Intermittent Fasting doesn’t cause rapid muscle loss, bad lighting does…
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A lot of you have been waiting for me to dive into the topic of Intermittent Fasting, and there has been a lot of buzz in the fitness community surrounding IF and its fat loss and muscle gain benefits. In fact, you can find examples of people getting great results with IF everywhere, from testimonials of fitness professionals, movie stars and of course the people you follow on social media. So, after trying it for a few months and doing a lot of research, I’m finally ready to review and share my results with you!
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
For those of you who are not familiar with IF, there are several different variations, but all of them revolve around the premise of strictly eating inside certain eating windows and not eating anything at all during your fasting window. However, water, no-calorie drinks and BCAA’s are allowed, and are usually recommended during fasting as they will not affect the fasting window.
But if you really think about it, technically, each and every one of us is already following a version of IF because we’re not eating at night while we’re asleep. Well, unless you tend to sleepwalk to the kitchen and sleep-snack…but for everyone else, we’re fasting for about 8 – 10 hours a night while we sleep.
However, the most common IF variation is the “8 – 16” model. That simply means that you consume all of your calories inside an 8-hour window, and then you fast for the remaining 16 hours of the day. Now this is not very extreme, since many of us are already accidentally following it by sometimes skipping breakfast and not eating late at night, so it’s not too far from reality.
But if we deviate from the 8-16 model, there are other variations, such as the 6-18 and the 4-20 model which are a bit more extreme, and there are even certain variations of IF where you don’t consume any food for 24, 36 or even 48 hours. The latter though, is more of a cleansing & detoxifying tool, used once every 6 months or so, rather than part of a viable diet plan. So if an 8-10 hour fasting window is what’s natural and normal for the majority of us, why extend this window to 16 or 18 hours? Here’s the science behind it.
How Intermittent Fasting Works
The reality of the situation is that Intermittent Fasting has not been thoroughly studied and not definitively proven to work in any way, but the preliminary trials suggest that by cutting or eliminating calorie intake for a period of time (or fasting), this causes your body to dramatically deplete its glycogen stores. This, in turn, directs the body towards using stored fat as its primary source of energy, resulting in reduction of intramuscular fat stores and fat loss in general. This is also very similar to the thoughts behind fasted cardio.
But what about muscle gains? Well, with a reduction in fat on your muscle tissue, your muscle cells become more sensitive and responsive to insulin, and insulin is a powerful anabolic hormone that promotes protein synthesis, thus increasing muscle mass. In short, this means that when you reach your eating window, your body’s ability to take in all of those important nutrients is significantly enhanced, causing your muscles to grow.
Another common claim is that during a long period of not eating (or fasting), Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is considerably boosted, causing more protein synthesis and more fat loss. With that being said, Intermittent Fasting does seem like a powerful combination creating a snowball effect where your body loses fat causing it to become more sensitive to insulin, which helps you grow more muscle, which, in turn, increases your metabolism, resulting in more fat loss and so on.
Alleged Intermittent Fasting Benefits:
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Boosted HGH Production
Enhanced Fat Loss & Muscle-Building
Improved Oxidative Blood Markers
Improved Brain Function & Focus
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