Talk about Déjà vu. A little over a year ago, I published a blog called “feast–>fast” which detailed a cycle of cheating and fasting.
The lead-in to that post was a story about how I went to a business and marketing event in Connecticut, got absolutely wasted, ate too much crappy food, and then fasted as part of damage control.
Why does this bespeak a certain level of déjà vu, you ask?
Well, because I spent this weekend in Vegas, at a business event. And, as you might imagine, once again I’m writing to tell you about the inanity and insanity, so that you can learn from my mistakes (are they still mistakes if they’re awesome?)
To begin at the beginning, I was invited to speak at a mastermind group in Vegas; led by Criag Ballantyne and Bedros Keullian, the mastermind is comprised of up and coming fitness bloggers/professionals seeking to increase their business. Some guys are purely looking for an online transition, and others are simply seeking to develop even more kick-ass brick-and-mortar businesses.
The focus of my talk was increasing your visibility in the industry, increasing credibility through leveraging traditional media outlets and increasing the value you put out by simply becoming a better writer (the focus of my talk was writing, truth be told).
Anyway, I know I’m probably boring you with the business talk, so I’ll get to the fun stuff.
I know a lot of you are thinking, “ooooh snap, Roman in Vegas—someone either died or got arrested.”
Well, at least that’s what one of my Twitter followers said. And, while I appreciate the confidence in my internal party animal, let me assure you it was quite a bit tamer than you’d expect for a guy like me being set loose in Sin City.
While I certainly live a pretty healthy and structured life, something about getting a bunch of us all together seems to throw all of that out the window; so, while we all were hanging out and having an awesome time networking with a lot of other fitness-freaks we were generally very well behaved.
…until Saturday night.
You see, you can only keep a beast caged for so long before he finds a way out. And when you care a pack of them together…well, you can imagine.
And so, together with Alex Maroko, Dan Go and a few others, a (brilliant?) plan was hatched to “do Vegas right.”
Craig declined to join us (disappointing, as I’d expected him to play the Zach Galifinakis to my Bradley Cooper), but the rest of us decided to get a table and bottle service at XS, one of the premier clubs in Vegas.
…which as you can probably tell, was about as smart an idea as it sounds.
Although not a drinker, I do enjoy dancing, partying, and the general atmosphere of a high end club—especially in Vegas. Which means that I planned on having only a few drinks and then just engaging in a night of well-mannered frivolity with friends new and old.
However, as Ron Burgundy is fond of saying: “When in Rome.”
Three shots of tequila later, I’m having a conversation with a Kiwi bloke about the nature of vice and telling a lovely young blonde lady that my friend is, “seriously a really good guy once you get to know him…here’s his number.”
I’ll say pretty clearly that I did intend to have a few drinks. It was my cheat day, after all. And as you know, I love a good cheat day. But, to put it in the most basic terms…
I’d planned to spend the night Cheating My Way Thin…I did NOT, you see, intend to Drink My Way Dead.
A few more shots and a delicious drink made for me by the aforementioned blonde, and I’m officially Beyond Capacity.
Evidently, the result was to intend to Dance My Way Crazy, as we cavorted in a 30-foot radius by alternating the now-classic “Teach Me How to Dougie” with the newer and “Walk Like Bernie” dance. Alongside Alex, David, and Ryan, I’m pretty sure we reached a new level of hilarity.
I don’t remember leaving the club, I just remember standing in line for a taxi and wondering when I’d get to take my pants off.
Now, I’m a little foggy on the deets, but ultimately we made it back to the hotel where I am told I was fed potato chips at 4am.
When I awoke Sunday morning, my mouth tasted of vodka and regret.
The sun came pouring through the floor-to-ceiling windows like an accusatory spotlight, forcing it’s way past my overworked eyelids, storming the ill-guarded citadel that is my skull, searching relentlessly for the soft spots of my brain as it sought to capture the grand prize of my cerebral cortex.
I proceeded to spend the next hour or so on the floor of my hotel room. While I’d like to claim that I was down there because it was comfortable and not because I couldn’t get up, the fact is I found myself holding tightly to the carpet to keep from falling off of the World. A good thing, too, because the Earth seemed to have developed a habit of shifting violently every few minutes.
Eventually, my friends came to my room to get me, and we made our way to one of the casino restaurants to meet with everyone for some breakfast. For me, that meant drinking close to a gallon of water, and eating NO food.
Because, as many of you know, I ALWAYS follow a cheat day with a fast day…especially when that cheat day involves alcohol.
I call this “Feast/Fast” and I’ve been doing this for YEARS.
Origins of Feast–>Fast
When I first began using cheating strategies a few years ago, I simply had a single cheat day; and, while I loved the fact that I could eat whatever I wanted for a full day…I always hated the digestive aftermath of the cheat day.
Eventually, Joel and I started experimenting with various intermittent fasting styles following the cheat day to allow me (and my poor stomach) some time to recover and reset—and noticed immediately that it seemed to make things more effective.
In fact, the Feast/Fast method is so effective that it led, in part, to the creation of an entirely new program, the Xtreme Fat Loss Diet, which uses fast days following cheat days to allow for digestive reset AND extreme caloric debt, allowing for the fastest fat loss possible.
Anyway, getting back to my story: I’m explaining all of this to a few people at the table (being helped by Dan, a proponent of intermittent fasting), so I’ll give you a break down.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
As I mentioned earlier, giving your digestive system a day off has its benefits. Not only will it force your body to more efficiently utilize the caloric overload from the preceding cheat day (resulting in a huge and automatic caloric deficit and rapid fat loss) but you’ll ALSO let the less than healthy stuff move out of your body a bit quicker.
