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Benefits of Intermittent Fasting For Improved Fat Burn and Muscle Maintenance

It seems like every time you open your email there’s some diet plan staring at you to try out. Reoccurring click baits about the best way to lose weight and build muscle. Or maybe you’ve heard a story from your brother-in-law about his best friend’s wife’s cousin’s boss who’s been doing paleo and CrossFit for three years and has an uncanny resemblance to the Hulk.

No matter what diet plan you look at, there’s always going to be supporters, believers, and naysayers. But when it comes to Intermittent Fasting, this is the ultimate anti-diet plan. It’s also the oldest program and is practiced in every religion. But this isn’t about adhering to food restrictions, and it doesn’t promote the wild fear of two proteins bonded to create an elastic substance known as gluten.

Intermittent Fasting is a pattern and a lifestyle about WHEN you eat, and not about WHAT you eat.

So put the South Beach Diet book down, and check out these six popular intermittent fasting techniques:

5:2 method
Eat regularly for five days of the week then restrict diet to 500-600 calories or eat only 25% of normal daily calories for two days of the week

16/8 method
Fast for 16 hours of the day, then try to get 2-3 meals in a window of 8 hours.

Do a 24 hour fast once or twice a week. Finish dinner one day and then don’t eat until dinner time the following day.

Spontaneous Meal Skipping
Eat only when hungry. It’s okay to skip meals from time to time if you’re not hungry.

Alternate Day Fasting
Restrict calorie consumption every other day. Can either be no caloric consumption or reduced to 500-600 calories.

Warrior Diet
Restrict calorie consumption to only fruits and vegetables throughout the day, and then have a huge meal in the evening. Also known as the one meal a day method.

Will Intermittent Fasting lead to Starvation Mode?


Even if you’re transitioning to Intermittent Fasting from the trendy "eat six small meals a day" lifestyle plan, engaging in intermittent fasting will not send your body into distress. But what it will do is improve your digestive functions, and reset your body.

As you restrict consumption and are in a caloric deficit, your body begins to perform at its peak.

Wait, repeat that?

Yes, your body will perform more efficiently.

Research shows between 10-16 hours of fasting your metabolism increases as it starts to break down fat stores to supply energy levels. The endocrine system sends norepinephrine (fight or flight response) to the fat cells to break down into fatty acids called ketones. Ketones are released into the bloodstream and are used for energy.

Welcome to the fat burning state of intermittent fasting. However, remaining in the fasted state for over 72-hours will have the body begin to attack muscles to break down amino acids for energy. So when practicing intermittent fasting, the most extreme restriction plan is 24 hours.

Having the body enter a state of fight or flight has been linked to improved cognitive function, memory and learning functionality, as well as protect the brain.

But a real gem of this primal response is as you’re practicing fasting, your body composition has the potential to change as it cuts fat while leaving your muscles unscathed.

However, if you’re looking to build muscle and stimulate hypertrophy, intermittent fasting is not the best dietary lifestyle practice for you. It wavers too much between caloric restriction and caloric surplus to shock and reset the body.

There’s more to this dietary madness than restricting calories and eating one meal a day. When there are hours in between meals, it can also help with insulin maintenance. When a person has insulin sensitivity, that is connected to diabetes. Diabetes is a growing concern throughout the United States with the increased number of individuals who suffer from obesity. Without healthy insulin maintenance, the body cannot regulate the levels of sugar in your bloodstream. And insulin is usually increased soon after meals to help manage the blood sugar levels.

Why is insulin management relevant information when it comes to fat burning and intermittent fasting?

Insulin manages stimulation of fat formation through lipogenesis, and fat burning in reduced insulin levels is called lipolysis.

To rephrase this for better understand: It helps direct the glucose in your blood to your liver, muscles, and fat cells. So when your blood sugar goes down, so does your insulin. And if your insulin levels are down, then your body is more efficient in fat burn.

But if the body is in fat burning phase how can it help with muscle maintenance during Intermittent Fasting?

Insulin maintenance does more than just help store fat and break down fat. It also assists with protein synthesis. So if there is overconsumption, your body is in a state of increased insulin levels which means increased fat storage. But when those insulin levels start to come down in between meals this now allows for lipolysis, and that is ideal if you’re looking to improve your overall metabolism.

Again, intermittent fasting is not a beneficial plan for anyone looking to build muscle or stimulate hypertrophy. If you hate being in states of hunger because it causes you to become irritable, moody, or fatigue, this plan may not be for you. But if you’re curious about adopting the intermittent fasting lifestyle, a great resource to start a conversation about it would be with your physician or a dietician.

image credit: pixabay


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