There’s a lot of talk about Intermittent Fasting going around… Why not hear it from someone who’s actually implemented the process, dove head first into research, and decided to be their own experiment, instead of the headline-reading parrots out there?
“Intermittent Fasting – Revisited:
My Thoughts After 5 Years of Practice”
Please, forgive my hiatus from defending the intermittent fasting world. I was under the impression that people where starting to accept the idea and stop making false claims. Nonetheless, your boy is back to set the record straight.
Before we get started, allow me to refresh your memory with an article I wrote back in Nov of 2014. It’s an oldie but a goodie. In this article, I debunk the following myths:
1. Your body can only digest 20-30g of protein at one time.
2. Eat every 2 hours to keep metabolism high and improve body composition.
3. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
4. Smaller meals keep blood sugar in check.
FULL ARTICLE CLICK HERE:
“SHINING A LIGHT – DEBUNKING COMMON FITNESS MYTHS”
In my last year of undergrad, I wrote a more formal review of “Intermittent Fasting.” This article is much more formal than my typical style but the information is solid. In this one, I discuss the practicality of implementing IF, especially as it relates to ‘being a slave to the clock’ and reminding people how the digestive system actually works.
Speaking of the digestive system, I thought it may be nice to strictly talk about that so I produced a brand-new, edgy, LaToof style article devoted just to that! It’s got a killer title too!!
Graphic Courtesy of Positive Health Wellness. A solid quick Myth Busting Graphic!
FULL ARTICLE CLICK HERE:
“The Digestive System – An Overview”
Okay, one last article to reference and then we’ll get into the new stuff….
Before I decide to talk about things, I prefer to put myself right in the middle of the situation. I’ve experimented with ketogenic diets (in combination with IF) a couple times over the past few years and share my thoughts in this article here.
Also, in that article I touch on some of the myths associated with IF and how I’ve personally proven them to be wrong. Dead lifting 405 x 3 after a 24 hr fast for my top set isn’t so bad for a guy sitting around 170, aye?
I also talk about why I don’t eat eggs or chocolate much anymore and I make muscle building and gaining strength so stupid a caveman could do it. It’s a solid read, if I do say so myself. Scope it out below!
Alright, fire up a cigar, pour yourself a glass of diet sprite and Jameson, and hold on to your butts, shit’s about to go down…
I’ve been skipping breakfast for five years and haven’t dropped dead yet… although, I came close in 2016, twice… but, that was hardly from skipping breakfast and largely due to just living on the edge!
Nonetheless, it’s time to revisit an old friend, intermittent fasting (IF). IF has gotten a lot of shade thrown on it over the past few years but more and more people are starting to come out and say they are using it…
I would be doing the IF world a great in-justice by not mentioning the Khan of Intermittent Fasting – Martin Berkhan… I stumbled upon his site back in 2012 and have never been the same. I would encourage you to check out his website and read his content. If you enjoy my writing style, I think you’ll really enjoy his too.
These guys have tweaked IF to their liking and their lifestyle, which is exactly the premise for this way of eating. You set yourself up to win by adapting your nutritional eating habits around your schedule.
Personally, I like to start the day without wondering what I’m going to eat for breakfast. I wake up and immediately get into the day. Each day is a bit different for me and no two days are ever the same. It keeps life exciting but sometimes I beg for a little routine. I found that routine through skipping breakfast, ironically enough.
Up until recently, there hadn’t been much research performed with intermittent fasting among resistance-trained individuals. Unless, of course, you count my n=1 experiment, a few of my clients, and those of Martin Berkhan.
To date this is the most specific study conducted for those interested in IF and how it relates to resistance training and body composition.
Info About Test Subjects:
53 people responded.
7 were excluded for previous anabolic steroid use
12 declined participation after explanation of protocol
34 subjects completed study
Average Age: 29.21
Average Body Weight: 84.6 kg (186.5 lbs)
*** continuous resistant training for at least 5 years
(training 3-5 days/week with at least 3 years of experience in split training routines)
*** presently engaged in regular resistance exercise
*** life-long steroid free
*** no clinical problems that could be potentially aggravated by the study procedures
“…during a RT (resistance training) program, TRF (time-restricted feeding) was capable of maintaining muscle mass, reducing body fat, and reducing inflammation markers.”
So far, so good! Study continues…
“However, it also reduced anabolic hormones such (as) testosterone and IGF-1.”
I know what you’re thinking. Testosterone and IGF-1 are responsible for muscle and strength gain. Yes, they play a role but are clearly not the limiting factor. There are many other variables at play. This study shows that testosterone increases muscle mass indirectly by improving muscle protein synthesis (MPS).
