Why Should I Fast and Can I Exercise or Workout During Intermittent Fasting?
By Dr Joe
On this page you are going to get the low down on why you should fast and I answer the question; can I exercise whilst doing intermittent fasting. Also I give the background to why fasting should be incorporated into any bodybuilding plans.
You can use the links below to jump straight to each sub-headline in this article if you are in a rush.
Why Should I Fast
Can I Exercise Whilst Doing Intermittent Fasting
Do Bodybuilders Use Intermittent Fasting
Fasting as a concept is not new to mankind. It’s been going on for centuries.
In centuries gone by, fasting was inevitable because the hunter-gatherer could not make a catch every day.
You’ve got to be very lucky for you to make a catch all the time. When you came home empty-handed, well that’s just tough luck – you fasted.
Fast forward to our current times, the entire place is awash with food at least in the developed world anyway.
So much so that diseases of overeating like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart attacks are running riot and now constitute the biggest killers in the developing world.
Could we do something about it?
Of course, we can and I can tell you categorically that fasting or intermittent fasting is one intervention that can make a difference.
To a lot of people, fasting as a concept is poorly understood and do have a lot of questions about this lifestyle. So, I will attempt to answer some questions on this page regarding intermittent fasting and why it should be something to consider…
…especially if you are overweight and are threatened by obesity-related diseases.
On this page, I will answer questions such as why should you fast, whether you should eat frequently or less often, whether to exercise during fasting, if bodybuilders need intermittent fasting. Have a good read. You will be glad you did because the info here if science-backed.
Why should I fast?
This is a broad question and I will give you an overview answer here, because I have done quite a piece on the benefits of intermittent fasting on other pages. Go have a look.
In simple terms, intermittent fasting gives your body an opportunity to “breath”.
Eating all the time means your body has to constantly deal with calories coming in. You are of course going to use up some of those calories you consume for your daily energy expenditure.
The problem is human beings aren’t very good at equalizing calories in and calories out. Even people who count calories don’t get it right for a myriad of reasons not least food labelling by food manufacturers is far from accurate.
We are notoriously guilty from under-estimation of food calories. The net effect is that we overconsume calories which translates to excess calories being stored as fat to be used at a later date. That “later date” never arrives and every day we do the same thing resulting in more fat being laid down.
What intermittent fasting does is give your body a break from newer calories being introduced into your body. That way you can draw on the excess fat you stored in the preceding days. Using up the excesses of the previous overconsumption forms the basis of why you should fast.
This prevents you from not just using up the stored fat but stops you from storing new fat if you do things properly.
You can therefore use intermittent fasting for initial weight loss as well as maintain your weight.
Should I eat smaller meals frequently or should I eat fewer meals?
There’s always been assumption that eating small meals frequently like six to seven times a day is good for your health. When outcome measures like appetite reduction, increase in metabolism and reduction in blood glucose have been examined in different studies on eating frequently, the results have been inconsistent.
Some of the findings especially regarding appetite reduction from frequent eating is contradictory for instance.This study found that there was a 27% reduction in the amount of consumed calories in seven obese non-diabetic individuals when meals were split up into five compared to when the whole meal was eaten in one go.
However, this study looked at whether eating 3 times a day or 8 times a day made a difference to your appetite. The participants were made to eat 3 times a day for 3 weeks and then 8 times a day for another 3 weeks. The study found that the composite appetite score to be higher in the weeks the subjects ate 8 times a day than when they ate 3 times a day.
What about this study that looked at the effect of eating frequency and fat burning? They made the participants in the study eat 3 meals a day and 6 meals a day. At the end of the study, there was no difference in fat burning when the participants ate 3 times and when they did 6 times a day.
Also the “desire to eat” and feeling of hunger were found to be higher when the subjects were on the 6 times a day eating frequency than when they ate 3 times a day.
Someone who is very interested in these matters is Dr Longo who works at the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute. His studies have shown that eating less frequently is a whole lot better than eating frequently. What’s interesting is that his studies have been looking at outcomes like longevity, weight loss and disease prevention.
His findings have now moved the opinion in favour eating less frequently as a way of optimizing your health.
Why are these findings important?
They are because one way of eating less is by skipping meals which is what you do when you intermittently fast. When you have science backing you up that skipping meals is a good thing, then you can confidently adopt that lifestyle to put your health back on track.
Do I need to exercise while doing intermittent fasting?
Another question that bothers people is; can you workout while intermittent fasting?
