In bodybuilding circles, fasting is generally shunned due to the prevailing belief that skipping meals lead to muscle loss. While it’s true that you should eat every two to three hours for maximum muscle gain and fat loss, it also helps to go on an intermittent fasting every now and then.
Why Go for a Period Without Eating?
Fasting is actually an age old practice that’s been around for ages. It has been used by Indian yogis and even ancient Greek philosophers like Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. The practice is also a part of various religious and cultural rituals.
Fasting is used as a natural remedy for helping the body rid itself of toxins and restoring its natural balance.
Aside from making you healthier, it just might also help you lose that excess flab around your waist. Don’t worry; you don’t need to go for a full 24 hours without food, though you may if you wish.
People actually fast every day; when you get out of bed each morning, you just went for eight hours without food. If you stopped eating about two hours before bed, and skip breakfast the next morning, that’s about 16 hours of fasting. This is actually how I do it and recommend to my clients.
I typically fast once a week, though I may recommend twice weekly for clients trying to safely lose maximum fat in the shortest time possible. When I fast, I’ll usually skip the last meal from the night before. The next morning, I’ll skip breakfast and the meal between breakfast and lunch. I’ll resume my regular meal schedule come lunch time.
I recommend drinking plenty of water as this will help keep some of the hunger pangs at bay and keep you hydrated. If your stomach is really growling, you may munch on some sliced vegetables. Sometimes, just the act of chewing is enough to relieve hunger.
It’s also important to point out that when you begin resuming your meals, you need to consume the same number of calories each meal as you normally would. Some people who begin lunch after their fasting session tend to consume more calories to quell the hunger or compensate for the skipped meals. This is a mistake and defeats the purpose of fasting for fat loss in the first place. Overall, you should consume around 25% less calories than you normally would.
On a final note, I do not recommend fasting on strength training days. Doing cardio is fine, but you shouldn’t be doing any strenuous lifting on an empty stomach. Anaerobic activity without food for fuel may lead to premature fatigue and diminished performance. If you insist on strength training during fasting, then take a branch chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement prior to beginning exercise.
Does It Work?
Science has verified the benefits of short-term fasting. In one study, two groups of mice were fed the same amount of calories, though one group consumed the calories within an 8-12 hour window and fasted for the rest of the day. The other group was fed at regular intervals. The results showed that the fasting group not only had lower body fat levels but also exhibited increased glucose tolerance, less inflammation, and less insulin resistance.
Check out this student of mine who is dedicated to becoming the best version of himself. As you can see by his comments, he follows a protocol very much like what you see here in this blog post.
It doesn’t mean you have to take supplements to get these results, but as you can see it can help speed things up in a healthy way.
Will I Lose Muscle?
There tends to be worry especially among men that fasting will result in muscle loss. Conventional bodybuilding wisdom, after all, does stress the importance of timed meals every two to three hours. For a long time, I was also worried about the potential effects of fasting on my hard-earned muscles. Well, it turned out a lot of these worries are unfounded.
A 2009 study showed that obese men and women actually lost more body fat when their diet program consisted of regular fasting. Surprisingly, they did not lose muscle despite not having done any form of strength training during the experiment.
Fasting Is a Proven Lifestyle
Check out my program The Simple Shredded Solution for more information.