To many of us that have been in the game a long time, going long periods without "feeding the muscle" seems like gains suicide, but, hear me out..
My interest in this was first tweaked when I read an article about former NFL player and (I think we can all agree) absolute BEAST, Terry Crews being a HUGE advocate for this type of dietary lifestyle, to both burn fat AND build lean muscle.
Please keep in mind, this is not a "diet", you're not consuming less calories, just changing the way your body processes what you put in. You still want to ensure you are getting all the proteins, carbs, fibre, fats, etc that your body requires for what your lifestyle asks of it.
Intermittent fasting has several methods. 24 hour fasting 1-2 times a week, 8 / 16 where you have an 8 hour eating and 16 hour fasting period daily, and the "warrior diet" 20 hours fasting 4 hours feed time.
To understand how it works, we first need to understand the difference between our body being in a "fed state" and a "fasted state".
The fed state begins when we have a meal and generally lasts for 3-5 hours while your body processes and absorbs your meal. Following this your body goes into a post-absorptive state, this lasts for around 8-12 hours after your last meal. At this point, the body enters the fasted state.
In the fasted state your body has used up the energy stores from its last meal and now goes looking internally for fuel sources. This has several benefits, fat loss being one, the release of human growth hormone and the cellular degradation process of autophagy.
What Is Autophagy
"Cellular degradation" at face value may sound like a bad thing, however, it is quite the opposite.
Autophagy is a phenomenon within our cells that only occurs during the fasted state. In easy to understand terms, it cleans out the cells of bacterial build up, toxins and irregularities, breaks them down into amino acids and uses it as fuel. With your next meal, those cells replace the missing organelles (bits that make up a cell). It's basically like house cleaning at a cellular level.
This is believed to have many benefits, including but not limited to; longer lifespan, vitality, youthful appearance and the prevention of many diseases such as cancer.
How Has It Worked For Me?
At Gripped we like to practice what we preach, so here is the good and the bad.
I'm lucky in that I get to train twice a day most days. I've always subscribed to the "feed the muscles" philosophy of training and diet and would try to eat consistently throughout the day if my schedule allowed, so this was a big adaption for me both mentally and physically.
The hardest thing to deal with was the hunger pains. The first few nights I felt like I was going to die of hunger, my body even woke me from my sleep telling me I NEEDED to eat, and in my morning workouts I felt as weak as a kitten.
After a week passed, my body got used to its new eating pattern and the hunger pains faded. I spent far less time preparing and timing meals and felt more focussed throughout the day. I still feel a little weaker during my morning workouts, yet they feel more satisfying as I really feel like I'm making my body work.
I look leaner and feel that I'm still able to build lean muscle.
For now, I'm seeing some interesting changes and will continue on with it as my regular eating pattern to see what happens longer term.. besides, are you going to argue with Terry Crews?!
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