MPS would be a far better indicator of gaining and/or maintaining muscle mass, after all that’s the very process of building muscle. It’s always best to look at the big picture and see all the moving parts. In doing so, it’s easy to see how difficult it is on crediting a single aspect in a highly intricate machine (i.e. the human body).
Despite decreasing of Testosterone and IGF-1, the TRF group was able to gain .88 lb of muscle, which is statistically non-significant. But, that’s nearly half a pound per month. In experienced lifters, you can’t ask for much more than that (without the use of gear).
Funny thing is, that the non-restrictive group lost .68 lb of muscle. Not sure what the reasoning behind this was, as the total kilocalories and nutrient distribution were not significantly different between the two groups and protein consumption seemed adequate.
A FEW OTHER NOTABLES:
***Blood glucose and insulin levels decreased significantly in the TRF group after 8 weeks.
I’d guess that this is a natural response of the body to the change in dietary behavior. I speculate that after an adjustment period the body would be able to function as well on a lower insulin and blood glucose level. I speculate, these markers are part of the reasoning behind improved body composition with IF.
Just because insulin levels drop doesn’t mean that you should be on your way to the hospital. High insulin levels are a big indicator that your a fat storing machine. So, it is important that they stay balanced. That balance varies among the individuals.
And, given the growing rate of obesity and type-2 diabetics, most people would benefit from a ‘lower’ blood sugar level.
Highly trained individuals (like those in this study) typically regulate insulin very well and typically have lower insulin levels. I think this finding just shows further improvement in those levels.
It would be interesting to see if these lower insulin levels gave subjects any problems during (none reported) and after the 8 weeks, if TRF were continued.
Flaws of the Study
Food reporting will always be a limitation. The only way to avoid this is to have subjects live, eat and workout in a fancy chamber but then that takes pretty much all the real world application out of the study. Pick your poison, I reckon.
Although, one could assume that having the training experience the subjects had, they were also very cognizant of diet and tracking food. After all, even the biggest of meatheads can read a food scale…
Nonetheless, not much really surprises me anymore and it’s highly likely that several subjects, on both sides, probably did a poor job of tracking over the course of the study. But, it all balances out in the long run.
The training protocol could’ve been simpler and better. The three different workouts are listed below:
|Session B||Session C|
|Bench Press||Military Press||Wide Grip Lat Pull Down|
|Incline Dumbbell Fly||Leg Press||Reverse Grip Lat Pull Down|
|Biceps Curl||Leg Extension||Tricep Press Down|
Pretty much all of session C could be substituted for dead lifts and where the hell are the squats? I don’t care how much you leg press bro!!
I would’ve liked to have seen them just stick to a Mon, Wed, Fri approach utilizing the bench (but not on Monday), squat, and dead lift. Throw some accessories in if you want, like curling in the squat rack (best place to curl, IMO) or weighted chin and pull ups.
But please, I beg of you! For the Love of God, stay away from the bosu ball!! So none of this horsin’ around. (You’re welcome for the view bro! Smiley Face w/ Sunglasses on)
The study found that it is possible to drop fat and gain muscle while eating an intermittent fasting style diet. While strength may have dropped a bit, this study does show the capability of intermittent fasting that I’ve personally demonstrating for the last several years. Leave it up to cutting edge research to be half a decade behind…
My Two Cents
Here’s where things begin to get spicy.
***Strength Gains & Muscle Building***
From what I hear, it’s not optimal to get strong while eating an Intermittent Fasting style diet. First of all, strength is a relative term. I think IF is a very effective way to become as strong as possible (pound for pound). Is it the best? I wish not to argue such subjective matters.
People will be arguing ‘what is best’ until doomsday.
I’m not saying it’s the best. I am saying that it possibly could be.
It’s typically the rebuttal of old-school minded bodybuilders and powerlifters who will protect old school dogma ’til death. They’ll argue you’re not able to get strong training fasted or only eating 1-3 times per day.
I’ve never been one to argue that IF is appropriate for those going for optimal strength. However, I’m not throwing it off the table for those who want to pursue max strength while eating IF style.
After all, I’ve reached my strongest point while eating IF and ironically, traveling like a mad man from Dallas, TX to Nashville, TN promoting my book. This is not to brag because honestly, I don’t care too much about the numbers. If I did, I’d probably put them in my social media bio’s.
Yes, I track and keep up with where I currently am but I keep context in mind, and always check ego at the door.
