When people think of bodybuilders and those that follow bodybuilding programs, they imagine huge hulking men consuming plate after plate of steak, chicken breast, rice, potato, broccoli, fish, eggs, and various other foods that bodybuilders tend to favor. Not only that, but they also picture them eating every two-three hours without fail.
Whilst the general consensus is that in order to get the best out of your training, you should be eating regularly, eating healthy and balanced meals, and should have a strict diet and nutritional regime in place, recently there has been a great deal of buzz around the discovery of what is known as intermittent fasting. An intermittent diet isn’t considering a diet or meal plan, but rather an eating pattern instead.
Basically, when intermittent fasting, fasters will skip certain meals and will make up for the meals missed by consuming larger quantities of food than usual. So, if you require 2000 calories per day, you would consume these calories in one window of the day, say from 7 pm–6 am for example. That means that from 7 pm until 6 am the following day, you will be fasting.
Studies have found that intermittent fasting bodybuilding programs can actually prove highly beneficial if followed correctly, and for that reason, here’s a look at how to build muscle whilst following an intermittent fasting bodybuilding protocol.
Train Late in the Day
If you are fasting during the day and are only eating from 6 pm–9 pm, you will need to commit to training sessions later on in the day. Before lifting weights, it’s vital that you have food and energy inside of your body, and so going to the gym before you’ve eaten is a definite no go! If your eating window is between 7 pm and 6 am, eat a meal around 7 pm, head to the gym shortly after, and then get the remainder of your calories before going to bed.
Get most of your Calories in for your Post-workout Meal
Before training, you should aim to consume just enough calories to energize you and provide the fuel necessary to get you through your workout. When you finish your workout and head home, that’s where you should be consuming the bulk of your calories. This is because post-workout nutrition is so important as your body will use these calories for the growth and repair of muscle tissue via protein synthesis. Also, aim for higher-carb foods than higher-fat foods as you require carbs immediately following your workout to help promote a spike in insulin levels.
Eat something before your next Fast Begins
If your fasting window is 6 am–7 pm, make sure that you set an alarm and that you’re able to eat something just before 6 am when your fasting window begins. This is because you still need to fuel your body and your muscle cells with glycogen which will help keep them going for the rest of the day until you get to eat again in the evening. If followed correctly, the above protocols will not only help you to lose fat but also increase lean muscle mass as well.
Only Do it if You’re sure it’s Right For You
Remember, intermittent fasting isn’t for everybody, and for some people not only can it be difficult, but it can also even lead to further complications and can actually hinder their progress rather than improve it. It’s the same with all diets and eating plans, some people simply respond to certain situations better than others.
Some people, for example, find that they lose weight incredibly easy when following a low-carb diet plan, whilst other people actually find themselves struggling to lose weight, or even gaining weight. If you’re serious about intermittent fasting in order to help you build muscle, you must only do so if you’re certain that it’s the right thing to do for you.
You may wish to try it out for a few days, even a couple of weeks, and see how your body responds. If you feel awful, your training is suffering, and your mental health is suffering due to you constantly feeling tired, hungry, and irritable, you may wish to find an alternative routine instead.
Make Sure you Drink Plenty of Water
One of the most common mistakes that people tend to make when following an intermittent fasting routine is to not only cut out food until they’re allowed until next eat, but to also cut out fluids and not eat or drink anything for several hours at a time. The human body can last weeks without food, yet it can only last a few days without water.
We’re made up of around 75% water, and it is essential for us to function correctly, and if we’re looking to build muscle, then that is truer than ever before. Throughout the day, make sure that you’re constantly drinking plenty of water in order to hydrate your body, and help keep the hunger pains under control.
Being hydrated is essential if you wish to build muscle because failing to do so can lead to muscle cramps, poor athletic performance, and even severe dehydration which could lead to renal failure.
Never Cheat on Your Fast
During intermittent fasting, you will indeed feel hungry, because you’re fasting and depriving your body of the foods that is crying out for. No matter how hungry you get however if you’re serious about building muscle and burning fat in the process, you absolutely, 100% cannot cheat on your fast, as one cheat will potentially undo days, weeks, even months of hard work, or at the very least set you back several days or weeks in the process.
As mentioned before, if you don’t feel that you can tolerate the hunger pains and cravings, intermittent fasting isn’t for you, so you will instead need to look for another diet or nutritional program that is better suited to you instead. It will be tough, there’s no denying that, but then again so is bodybuilding in general, so you could argue that the entire process is ideal for helping to enhance your entire outlook on training in general.