What Foods Should You Eat
As I said there are no strict rules on your food choices or macros, but there are some general pointers Id like to mention.
Obviously, if youre eating junk food in your 8-hour window, not only are you going to struggle to lose fat over the long-term, but your health and energy levels are going to suck too.
You need good food choices on your intermittent fasting bodybuilding journey.
How Often Can We Stimulate Muscle
This raises another question. How often can we stimulate muscle protein synthesis? Could we eat protein all day long, perpetually maintaining peak muscle growth conditions? What about something like this?
Layne Norton tested this idea and discovered that we can only trigger muscle growth once every four hours or so. If we eat meals more frequently than that, again, the protein will contribute towards our daily macros, but the meals wonât stimulate extra growth via muscle-protein synthesis.
This leaves us with an ideal meal schedule that looks something like this:
How controversial is this research? Could it be wrong? While there are still some questions about this theory, most of them are finer details, not issues with what weâve discussed above. One of those finer details is that these spurts of muscle growth seem linked to one specific component of protein , not our overall protein intake. Dr Stuart McGillâs research has shown that some protein sources have more leucine than others, so itâs not quite as simple as just making sure to eat 40 grams of protein . For example, you can get maximal muscle growth with just 27 grams of whey protein, whereas you might need more like 50 grams of rice protein in order to get the same effect.
However, Nortonâs overall research isnt controversial. In fact, itâs the dominant theory among the top researchers in the field, including both Dr Eric Helms and Dr Brad Schoenfeld. To quote Schoenfeld:
Exercise In The Morning
If you want to gain or maintain muscle, you have to find the best time to train. The optimal time for exercise is probably shortly after waking up in the morning or at least four hours before bedtime.
Studies show that exercising too close to bedtime can affect our levels of deep sleep and REM sleep. So if you want to sleep better, let your body recuperate and support muscle recovery, do not exercise too close to bedtime.
You might not want to eat straight after exercising either. Studies also show that waiting a few hours to eat after a workout increases the hormone, human growth hormone in our bodies, which helps to burn fat.
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Find The Right Type Of Intermittent Fasting
The results of concomitant intermittent fasting and working out depends on the type of intermittent fasting. For example, doing low-intensity workouts is best suited when you do the 24-hours fasts.
On the other hand, you can consider high-intensity activities if you do 16-hour fasts or random meal skipping.
There are several types of intermittent fasting. These include the 5:2 fast, 12-hour fasts, 16-hour fasts, 20-hour fasts, 24-hour, random meal skipping, and fasting on alternate days. The choice of the type depends on your schedule, fitness goals, and unique individual needs.
Thus, it is recommended that you consult an expert to find the best fasting method. Have problems with understanding these methods? Take a QUIZ and get your personalized intermittent fasting plan!
Human Growth Hormone Production
- Fasting may stimulate growth hormone, which helps preserve muscle mass.
While it may be true that a continuous stream of amino acids is more anabolic than going without food, fasting isnt as catabolic as previously thought. In other words, fasting might be better for fat loss than formuscle gain.
But skipping meals doesnt seem to break down your muscle. For example, a randomized study published in 2016 found that obese people fasting every other day for eight weeks lost the same amount of weight and retained the same muscle as a control group.
Think about it from an evolution standpoint: we wouldnt evolve well if we started burning muscle in the absence of food, says Dr. Kalra. We retain muscle due to a hormone called human growth hormone, which is crucial for the maintenance of muscle and the bone.
While most of the studies showing this have been on multi-day fasts, theres still evidence that one-day fasts may effectively increase your bodys growth hormone production. Its a stretch to say fasting is anabolic, but it doesnt appear to be truly catabolic so long as your overall calories are in check.
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Top Tips For Intermittent Fasting
1) HYDRATE: Staying hydrated during your fast is extremely important. Aim to drink 2 liters of water daily. Artificial flavors and sweeteners should not be used, however, adding a squeeze of lemon or lime, or even infusing your water with orange slices or cucumber for flavor is completely fine.
Not only is it extremely important to stay hydrated for physiological reasons, but drinking water can also help diminish hunger.
2) DRINK TEA: Tip two, or as I like to call it, Tip Tea! Tea is a great beverage choice anytime, but especially during a fast. Enjoy them hot or cold, spiced, or blended, teas are very versatile and have a variety of options for you to choose from.
3) DRINK COFFEE: Coffee, caffeinated or decaffeinated, is another great beverage choice. And if youre a coffee addict, congratulations, you dont have to forfeit your favorite drink! Cinnamon is a great spice choice to add to your coffee, without adding calories or breaking your fast.
4) STAY BUSY: Experienced clinicians and dieticians recommend staying busy during a fast as a way to ignore or curb hunger.
Who should not fast?
