet as prescribed, I might be willing to do it, but I didn’t (not to discourage anyone as I don’t have a lot too lose so it’s a bit harder.)

    IF seems to have made a difference for me, and I also think “eat when you’re hungry” feels like a more natural way to live. When we’re eating carb heavy, it’s hard to determine when we’re actually hungry, we’re a slave to cravings and blood sugar spikes, but once you get over the hump and no longer have those, why not just eat when you’re hungry?

    • That all sounds nice and fuzzy, but most of us have no idea what “hungry” actually feels like. Maybe with some practice we’d be able to figure it out, but if I ate when I felt hungry, I’d be eating all the time. 🙂

      Which reminds me – I still haven’t tried the stuff in the Shangrila chapter…


      • Yeah, I relate to that too. But I do know for myself once I start eating, I want to eat more…and more. Portion control is a huge issue for me. I rarely feel “full”.

        Doing some kind of IF, I find I get hungry-ish around noon… drink some tea and feel fine again. Then hungry around 3pm. … and will eat around 4 or 5. If I know I “can’t” eat (as in I set the rule that I’m waiting till 4), then it becomes a non-issue and I just move on and don’t dwell on food.

        IF has basically helped me get clued in on what “hungry” feels like. Before it and before the 4hb, I basically at at 3 hour intervals without even considering if I was hungry. I just did it because I had heard you needed to eat small meals constantly to keep your metabolism fired up. Didn’t work for me… but maybe that’s because my meals weren’t actually small.

  5. Laura, that makes sense if you are single. YOu can’t run a family like that, though. Families with children require structure. We don’t eat breakfast on weekends, generally, but during the week, with two people out the door by 8am, I make eggs and meat every morning. On weekends, the kids want to eat something mid morning. My husband and I are usually fine till noon or a little later, though.

    So, in order to IF, I’d be baking bacon at 7am but not getting to eat any till noon or 2pm? Gah! So hard!

  6. It’s all about what works for you and your family. I definitely don’t think this works for everyone. It works well for me, and it’s basically how my boyfriend has lived his whole life, so it’s not too disruptive to him, but obviously with kids in the picture that’s a different story as you probably wouldn’t be sending them off to school without breakfast.

    If you have no interest in trying IF, that’s one thing, but after experimenting with it myself, I still don’t see any reason why you and your husband couldn’t try it if you’re interested. There’s two main approaches. I’d think Eat-Stop-Eat would be easier with a family.

    With the Eat Stop Eat approach you might only fast 1-2x per month. You would have your last meal around dinner time, let’s say 7pm and not eat until 4 pm or later the next day. You’ start to reap the benefits of IF at 20 hours. You’re aiming for 24. Diminishing returns on benefits happen at 30. I normally aim for 24 . Doing it 1-2x per month can have great health benefits (besides just the weight loss) and doesn’t necessarily need to interrupt the family schedule.

    With a 16-8 fast (the Lean Gains approach) you would simply eat your evening meal by 8pm and you can start eating at noon (or 7pm and 11am, whatever suits your schedule.) Also, There’s no reason the first meal of the day has to be bacon and eggs. Start with lunch, sounds much better than cold bacon.

    Again, if you’re not interested, that’s one thing. But you could probably find a way to make it work if you’re curious to try it out.

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