And just to prove my credibility, I’ll list my ‘numbers.’ All time PR’s are listed below as well as current stats…
|All Time Best||475 lbs||385 lbs||335 lbs|
|Current||365 x 4||315 x 4||285 lbs|
“You must be getting ready for a show… no-one walks around that lean…”
I have to admit that I’m walking around a bit fatter than I would like. But, what am I to expect when I’ve been eating pretty much what I want for the past 2 months? I’ve surprisingly only gained about 6-8 lbs (unwanted weight) during that time.
Around Christmas time, I was sitting around 158-160. The past few weeks I’ve hovered around 174-176. I’m actually considering smashing my scale because it’s giving me quite the mind-fuck currently. Body fat percentage, I’m not too far off from where I previously was. But, I know that it can’t be muscle, because I do intermittent fasting, right?!
Okay, perhaps that was a bit facetious.
I’ve taken advantage of the great food out here in SoCal, especially sushi!! Anybody says “sushi” and my brain lights up like a Christmas tree as dopamine floods the bloodstream, but I digress.
Most people agree that IF works when it comes to fat loss. However, they’ll still casually dismiss it by saying, “you’ll lose fat but you’ll also lose muscle, bro” or some bullshit like that…
In my experience, through my own personal use and implementation with clients, I have found IF to be one of the most flexible and sustainable diet approaches to staying lean.
The above pic is as close to an “off-season” as it gets for me. Not sure what the catalyst was but my appetite was relentless leading up to this. I was able to rebuild strength very quickly (hammie injury last summer) and put down some calories. All while eating 1-2 meals per day mind you.
All the arguments about strength, mass gain, metabolism, etc, etc… can all be thrown out the window. The real reason why I, or anybody else, starts IF is to suite they’re lifestyle.
Getting people to eat breakfast that don’t wake up hungry is harder than a dime in an ice storm.
Life’s too short to do shit you don’t wanna do, especially on a daily basis. If you’re a breakfast eater, by all means, eat breakfast.
If you enjoy eating 6-8 meals per day, please, enjoy all six of those small, shitty meals. But, please, stop with the “smaller, more frequent meals, throughout the day boost your metabolism” bullshit.
In my experience, I have found that nobody really enjoys eating 6 times a day. Even bodybuilders advertise it’s difficulty with memes like this:
Those who appreciate IF do not wish to make lifting and eating their full-time job. But, just because it’s not the utmost priority doesn’t mean you can’t build muscle, get strong, and look good.
I believe that the gym is merely a means to another end. It’s a tool to be used to further your goals in other endeavors. For example, the gym began as a tool for me to become a better athlete. I wanted to run faster and jump higher without having to buy those goofy looking PF Flyers.
From there it progressed to a more aesthetic, less functional (depends on your definition of ‘functional’ I suppose) training approach.
Most IF’ers prefer to have a life outside of the gym. I fall into this category for sure. I want to enjoy an active lifestyle, have a body that I can be proud of, and help people live their best lives by breaking the dogma of the fitness industry that does more harm than good.
Tell people they must eat six meals per day and watch as their enthusiasm quickly fads. The industry really sets people up for failure by telling them that.
If I had a dollar for everyone I’ve seen start a meal plan program with a 6 meals per day structure, follow it for a few weeks (at worse) or a few months (at best), and then completely fall off the wagon, I’d be a rich man.
[Side and Unrelated Note: all my previous english teachers would be very proud of the above sentence… ‘run-on’ I believe is what they call it… they told me not to do it in their classes… “but, that’s how I write,” I would dispute. Their reply, “well when you’re a professional writer, you can write how you wish.” 🙂 ]
My approach is to tailor the meal frequency based upon daily habits and preference. In my experience, most people prefer to eat fewer, larger meals. I certainly prefer it this way, although my meals tend to be much fewer and significantly larger.
Just to play devil’s advocate here, let’s just pretend that 6 meals a day was the perfect way to get lean, healthy, and build muscle. How difficult is it for you to eat 6 meals a day? Think about it…
…where would you have to drag your tupperware containers to? …
…could you find a microwave or choke down cold food every 3 hours?…
The truth is, that it’s just not ideal for everyone. My biggest argument for pushing people on this higher meal frequency is that people get it in their heads that it’s the only way. If they can’t accodomate their lifestyle to this high frequency of eating, they’re health and physique efforts will fail.
That’s obviously just not the case. Have I not demonstrated this over the past 5 years? I realize that not all of my readers have been following me the whole time, and that’s fine. But, do a bit of digging. Look at my Instagram pictures, Facebook pictures and posts.
