Sick of eating every 2-3 hours, and living out of your Tupperware? Looking for an excuse to switch over to a lifestyle that doesn’t totally revolve around your meal times? Keep reading, because in this article I’ll give you all the justifications — in the form of benefits — associated with the increasingly popular meal timing protocol known as Intermittent Fasting.
Where many of us go wrong is listening to all the myths and outdated doctrine. But once you understand just how profound the benefits are with Intermittent Fasting, I trust you will see the light — that which reveals the way to enlightenment and freedom (from Tupperware enslavement). Such benefits as:
- Maximize mental sharpness, both in the short and long term
- Accelerate fat loss, without many of the side effects common to regular “diets”
- Promote muscle growth, with herculean hormone function
- Age well with cellular darwinism — only the fittest cells survive
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Simply put, intermittent fasting is a regimen cycling between brief periods of fasting and periods of eating. Gaining incredible popularity, this meal timing protocol has been shown to drastically improve body composition in those with goals to lose fat and — believe it or not — gaining muscle. The most typical procedure is going 16 hours without intaking anything that could cause a metabolic response, followed by 8 hours of eating.
The problem with many diets that require prolonged periods of extremely low caloric deficits is they can cause physiological changes that are often less than ideal such as; muscle loss, calorie restriction adaptation that can hinder fat loss goals, adverse hormonal effects, and even cognitive detriment.
Not only does Intermittent fasting encourage accelerated fat loss, it can actually deliver benefits in cognitive function, muscle gain, hormone balance, and graceful aging. In other words, this protocol can be powerfully beneficial in all the areas where most diets are detrimental.
Intermittent fasting works to accelerate fat loss in several ways.
- Boost metabolism
- Hormone optimization
- Naturally decreases caloric intake
Ketosis: Glycogen Depletion to Quickly Access Fat Stores
One of the most primary ways Intermittent Fasting aids fat loss is how it affects the way in which our body utilizes energy — in the form of calories. On a traditional diet, our body relies on its preferred source of energy, glycogen. Glycogen comes mainly from carbohydrates that are broken down into glucose to be used as glycogen.
In order to optimally burn fat, we need to tap into fat stores and use those for energy, which isn’t done as quickly when liver glycogen stores are high since the body will pull from glycogen before fat stores.
When fasting, your body depletes its glycogen stores very quickly, forcing your body into a state of ketosis — even if you’re not adhering to a ketogenic diet. Ketogenesis is when your body produces its own energy in the form of ketone bodies, allowing you to directly burn fat instead of dealing with the obstacle (glycogen) standing in the way of you and your six-pack.
Hormone Optimization — Make Your Hormones Help You
Converting your body into a fat burning furnace (ignited using jet fuel) via ketosis is correlative to the way intermittent fasting affects certain hormones in your body, but it’s not the only hormonal response responsible for the super charged fat loss.
Insulin: This hormone increases when we eat, and sometimes by a lot (e.g. sugar spikes). When we fast, however, insulin decreases dramatically. (*) Lower insulin levels can provide a whole host of health benefits, one of them being that low insulin levels facilitate fat burning to a large degree.
Hormone I can’t name: Because the G-Man is watching and hates some words, I can’t actually speak this hormone’s name, so I’ll use a synonym instead; Gainz Hormone. This is fitting, because this particular hormone plays a powerful role in all things related to body composition. Levels of Gainz hormone cosmo rocket during a fast, increasing by as much as five fold (*). Elevated levels can lead to epic fat loss benefits (*)
Norepinephrine (noradrenaline): The nervous system sends norepinephrine to fat cells, making them break down into free fatty acids that can be burned for energy (*, *)
Tell me if this sounds familiar: “Your metabolism is like a fire, and the only way to keep the fire burning is to keep stoking it. If you don’t eat, the fire goes out. If you eat too much, you smother the fire. So you gotta eat 5-8 small meals a day…bruh!”
