Fasting is not a newly introduced practice. This age-old practice holds significant importance and works wonders for mind, body, and soul. There are multiple types of research for the proven benefits of fasting. But the newly launched term, intermittent fasting, is a bit different, which started to gain popularity in 2010.
Intermittent fasting offers multiple benefits to bodybuilders. However, many bodybuilders mistakenly take intermittent fasting as a muscle loss process.
You do not reduce your calories drastically during this diet pattern but consume nutritious food after some extended fasting period. It is a modern technique that flips your eating routine with alternate feeding and fasting periods. You do not frequently eat, which results in weight loss and various health benefits.
This way of eating can improve your metabolism, reduce sugar and snack cravings, enhance the fat-burning process and body performance. Also, it is easy to follow because of its multiple types that are discussed further.
Eating in periods gives your body enough time to fight diseases, cope with inflammation, digest well, repair cells, and consume your body fat for energy instead of glucose.
As a bodybuilder, you should not worry about trying intermittent fasting because if you follow the right method, you will get the desired result. Intermittent fasting can promote muscle development along with fat loss. You can shed all those extra pounds without losing your muscle mass.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is the best practice for fat loss. Bodybuilders know how challenging it is to maintain and shed weight without disturbing muscle mass. A regular diet may help you gain muscles quickly but does not work well with weight loss. In that case, IF works wonders.
When you eat frequently, your body produces more sugar to burn for energy. Restricting your eating period helps you burn fat instead of sugar. Because of its various types, this practice is much more helpful than any other calorie restriction method for bodybuilders.
In addition, bodybuilders require higher growth hormone levels to gain muscle, and IF helps in boosting human growth hormone (HGH). HGH plays a significant role in muscle gain, body strengthening, and cellular performance.
Moreover, you improve your heart health and overall body performance through intermittent fasting. The enhanced cell repair function helps your body stay healthy even in old age.
It means if you want to strengthen and boost your body systems, nothing could be more favorable than preferring IF. There are many more benefits of IF than a normal fat loss diet that also includes building muscle mass.
First, let us look into the different methods you can follow to do Intermittent Fasting the right way.
Popular Ways to Do Intermittent Fasting
IF is a popular health trend to work according to your desired purposes and body type. This eating pattern has several different methods that you can follow. We are mentioning them below:
1. The 16:8 Method
The 16:8 or lean gains method is one of the most common and effective IF methods, especially for bodybuilders. It is also known as a restricted feeding routine. You are only allowed to eat for a certain period.
The eating window is 8 hours, and you need to fast for 16 hours. For instance, you finish your dinner at 8 pm to skip your breakfast. Now you will eat in the afternoon.
An eating period of 8 hours allows you to eat whatever you want, which includes loads of calories and proteins. Bodybuilders found this way quite beneficial because of enough eating time. You can burn 10% body fat while maintaining muscle mass.
2. The 5:2 Diet
This one is easier than all other IF methods. 5:2 diet includes only two non-consecutive days to restrict your calorie intake. For the rest of the five days, you can eat whatever you want. It means a simple yet minor adjustment to your lifestyle.
3. Eat Stop Eat
Unlike other intermittent fasting methods, the eat stop eat method not only sounds scary but is quite difficult. It is a 24 hour fast any two days of the week, in which you will not be eating anything between one lunch to another. You can choose from any mealtime.
If you are done eating at 7 pm, you will eat the next day at 7 pm. Bodybuilders are not advised to follow this method because they need to maintain their muscle mass by consuming enough protein and calories,
4. Alternate Day Fasting
The term itself explains the practice. You will be keeping a 24 hour fast on alternate days. You will eat nothing for a complete 24 hours, whereas you will be allowed to have nutritious food the next day.
The purpose is to maintain zero calorie intake. But bodybuilders can utilize the non-fasting days for their calorie surplus. Eating healthy yet required food on training days helps gain muscles while losing body fat.
5. The Warrior Diet
This method is excellent for night eaters. During this régime, you will not eat much for about 20 hours. You can have hard-boiled eggs, dairy products, raw fruits, and even veggies. After 20 hours, you can eat whatever you want, but healthy options are always preferred.
6. Spontaneous Meal Skipping
It is the favorite method of many beginners because it is easy to follow and continue. Meal skipping is even naturally done sometimes, so why not give it a try for weight loss? Bodybuilders find it quite beneficial because you can eat whatever you want and at your desired time.
For instance, you are done with dinner, skip breakfast. The same goes for other meals like if you are not hungry, skip lunch and enjoy your dinner. This way, you can consume the required calories along with the protein.
