We’ve all heard the phrase: “To get big, you have to eat big.” This is true because you can’t build tissue, muscle, etc. without the building blocks of nutrient rich foods. It’s also said: “Everything has its season.” This is the truth behind intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is a controversial topic to some, because it’s often touted as a cure-all or magic bullet. It’s neither. But it is a tool that you should have in your fitness toolbox, and it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to get very comfortable wielding it.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: I, Brian, have just begun experimenting with fasted exercise and I have enjoyed it so far. I plan to see how the two areas can be used to push personal performance. So…you know…I’ll let you know.]
When people hear me talk about intermittent fasting a few questions always come up.
- Am I going to starve?
- Do I have to deprive myself?
- Am I going to lose muscle or become atrophy?
But first…what is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is just that, intermittent. It’s not full fasting and it doesn’t go on for days at a stretch. Intermittent fasting is done within a 24 hour period with a fasting / feeding cycle. Your fasting / feeding cycle can be adjusted to your own schedule and other variables, such as nutritional needs, which you dictate. A common ratio is 16:8 – fasting for 16 hours with an 8-hour feeding window. It’s good to experiment with what cycle works best for you. During the feeding window, you can choose to eat one, two, three or whatever number of meals you choose. During the fasting window, there is no eating, snacking or calorie intake. Some people choose to allow things like gum, pre-workout, coffee and tea during their fasting period.
Now, back to the questions I listed.
All the questions are common misconceptions about intermittent fasting. These questions can all be answered with a resounding “No.”
- You’re not going to starve
- You don’t have to deprive yourself
- You’re not going to lose muscle
It’s fasting, not starvation. You’ll get all your nutrients. Intermittent fasting isn’t about what you eat; it’s about when you eat. You will still have the opportunity to eat all the same keto foods, but your window for consumption has been reduced.
You might need to discipline yourself, though. This is a, sort of, personality based area. I’d encourage you to stop thinking about your health and fitness as a “deprivation.” It’s a change, sure. But you don’t have to think about it as depriving yourself of anything. And, besides, once you get used to it, it’s your new normal.
Intermittent fasting promotes human growth hormone (HGH) production and is muscle sparing. The high fat of a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting both trigger HGH production. HGH assists in mobilizing and using fatty acids for energy; you now have two process mobilizing fatty acids. The production of growth hormone also acts as protein sparer promoting muscle growth. Not only can intermittent fasting spare your muscle, it can assist in muscle production. Intermittent fasting with a ketogenic diet and resistance training can make your body a fat-burning, muscle building machine.
The combination of a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting provides a natural method of promoting growth hormone and decrease body fat.