I was just reading this scientific study on the effects of fasting on growth hormone levels1 .
It’s fascinating how growth hormone (GH) is boosted by complete caloric restriction as when fasting, but not boosted at all when you’re on even a VERY low calorie diet.
This is one reason why low calorie diets don’t work so well, and why intermittent fasting works so damn well.
By boosting GH levels, intermittent fasting conditions your body to get better at burning fat for fuel.
The authors of the study said that the boost in GH from fasting saves you from starvation via two mechanisms:
- GH increases glucose production by the liver to help provide for your energy needs.
- GH increases fat mobilization and oxidation, “thereby indirectly sparing body protein”.
Sparing body protein means GH minimizes muscle loss.
So the fact that GH is elevated in the fasted state, eliminates the fear that you’ll lose muscle.
A lot of these fitness professionals, bodybuilders, and bodybuilding magazines, are constantly telling us how we have to keep eating every 3 hours, or we’ll start losing muscle.
But this simply isn’t true.
Sure, consuming lots of protein when you are trying to grow muscle, will help you build more muscle. The great Vince Gironda said,
“What is enough protein and calories to maintain the average person’s weight is grossly inadequate when trying to pack on pounds of muscle.”
But occasionally doing an intermittent fast isn’t going to undo your hard work by eating away your muscles, and Vince Gironda himself fasted at different times of his training.
In fact, studies show that intermittent fasting, while helping you to reduce body fat, helps maintain, or perhaps even GROW muscle mass.
Why Conventional Wisdom Has It All Wrong
The fact that intermittent fasting allows you to reduce body fat while, at the very least, PRESERVING muscle mass, is HUGE.
Compare this to conventional weight loss methods, the likes of long distance cardio and low calorie and low fat dieting. These all REDUCE muscle mass.
Conventional wisdom has you believe that you have to lose fat and muscle at the same time, usually 50% fat and 50% muscle, that you have to lose both fat and muscle first, then do weight training to grow the muscle back, being careful not to put any more fat on.
But the trouble with this approach is that as you lose all that muscle, your metabolism goes down, and you have to work harder and harder to continue losing more fat.
This is one big reason that with cardio, you see great results at first, but your results stall after the first few weeks.
Here’s Another Way Intermittent Fasting Helps You Preserve (Or Maybe Even Grow) Muscle Mass
So one reason intermittent fasting preserves muscle mass is the huge spike in growth hormone levels.
The other reason is because complete caloric restriction while fasting, turns on a process called “autophagy“.
Autophagy literally means “self-eating”, it’s your body’s way of cleaning up.
Components bound for destruction inside your cells are transported to destruction centers in your cell, called “lysosomes”, where they are destroyed by enzymes.
The resulting parts are then used for energy, or recycled to form new cellular components.
Autophagy plays a crucial role in maintaining muscle mass.
A 2009 study2 found that blocking autophagy in the skeletal muscle of mice, results in severe muscle loss and loss of force production.
So though intermittent fasting is more a method for body fat reduction than a method for muscle growth, the occasional bout of fasting can actually boost your ability to build muscle.
And You Know What ELSE Boosts Autophagy?
Autophagy protects you from diseases like cancer, diabetes, liver disease, autoimmune diseases and infections.
Curcumin in turmeric protects you from all of these diseases too, and one way it does this is by upregulating autophagy3.
Turmeric goes really well with intermittent fasting.
Not only does it boost autophagy, it also boosts many of the other fat burning effects of intermittent fasting, such as boosting insulin sensitivity and reducing inflammation.
Turmeric goes further by blocking the effects of the female hormone estrogen, making intermittent fasting much more effective at getting rid of man boobs.
If you are going through the hardship of intermittent fasting, it’s a no-brainer to add in something as easy as popping a couple of turmeric capsules, to help maximize your results.
So if your results from intermittent fasting haven’t been as explosive as you would have liked, pick up a bottle of all-natural turmeric capsules, and you’ll see the difference it makes.
Here’s the turmeric capsule that has worked best for me:
Three Powerful Tips When It Comes To Preserving Or Even Growing Muscle Mass While Intermittent Fasting
I’ve looked at the studies, and some people do lose muscle when intermittent fasting, but this is because they don’t do the following three things:
- Make sure you eat enough protein on intermittent fasting days. If you want to gain muscle with intermittent fasting, then WHAT you eat is just as important.
You can put away the notion that intermittent fasting is the key to losing weight while eating whatever the hell you want.
Sure, intermittent fasting gives you some added leeway with WHAT you eat, but if you want the BEST results, then WHAT you eat will be on point as well.
- Do your intermittent fasts on non-workout days, and make sure you have a calorie surplus on your training days, being sure that surplus comes from plenty of healthy fats and protein, rather than from fattening carbs.
- Take a good turmeric supplement.
If you’d like more powerful tips on how to use intermittent fasting to reduce body fat and lose man boobs, while preserving or even growing muscle, then check out Untold Secrets of Intermittent Fasting here:
- Ho, K. Y. et al. Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion and amplifies the complex rhythms of growth hormone secretion in man. J Clin Invest 81, 968-975, doi:10.1172/JCI113450 (1988).
- Masiero, E. et al. Autophagy is required to maintain muscle mass. Cell metabolism 10, 507-515, doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2009.10.008 (2009).
- Kim, J. Y. et al. Curcumin-induced autophagy contributes to the decreased survival of oral cancer cells. Arch Oral Biol 57, 1018-1025, doi:10.1016/j.archoralbio.2012.04.005 (2012).