The Best Diet For Adherence
There is a lot of controversy around intermittent fasting for bodybuilding goals, and whether or not it is a suboptimal way to gain muscle or lose fat.
There are a lot of mixed opinions, and I get asked a lot what I think about it as a diet style.
I actually referenced intermittent fasting in my article detailing how to stay shredded year round.
If you are trying to maintain a very low body fat percentage year-round in the most sustainable way possible that won't make you want to kill yourself and feel starving all day long, then intermittent fasting is the way to go.
Intermittent Fasting For Muscle Growth
For gaining muscle, I don't think that intermittent fasting is optimal.
Typically, the amount of food you're going to have to eat will exceed what you can manage in a small window of time.
There are theories that delve into fat burning potential during the hours where you are fasted, and how nutrient partitioning is greatly enhanced during eating windows if you are coming off of a long period of fasting.
Without getting too in depth as to why this is negligible in the grand scheme of your results, I advise you judge by what you're averaging over-the-week-calorie-intake wise, relative to your maintenance.
If you're over your maintenance calorie intake, on average, you're going to gain muscle and fat.
And if you're under your maintenance calorie intake, you're going to lose muscle and fat.
If you're on anabolic assistance during a cut phase, then you will more than likely just lose fat, but ultimately it all comes down to calories in, versus calories out.
While meal timing and frequency a a factor in muscle growth and fat loss has been disproven in certain studies, I firmly believe that spreading out your meals over the course of the day as a bodybuilder is going to be more beneficial than slamming 200 gram protein meals at once.
It is only logical to assume that it is probably a bit more difficult to process your food if you shove it all in your body at once, as opposed to splitting it up into several more manageable meals.
In my opinion, intermittent fasting is great for diet adherence in a calorie deficit, though, I don't necessarily think it's optimal.
Longevity wise, intermittent fasting also has blatant advantages over traditional calorie restriction with meals spread out through the day, as it induces autophagy, which can help clean up cancerous cells in the body [R, R].
Intermittent Fasting To Stay Shredded Year Round
Intermittent fasting is the most conducive diet to staying shredded year round.
There is no diet that helps keep your appetite at bay and also simultaneously gives you such a huge amount of flexibility in the caloric density of your food choices.
When you do get to eat, it doesn't feel like you're severely limited.
I also notice a blatant cognitive benefit from intermittent fasting.
In the morning, I'm sharper and on the ball.
This is largely blood glucose and insulin-related, but the fact remains that for the span of time there is no food in my system, my productivity and attention to detail is undoubtedly far superior.
If I slam a big carbohydrate dense meal right when I wake up, it noticeably decreases my energy levels and my productivity.
When I'm fasting I literally get more done.
How I Utilize Intermittent Fasting For Bodybuilding
I typically favor intermittent fasting for sustaining a shredded physique, rather than achieving it.
When my goal is losing fat, my diet model doesn't change from when I was bulking other than slightly decreasing the quantities of the food I'm eating, or swapping out certain meals for less calorie dense alternatives.
Largely, my diet stays more or less the same though.
Once I get to a point where the diet is unbearable and I'm hungry all the time (typically around the sub 7% body fat range), that is when I personally deploy intermittent fasting as a means of controlling my cravings.
Once you get to that point where you are hungry all day long, the diet model isn't sustainable, and that is where I find intermittent fasting shines most in a bodybuilding context.
From a muscle accrual standpoint, intermittent fasting is not optimal whatsoever.
From a muscle retention standpoint, I believe there is a disadvantage in restricting yourself of nutrients for the majority of your day as well.
However, something being a bit less optimal at the expense of actually making the diet model sustainable is absolutely a smart trade off for a significant amount of individuals.
Many people simply can't stick to a heavily restricted diet spread into several tiny unsatisfying meals.
Anytime I incorporate intermittent fasting for bodybuilding purposes (I often incorporate it for cognitive and longevity factors as well), I am not at the mercy of my leptin and ghrelin levels being all over the place to nearly the same extent as I would be with a traditional calorie restriction diet model.
Once you are at that point where your quality of life is being hindered and you are hungry all the time trying to stay in a calorie deficit, that's when intermittent fasting becomes incredibly useful to maintain a shredded physique that would otherwise be near impossible to maintain long-term.
In the context of bulking, intermittent fasting is totally out of the question for me because I can never get my calories in if I'm just cramming them into two giant meals.
I'm sure for some people up to a certain point when they're bulking, it works for them.
But you're going to eventually hit a caloric intake where it's just too much to handle in a small window of time, and you'll probably be forced to spread your meals out a bit more.
If you get to that point during a bulk phase, or even during a bulk in general, I think you should consider splitting your meals up for ease of digestion.
I feel that it is often overlooked that overloading yourself with nutrients in one meal can potentially put unnecessary stress on the digestive system, leading to malabsorption, or other digestive issues that may have been mitigated by eating more manageable, smaller portions.
If I slam over 100 grams of protein at once, I will often pay the price later on the toilet.