More to the point, you do your liver a favor by allowing it to detoxify you more efficiently, since it won’t have to deal with any “new” stuff you’re taking in. The faster you make that happen, the sooner your liver can get back to producing fat burning enzymes.
The best part is you won’t be sacrificing muscle, because your leptin levels will be so high that the massive caloric deficit a fast day creates will simply help you lose fat that much faster.
And, then, of course, there are the hormonal benefits of intermittent fasting.
- Increases the secretion of growth hormone. We’ve discussed growth hormone before, so, for the sake of brevity, let’s allow that any and all increases in GH lead to faster fat loss and a greater propensity for muscle gain.
- Increase in Insulin sensitivity. This is particularly true when training is involved. That is, training in a fasted state increases insulin sensitivity, which of course helps for fat loss. That aside, fasting in general seems to help in this regard.
- Leptin Manipulation. Leptin levels decrease when fasting, but you get a big boost the minute you start to eat again. Dietary manipulation of leptin for fat loss is one of the main principles of both Cheat Your Way Thin and the Xtreme Fat Loss Diet, by the way
Plus, you’ll FEEL better.
During a fast after a feast, the first few hours can be rough; after that you start feeling incredible. Whether it’s alcohol or a simple food-hangover your body needs to be dealing with getting over the abuse you put it through, not new stuff.
About halfway through the day, toxins are being released and excreted and you’re burning fat an accelerated rate.
By 3pm Sunday afternoon, I was running around with more energy than I’d imagined possible, feeling like Saturday had been a dream…a weird, freaky dream filled with drinking and dancing. I was more productive than usual and even had a great lactic acid workout.
OMG Bonus Infozz!1!
Now, before I close, I just want to give you guys some insight about alcohol for fitness minded folks like yourself.
Personally, the idea of avoiding alcohol and not having a single drink for 12-16 weeks didn’t ever bothered me, so it was never a factor when I wanted to diet. However, for a lot of people, that isn’t the case.
Really, there are two camps in the fitness community: those who say that you should avoid alcohol at all costs, citing a number of drawbacks; the other camp is a bit more pro-alcohol, citing benefits like anti-oxidants and all that.
Well, like with most things, I take a pragmatic approach and firmly sit the middle-ground: I don’t think alcohol is really going to completely derail your efforts, but neither is it really going to speed them along.
Which means, ultimately, if you’re going to drink, you need to have a plan in place or you simply won’t get anywhere.
Now, while I don’t encourage binge drinking (contrary to what the story above might imply), I know that the less frequently you drink, the more likely you are to get drunk. So, be careful out there, kids.
A Few Things To Consider About Alcohol Consumption
- The wine drinking masses seem to be right, in that alcohol consumption has a few health benefits. Which benefits you’re getting often have do with what you’re drinking (ie the red wine in resveratrol isn’t present in other types of alcohol, so heart-healthy beer isn’t likely. That said, consuming nearly any type of alcohol in moderate doses seems to increase insulin sensitivity (in a long term sense).
- Along those lines, keep in mind that not all drinks are created equally. While you can—and should—drink pretty much whatever you like, just be aware that some choices are better than others. As I mentioned, wine will have certain benefits. Red wine wins for anti-oxidants (lol-worthy if you’re drinking it for that), but in general dry wines are best as they have the lowest carb count.Going further, spirits like tequila, vodka etc are all extremely low carb, so they’re a good choice, particularly if you mix them with diet soda or club soda.
By far, the worst choice is beer. Firstly, it’s the most carb laden of all sources of alcohol. Secondly, it’s got a pretty low calorie-to-alcohol ratio, which means you have to drink a lot of it to get drunk. You’ll be consuming more calories overall. Thirdly, one of the main ingredients in beer is hops, and hops are full of phyotoestrogens (plant compounds which can lower testosterone).
NOTE – for more information on stuff like this, check out GetDrunkNotFat.com
- In terms of caloric content, alcohol is listed at about 7 calories per gram; however, it has a pretty high TEF (about 20%), which brings it down to just over 5.6 calories per gram. Depending on how many calories you’re drinking, that may add up and the 1-1.5 calorie difference may have profound effect.
OVERALL RESULT OF DRINKING: while alcohol itself probably isn’t likely to make you fat, it does generally tend to prompt really stupid dietary decisions that WILL lead to fat gain. So, if you’re incapable of going out drinking without ending up at Taco Bell at 3am, you should reconsider your partying habits.
HOW TO HANDLE IT: Simply, enjoy yourself and fast the day after. Treat it like a full cheat day, don’t stress too much, and make sure that the days leading up to the night out.
No matter what you’re cheating with—be it alcohol or food—I have to say, Feast–>Fast is the way to go.
Hopefully, you’ve learned two things: first, if you hang out with my crew you’d evidently be ready to party. And second, if you DO have a big party/cheat night, you can leverage that your benefit by having a well planned fast the next day. Just drink plenty of water!
If you use Cheat Days as part of your fat loss strategy, you already know all about using diet to outsmart your body. Well, fast days take it a step further and allow you to increase the fat burning power of cheat days even more.
Okay guys – let’s here it! I want at least 70 COMMENTS about any of the following
- a) you thinking my story is hilarious
- b) your worst hangover story
- c) how you use fasting or cheat days to meet your goals
- d) if you think you can drink and still be fit
- e) if you’re from Vegas and you found my pants