Answer: Of course, you can workout while intermittent fasting. Working out during intermittent fasting is no more dangerous than doing so at any other time. As I will explain in a few seconds, workouts during fasting periods has immense benefits and is to be encouraged.
Whether you need to exercise whilst doing intermittent fasting actually depends on your goals and how fast you want to attain your goals. Intermittent fasting has a lot of benefits and whether you choose to fast would depend a great deal on what benefit you want to exploit.
For instance, intermittent fasting can assist you in losing weight and you can lose weight by just fasting using any of the IF protocols.
Fasting will help you lose fat.
However, if you want to lose the weight quickly, then adding exercise to your intermittent fasting efforts will help you reach your goals a lot quicker than fasting alone.
A combination of intermittent fasting and exercise is one of the best things you can do for your optimal health because both measures have a synergistic effect and consequently accelerates the benefits.
Here’s some thing you should know about exercise while intermittent fasting.
Most weight loss strategies involving diet alone result in muscle loss. About 30% of the weight lost with diet alone is muscle loss.
Exercise is protective of muscle mass. Exercise helps you protect lean mass especially any exercise that involves Resistance Training (Weight Training).
Exercise whilst doing intermittent fasting not only prevents loss of your current muscle mass but it can actually help you gain more muscle. Don’t forget that muscle is one of the most metabolically active tissues in the body.
Muscle soaks up most of the glucose that enters your circulation when you eat especially when you are insulin sensitive.
Message here is: exercise while intermittent fasting is a good thing. I encourage it.
Protect the muscle mass you have currently by exercising during your fast periods and you will fire up your metabolism apart from the fact that you will have an enviable lean look.
An example is people doing the 16:8 intermittent fasting model where you are expected to avoid eating for 16 hours of the day and compress all your daily eating into an 8-hour window.
What has been shown to very effective in fat burning is engaging in an exercise regime at the end of the 16 hours before you commence eating. That really works.
And that’s not just for the 16:8 IF plan only. Exercise can be added to any intermittent fasting plan to make it more effective. The different IF plans can be mixed and matched as well whilst adding exercise into the mix.
This mixing and matching technique has been adopted by John Romaniello and Dan Go who created the Fat Loss Forever diet. It is an intermittent fasting plan that combines the LeanGains plan, The Warrior diet and the ever popular Eat Stop Eat into one single method.
The trick seems to work a treat especially as they included a couple of exercise regimes along with cheat days. Like I said before, any fasting dieting program that incorporates work outs is a firecracker when it comes to fat loss or weight management.
This is due to the fact that, you have two systems working together to produce results that are metabolically awesome with immense health benefits. It’s well worth a look. Here is the link again.
Do bodybuilders use intermittent fasting?
Body builders are usually people who are very serious about muscle building. Intermittent fasting does not directly lead to muscle building. Intermittent fasting will help a body builder burn fat leaving lean muscle for the individual.
But intermittent fasting can indirectly help a bodybuilder achieve their goal of muscle building because fasting has been shown in a study to boost human growth hormone production by an average of 1,300 percent in women, and nearly 2,000 percent in men.
A boost in human growth hormone is one of the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Human growth hormone (HGH) is a hormone that has many functions in the body. HGH peaks at puberty and as we get older, this hormone begins to decline.
Human growth hormone promotes protein synthesis. This is how human growth hormone helps with new muscle building. Bigger muscles means more strength and more endurance and as you can tell, these are characteristics that every bodybuilder would cherish. Not only that human growth hormone helps with fat utilization too.
Another thing related to protein synthesis is that high growth hormone facilitates muscle repair and recovery. This is very important to every bodybuilder as the intense exercise that bodybuilder engages in can pose quite a huge demand on the muscles recruited during each workout.
HGH also builds stronger bones and boosts energy – benefits that a bodybuilder would not turn down any day of the week.
Research appears to have proven human growth hormone production can be boosted by intermittent fasting. It’s got to be a cheap and effective way to help to reach your goal, if you are a body builder.
Anyone trying to get in the bodybuilding game would be doing themselves a huge favour by incorporating intermittent fasting into their plan. Intermittent fasting provides you with that natural supply of human growth hormone. At the very least, it gives you a head-start.
Of course, if you want to facilitate things further you can add HGH supplements like this one to make things even easier for you. You need endurance for better workouts when you want to bodybuild. More human growth hormone, more endurance. More endurance, more intensity and more volume.
You can’t argue with that, can you?
Suggested further reading:
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