Is Burning Fat and Gaining Lean Muscle Mass at the same time really possible?
Last week in Part 1 of this series on Intermittent Fasting (referred to as IF for the remainder of this article) we covered the basics of who IF is for and who it is not for. We also looked at the specifics for women and what, if any, negative effects it has on the thyroid and thyroid hormone. It’s VERY IMPORTANT that you read that first if after reading this post you’re considering it.
This week in Part 2, we’re going to take a look at some of the many health benefits associated with IF. Specifically we’re going to look at how IF is probably the only true way to effectively burn fat while simultaneously building lean muscle mass. Outside of that, from my research, you pretty much have to pick one or the other. Lean out or build muscle mass.
And, in case you’re skeptical, I thought I’d drop a little social credibility for you. Here’s a link to an answer I gave on Quora about a month ago about this very topic that has 23,500 views and 66 upvotes so far.
Note: Our goal at Food Fitness Family is health – not fat loss, muscle gain or getting a beach body. What I’m laying out is what research demonstrates to be a healthy lifestyle option. As an added BONUS, it just so happens to be the best way to achieve optimal body composition. Moving on…
Hormones cause Fat Loss and Muscle Gain, nothing else.
Your optimal body composition is a natural byproduct of your endocrine system (hormones) being in the proper balance. Unfortunately we live in a time where the focus seems to be on everything BUT the root cause of what’s going on in our bodies. Fat loss and making HUGE GAINZZ is no different. Before I get into the details of how it works, first, please humor me for a moment while I lay out some typical scenarios for context.
The majority of the US population still thinks fat loss consists of calories in vs. calories out. It goes like this, “So if I just eat less calories than I burn through excessive steady state cardio then the result is a net loss which = my body automatically knows to start getting rid of the stored visceral fat on my love handles.” The problem is that there’s a huge breakdown is reasoning with the cals in, cals out crowd. Everyone’s assuming that their body knows to burn stored fat for fuel or that it even knows how.
When it comes to building muscle everyone assumes you just lift weights a lot and eat tons of protein. Or get a CrossFit membership and workout 5 or 6 days a week and completely fry your energy systems. And your central nervous system (CNS). And then further aggravate the existing HPA Axis dysfunction (“adrenal fatigue”) as a result because you get bad nutrition advice from your affiliate owner who was delivering pizza’s two weeks ago. He spent a weekend getting his CrossFit Level 1 Cert and now is an authority on health and wellness.
Here’s the problem. None of this stuff is going to work for fat loss. You’ll probably build some muscle but only as a byproduct of the HORMONAL response created through heavy weight training or high intensity exercise. You might lose some weight in the first 3 months of joining a CrossFit gym but I can’t tell you how many people I know that have joined CrossFit gyms and have hit a weight loss plateau shortly after the initial weight loss of that first 3-6 months. If done right, and you’re metabolically ready for it, IF could be the answer you’re looking for if anything I just described resonates with you. The beauty of it is that because of what IF does hormonally in your body, you’ll be able to build lean muscle mass while your burning fat. Here’s why.
How Intermittent Fasting Enables True Fat Burning on a Hormonal Level
When you eat, your body releases a hormone called “insulin”. What insulin does is regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood. Most people know this. But that’s about as far as it goes. What most people don’t know is that your body releases insulin when you eat fat and protein as well. Not just carbs. What happens is that lots of folks are walking around with constantly elevated insulin levels. Why? Because they eat lots of small meals throughout the day.
When you fast you’re giving your body a chance to use up all of the glucose you have in storage. Within the blood, muscles, cells, etc. After around 16-18 hours of fasting, you’re glucose levels are pretty much depleted and insulin levels are very low (creating insulin sensitivity). This will increase your hunger hormone, called ghrelin, which begins the process of your body converting over to using fat for energy rather than glucose. It can take some time for this to become efficient depending on the person and for a lot of people can be very uncomfortable at first. (I’ll be going over all this and how to get started in Part 3 of this series)
Once your body starts to use fat for energy it will begin using what are called ketones for energy which is what you get when your body uses stored fat for energy. This is where the ketogenic diet comes from and essentially it’s where you keep your body in a state of “ketosis” indefinitely until you decide to come out of it. You train your body to primarily use fat for energy.
So there you go, true fat burning the way it’s intended by your body’s physiology. You can push the fat burning into over drive with exercise which brings me to my next point.
Intermittent Fasting and Building Lean Muscle Mass – Enter HGH
IF also increases HGH (Human Growth Hormone) by as much as 1300% in women and 2000% in men! Literally nothing else you can do will spike HGH like fasting will by a HUGE margin. So what you ask? Trust me, you’re gonna want to know about HGH.
HGH is the main fat burning hormone your body produces. It puts your body into an anabolic state (muscle building as opposed to catabolic which is breaking down). It repairs your immune system and enables healthy cells in your body to multiply. It’s essentially, among other things, an anti-aging hormone.
The most interesting aspect of HGH is that it actually protects your lean muscle mass which might sound counterintuitive but it’s true! Now if you really want to send your muscle building into overdrive, tack on some heavy strength or high intensity training. You’ll get an additional 450% increase in HGH to add to your existing 2000% increase from fasting and we’re talking GAINZZ BRO!
I’m sorry. I won’t do that again.
Interested in getting started with IF?
I honestly haven’t even scratched the surface of health benefits when it comes to IF. Have just the aforementioned few in this article peaked your interest? Then you’re definitely going to want to check out next week’s post. I’ll lay out the “How To” of getting started with IF. What you need to know, what to look out for, how to break your fast, and some additional health benefits. Am I saying that intermittent fasting is a panacea of health that will fix everything? Absolutely not. But I will say I highly recommend it. There’s too much that you’d be missing from a health stand point to ignore. It’s easy once you get the hang of it and best of all, it’s totally free!
Skeptical? Unsure? Wanting to get started? Let us know in the comments!! If you know anyone that you think could benefit from our articles, feel free to share!