Do you want to know what is intermittent fasting and how it works to help you burn fat while maintaining muscle? Then you want to read this article.
Intermittent fasting often referred to as periodic fasting, is an eating pattern that focuses on fasting at intervals.
It is one of the simplest methods to lose weight and maintain your muscle mass.
Intermittent fasting is not about what you can eat, but when you can eat.
Therefore, it should not be seen as a diet, but you should see it as a healthy eating pattern that help you build muscle, burn fat to get a strong and lean body.
How does Intermittent Fasting work?
Periodic fasting is not at all as unnatural as one would normally think.
What we do today could be described as unhealthy.
Think about it, is it normal and healthy that we are always stuffing ourselves with food while we do not need it at all?
We are always eating, for almost an entire decade, we never get a chance to burn all those stored calories.
Hence, the body never gets a chance to periodically use that stored energy and burn fat.
Intermittent fasting gives your body a healthy dose of stress, taking it back into survival mode, just as it did during ancient times.
During the fasting period, your body is depleted of it’s more preferred energy stores, the food you eat. At this period, your body relies on the stored fat for energy.
Has it always been this way?
Ever since the dawn of humanity, we have been fasting. Although, we didn’t observe or call it as “fasting”, but we did go for long hours with no food.
Sometimes this had to be done because the food was simply not available. Had a hunter caught an animal, he was lucky.
Once the meat was consumed by the group, they were again advised to pick berries which means that there were days for which they received little to no food at all.
People back then had no choice but to look for food again and again which is quite the opposite of the life as we know now.
Our ancestors were engaged in periodic fasting.
How did this massive lifestyle change occur you ask?
It is the influence of the food industry that has changed the lifestyle we followed for ages. The lifestyle which helped us evolve.
The concept of fasting for weight loss is contrary to the interest of business.
They want to sell as much food as possible, and of course, it will not work if people are willing to eat less.
Why Intermittent Fasting is Beneficial?
Intermittent fasting is much more than just a fat burning or a weight loss tool. A lot of things happens to your body when you do intermittent fasting.
Burning fat is one of the key benefits. However, the changes that occur to your body is mind blowing.
In the section, we talk about the benefits of doing intermittent fasting.
1. Intermittent Fasting Increases Your Hormones
One of the key things that happen to your body is that, it initiates many repair process for the cells and alters your hormone level to make your stored body fat more accessible.
Along with the cellular repair, you will notice that the insulin levels in your blood drops which facilitates fat burning.
On the flip side you HGH levels in the blood may increase 5 times more. Higher levels of HGH helps you burn more fat and build more muscle.
and finally for the big one…
Intermittent fasting has been proven to improve the longevity of an individual’s life as it alters the gene expression.
2. Intermittent Fasting Burns Fat for Energy
To efficiently burn fat, your body needs to be in a caloric deficit. by practicing intermittent fasting you will consume fewer meals, thereby fewer calories.
During the fasting phase, your body utilizes the energy from stored fat to get you through your day. Afterall thats the reason our bodies store excess calories as fat.
The hormonal enhancements that occur during the fasting phase, facilitates effective fat burn which leads weight loss from burning fat.
The spike in human growth hormone and norepinephrine facilitates in body fat breakdown to utilize it for energy.
Hence, the reason fasting increases your metabolism by 4 to 14%, which in turn burn even more calories.
Following intermittent fasting nutrition protocol for a period 3 to 12 weeks can significantly help you shed inches of your waist, which indicates a loss of belly fat, the primary cause of many diseases.
3. Intermittent Fasting Lowers the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is due to high blood sugar levels caused due to a person’s high insulin resistance.
In recent decades, many people have got affected by Type 2 Diabetes.
If a person can reduce his insulin resistance, then he should be able to lower the blood sugar levels which can protect against type 2 diabetes.
Intermittent fasting reduces your insulin resistance, which lower your blood sugar levels and helping stay protected against Type 2 Diabetes.
In humans, it has been proven to show that blood sugar level reduce upto 6% and insulin level reduce upto 31%. Read more.
A study done of rats showed that intermittent fasting protected against kidney damage, which is one of the severe complications of type 2 diabetes. Read more.
Although these might be true, the difference in genders also can play a role.
Women may notice that their blood sugar levels actually worsen while following the intermittent fasting protocol, so ladies, proceed with caution.
4. Intermittent Fasting initiates Cellular Repair Processes
Following a 6 meals per day eating plan can build up alot of cellular waste which gets accumulated over time.
By feeding your body every waking moment, it is not getting a chance to use the energy it has already and hence, lead to many diseases as mentioned earlier.
It breaks down the cells and metabolizes broken and dysfunctional proteins that builds up inside the cells.
Getting rid of these cellular waste may provide protection against diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Intermittent Fasting is Good For Your Brain
The enhanced metabolic effect of intermittent fasting has been to known to improve brain performance.
It also increases the levels of a brain hormone called BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), a hormone deficiency in people who have suffered depression and various other brain problems like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.
It would probably be unwise to not try intermittent fasting protocol with this workout to get a strong & lean body with all the added health benefits mentioned here.
