Burn Fat witout Exercise

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[A very quick blog update, and a very brief post on intermittent fasting and fat burning.]

Absent, but Not Gone

First, big apologies for the lack of posting:

I’ve not abandoned The Lean Saloon, as everyday I have many thoughts on intermittent fasting, sustainable exercise, and becoming lean. Unfortunately I currently have little time to post, as our new business in Palo Alto, Ca. is going through its opening phase.

Burning Fat without Exercise

Second, a quick post on intermittent fasting and staying lean during reduced physical activity:

Being busy, I’ve had little time to exercise (I know… excuses, but we’ve all been there).

As such, I have to find a way to avoid gaining fat. So, no surprise: intermittent fasting has been the answer. But here’s the thing…

As readers know, I usually eat my first meal at 4pm, and my last around 11 or midnight, before bed.

During a reduction in physical activity, I simply change the fasting schedule. When it’s time to eat the first meal at 4pm, I have been telling myself that I want my body to burn fat for a little longer. So I extend the fast period to 6pm — an extra 2-hours of fat burning.

Here’s the reason: when the body is unfed and there’s no food content in the stomach, the body is in utilization mode — a state of higher fat metabolism to meet energy needs. When the body is fed, however, energy needs are met by the food in the stomach, and the excess are stored (as glycogen or fat). And stored fat remains stored.

So, whether you’re exercising or not is not really the case here — if you want to burn more stored fat, just ask your body to do so by extending the fasting window a little more. And doesn’t matter what kind of IF schedule you use; the longer you go between meals, the longer the fat burning period — it’s just an economic of time.

Although I might have lost a little muscle from the lack of exercise stimulus (which I’m not concerned), my body fat has remained the same. In fact, subjectively my abs are sharper than ever… a useful visual barometer to body fat dynamics in lean people.

Sometimes you can’t get to the gym, or the great outdoors, but that doesn’t mean you have to gain weight or fat. Intermittent fasting… it has many great uses.

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25 Responses to Burn Fat witout Exercise

  1. Jake says:

    The 3rd Door is a cool concept. I hope it works out for you.

    • Johnny says:

      Thanks, Jake! So far my on-the-floor training schedule is fully booked. I just hired a darn good and well-rounded trainer, and his schedule is half booked. I also have a couple of other specialist trainers running classes — one for indoor rowing (highly metabolic activity) and the other for kettlebell training (both metabolic and high skill demand).

      We also have the restaurant Calafia (owned and operated by Google’s executive chef) deliver to our cafe fresh wholesome food to us daily. We requested that he caters mostly grain-free and gluten-free foods, to maintain Paleo nutrition.

      We also serve specialty coffee and espressos. At night we also serve specialty beer and great wine in our clubroom lounge.

      It’s an exclusively private training facility that also offers wholesome, real food, great coffee, and wine and beer for “social hour.”

      We’re having a lot of fun. But I am very motivated to keep The Lean Saloon going… it’s my personal passion to reach people outside of Palo Alto, Ca.


      PS. If there are trainers in the area (or who want to move to the Bay Area San Francisco) and possess at least 8 years of personal training experience, has a strong academic background in exercise science, and a great personality, and you want to work in an upscale, friendly, and family-oriented private-training facility, email me!

  2. Mark says:

    Hey Johnny,
    I always appreciate your posts as they give me hope. After this post I decided to go on IF again while eating a high-carb/low-fat/moderate-protein mostly paleo diet (I eat some dairy and white rice, no gluten or legumes though) to fuel my workouts. I do pure strength training a couple of times a week while I try to do an Insanity workout on most days. Even though Insanity is from an infomercial, I still find it a great workout. Easy to throw a DVD in and do bodyweight stuff for 30-45 minutes that leaves you gassed. Thanks Johnny.

    • Johnny says:

      Good to hear it Mark. Give IF a fair try this time, and allow the physiologic and gustatory adaptation to occur, and you’ll find that IF is an incredibly easy yet effective eating lifestyle for better health and reduced body fat.


  3. Bangkok Jay says:

    They say nutrition (or more accurately lack of surplus eating) is worth at least 80% for losing weight, getting lean, etc. I failed to grasp that simple, well-known adage until this past year. But I’m coming to realise that IF has had as significant an impact as being in caloric deficit. It may take a while longer for the old adage to get popularly amended with IF, but for those of us enjoying its benefits, it’s like we’ve seen a glimpse of the future.

    It’s also seems to be an ideal protocol for losing the stubborn fat …without exercise even.

    Best of luck with the added venture, Johnny. Hope there will be cross-germination of insights.

    • Kevin says:

      Yep, IF and REAL food is what’s doing it for me.

