There’s been a lot of hype about intermittent fasting over the last few years. Some people have raved about its effects on fat loss, some say it’s the “secret” to great health, and a few guys are even claiming that it’s the best way to gain muscle. Then, of course, there are plenty of folks – lifters and laypeople – claiming that fasting is the devil, and that you MUST eat six small meals per day.
What’s the real deal? Honestly, intermittent fasting can work pretty well, whether your main goal is to build muscle or lose fat. People have been overanalyzing meal frequency for a long time, and they seem to have forgotten that NOT eating is a damn good way to shed weight. Obviously crash dieting and long-term starvation are bad, but if you’re even on this site, then you already know that! We’re not talking about a reversion to yo-yo dieting and binging, we’re talking about rearranging meals to optimize fat loss and lean muscle gains.
Think fasting is only a good idea if you’re trying to cut? Think again. It’s not the end-all, be-all of diet plans, but it can absolutely help you avoid excessive fat gain while bulking. This is especially true for those of you who used to be straight-up fat. If you want learn how fasting can help you get big AND stay lean, read on…
One of the most common arguments against fasting is that eating smaller, more frequent meals is necessary to “stoke” your metabolism. You hear this knowledge-bomb from nutritionists and trainers so often that it must be true, right? Wrong! Numerous studies have shown that meal frequency has no significant effect on metabolic rate. In fact, some research indicates that eating more of your carbs and calories at the end of the day is BETTER for both fat loss and muscle gain.
But your hard-earned muscle mass – won’t it waste away if you endure more than three waking hours without food? Again, no. Even the leanest bodies have some fat to feed on, and THAT is where you’ll get your energy when you’re not eating. If anything, regular fasting makes your body far more efficient at using its fat stores for energy.
As for hunger, it can certainly be a problem at first – but you’ll adapt. If you’re used to eating a big breakfast and following it with small meals every few hours, of course you’re going to feel famished when you change things up. Your body is incredibly adaptable, though, and it’ll “learn” to get hungry at different times. A lack of early-morning hunger doesn’t mean your metabolism has slowed, either. It means you’ve become better at feeding off your fat stores at the beginning of the day.
Finally, think about how often you’re eating on your current meal plan. Do you eat RIGHT before bed? Do you eat in the middle of the night? Do you eat within five minutes of waking up? No? Then you’re already fasting! You probably spend eight, ten, or even twelve hours of every day without food, and you’re not wasting away. Don’t assume that extending that period by an extra four to six hours will kill your gains.
Clearly, fasting is a viable way to shed fat without losing strength. But can avoiding food actually HELP you build muscle? You bet! One of the greatest advantages of intermittent fasting is that it makes your body more insulin sensitive. Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, better insulin sensitivity means leaner gains. When you’re more sensitive, your body is more likely to use anything you eat – especially carbs – for muscle repair. Couple this effect with the anabolic power of weight training and the post-workout window, and you’ve got a potent recipe for fat-free gains.
Of course, you’ll only notice this effect if you’re actually eating enough when you DO eat. Remember, intermittent fasting isn’t a low-calorie diet. If anything, you should be eating a little more during your end-of-the-day feeding frenzies than you would on a normal meal plan. This can get tough, especially if you don’t have a huge appetite. Instead of eating all your carbs, fats, and 300+ grams of protein over the course of the day, you’ve got to cram them all into an eight-hour window.
Ultimately, you’ve got to find the meal frequency that works best for your body, your schedule, and your priorities. Some people like to fast for an entire sixteen hours, train on an empty stomach, and then eat all of their food for the day. Others like to eat one moderately-sized meal, train a few hours later, and then get their grub on for a few hours after that. And of course, the skinniest of skinny guys usually just need to pack in as many calories as they can, all day every day. So oxperiment with different meal times, different macronutrient timings, and even different training times.
And if what you are doing right now works, then continue with that. I know many guys that are eating 6 meals per day ever 3 hours and are getting insane results. In the same way I know fellow models who swear by intermittent fasting and they are also getting the results they are after. So we are not saying that one or other technique is right or wrong but are just providing you with the facts and more options if what you are doing right is not getting you results and you want to try something else. If you look at what the most successful guys do, you’ll see that the only thing they ALL have in common is that they all do things differently.
Article by Sixpackfactory’s Muscle Building Expert and Top Fitness Model Justin Woltering. Get more info on Justin at: http://www.justinwoltering.com/