It’s no secret that a faster metabolism improves fat loss. However, due to lack of information — and misinformation — one of the most powerful ways to boost metabolism is still a secret to many.
Despite what the small meals throughout the day preachers would have you believe, fasting can actually do more for fat loss. Here’s why: as it would turn out, the metabolism isn’t a fire at all. It’s actually a master converter. And some studies have shown that fasting boosts that master converter’s efficiency by up to 14% (*).
This is the most obvious. By eliminating a few hours of eating, we naturally decrease caloric intake. I don’t think that really needs any further explaining.
Just don’t compensate by binge eating to make up for the time not eating.
And if you’re one of those people that believe calories are the most important player in the quest for gaining muscle mass, you might find yourself fear-sweating, as thoughts like But if I don’t get my excess calories in every day, I’ll lose all my muscle mass. Everyone says I’ll never grow if I’m in a caloric deficit!
Your “everyone” is wrong. Saying you require a calorie surplus to build muscle is like saying if you poured enough gasoline into your old T-Bird it would be as fast as a 2020 BMW M5 Competition…think about that.
(Feel a little silly?) The only way to get an old car anywhere close to the master engineering that is an M5 is to do a massive overhaul — like one of those “sleeper” muscle cars. Improving your physique and building muscle is no different.
Building Muscle with Intermittent Fasting:
A vast amount of individuals who’ve spent time adhering to traditional diets believe that Intermittent Fasting causes muscle loss. This is likely due to the fact that the argument for eating every 2-3 hours is more based around fear mongering than, you know, actual science — works for politicians and zealots, might as well work in fitness too. We’ve been taught that unless we’re constantly consuming our muscles will break down, leaving us atrophied and emaciated.
This indoctrination is false. In fact, Intermittent Fasting promotes muscle growth. Here’s how: When you fast, your GH levels ramp up approximately 2000%. The reason that’s so powerful is that GH is considered the master hormone when it comes to building muscle.
Cellular Rejuvenation — Autophagy
Some of you reading might be primarily interested in intermittent fasting, because you’ve heard about the uncanny health and anti-aging benefits. Those benefits are all true.
They are a result of what’s known as autophagy. Autophagy is a process where healthy cells devour old and damaged cells, making themcellves stronger and healthier.
I’ll go more in depth about how autophagy works in a later article, but basically, autophagy is a combination of cellular darwinism mixed with the (seriously underrated) Jet Li movie, The One.
For those of you who haven’t experienced the kung fu version of Highlander: Jet Li’s character seeks to hunt down variations of himself in alternate universes and absorb their life energies so he can become a superpowered god-like being called…you guessed it…”The One”.
In other words, autophagy is your healthy cells absorbing the remaining life energy of their weaker cellves to help us become superpowered. Or, at least super healthy and ageless — like George Clooney or Jennifer Lopez.
When it comes to mental focus, or really anything brain related, intermittent fasting can be a powerful tool. Here are a few of the ways that it works to accelerate your mind into tunnel vision.
When you fast your brain switches into survival mode, which can sound detrimental to focus, but it’s quite the opposite. Think about it from an evolutionary standpoint, in a time where coming across food wasn’t so easy (fast food joints, anything at the grocery store, now made even easier with services like grubhub and InstaCart), it’s believed that humans would frequently go extended periods of time without food in search of food, leading to a sort of tunnel vision. Focus on one goal — to find food.
Although most of us won’t ever experience this same scarcity, our brains haven’t really changed much. When your brain goes into survival mode, it has to preserve energy for what really matters — the task at hand. As a result, you get hyper focused. This intense focus automatically forces all the distractions (Instagram, Facebook, whether that cutie matched with you or not, etc) to fade away into the ether — where they belong.
Ketone Bodies and the Blood-Brain Barrier
That’s not the reason this hyper focus occurs though. Our brains have this thing called a blood-brain barrier, which works as a sort of force field — like Violet’s in The Incredibles.
