Intermittent Fasting for Lean Gains
Lately, dieters and bodybuilders alike have been talking a lot about intermittent fasting. User feedback suggests that people of all sizes and ages are able to hit their goals whether that includes losing body fat, gaining muscle, or a bit of both. Intermittent fasting works by staying in a fasted state (no eating) for an extended part of each day, in which the body is able to cleanse toxins, optimize hormones, sensitize insulin, burn fat as energy and prime the muscles for anabolic gains upon breaking the fast. Only water and non-caloric beverages like unsweetened green tea and coffee are allowed to be consumed during the fasting window.
There are multiple approaches to intermittent fasting such as:
- 8-16 Protocol: Fast 16 hours each day. Eating is allowed during the remaining 8. *Popularized as the Lean Gains Diet.
- 4-20 Protocol: Fast 20 hours each day. Overeating is allowed during the remaining 4. *Popularized as the Warrior Diet.
- 12-12 Protocol: Fast half the day, eat during the other half.
- EOD Protocol: Fast every other day aka fast for a full 24 hours then eat during the next 24 hours.
Now, let’s take a look at how intermittent fasting can work for you to burn fat, build muscle and promote better health.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has been shown to provide all of the following benefits:
- Promotes longevity: Caloric deficit has been shown to promote longevity. New evidence suggests that intermittent fasting mimics the effects of caloric deficit life extension without the need of having an actual deficit in total calories.
- Optimizes hormones: During periods of fasting the body primes itself for a meal by sensitizing insulin and other anabolic hormones like growth hormone and testosterone. When the fast is finally broken, the digestive system is cleansed and ready to handle a meal and your insulin is primed to send nutrients to the body and muscles rather than fat cells.
- Promotes Fat Loss: During the fasted period, your body resorts to using body fat as energy and does a great job at retaining lean mass. Excessively long periods of fasting like 3-7 days or longer will results in lean mass loss, but it is rare in period less thn 24 hours. Increased insulin sensitivity results in nutrients being sent to muscles in higher priority than to fat cells.
- Disease Prevention: Reduced inflammation in the joints and skin, reduced oxidative damage, increased cellular stress resistance in the heart and brain, decreased risk of obtaining degenerative sicknesses like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes among many others.
Intermittent Fasting Supplements
Are you allowed to take supplements during the fasting period? It depends. The point of fasting is to keep your body in a fasted state. This involves not ingesting anything that causes a significant amount of digestive enzymes to be released, insulin to spike or the digestive system to have to kick its motor into high gear. Research supports that certain foods and supplements won’t “break your fast” but instead can work to enhance it. Certain vegetables and juices can even be snacked on during the fasting period like spinach, kale, other leafy greens and raw, freshly-juiced fruits and veggies. Be sure and eat them in small amounts and don’t choose to eat fruits and veggies high in sugar like watermelon, canteloupe, pineapple, carrots, etc. If you decide to have juice, make sure and make the juice yourself in a juicer.
When it comes to supplements, things like protein and other calorie containing products should not be consumed until you break your fast. However, certain supplements can be beneficial for both fat loss, muscle gain and insulin priming during the fasting window. Here are some great examples:
- Alpha Lipoic Acid: Powerful antioxidant and promoter of insulin sensitivity.
- Alpha GPC: Supplement with brain enhancing properties.
- Green Tea Extract: For immune health and antioxidant support. Also, it’s great to take green tea supplements when you actually drink green tea because it puts the extract back with its natural constituents, improving absorption.
- Detox Support: Great for further cleansing the digestive system and eliminating toxins.
- GABA: Brain support supplements that also supports reduced cortisol and relaxation.
- Thermogenic: Increases energy and metabolism during the fasted period to further increase fat loss.
- Antioxidant Support: Great for providing further antioxidant protection.
Here are some great suggestions for supplements to take immediately after breaking your fast:
- Whey Protein: Helps deliver amino acids to hungry muscle cells, especially if you work at at the end of your fast, so your first meal (breaking the fast meal) is post-workout amplified.
- Creatine: Helps pull water and nutrients into muscle cells during the overeating phase.
- Phosphatidylserine: Brain and cortisol support supplement that helps lower cortisol during the period of fasting.
- Coenzyme Q10: Brain, heart and energy support supplement that can significantly help fat loss and muscle gain.
- Vitamin D: If you’re not taking vitamin D, c’mon! This stuff is the best for immune health, testosterone production and overall general health. Get some vitamin D!
- Multivitamin: When your body is fasted for long period of time, it is better primed to absorb and utilize more nutrients in the digestive tract. Taking a multivitamin upon breaking your fast will ensure necessary vitamins and minerals are able to be absorbed and utilized with increased frequency.
- Rhodiola: Great adaptogenic supplement that provides energy, stamina and stress control.
- Resveratrol: Awesome antioxidant that is currently being studied for its potential life extension properties.
If you decide to give intermittent fasting a try and enjoy the results, please post a comment here so we can learn about your experience!
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