Learn how to build muscle with Intermittent Fasting. If you want to gain muscle mass fast you should know that you can experience muscle growth with a proper intermittent fasting bulking meal plan.
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Can intermittent fasting be as effective as a more traditional 4 or 5 meal a day diet plan for building muscle? I mean, even though intermittent fasting has been shown to be effective for fat loss, there are many people still wondering if you can actually use it to build muscle as well. While there is a small subset of individuals that do believe that you can in fact build muscle mass while fasting, most coaches continue to hold the stance that it’s a bad idea. Some of them even claim that intermittent fasting will almost definitely lead to muscle loss. However, many of their opinions are formed by outdated myths. For example the idea that your body will start breaking down protein and amino acids for energy while fasting is what gave rise to the idea that fasting will cause muscle loss. But this has been thoroughly debunked. When looking at what happens to a person that experiences starvation we see that before beginning the fast their body is breaking down mostly carbohydrates for energy. It’s also breaking down some fats and a little bit of protein. (1) Then after the fast begins, you see that the body drains the remaining glycogen or carbohydrate stores within the first day or two, while increasing the use of fat and ketone bodies for energy. But the really interesting thing is that contrary to myth of muscle loss accelerating while fasting we see protein breakdown rates decreasing from the norm helping the body conserve muscle instead. (1) Another human starvation study found very similar results. During the first 3 days of fasting, protein breakdown rates dropped to only 75 grams per day for an adult man weighing about 150lbs. That’s less than 1/2 a gram of protein per pound of body weight but what’s even more surprising is that after 3 to 4 days of not eating, protein breakdown drops to a tiny 20 grams per day. (2) This means that when you fast your body will significantly decrease its requirements of carbs for energy and instead of breaking down muscle, it will mostly rely on stored body fat for energy. Even though certain organs like your brain will require glucose to function properly your body will be able to separate triglycerides that come from fat stores into glycerol and free fatty acids. While the free fatty acids can be used immediately for energy the glycerol can be sent to the liver where it can be converted into glucose through a process known as gluconeogenesis ultimately keeping your blood sugar stable. So the bottom line is, no you won’t be burning muscle every time you fast especially with relatively short fasting lengths less than 24 hours long. But the question remains can we BUILD muscle with an intermittent fasting plan? Well even though protein breakdown rates don’t…
(1) Comparative Physiology of Fasting, Starvation, and Food Limitation (Graph)
(2) Protein breakdown drops to 70g/24h when fasting and after fasting for 3-4 days drops further to only about 20g/24h:
(3) “Prior fasting may stimulate the intramyocellular anabolic response to ingestion of a carbohydrate/protein/leucine mixture following a heavy resistance training session”
(3.5) Body mass and body fat percentage remained unchanged in FAST and FED during the whole period of the investigation
(4) The graph that’s at the top of this page shows growth hormone rising: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC329619/?page=6
Citation: J Clin Invest. 1988 Apr; 81(4): 968–975.
(5) Growth Hormone while fasting
(6) to maximize anabolism one should consume protein at a target intake of 0.4 g/kg/meal across a minimum of four meals in order to reach a minimum of 1.6 g/kg/day.
(7) IF does not affect whole-body glucose, lipid, or protein metabolism in healthy lean men
(8) a BAL consumption of protein stimulated the synthesis of muscle contractile proteins more effectively than traditional, SKEW distribution
“(BAL: 25% daily protein/meal × 4)” “SKEW: 7:17:72:4% daily protein/meal”
(9) Irregular eating patterns hurt health and fitness:
Study #1: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15085170
Study #2: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15220950
Study #3: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25755093