Fasting is one of those ultra-controversial topics that many people try to avoid- it’s like politics or religion in the health and wellness community. We believe that when done right, fasting can serve good purpose. There are actually a few different reasons that someone would fast, some of them mental and others are physical. The reason for fasting we are talking about today is fasting for the sake of actually building muscle- more specifically, intermittent fasting to bulk up. As odd as it sounds, intermittent fasting and muscle growth can actually co-exist! Read more about how.
Building Muscle On An Intermittent Fasting Protocol!
Many people are starting to grow curious about some of the intermittent fasting diet protocols that are starting to be used. In some cases, your decision to adopt such an approach to your diet is due to the fact that you run a busy lifestyle and don’t have time to spend cooking numerous meals each day and sitting down to eat them.
Fasting Could Be Beneficial To Those Who Don’t Have Time To Cook Numerous Meals Each Day.
In other cases, you may choose to adopt this way of eating because of certain beliefs, such as during the Ramadan period where you fast from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.
How do you intermittently fast, you wonder?
The practice of intermittent fasting is simply choosing different windows of time (intermittent) times of fasting (no food or eating) and working them into your day as a part of your lifestyle. Intermittent fasting could be daily or a couple times a week- there’s no real strict ‘guidelines’ with this type of eating.
This regime can be used as strictly or as loosely as you choose- it’s not a one size fits all meal plan. Some people opt to eat all of their calories for the day at breakfast and then eat very lightly throughout the day (think nuts and berries). Either way, it’s not for everyone and a lot of people get too moody and grumpy for it to work long term.
This guy follows an intermittent fasting plan, and he’s obviously not hurting for muscles…
Whatever your particular situation, you may wonder whether you can still effectively build muscle using this design set-up. Many individuals are quick to assume it’s impossible, but if you spend some time setting up your day correctly, it’s far from it.
Here are the main things to know to maximize your success rate.
Commit To Late Night Training Sessions
If you are having a specific time period where you are going to fast (such as the 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. set-up), then you’re best off placing your workouts in the evening hours since most people are not going to be able to get up much earlier than 5 a.m. to perform them.
Since you should be eating before any form of resistance training, performing them mid-way through the day is out of the question. You’d also need to take in both protein and carbohydrates after the training session to kick-start the recovery process, something that also wouldn’t be permissible if you were fasting all day long.
If you’re training later on in the evening, this makes it convenient to have a smaller dinner meal as soon as you get home from work to pre-fuel the workout session.
You can then workout at 7:30 p.m. for sixty minutes (however long your workout typically lasts), still allowing you to be out of the gym by about nine so you can get in another really good meal before going to bed at 10:00 p.m.
Place The Bulk Of Your Calories Immediately After Your Workout
The second thing you should be doing on this type of set-up is being sure you are placing the bulk of your calories immediately after the workout period. This is because it is at this point the body will most likely use them for generating lean muscle mass and because it will help to really boost your recovery from the workout itself.
So what you need to do is first figure out your calorie requirements in order to build muscle. Then take in about 20% of those calories right before the workout period, using a mix of both protein and carbs.
After that, you then consume 60% of your total calories in the time period immediately after your workout until you go to bed (you can spread this into 2-3 meals over the next 2-4 hours if you wish).
It will likely be a high number of calories to take in, however if you’re focusing on as calorie dense of foods as possible (raw oats, dried fruit, bagels, red meat, etc.) then you should be able to get it in.
Focus On Calorie Dense Foods Such As Red Meat.
Also, since it’s so soon after the workout period, with this type of diet set-up you’re better off utilizing a higher carb diet for building muscle rather than a low carb, high fat variation. This is due to the fact that immediately after the workout period you want mostly carbs, so providing higher amounts of fats in this time could be detrimental.
You don’t have to eliminate all fats; you could have a large carb/protein meal immediately after training and then a higher fat/protein meal just before bed if you prefer, but try and keep the food intake right after the workout lower in total fat.
Since fats are more calorie dense and easier to eat in higher volume (nuts, nut butters, oil, etc) it can be easier than trying to shove down more carbs when you’re already feeling quite full.
Aim To Eat Something Just Before 5 A.M.
Finally, the last thing you should do on this type of intermittent fasting set-up for building muscle is to eat something as soon as you wake up. For those who are just fasting for convenience sake, you can have this at any point depending on your natural wake-up time.
If you’re someone who is following Ramadan, then you should aim to wake up just before the fast begins (at 4:30 a.m.) and eat a slow digesting source of quality protein, such as cottage cheese along with more red meat, making up the last 20% of your total calorie intake.
Some carbs or fat can certainly be added to this meal as well, but be sure you are taking in at least 35% of your daily protein needs at this time (this is to provide your body with a steady stream of amino acids while you perform the fasting period throughout the day).
If you wish to go back to sleep after eating, that is your decision. It may seem like a nuisance getting up to eat and then going back to sleep, but since that really early meal is only for a limited time period (during Ramadan), it’s not something you’ll have to do for long.
So basically, you need to be keep all of these key points mentioned above in mind. When you are trying to work out on a higher level with intense workouts while on a very low calorie diet, it will eventually catch up to you- and not in a good way either! Prolonged fasting can definitely have some negative effects on your muscles (and your mind!). Your body is going to lose too much glycogen over time (if you fast too much) and your muscle recovery time is going to stink. On a well thought out intermittent fasting plan, we still bulking up is possible. It’s going to be vital that you get the calories you need when you do it to make up for the lack of nutrients during periods of fasting.
What do you think? Have you tried intermittent fasting while trying to build muscle?