How do I start Intermittent Fasting?
Over the years there have been many different methods of intermittent fasting used by professional athletes and bodybuilders to lose fat and maintain muscle mass.
With each method, you will abstain from food and go feasting over an “eating window”. In generic terms, its called Fasting and Feasting.
There are 3 ways to start with intermittent fasting to bur fat or build muscle.
- The 16/8 Method: You will skip having breakfast everyday and feast on a 8 hour window. Typically from dinner to next day lunch you will be fasting.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: Fasting one day and feasting on the next day. For example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 Diet: Feast on 500-600 calories on 2 days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days of the week.
We would highly recommend the 16/8 method, starting with a 12 hour fast and slowly progressing every week by 1 hour. So you by the end of the 4th week you will be doing a 16 hour fast.
There are certain things to keep in mind to use intermittent fasting for fat loss:
- Food quality: The foods you eat are still important. Try to eat mostly whole, single ingredient foods. However, life is short. If your body fat % is lower than 20%, grabbing an occasional pizza wont kill you. 😉
- Calories: Calories do matter. Eating 3-4 big meals keeps your satisfied longer. However, meal prepping over the weekend for about an hour or 2 helps you stay from grabbing that donut which gives 0 ROI to your fasting efforts.
- Consistency: We cannot emphasize on this more. Rome wasnt built in a day, and neither is a strong and lean body going to be. It requires patience, discipline and consistency. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
- Patience: It can take your body some time to adapt to an intermittent fasting protocol. Try to be consistent with your meal schedule and it will get easier.
The best workout to do with intermittent fasting is strength training. Hands down! Why?
Strength training helps your body to maintain the muscle while you shred off fat.
It can even help you build muscle while your body consumes the stored fat during the fasting phase.
Doing any of our strength training workouts for fat loss and muscle gains like the Renegade Workout, Anarchy Workout, Anarchy Xtreme Workout, CrazyBurn Workout can help you lose body fat and build muscle.
Besides more muscle means higher resting metabolism, which means more energy consumption which means more fat burn and finally a strong & lean body that you absolutely crave.
FAQs on Intermittent Fasting
What to Do If You Feel Really Hungry?
The first few days of anything in that does good for your body is really overwhelming. The Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness from the workout, the never before experienced level of hunger when fasting etc.
Its normal to feel a little weak than usual. Its a shock to your system, however, our bodies are built to adapt to the stress you put on it.
In a matter of a week your body will adjust and you will notice that the hunger fades away, making intermittent fasting a part of your lifestyle.
During the first few weeks, if you feel extremely hungry, then its best to have a small fruit as a snack. Like an apple, or an orange.
Black coffee with no sugar is your best friend to curb your appetite.
Hydrolyzing yourself with water and BCAA can add some flavor and some amino acids to reduce your muscle soreness from the workout and also curb your appetite.
Who Should Avoid or Intermittent Fasting Overall?
Intermittent fasting is great for people who wants to burn fat, lose weight and build muscle.
Its the most effective eating protocol to get a strong and lean body.
That being said, it not for everyone. Different body types respond differently to Intermittent fasting.
Its a great tool for endomorphs, but not so great for ectomorphs due to the naturally higher metabolism of ectomorphs.
Ectomorphs can use intermittent fasting with lower fasting periods and higher caloric intake for maximum mass gains.
If you have any of the following conditions, you are better off not doing intermittent fasting.
- History of eating disorders.
- Highly sensitive to blood sugar drops.
- Pregnant women, nursing mother, teenager, children or individual with type 1 diabetes.
- Malnourished, underweight or have known nutrient deficiencies.
- Woman trying to conceive or have issues with fertility.
Women should be cautious about trying intermittent fasting as it could cause irregularities in their menstrual cycles.
Although, you could try with a lower fasting period and progress very slowly and analyse how your body responds.
Why not Eat Every 3 hours?
You must have read in blogs or your meathead gym mate say you should have 6 meals per day and you should eat every 3 hours.
Its practiced by the professional bodybuilders and fitness athletes alike
Here is the reason for this popular fitness tip.
Our body burns calories when it is digesting the food we give. So more meals strategy,”theoretically”, meant, you would also burn more calories all through the day. Hence, eating more meals should help you lose weight.
Well, here is the problem..
The amount of calories your body burns is directly proportional to the size of the meal your body is processing. So processing 6 meals totaling 2000 calories burns same calories as two 1000 calorie meals.
Its like 5 + 4 = 9 and 3 x 3 = 9.
Besides that fact, depending on your body type the rate at which body burns the food also varies. 6 meals per day plan is more ideal for an ectomorph. For an endomorph, not so much.
Following a 6 meals per day eating plan is not fully satisfying and often times gets any average person to cheat on their “diet”.
We don’t know about you, but we think living a life with limitations to the kind of food and the amount of food to eat is just not the right way to live.
We were once hunters and gatherers and we ate like an animal in big quantities and ate berries when we didn’t have anything to eat, so it perfectly makes sense to eat big meals fewer times per day and feel satisfied.
Lifting hard and heavy like a beast to get a strong and lean body.