The myth of losing muscle through intermittent fasting is persistent – absolutely unjustified!
Recent studies show that intermittent fasting can even be beneficial for muscle growth. In this blog post you’ll learn which processes are responsible for this and how you can use intermittent fasting as a tool to strengthen your muscles.
Intermittent fasting: building muscle mass or losing it?
Many athletes believe that increasing muscle mass is only possible if you eat several meals spread throughout the day: Otherwise – so the misconception – your body will fall into a catabolic state and your muscles will be weakened due to a lack of nutrients and protein.
In fact, however, our metabolism has adapted over the course of evolution: Muscle mass is thus protected even during periods of starvation, whatever it takes!
It’s true that our bodies break down protein during prolonged fasting (starting from about 16 hours) and use it for energy production. However, this is not muscle protein. Rather, our bodies process defective proteins, e.g. in the skin or intestinal mucosa.
This recycling of broken cell parts (also called autophagy) therefore does not pose a threat to our muscle mass.
On the contrary: Intermittent fasting can even be a great tool to build muscle mass – provided you combine it with the right training and a balanced diet!
The reason for this is the following: During your fasting period, your body does not only switch from glucose metabolism to fat metabolism (ketosis), but also creates the best hormonal conditions for building muscle.
Studies show for example that the production of metabolic hormones (among others adrenalin) increases when fasting up to 180%. The level of growth hormones (especially somatropin) also multiplies. This interaction is the reason why intermittent fasting can preserve or build muscles and at the same time reduce body fat!
In bodybuilding, 16/8 fasting is therefore also called the “Lean Gains Method” and has been used for decades.
How you can successfully gain muscle mass with intermittent fasting
One thing is for sure: Muscles don’t grow from sitting around, of course. Targeted training and a balanced diet are and remain the most important adjusting tools when it comes to gaining muscle.
Nevertheless, you can perfectly support your success in muscle building with intermittent fasting.
Here are the best tips:
1. Prefer working out at the end of your fasting period.
If you work out towards the end of your fasting period, you will also increase fat burning in your body.
Targeted strength training in a fasted state is particularly effective. Also try other kinds of physical activity in order not to exercise too one-sidedly or to overexert yourself.
2. Refrain from extremely long periods of fasting.
The smaller your eating window, the more difficult it will be to get enough nutrients! So it’s best to use fasting in a conscious and sparing way!
16-8, for example, is a good choice. That’s because a meal window of eight hours will leave enough time for adequate nourishment.
3. Take good care of your body.
If you want to optimally support muscle growth, make sure to include long-chain carbohydrates (e.g. whole grain pasta or whole grain bread) in your meals on intense training days. This will help your muscles recover. On rest days, a low-carb diet is a great choice.
Also, make sure not to eat too little and give your body enough time to recover.
Intermittent fasting and muscle building – this is how it works
Intermittent fasting does NOT cause your muscles to atrophy.
The opposite is true! When used in the right way, regular fasting periods set the course for achieving maximum muscle growth and fat loss with minimal training effort.
If you work out towards the end of your fasting period, focus on moderate fasting periods, and pay attention to a protein- and nutrient-rich diet, you can significantly increase your fitness with intermittent fasting.
Ready to take your fitness to the next level? Find the optimal fasting plan and delicious, protein-rich recipes for optimal muscle growth in the BodyFast app.