      IF makes it easy to be in a deficit (plus boost energy)…and the REAL food keeps me satisfied, energized, and feeling amazing. Found that higher fat/protein and lower carbs is the combo for me and my wife.

      I probably should beef up my workouts a touch more (kinda feel “weak” getting back into strength training compared to a couple of years ago when I lifted weights), but everything is perfect for my schedule right now.

      Down just under 30lbs since I found Johnny’s blog. 🙂

    • Johnny says:

      Thanks, Jay.

      Calories being equal, I believe that intermittent fasting is a superior fat-loss and weight-management lifestyle as compared to merely eating fewer calories through other means (like frequent smaller meals, etc). And IF may help the body regulate fat storage and utilization better. I’ll write more about this in the future.


  4. Kevin says:

    Quick question for you Johnny:

    Since you extended your fast 2 more hours … are still eating an average “day’s worth”of calories in a couple of meals during that 4 or 5 hours before you go to bed … or are you just eating a meal at 6 until satisfied, and then maybe eating again later if you’re hungry.

    Just curious.

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Kevin,

      Great question. And the answer is… I don’t know.

      I’m (mostly) a practitioner of mindful eating — I chew my food adequately; I savor every bite; I put my fork down between bites; I zone in on the flavors; and I listen to my stomach to see if it is full.

      I try to eat mostly real food, as they are more satiating and less likely to stimulate excess appetite. I still enjoy desert as usual, but I’ve mastered portion control — a skill worth practicing.

      To be honest, I’m no more hungry halfway into the first meal at 6pm than one at 4pm. Any increase in consumption is not based on physical needs but on psychology. Our stomach capacity remains the same whether you’ve fasted 16 hours or 18, 19, or 20 hours; if we listen to the stomach, we should feel the same fullness.

      The practice of mindful eating goes a long way.


      PS. And congratulations on losing 30 pounds… I love hearing stories like this.

  5. Jordan D. says:

    Lately I’ve been eating mostly one meal per day. I’ll have a small snack (usually an apple or handful of baby carrots) around 3:30-4:30 pm, and I’ll nibble here and there on some grapes or a little pinch of this or that. But the bulk of my calories are at dinner. I’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks and it’s going very well. There was a little hunger at first, but right now I’m probably experiencing less hunger in the afternoon than when I was eating two small meals per day (breakfast and dinner.) My body seems to have adjusted very well to this.

    Today I hit 200 pounds even, for a loss of 55 pounds so far, and another 20-25 pounds to go (well, probably closer to 25, lol.)

    • Johnny says:


      I’ve been following your fat loss progress, and it’s great to read about the pounds coming off. Congrats — 55 pounds is impressive. You are much healthier for not only losing all that weight but also for practicing IF. I hope to read about your continued weight loss.


  6. Greg Linster says:


    I love the concept for the 3rd Door!!! I find that IF works particularly well when time to exercise is scarce. I know that I subconsciously try to exercise more to justify eating more. Paradoxically, exercising less and IF’ing more tends to show better results in my body composition than exercising more and eating more.


    • Johnny says:

      Hi Greg,

      I have experienced the same. Intermittent fasting more and exercising less have yielded superior results in a lean condition and better over sense of well-being. Eating more and exercising more increases both postrandial stress and increased exercise oxidative stress, resulting in chronic inflammation that may impede optimum health.

      This is not to say that we should exercise less or not at all (most people in North America need to exercise more), but striving for optimum health with decreased eating is almost always better than increased exercising. And leanness comes from mostly eating habit, not from exercising.


  7. Marc says:

    I want to share one thing that my friends have told me when first tying IF. (when I introduced them to it)
    The first 10-14 days went well, then they fell of the wagon hard.

    So be aware..you will most likely hit this “reset point”……it is then that mindfullness is absolutely KEY. As Johhny points out, it’s NOT physical, it’s psychological

    I’m convinced that IF mimics closest, the way are bodies are supposed to be nourished.

    Johnny, 3rd Door looks so neat. Good luck with everything.


  8. Mark says:

    Hey Johnny,
    Thank you for the reply. The more I thought about it and after factoring in the realities of my day, I think you would be the perfect person to answer this question. Due to a demanding work and commuting schedule (like a lot of people out there) on top of finding time to spend with my family, I know that working out for 30-60 minutes a day is just not in the cards (unfortunately because I love it). I can control my diet though. Therefore, I was wondering what you think is the least amount of exercise that one can do while still being able to get as lean as you. I’m fine with giving up any goals of tremendous strength gains or being a good Crossfit athlete. My only remaining goal is to look good (your level of leanness is ideal) while being healthy, I can live with that. Please let me know what you think. Maybe I should just do strength movements and eat little? I know you don’t really count calories but in this case maybe it might be necessary as I’m trying to cut about 10% body fat. Thanks Johnny, any guidance would be appreciated. By the way, it sounds like you have a great facility.

