I know intermittent fasting is a hot topic in 2024. But, it’s nothing new. As I’ve stated in previous articles, I did various forms of fasting and keto diets in the early 1990s – over 25 years ago.
Since then, I’ve consulted hundreds of people about intermittent fasting – the best ways to lose fat, how to utilize fasting for better health and longevity, for improving brain health, reducing pain, and of course, one of my favorite topics – building more muscle.
What separates my knowledge from others is a combination of both clinical and more importantly, empirical evidence about what really works.
You see, I’ve seen hundreds of blood tests over the years. I’ve seen hormonal changes during and before fasting, short-term, and more importantly, long-term results.
None of this was based on “bro-science”. None of this was based on what I “THINK” is happening. Or what some other so-called “social-media expert” said. Additionally, none of it was based on small groups of clinical studies on rats or even humans.
Thus, REAL world studies, are backed by real science based on LONG-TERM results.
This included men and women, young and old… athletes, and regular, sedentary people.
I can honestly tell you that not many people have such an eclectic base of evidence spanning over two decades.
Do Diets Work?
You see, any diet or program or even drug will produce short-term results. That’s easy.
But, what happens as the body adapts and your hormones change? This is where the real secret begins.
You see, as I’ve stated over and over again – genetics aside, the way you look and feel is based on your hormones and neurotransmitters.
And so many factors affect this – diet, exercise, rest, supplements, and your mindset … just to name a few.
So with that said, I bring up today’s topic because a viewer asked:
Every time I do intermittent fasting, I lose weight. I lose fat. I look better. But, I always start to slowly lose muscle and strength. Is it possible to actually gain muscle while intermittent fasting or any form of fasting? How long do I fast? How do I break and end the fast? How should I workout? Everyone seems to give mixed answers and as usual, I just end up more confused than when I started. Thanks.
Excellent questions and yup, I get these questions a lot – mainly about the mixed messages and confusion.
How Long Should I Fast?
So, let me just get right to the point and make it simple.
Forget about fasting for 18 or more hours. That’s too long to go without eating, without amino acids and protein. Most people will lose muscle and strength over time. I’ve seen it over and over again. It never fails.
Remember, you can store carbs and fats, but you can’t store protein. It needs to be replenished throughout the day if your goal is to gain muscle.
Insulin sensitivity is improved over time with long-term fasting, which is great. But stress hormones such as cortisol go up and testosterone comes down, as does thyroid levels.
These are NEGATIVE hormonal changes.
This is bad.
This is the OPPOSITE of what you want.
If you want to gain muscle and even lose fat at the same time, you MUST maximize your testosterone levels and minimize stress hormones – it’s that basic.
Later on, I’ll give you a special formula that will help fix and reverse these negative hormonal changes. But don’t go there yet…
What Do You Recommend, Dr. Sam?
So, I suggest my clients do 12 hours of intermittent fasting. That gives you a solid 12 hours to get in about 4-5 good meals.
Remember, to gain muscle you need to increase calories while having optimal hormone levels.
It’s not good to cram a ton of calories down your throat, with 1-2 big meals. For us regular, genetic people – it just doesn’t work.
Or, you can just do a one-day 24-hour fast, once a week. Then eat like you normally do the rest of the week. This goal is for utilizing the health benefits that come with fasting, especially for people who don’t want to do daily intermittent fasting.
How To Workout When Intermittent Fasting
So now comes the workout. In an ideal world, you break your fast and you’d get 2 or 3 solid meals in to feed your body and muscles, then lift weights and then get in 2-3 more solid meals.
Thus, NEVER work out on an empty stomach.
Your performance will be worse.
This means less pump, less blood, less stamina, less strength, less drive, and so on and so forth.
Plus, your body will more easily burn amino acids and muscle tissue, when working out in a fasted state.
The most important meals are before, during, and post-workouts. Those would be your higher-carb meals.
For the rest of the day and meals, you can go lower carbs – especially if you want to burn fat to prevent fat gain.
IF you’re going to work out early in the day, your first meal should consist of some carbs to feed the glycogen stores so you have a good, strong workout.
If you’re going to work out later in the day, then your first meal can just be protein and fat. You’ll continue to be in a more fat-burning, lipolysis state by omitting carbs and keeping insulin levels lower.
Again, it all depends on when you’re going to go to the gym. Again, the most important meals to include healthy carbs are before, during, and after your workout.
How To Do Intermittent Fasting?
One other thing – it’s best to eat during the day and work with the natural circadian rhythm. Thus, your 12 hours of eating would be from 7 am to 7 pm and the next 12 hours would be your fast.
This all has to do with again, optimizing your hormones.
I could go a lot deeper into this topic, however, this is a great start for now. Read this article a couple of times to get in all the info so you can apply it correctly and maximize your results.
If you have specific questions about intermittent fasting and you want me to get deeper into this topic, let me know.
And lastly, here’s my favorite formula for optimizing your hormones by maximizing your anabolic hormones and minimizing your negative, catabolic hormones.
This will supercharge and increase your muscle-building results.