As you are aware, the festive period is approaching very fast. Some may even argue it's already upon us. If, like me, you feel some overwhelming pressure to drop 25 pounds in a very short amount of time, know that you aren't alone but it is ultimately a very stupid way of thinking.
Yes, you've had it up to here with the direct insults from your close/distant relatives that wouldn't be tolerated outside this "festive environment", but you need to lose weight the proper way and keep it going through to the new year. But where to begin? Diet? Exercise? Both?
One personal trainer has revealed all, to help you keep the pounds off for as long as possible. 27-year-old Max Lowery, a former stockbroker turned personal trainer, has just published a book on his own intermittent fasting program that he claims will have effective, lasting results.
Titled "The 2 Meal Day", the premise is that by just eating two meals in a day (breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner) you introduce a daily 16-hour fasting period where you can train your body to become "fat adapted" meaning you burn stored body fat for energy, rather than the sugars from food.
"It's not just about skipping a meal, it's about spending as much time as possible in the fasted state," Lowery added. For four years, Lowery led a booze-fuelled and sleep deprived life before he finally became a health guru. In the end, adapting to the plan outlined in the book turned his life around.
He originally went travelling in South America and accidentally fell into eating irregularly. It just so happened to be super effective: "I was trying to save time and money so I started eating one or one and a half meals a day." He started by eating locally.
Going to a local buffet restaurant known as Kilograms (which as the name suggests, sells home cooked food by the kilo), Lowery felt both fresh an healthy in a very short amount of time.
"Some of them were actually working out quite expensive, but I found one where for a set price you could eat as much as you like and got into this habit of having just one huge meal a day at about 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. I felt amazing."
Returning to London, Lowery reverted back to eating three meals a day and recalls "feeling really lethargic, was always thinking about my next meal and my body fat rose from seven to 12 percent". After doing some research, he discovered he had unknowingly been on an intermittent fasting regime, training his body to be self-sufficient and put itself into "fat burning mode".
According to Lowery, following the diet plan outlined in his book will not only help you lose weight, have more energy and no longer find yourself dependent on caffeine and sugar for boosts, but will also make you less hungry too. The fasted state is "a very beneficial state to be in, your body starts to cleanse and heal itself," says Lowery.
It's very important to stick to a routine at the beginning. "Once you start burning fat for energy you can start mixing things here and there to suit lifestyle changes if you need to," Lowery adds. Roughly 80 percent of Lowery's clients skip breakfast rather than dinner, as it's practically and socially easier.
The 2 Meal Day has been dubbed the new 5:2, but Lowery argues that they're very different: "with the 5:2 you're only restricting your eating twice a week, and you're also calorie counting on those days — which you don't do with 2 Meal Day. With this plan you're doing it every day, so your body adapts and eventually stops feeling deprived."
Lowery continues: "for those reasons about 30% of people feel restricted doing the 5:2, compared to 10% on 2 Meal Day." Granted, much of Lowery's initial research in fasting methods was through men's strength forums, but he is very keen to bring the concept to the mainstream.
It's a hard sell, but the evidence and results are very interesting. When embarking on a new weight loss regime, be sure to consult your doctor and share your journey with people to help you keep motivated. Avoid the annoying Instagram pics, though.