    • Bangkok Jay says:

      Hi Mark. Mind if I throw my few cents in? In 9 months so far I lost 42lbs (from a fat 210lbs on a stocky 5’5″ frame) from both eating less through paleo+daily, daily IF, and minimal resistance exercise (to keep whatever muscle memory I hoped I had). It’s working but I still keep strength training minimal though I’m tempted to do more.

      How minimal? Started with just pushups to failure on a weekly basis (measly 25 and now I manage 65). 6 months ago I couldn’t manage a single chinup/pullup; now I manage sets of 8/5/4/3 almost daily at my kid’s school playground. Tried tabata burpees for a while but that didn’t improve the fat-burning by much. The dieting+IF did though. The resistance training was initially just to preserve/tone muscle and now the layer of flab covering it is disappearing.

      I’m resisting the temptation to join a gym to hit the iron once again but I now find I look better without all the bulk. I added dumbbells for added exercises I do at home once (max twice) a week. Recently I’m experimenting with the “Armstrong” pullup technique: as soon as I wake up, I do a set or two of pushups before showering. Then at nursery, do my daily chinups/pullups ignoring the pretty mommies looking on.

      Try to think of flexible ways to do your resistance training. Frankly I hate cardio (at the gym) and am just glad to know and read that it isn’t necessary to get the lean, strong look we’re all after. – Jay

      • Mark says:

        Thanks Jay. That does help. Are you watching calories at all or just eating Paleo + Dairy to satiety?

      • Johnny says:

        Excellent reply from Jay. Keep your exercise flexible and gauge your body’s response. Change in volume and exercise mode as needed.


  9. Mark says:

    So basically, exercise when you feel up to it, not much is needed, and don’t count calories? Try to let hunger guide you?

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Mark,

      Something about “exercise when you feel up to it” which sounds dangerous. 🙂

      Try to get regular exercise in, but make it flexible so that it’s sustainable for the rest of your life.

      Try to include strength training regularly. Do metabolic-intense training regularly (sprint, Crossfit, etc.).

      Adjust volume or frequency as needed, depending on how the body responds to your current routine.

      Hope that helps (just trying to keep it simple),

      • Mark says:

        Thank you for your response Johnny. I have spent some time going through all of your posts and keeping it simple is what I fight so much. Getting lean occupies a lot of my thoughts so naturally I dissect everything past the point of diminishing return. I hope to keep to a simple approach and have results like yours. Going through your posts and comments have helped, especially in giving up weighing and measuring (counting calories) as of today. Thanks for your help.

    • Bangkok Jay says:

      Hi Mark,

      The first 30lbs of loss I didn’t count calories and it came off pretty rapidly in 3 months. The next 12lbs took a while at an average of 1kg (2.2lbs) per month but only in the last 3 months did I bother to consciously consider the calories (once or twice checking on fitday.com for a reference point).

      Like Johnny, I chew slowly and enjoy my 2 meals over a 6-7hr window. I bias my bigger meal for dinner with more protein/fat and only have a snack if I feel the urge since my first meal is more modest (like just cheese, salami, and tomatoes). Yes I eat to satiety but it took me a while to gauge what portions were really enough (and that was surprisingly less than I thought).

      I’ve been generous with pastured butter and other fats and then consciously cut down on them some months, but with little effect it seems on loss progression. All I know is, I need to keep protein pretty high for both easier satiety and for muscle retention.

      I like chins, decline pushups, and squats as they’re compound movements but anything that provides resistance training is great (pushing & pulling your body). In cooler months (here in the tropics) I’d do a weekly sprint and walk more often (now I walk the malls). Think creatively and find reasons to move. – Jay

  10. Jordan D. says:

    Thanks, Johnny, I appreciate that. 🙂

    One meal is fun, if for no other reason than sheer indulgence! I was happy eating two 500-800 calorie meals per day. Nothing wrong it, and I could always eat that way again if I wanted to. But a 900-1100 calorie meal is… well, very pleasant, too. 🙂

    Last night I had a burger (homemade, not a ginormous piece of meat, no cheese, didn’t need it,) lasagna (reasonable portion,) Greek yogurt, and a slice of chocolate cream pie. Um, yeah, that’s sustainable! lol.

    • Johnny says:


      I’ve occasionally eaten one meal per day. It’s definitely a useful and thoroughly enjoyable schedule.


  11. Pingback: Picture Update: Body Composition July 4, 2010 | The Lean Saloon

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