I received a question about intermittent fasting benefits the other day, and since intermittent fasting has become such a hot topic as of late, I decided to share the question and my answer…
I’ve recently heard a lot of talk about intermittent fasting benefits and that intermediate fasting for up to 36hrs may be good for increasing growth hormone production.
I was wondering how you would use intermediate fasting the correct way to lose body fat without also losing muscle mass?
Hey Sean – It is good to hear from you again!
I too have been hearing the buzz around intermittent fasting getting louder online as of late, but it is mostly due to the release of a couple of new heavily marketed programs that claim fasting to be part of their “secret formula”.
In fact, I just watched the below video yesterday in which the main message was that weight training in the morning, before eating anything, would lead to faster muscle growth because the body produces growth hormone at greater rates during times of sleep and fasting.
While watching, keep in mind that this video was produced just after Roman’s Fat Loss Forever Program was released and is nothing more than a promotional teaser for his latest product:
While I don’t have any empirical scientific evidence that would contradict this message, my personal experience is that training on an empty stomach first thing in the morning negatively impacts my intensity, the amount of weight that I can use, and the number of reps that I can perform.
Lifting with maximum intensity is of greater importance than the hormonal benefits one might achieve from training on an empty stomach and is why I don’t personally train while fasting, ever!
However, there is something to be said for weight training in the morning…
Hormonal Benefits of Training in the Morning
The body produces testosterone in a cyclical manner where our testosterone levels are highest while we are sleeping and first thing in the morning. Therefore, it logically follows that training in the morning would lead to faster fat loss and muscle growth.
I also know that Arnold Schwarzenegger felt that training in the morning was most effective, but he would always eat before training and I have never read anything claiming that he (or any other notable bodybuilder) trained while fasting to enhance his muscle building results.
I have personally noticed the best results while training in the morning (I would eat a pre-workout meal about 45 minutes before training, along with a post-workout shake immediately after training). However, I have been training in the evenings for the past year or so and the difference in my results is fairly minimal.
I don’t feel any additional benefit I would get from training in the morning is worth waking up at 5:30am for.
I have found the most important factor is not when you are training, but that you are training, and how you are training.
When to Use Intermittent Fasting
I personally see the fasting and growth hormone argument as being nothing but a gimmick to try and sell the latest programs that tout intermittent fasting as their secret – like this one.
If you look at the transformation photos, you will see that none of the people have developed considerable amounts of muscle mass to go along with their fat loss, which should be reason enough to doubt the muscle building effectiveness of intermittent fasting.
That being said, I have used intermittent fasting as part of my fat loss strategy in the past…
I fasted for 24 hours once or twice a week when I was really close to reaching my goal body fat percentage. But I never weight trained while fasting, and didn’t even do cardio out of fear that it would lead to muscle loss, which plenty of studies would support.
Intermittent fasting can be a good tool to use for ridding your body of a few final pounds of stubborn body fat, but shouldn’t be relied upon for enhancing your gains in strength and muscle mass. I am living proof that consistent intermittent fasting is absolutely not necessary for getting incredible results, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
The Right Plan for Building Muscle and Shedding Fat at the Same Time
It seems that your main concern is wanting to attack the goals of muscle growth and fat loss simultaneously. This requires a delicate balance of nutrition and training and also timing each of these aspects in such a way that you can both build muscle and shed fat.
This is the exact type of plan that I developed a couple of years ago and is what I used to go from a fat 240lbs to a ripped 178lbs.
I share this exact plan in my book, Ripped Out. If you follow the instructions in my book, you will get measurable results each and every week and won’t have to worry if what you are doing is working because you’ll be measuring the results every 7 days on your way to getting lean, muscular and ripped.
Thank you for sending me your question regarding intermittent fasting, Sean. I started RippedOut.com because of all the contradicting information online when it comes to building muscle and shedding fat, and I want to help others avoid the pitfalls of using instructions that are not consistent with the results they hope to achieve.
I hope that my response regarding intermittent fasting benefits has been helpful to you. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask as I am here to help!