Lately there’s been a lifestyle diet known as intermittent fasting sweeping the nation. Every other fitness guru claims that it helps you put on huge amounts of muscle, while also staying lean at the same time.
However, anyone who’s been lifting for long enough is always skeptical of claims like this—and rightfully so.
It’s very rarely as simple as just doing one thing to get jacked; in reality, everything has its advantages and disadvantages, but could intermittent fasting be the exception to the rule?
In my opinion, intermittent fasting is a phenomenal tool that can help you get shredded and boost productivity…but it depends on how you use it.
Intermittent fasting, also known as IF, is a diet plan where you only eat during a certain time frame. So, for example, maybe you choose to fast, skipping breakfast and lunch. Then, you only eat from 2PM to 8PM.
Or maybe you choose to fast the entire day and only have one giant feast during dinner time (The Warrior Diet). Some people even choose to do a more extreme form of intermittent fasting, where they fast for two days a week.
Regardless of the type of IF that you do, the basic principle is this: fast for a certain period of time, and only eat during a certain period of time.
Proponents of IF claim that doing this can help you build muscle and lose fat at the same time, while also attaining numerous other health benefits, such as a better hormone profile and a lower risk of heart disease.
There’s a lot of benefits surrounding IF, but there’s also a lot of bullshit surrounding it, too—in this article I will attempt to separate fact from fiction.
In my experience, there is no one diet or program for any individual. Everything in your life, whether it be your diet, your workout routine, your job, or your hobbies, are going to depend on your GOALS.
Sure, there’s general principles and guidelines that you should follow. If you’re new to working out, starting strength is generally the best workout for you to follow. If you’re trying to build muscle you should eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
But, beyond the basics, there is no “one size fits all” ANYTHING. Whether we’re talking about learning game, building a business, or creating a better lifestyle, there is no one path that everyone should follow.
Ultimately, whether or not you do intermittent fasting should come down to your goals.
In my experience, intermittent fasting is great if your primary goal isn’t to build muscle. Intermittent fasting will give you more time, more productivity, and it will help you shred fat fast as hell.
If your primary goal is to build muscle, however, then intermittent fasting will hurt you. Why? Because you won’t have the energy that you need to hit the gym, you won’t be able to eat as much food as you should, and your body will be deprived of nutrients that it needs.
Now, can you build muscle on an IF diet? Of course you can, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ideal.
Generally speaking, there’s only two times that I follow an intermittent fasting diet: when I’m in a period of immersion for business or game, and when I’m trying to lean down.
Other than this, I almost always follow a traditional bodybuilder’s diet (where you eat every 3-4 hours). But—that being said, intermittent fasting is a phenomenal tool to use.
It has a ton of benefits, the first and most obvious one being that you save a ton of time. Think about it: if you’re following a bodybuilder’s diet, you’re having to cook and eat food every 3-4 hours.
Even if you do meal prepping (where you cook and pre-prepare all of your food one day a week), you’re still going to be interrupting your work flow. It takes a while to get back in the zone, and you lose productivity.
With IF, none of this happens—you can work for a solid 8-10 hours straight before you even have to worry about eating.
This, in my opinion, is why IF is fantastic if you’re in a period of immersion for business or game. If you’re trying to focus on really getting a business off of the ground, or if you’re trying to self-publish eBooks to make $100/day, you need to be able to dedicate large chunks of time to these things.
Believe me; I’ve tried to start a business when I’m also trying to get jacked as hell. It’s very difficult, because you can’t fully immerse yourself in a business project. Every few hours, you have to stop, just when you get on a roll, and eat a meal.
The same goes for having an immersion period for game; I recall trying to build an amazing body while simultaneously improving my sex life…and it’s very difficult to do. You can’t go clubbing that often, you can’t drink when you’re out, you can’t lose sleep or else your workout the next day will suffer, and you have to constantly be eating.
Hell, it got so bad that I tried smuggling protein powder shakes into clubs; most of the time the bouncers let me, because they thought it was funny and could relate, being big dudes themselves. But it was still extremely inconvenient.
If you want to learn game or build a business while on IF, however, it’s much easier. Sure, you won’t be as jacked as possible, but again, that’s why you just have to decide what your priorities are.
With IF, you can just not eat for the first 8 hours of your day, and then go out clubbing and eat a bunch of restaurant food to hit your calories later. You can work on your business for the first 8 hours of your day without eating, and then after your first meal focus on some less intellectually-demanding tasks.
IF makes it much easier to build a business, learn game, or develop your lifestyle.
IF also has a ton of health benefits, ranging from lower risks of heart disease to a better hormonal profile. This is, in my opinion, why IF is great if you’re trying to cut fat: it churns up the production of growth hormone and testosterone, which help you preserve muscle.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to decrease insulin levels, which leads to more fat being burnt, and it’s also been shown to enhance cell-waste removal.