Is intermittent fasting safe? For the average individual, yes, intermittent fasting is safe. However, individuals who are underweight, have an eating disorder, pregnant, breastfeeding, or under the age of 18 should not fast.
How Can Intermittent Fasting Get You Better Results
IF makes losing fat extremely simple and enjoyable.
But IF can also improve your workout progress in some other interesting ways.
- For example, when youre new to intermittent fasting , you can sometimes experience a dramatic recomposition effect.
- Though you may be eating fewer calories overall, and in fact you may be in a calorie deficit for weight loss, because of the timing of your meals you actually have more calories available for your muscle recovery then you would on a standard diet of the same calories.
Intermittent Fasting isnt quite a magical cheat code: The most important thing in your progress is still training and overall calorie and macro consumption.
But IF definitely has some cool benefits that make it worth trying!
Now lets take a look at the 6 best intermittent fasting workout routines!
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Intermittent Fasting Bodybuilding: What Do The Latest Scientific Studies Say
Undoubtedly, intermittent fasting is one of the best ways to lose weight. However, when it comes to bodybuilding, people often turn skeptic. It is prevailing wisdom among common people that fasting is a form of starvation, simply because you are hungry while fasting.
Lifting heavy weights while fasting does not seem like a good idea to build muscle, right? However, science has something different to say about the link between intermittent fasting and muscle growth. Lets look at the most recent scientific evidence on this.
Notably, all of the studies below have been conducted in humans.
Best Intermittent Fasting Workout Routine For Bulking & Gaining Muscle
If youre already pretty lean, or just want to focus on gaining some serious strength and muscle, the Greek God Program is where you need to be.
What it does: On Greek God, youll actually be eating in a surplus of calories while using Intermittent Fasting for incredible results.
You should be getting measurably stronger on key lifts every week and seeing big gains in your shoulders, upper chest, and back in particular. On this program you should gain about 2 pounds of muscle per month with minimal fat.
How it works: Youll work out 3x per week on the Greek God Program but with slightly higher volume on fewer exercises to get the most gains possible in key areas.
Youll have to really be diligent about your nutrition to make sure youre getting in 200-300 extra calories per day over maintenance.
Using Intermittent Fasting on this bulking plan should help you burn fat during the day and stay extra lean.
A post shared by Kinobody on Apr 17, 2018 at 2:13pm PDT
Check out my full review and breakdown of the Greek God Program.
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How To Bulk While Intermittent Fasting
As great as these findings are, I believe you can do even better and pack on high quality muscle by focusing on consuming calories during the natural anabolic windows that occur when you practice both intermittent fasting and strength training.
The First Anabolic Window
The first anabolic window occurs immediately following your 14-16 hour fast. During this time, a metabolically healthy body has utilized its glucose/glycogen supply and is burning fat for energy, which means the body is very sensitive to insulin and other growth signals at this time. This combination of factors sets you up for a large anabolic response to your first meal.
The Second Anabolic Window
The second anabolic window happens during the post-workout time period, typically the dinner meal, presuming you train in the afternoon and/or early evening. After this workout, you get a huge insulin response at the time when your muscles are primed to absorb glucose to repair and regrow. So, during this post-workout anabolic window, almost all the glucose from carbohydrates is used by your muscles and does not stay in your blood stream for long.
The Post-Training Anabolic Window
Bonus: Train Twice Per Day
If your schedule does not allow two workouts a day, that is completely fine as great results can be obtained through the combination of fasting and working out once a day, provided you follow the general recommendations above of consuming your larger meals during the bodys natural anabolic windows.
Nutrition Strategies To Support Your Muscles
If you choose to use intermittent fasting as a tool for weight loss and health, there are several things you can do to maintain as much muscle as possible.
As discussed, exercising especially weight training can help maintain muscle. A slow and steady rate of weight loss may also help.
Research has shown that you are more likely to lose lean mass, including muscle, when you lose weight quickly .
This means that if you are performing intermittent fasting, you should try to not drastically reduce your calorie intake all at once.
While the ideal rate of weight loss may vary, many experts recommend 12 pounds per week. However, if preserving muscle is your top priority, you may want to shoot for the lower end of this range (
It is possible that adequate protein intake is particularly important when using intermittent fasting, since your body will go for longer periods of time without receiving nutrients .
Summary Important nutritional strategies that may help you maintain muscle during intermittent fasting are attempting a slower rate of weight loss and ensuring adequate protein intake. Choosing nutritious foods is also recommended.
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Intermittent Meal Plan Example
For this example, well focus on the 5/2 Intermittent Fast, which consists of two fasting days per week, each allowing 25 percent of your regular caloric intake . When doing this fast, consider having an eating window from 8am to 6pm.
In addition to possibly losing addition weight, youll have more food options if you avoid pieces of bread, rice, and pasta during your fast.
