Muscle building takes time and involves a lot of processes. First and foremost, it’s imperative to think of nutrition—after all, those muscles need fuel if they’re to get big. So you’d likely forego fasting and proceed to chug protein powder shakes, eat lots of lean meat, and stock up on calories like it’s nothing. Not so fast (pun intended). Know that planned and managed fasting may be the ace on your sleeve to get those gains.
Fasting For Gains?
First off, fasting is not the same as deliberate starving. Fasting mandates that you eat or drink nothing but water for a period of time. Starvation, on the other hand, is a much more severe—or even complete—lack of nutrients to sustain your body. There’s a thin line between fasting and starving, so keep this in mind.
To know the body’s response to fasting, a team of scientists observed Muslims during Ramadan. They looked at Muslim bodybuilders, specifically. As soon as the subjects began fasting, the total caloric consumption and volume of workouts didn’t change. While they were forbidden to eat or drink during the daytime, they compensated by eating big at night. It’s also worth noting that the subjects showed no impact of body mass and fat percentage, whether they trained after eating or during the fast.
Autophagy At Work
Autophagy involves the destruction of cells in the body. It’s a direct product of fasting. While this sounds counterintuitive to muscle building, autophagy, in fact, helps in maintaining muscle mass and keeping the degenerative effects of aging at bay. Fasting also reduces systemic inflammation and raise growth hormone levels—things that can help if you want to bulk up.
Intermittent fasting or dieting? There’s no definite answer. When it comes to fat loss, a study didn’t show much difference between fasting and dieting. No significant benefits linked to body composition, fat loss, and even hormone production was identified. Still, an activity like fasting should always be paired with continuous, intense exercise to produce desired physiological results. And as for actual muscle loss as a result of fasting, no, it doesn’t result to that. The body will only turn to muscle as a last resort; when the liver runs out of glycogen to try and sustain you.