My Story (… a brief overview…)
I’ve been doing IF since 2012 and I’ve gained muscle and a considerable amount of strength to boot.
Leading up to the switch up in 2012, I ate as frequently as I possibly could. I was a small guy who struggled gaining weight and building strength. I didn’t bench press 225 until my second semester in college.
As somebody who has been on both sides of the argument here, I don’t claim that one is better than the other. For me, I believe that IF is the best strategy. From a lifestyle, perspective it fits. From a physique building/maintaining standpoint, it’s golden Ponyboy!
I stay lean year around. I don’t do the bulking and cutting cycles. Occasionally, I do get on a rampage and eat a shit ton of sushi (just coming off one of these actually… sitting at 178 and feeling like a fat ass… but I digress).
It frustrates me to no end when people speak definitively about things that aren’t even close to being proven correct! It further pisses me off when people speak definitively about something that I have personally proven not to be true…
“If you want to be an anomaly, you have to act like one.”
– Gary Vaynerchuk
If you have followed me for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that I rarely say definitive things such as “eating six meals a day is bad for you,” or “you should do intermittent fasting to be lean and healthy.”
No, I leave the conversation open… I merely document my philosophies and tactics and share it with the world. My sole reasoning in doing that is to break up what people think to be the only truth.
Amusing Points (… at least to me …)
You know, I do find it quite funny that many people who knock IF from a strength and muscle mass gaining perspective find it necessary to take gear in order to boost their strength gaining and muscle building efforts… I guess their 6-8 meals per day wasn’t working either.
I’m not knocking the use of gear, not one bit! I feel like it’s a personal decision and whatever you decide to do is completely up to you. From what I know, the use of gear isn’t as dangerous as the mainstream media would have you believe. As long as you’re smart with it and not running crazy doses and stacks, I think you’ll be just fine.
And please, don’t misconstrue this as saying that no IF’er out there is on the juice. That is far from the truth. I think that the use of anabolic steroids and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) crosses the mind of all serious lifters, sooner or later. Whether the decision is to use or avoid is completely up to the individual.
Personally, I believe that you should have some level of success before even considering using anabolic steroids. If you can’t squat 225, much less bench it, I’d say that you’ve got a long ways to go.
But please, don’t use the above metric to determine whether or not you’re ready for steroid use. It’s a serious matter. Although not as dangerous as the media portrays it to be, it’s still nothing to be taken lightly. Do your homework. Get your blood checked and see where you sit, internally.
I’m talking full hormone profiles. Find out everything about your hormones. Throwing a bunch of testosterone in your system isn’t going to guarantee you’ll be big and ripped in record time. Be smart and know the risks before diving in.
Here’s the blood panels I have done in the past.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor. I am NOT condoning the use of anabolic steroids or any other substances that are illegal to use and/or buy and sell…
…THIS IS WHAT I’M SAYING…
It is possible to gain muscle while eating 1-3 meals per day
It is possible to get stronger eating 1-3 meals per day
Is it optimal for either of the above scenarios? Who can definitely say? It may be optimal for one and not optimal for another. The fitness game is so highly individualistic. No two people have identical results given a similar protocol, for whatever reason. (genetic, adherence, motivation, etc).
This article took quite some time to finish up. I wanted it to be done well and be thorough but there’s no reason for absolute perfection. An article at 90% that’s published is far better than an article 100% perfect that’s unpublished.
And, quite frankly, I’m tired of messing with it. I’ve packed it full and I’m ready for some questions and professional discussions. In retrospect, I don’t believe this article will piss anybody off. After all, I noted my thesis’ several times throughout.
If you’ve made it this far in the article, I LOVE YOU and I truly care what’s best for you and you probably know that I’m not a complete asshole. You’re probably one who enjoys getting me fired up about these subjects anyway. Thank you. I quite enjoy them.
I’d like to wrap up this article by bringing us all back together as one big, healthy family. We’re all in this together and if we can’t make fun of our differences and laugh along the way, then what’s the point?
Friends and colleagues share different believes and I always find myself on the side of the minority. I prefer it that way. I always enjoy the conversations about the different protocols. Albeit our differences we’re able to communicate like adults and actually benefit from each other’s experience. And that’s what this article aims to do!
 Moro et al. “Effects of eight weeks of time-restricted feeding (16/8) on basal metabolism, maximal strength, body composition, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk factors in resistance-trained males.” Journal of Translational Medicine: 2016. doi:10.1186/s12967-016-1044-0
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