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How Intermittent Fasting Helps You Gain Muscles
IF is now a popular health trend, and many people follow this diet category. But, apart from losing fat, is it helpful in retaining muscle mass?
The answer is yes, and the lean gains method is the best method for mass muscle maintenance and enhancement.
History shows us that eating frequently was not an option because of the unavailability of enough food production. In the modern era, we keep eating throughout the day without even giving enough time to the body to burn fat. Frequent eating affects muscle growth and increases the body weight due to high levels of insulin produced.
Bodybuilders find it hard to shed extra pounds. The journey is filled with struggles and the ups and downs of weight, fat, and muscles. All you need is an effective method to lose weight without losing muscle mass. In this case, nothing can be more helpful than intermittent fasting.
It can be challenging because you have a restricted time to eat, but at the same time, you need to consume enough protein and calories. But it works well if you want to retain your body weight while increasing muscle mass. There are various researches showing muscle gain with the help of intermittent fasting.
A normal high protein diet may be a better option for muscle gain. You make intermittent fasting effective for your purposes by mindful eating and restricting during a specific time. Appropriate workout programs and protein consumption can show you noticeable improvement.
Let us see further how Intermittent Fasting helps you achieve your muscle-building goals:
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1. Exercise in Fasting State Supports Your Goals
Building muscle mass on intermittent fasting is generally considered challenging. But if you know how to master the practice, you are good to go. Usually, it is better to consume protein before exercising to build muscles.
But for the bodybuilders following IF, exercises in the fasting state also prove effective. You can eat more proteins and calories during your eating period. But make sure to go for exercises in your fasted state to support your goals as your body uses fat for energy while in a fasted state.
2. Fasting Elevates Human Growth Hormone
Restricting your eating patterns helps you improve your health. You will need higher human growth hormone levels for bodybuilding and muscle growth. Fasting helps release HGH.
HGH is a hormone that stimulates growth in children, adolescents, and adults. It is produced by the pituitary glands that help regulate body composition, body fluids, muscle, and bone growth. It may also help regulate sugar and fat metabolism and possibly heart function. Some anti-aging experts believe that HGH products can reverse the effects of age-related bodily decline, including muscle loss.
3. Intermittent Fasting Differs From Calorie Restriction
The purpose of intermittent fasting is different from calorie restriction. IF helps you lose fat without affecting muscle mass most of the time. As a bodybuilder, you will need to consume enough calories for muscle growth, which is impossible in a calorie restriction diet.
At the same time, IF allows you to consume as many calories as you require by restricting the time only.
4. It Boosts Metabolism
The improved metabolic rate helps bodybuilders lose fat efficiently while gaining muscles. IF has multiple benefits, and improved metabolism is the most favorable one.
You can choose the type to follow according to your requirements, but short-term fasts can boost up to 14% of the metabolic rate.
5. Intermittent Fasting Burns Off Critical Fat
Not only does IF help you gain muscles, but it prepares your body to lose that stubborn fat. Such difficult fat is usually stored deep in the body. Intermittent fasting makes it easier for your body to use fat as fuel instead of using glucose as an energy source.
The body, when on fast, begins to burn fat for energy, which is the best part. The practice is proved to be more effective on visceral fat than following low-carb diets.
6. The Flexibility of Fasting Supports Your Gains
The flexible eating pattern allows you to make different choices according to your needs while enjoying the benefits. You can choose any diet plan with any type of IF. Most bodybuilders prefer a ketogenic diet to gain muscles.
Whether you choose more extended fasting periods or shorter ones, you can notice a drastic change. Flexible fasting can help you maintain your body fat while gaining muscles efficiently.
Intermittent fasting is a proven way to help weight loss and muscle building. It is a diet pattern that follows alternate feeding and fasting periods, allowing your body to use fat as fuel. It also increases the production of Human Growth Hormone that aids in muscle and bone growth.
Intermittent fasting shows amazing results when followed by consistent workouts and nutritious food. Bodybuilders who aim to maintain or increase muscle mass should not be afraid to follow the intermittent fasting method, as fasting helps boost metabolism, burn fat, and overall body performance.
- Keenan, Stephen, et al. “The Effects of Intermittent Fasting Combined with Resistance Training on Lean Body Mass: A Systematic Review of Human Studies.” Nutrients, vol. 12, no. 8, Aug. 2020, p. 2349. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12082349.
- MPH, Monique Tello, MD. “Intermittent Fasting: Surprising Update.” Harvard Health, 29 June 2018, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156.