In addition to these benefits, IF has also been shown to increase your metabolic rate by roughly 10%—in other words, just this benefit alone will allow you to lose fat 10% faster.
Perhaps the biggest health benefit of IF, however, is its ability to lower nearly all heart related diseases, from high blood pressure to high cholesterol.
In general, IF is phenomenal for boosting overall health; this is why, in my opinion, it’s optimal to use during a period of immersion for business, game or lifestyle design.
Hell, sometimes when I’m in a period of immersion for building muscle, I’ll do IF on my off days. This allows me to give my digestive system a break from all the food I’m eating, while also boosting my health and productivity.
A lot of guys can’t even fathom fasting for a few hours after waking up, let alone 8-10 hours. I can definitely understand this, because I was like this for a while…until I figured two things out. First, your body adjusts—the first week or two of switching over to intermittent fasting will stink. You’ll feel cranky, fatigued, and tired until you have your first bite of food.
If you’re going to switch over to IF, I recommend doing it slowly; start off by pushing off breakfast for an hour, then two, then three…and so on, until you don’t eat your first meal until 8 hours after waking.
The biggest tool in the IF toolbox, however, is coffee. Coffee contains no calories, blunts hunger, and increases metabolism.
In other words, used in conjunction with intermittent fasting, coffee will ramp up the speed at which you lose fat, while also enhancing your productivity and decreasing your hunger. Whenever I’m doing intermittent fasting, I always have a cup of my favorite strong fucking coffee 2-3 hours after waking up. This accomplishes several things.
First, when you wait a few hours to have coffee, you let your body’s natural cortisol spike do its work. When you first wake up, your body churns out a hormone called cortisol, which blunts hunger and enhances alertness.
This is why you’re usually not hungry when you first wake up. So, by waiting a few hours to drink your coffee (or until you get hungry), you’re taking advantage of your body’s natural mechanisms.
Second, coffee enhances my focus, so that I can be extremely productive for a large chunk of the day before I eat. Third, coffee speeds up your metabolism so that you burn more fat.
And lastly, coffee also blunts your hunger—this will make it super easy for you to do intermittent fasting.
As I said before, IF isn’t all good—like anything, there’s pros and cons. The biggest con with IF is that you can’t use it to get jacked.
A lot of guys out there who are super jacked say that you can do IF and get jacked at the same time…first off, they’re on steroids (even if they claim they’re not). Second off, although this may work for some people, it will not work for most.
First of all, if you want to get jacked, you need to eat a large amount of calories…ESPECIALLY if you’re a hard gainer. If you’re trying to eat 4,000 calories a day of high quality food, there’s just no way that you can fit this all into a 6 hour eating window.
Second, you need to eat food before your workout for optimal performance; if you’re trying to cut weight, sometimes fasting before a workout is a good thing. But if you’re trying to build muscle, you MUST eat before a workout to give your body the carbohydrates it needs as fuel.
This means that if you’re doing IF and trying to build muscle, you can’t workout in the morning. This may not be an issue for everyone, but I know that I love to workout in the morning, and would hate to sacrifice this.
Additionally, when you’re trying to get huge, you typically want to be feeding your muscles a constant source of energy so that they can rebuild themselves. This is why no bodybuilders out there do IF. They all eat every 3-4 hours.
Generally speaking, if you’re trying to build muscle, the only time that IF is appropriate is on your off days.
This is a great way to get some of the benefits of IF, while also being able to build muscle. I don’t always do IF on my off days, but when I do, I’ll wake up early, have my coffee, fast until around 2PM, and then have one hell of a feast.
This way I get to have a really productive first 8-10 hours of my day, and I get some of the hormonal benefits of intermittent fasting, but I don’t do it too often so that on my workout days, I can give my body a constant source of fuel every 3-4 hours.
Overall, intermittent fasting is a great lifestyle diet that has a vast number of benefits and a few disadvantages. IF is phenomenal for saving time, boosting productivity, burning fat, and attaining a good level of health. But, it isn’t the best for building muscle, especially for hard gainers.
Ultimately, what it comes down to, is your goals—you need to decide what your goals are, and act accordingly. Are you trying to lose weight? Then consider IF. Are you trying to build muscle? Then I’d recommend eating every 3-4 hours.
To be fair, everyone’s body is different—some people respond well to IF and can build muscle with ease when they’re on it. Others can’t even do IF if they’re trying to burn fat, because it leaves them far too tired and foggy. You’ll just have to try it, and see if it works for you.
I hope you guys enjoyed the article. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, be sure to let me know below…and as always, I’ll see you next time.
Jon Anthony is a dating coach, fitness expert, and self-improvement guru. He dropped out of college to start Masculine Development in 2015, and has since been self-employed, helping men across the world achieve their best lives. You can best reach him on social media, or via email for questions.