When fasting with limited calories, a hidden gem is hemp seeds. My favorite brand is Manitoba Harvest. Their Hemp Hearts are delicious and provide more protein than meat.
What Is Your Fasting Ratio
The most common fasting window is 16:8 which means you fast for 16 hours and have an 8 hour eating window. Your fasting window can be anywhere between 12-18 hours, the more hours you fast the more beneficial the fast will be for you. I like to go with the common 16:8 ratio, this way, when I workout, I am sure my body is in a fasted state.
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Heres An Example Of What Id Eat In A Day During My Weight Loss Phase
- Pre-workout snack: Toasted Ezekiel bread with one tablespoon of peanut butter, a sliced banana on top, sprinkled with chia seeds and a little honey.
- Breakfast: Egg white omelette with pico, spinach, and turkey bacon or turkey sausage, with an avocado on top.
- Lunch: Iâd usually pre-pack a protein smoothie or have burger and avocado.
- Dinner: I do shrimp, chicken, or steak with broccoli and avocado. Sometimes I switch out the broccoli with asparagus, sweet potatoes, or corn. But I tried to keep it easy and consistent.
- Snacks: Paleo chocolate chip cookies from my local Fresh Kitchen or some Skinny Pop popcorn.
Proper Nutrition For An Intermittent Fasting Muscle Gain Meal Plan
If you choose to work out while in your fasted state, its essential to supply your body with the nutrients it needs to recover. But it can be challenging to pack in as many nutrients as possible during your feasting window. So, begin with protein.
Adhering to a protein-packed diet can help support muscle recovery during fat loss. Aim to consume a minimum of 20 grams of protein to preserve muscle gained through fasted exercise. Think beyond meatnuts and seeds, leafy greens, and dairy such as Greek yogurt are full of protein.
Plus, be sure to drink plenty of water. The first place your body will go to replenish energy while fasting is your glycogen and water reserves, so its critical you remain hydrated. In addition to drinking water, add in water-rich veggies such as cucumbers, celery, and tomatoes. By providing your body with proper fluid levels, you can repair and maintain muscle mass.
If you find it challenging to consume enough protein or other crucial vitamins and minerals, consider taking a supplement. However, check with your doctor first to be sure supplements are right for you. Though, if you lack protein, iron, or calcium, you may want to consult a physician about the healthiest way to include these minerals in your meals.
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Study On Protein Distribution For Muscle Growth
We have a brand new study comparing the effects of protein distribution on muscle growth. Whats nice about this study is they measured how much lean mass was gained, giving us an idea of what the differences are likely to add up to in the real world.
In this study, the participants were put on a twelve-week weight training program. Half the participants were given a breakfast that was extremely low in protein, whereas the other half were given a normal breakfast containing an average amount of protein. Both groups ate the same amount of protein overall, and both diets had the same macronutrients. The only difference was the schedule.
What we see is that eating protein in the morning increased muscle growth by around 37%. It also yielded larger increases in strength.
This lines up with previous research and expert recommendations fairly well, giving us more confidence that intermittent fasting isnt ideal for building muscle. It can work, but this study suggests that wed be able to gain muscle 37% faster simply by eating a protein-rich breakfast.
Does Skipping A Day Of Intermittent Fasting Ruin Your Results
No. No matter what kind of results were talking about. That day is just a non-fasting day, nothing more. It doesnt have any lingering effects.
That said, consistency is the key to many things. If you use intermittent fasting for weight loss, skipping a day might lead to more missed days, and so on. But if its just a day now and then, dont worry about it.
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Intermittent Fastings Downfall: Too Much Breakdown
Intermittent Fasting works incredibly well for dropping body fat relatively easily. Its also arguably the healthiest way to eat.
But lets be honest: When it comes to packing on muscle mass and making strength gains, IF falls flat. Theres not a Mr. Olympia competitor alive who uses this technique it would never allow him to maintain muscle mass. And if youre over 200 pounds and lean, youll have a hard time holding onto that size, not to mention getting bigger, while following IF.
The problem with IF, as it pertains to building muscle, is precisely its defining characteristic: the very long periods of fasting. Here, muscle tissue is literally being eaten by the body. This is called muscle protein breakdown .
The key, then, to growing muscle with IF is maximizing muscle protein synthesis the opposite of MPB during the feeding window.
Time Restricted Feeding Method
One of the most common methods for practicing intermittent fasting is the time restriction method, where you only eat within a certain window. The beauty of this method is that its easier to hit your daily caloric goals than the other methods.
The Leangains method of fasting for 16 hours each day, and eating during 8 hours each day, is the most popular type of time restricted fasting.
The beauty of this method is that you can easily adjust it to fit your schedule. If, for example, you go to work from 9-5, you can simply make that a part of your fasting window, so you can be more productive at work, while also reaping the benefits of intermittent fasting.
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