Max Lowery was a stockbroker in the City for four years leading a booze-fuelled and sleep deprived life before he became a heath guru.
He quit the banking world and went travelling around South America, which is where he accidently fell into intermittent fasting.
While doing lots of hiking in Brazil, he told Business Insider: “I was trying to save time and money so I started eating one or one and a half meals a day.”
He discovered the local buffet restaurants, known as “Kilogramas,” which as the name suggests, sell home-cooked food by the kilo.
“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.”
Upon his return to London, Lowery reverted back to eating three meals a day. “I started to feel really lethargic, was always thinking about my next meal, and my body fat rose from 7% to 12%.”
He began researching intermittent fasting and realised he had been following a long version of that. Unknowingly, he had trained his body to be self-sufficient and put it into fat-burning mode.
That was four years ago. Now Lowery, a 27-year-old a personal trainer and health coach, has written a book on his own intermittent fasting weight loss plan called The 2 Meal Day.
Fasting has nothing to do with starvation, according to Lowery.
The premise of 2 Meal Day is that by eating just two meals in a day — either breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner, thus introducing a daily 16-hour fasting period — you can retrain your body to become “fat adapted,” meaning you burn stored body fat for energy, rather than being dependent on 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.
The health benefits of prolonged fasting are scientifically recognised, and are said to include weight loss, muscle preservation, reduced cholesterol and blood pressure, and higher endorphin and energy levels.
According to Lowery, following his diet plan will not only help you lose weight, have more energy, and no longer find yourself dependent on caffeine and sugar for boosts, but it will also make you less hungry.
“When you’re in tune with your body you can understand what hunger really feels like, it’s something that happens every 16-24 hours, not every four,” he said. “The Western world spends next to no time in the fasted state, just one or two hours max.”
“It’s a very beneficial state to be in, your body starts to cleanse and heal itself.”
It’s important to stick to a routine.
He said it’s important that at the beginning, you get into a routine of skipping the same meal each day, and stick to it. “Once you start burning fat for energy you can start mixing things here and there to suit lifestyle changes if you need to,” he said.
About 80% of Lowery’s clients skip breakfast rather than dinner. “For most people it’s practically and socially easier to skip breakfast.”
Lowery usually has his first meal around 3 p.m. but it’s sometimes later. “It completely depends on what’s going on. If it’s a training day I’m a lot hungrier, [but] on rest days I eat a lot less and that’s the way it should be.”
In a world where we’ve been taught that breakfast is the most sacred meal of the day, he could be in for a tough sell.
However, Lowery said: “There are lots of studies to suggest that we’re not as good at tolerating food in the morning, which means you’re going to be more affected by spikes in blood sugar levels.”
“Not only that, cortisol is higher in the mornings. The combination of glucose (sugars from food) and cortisol in the blood stream can cause insulin resistance.”
Eventually, your body stops feeling deprived.
The 2 Meal Day has been dubbed in “the new 5:2” — a popular diet in which you eat normally for five days and a week and restrict your calorie intake to 600 calories on two “fast” days.
But Lowery argues they’re actually totally 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. For those reasons about 30% of people feel restricted doing the 5:2, compared to 10% on 2 Meal Day.”
Much of Lowery’s initial research on fasting methods was through men’s strength forums, but he wants to bring the concept in to the mainstream.
“I’m trying to bring something quite niche and male-based and make it more accessible,” he said.
For health tips, food inspo, or simply to keep up with his energetic lifestyle, you can follow Lowery on Instagram @max.lowery.