Intermittent fasting, great for building muscles and to loose fat!

Intermittent fasting have been proven to give you lower fat levels, help you increase muscle mass and stay there. It is also good for you who want to quit thinking about food all the time and enjoy food without gaining weight.

The most common intermittent fasting concept, and proven to work very well, is eating for 8 hours and fasten for 16 hours. The best window for your body is to eat your first meal at 12 midday and the last meal 8pm, this because your body needs some energy during the night to repair itself and to build muscle mass. It is best to either do your exercise just before your first meal (but you will not be high in energy) or about 2-3 hours after your first meal and then have your biggest meal right after your workout. So this window (12 midday-8pm) is perfect for someone who works out, if you are just after the health effects and lose weight you can put your window differently. You can also choose to have shorter eating windows some days if you want to lose more weight faster or to lose that little extra.

During your fastening you can only intake:

– water
– coffee
– tea

You can not eat ANYTHING and don’t drink anything with energy/kcal in it, but if you drink your coffee or tea with milk you can have a little dash.

But how does it work? What happens in your body during fastening?

– Your blood sugar levels will get a chance to stabilise

– Your insulin levels goes down

– Insulin sensitivity increases

If your insulin receptors on the other hand is more sensitive the body does not have to let go of as much insulin and your body can use your energy excess (stored fat) to build muscles and glycogen storage.

– Less ghrelin hormone produces

Ghrelin is a hormone produced in the stomach when you eat and with the function of which is to tell the brain that the body has to be fed. So if you eat small snacks all throughout the day you will be hungry all the time.

– Your body goes into ketosis – you burn fat!

When your liver runs out of glucose your body goes into ketosis and the body starts to burn fat cells to produce new glucose. This process prevents by to high insulin levels. During a day where we eat a lot and especially in a high frequency the insulin levels never drops so low that we get into full ketosis. The 16 hours (or more) fastening window will make sure that the body goes into ketosis and burn fat cells.

Studies that have been made:

– One group of people were eating their daily energy need in only one meal per day and the other group ate it in smaller portions throughout the day. The group who ate just one meal a day changed their body composition to less fat and more fat free mass just by the way they ate – no exercise.
5: Stote KS, Baer DJ, Spears K, Paul DR, Harris GK, Rumpler WV, Strycula P, Najjar SS, Ferrucci L, Ingram DK, Longo DL, Mattson MP. A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight,middle-aged adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;85(4):981-8. Intermittent fasting, relevant study 1

– The intermittent fasting appears to have good effects on the good growth hormones that will help you to increase your fat burn. During a 5 days period of fasting the growth hormone was measured and proven to be increased both day one and five.
Ho KY, Veldhuis JD, Johnson MK, Furlanetto R, Evans WS, Alberti KG, och Thorner MO. Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion and amplifies the complex rhythms of growth hormone secretion in man. J Clin Invest. 1988 April; 81(4): 968–975. intermittent fasting, relevant study 2

– We also have a “bad” growth hormone, IGF-1, that is similar to insulin. This hormone is a trigger for mitosis and our bodies produces more cells. We get into a state where we just go on and on to produce cells, which is good when we are kids and are growing but not as an adult. When we eat in a high frequency and during a whole day our organs have to work all the time and the blood sugar levels never reaches the lower levels. We get a constant stress on our organs, heart and vessels. When we fasten the body enter a state of repair and the levels of IGF-1 lowers, we repair our existing cells.
Studies made on mice shown that the low IGF-1 levels on a mouse who fasten the life is prolonged with 40 % which meets 120 years on a human. Low levels of IGF-1 and a body in repair mode is proven to be the best way to prevent heart and vascular diseases and cancer.
Luigi Fontana, Linda Partridge, Valter D. Longo4, Extending Healthy Life Span—From Yeast to Humans, Science 16 April 2010: Vol. 328 no. 5976 pp. 321-326, DOI: 10.1126/science.1172539 Intermittent fasting, relevant study 3

– Mice who is fastening is a easy learner and is keeping the information they learned and mice with high calorie intake does forgett more things. Periodic fastening shows great results on the brain, hunger gives you increased amount of brain cells. Intermittent fasting could be good for people in risk for example Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Bronwen Martina, Mark P. Mattsona, b, Stuart Maudsleya,
Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: Two potential diets for successful brain aging. Intermittent fasting, relevant study 4

Questions I have gotten from clients regarding intermittent fasting:

Does not fastening slow down my metabolism?

No, it takes 60 hours without food before the metabolism slows down, then only by 8 %.

If my body goes into ketosis, won’t it destroy my muscle mass?

No, when your body is in ketosis your liver is out of glucose and it is only fatty acids the body uses as an alternative source of energy.

Don’t I need to eat protein every 3rd hour to be able to build as much muscle mass as possible?

No you don’t, if you eat for example a big stake and vegetables it will release amino acids for about 10-12 hours after your meal. If you have eaten anything else during that day it can even take up to 24 hours until the amino acids have been taken care of by your body.
Also read my “eating more often does not speed up your metabolism” post

To sum it up

I would say that this diet is easy to follow, no new products or counting calories. You will not feel like eating all the time just by doing this and you will feel like you have more energy and your insulin levels will be lower. A good diet is a diet you can stick to the rest of your life and not a quick fix. I can stay with this one forever – I feel just feel great!
Also I like it because I do not have to buy certain products, so I know this is not something the fitness industry invented to make money out of us.

My inspiration for this article and this diet is, Leangains, you can find everything about intermittent fasting there.