Our brains are extremely picky with what they’ll allow through the force-field and use as fuel. In a regular state, the brain runs off glucose. However, when you fast you deplete the glucose stores. To solve the potential problem, the body naturally produces ketones (also known as beta-hydroxybutyrate) to be used as brain fuel instead. What’s cool about ketones is that they’re even more effective at passing through the blood-brain barrier than glucose.
After all, if Violet was self-producing her own fuel (ketones), then it stands to reason this fuel would have a more direct route than if she had to let down her force field (blood-brain barrier) to had said fuel (glucose) delivered
Brain Gainz — From BDNF:
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF): increased survival of neurons in the brain (or brain cells), increases growth of new neurons in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that gets destroyed in illnesses such as alzheimers. That structure in the brain is sort of like a GPS, helping you locate yourself in time and space.
On a simple level, the process of aging can have a similar effect on the brain as usage does on a CPU. Over time and work, a CPU that isn’t maintained and repaired slowly decreases in functionality. The brain isn’t all too different, but luckily, when you strengthen synapses and induce neurogenesis, it’s a way to gradually upgrade your brain, keeping it functioning optimally for longer.
Because fasting increases BDNF, it promotes the strengthening of synapses and the production of new neurons from stem cells (neurogenesis), leading to brain optimization.
Training Fasted For Optimal Results
I know it’s difficult to break that mindset, especially when it comes to training in a fasted state. I go over how powerful fasted exercise is when it comes to muscle growth and fat loss in my article on how to optimize Intermittent Fasting, so check that out if you want to know more about fasted training.
However, if you are worried about fasting breaking down your muscle mass and this scarcity mindset is keeping you from experimenting — and therefore growing/cutting — here is a pre and post-workout stack that, for those of you who suffer from fear based mindsets, can quell your doubt. And for those of you who simply want to optimize anywhere possible, are super effective tools. This is the exact stack I use. It’s saved me from those times when my dedication goes to the wayside, and it’s exponentially improved my gainz when I’m on my game.
Bucked Up Ketones (Exogenous) about 45-60 minutes prior to your training session.
Made with GoBHB, exogenous ketones can protect against muscle breakdown,* deepen ketosis,* and further improve cognitive function.*
BAMF Black Pre-Workout 20-30 minutes prior to training:
You could easily go with any of the other pre-workouts, but BAMF Black is my current favorite due to its nootropic profile. Additionally, benefits that come in our Black Series — healthy cleansing of heavy metals and increased nutrient absorption* — make for an even more awesome pre-workout.
PUMP-OCALYPSE in conjunction with your pre-workout 20-30 minute pre.
This stim-free pump enhancer relaxes blood vessels for better blood flow,* hyper hydrates the muscles with ingredients for cellular hydration,* and it even has a trademarked mushroom blend known as Peak O2; this adaptogen has been shown to increase strength over time.*
ALL BULK NO BLOAT directly post-workout.
The alpha and omega of muscle growth,* this supplement has earned us our own special cult following. Hormone optimization,* improved protein synthesis,* accelerated muscle recovery,* GPS system (and rocket fuel) for nutrient transportation,* mitochondrial function mastery,* and more.
Phosphatidic Acid (PA), one serving directly post-workout:
Most everyone knows about Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) and Muscle Protein Breakdown (MPB). The interplay between the two is the determining factor in muscle gain (or loss)*; in order to build muscle the rate of MPB must be greater than the rate of MPB. Phosphatidic Acid powerfully activates what we nerds call the Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway; mTOR regulates protein synthesis, leading to ingested protein being translated into new muscle* (due to accelerated MPS). On top of that, recent studies show that Phosphatidic Acid may reduce MPB.*
KETO PROTEIN prior to bedtime.
I only eat in about a 2-3 hour window every day, typically breaking it once I’ve finished cooking dinner, which is around an hour post-workout. Because I like being as hungry as I can be for that feast, and my other post-workout supplements — PA + ALL BULK NO BLOAT — have already primed my body for recovery, I don’t drink a post-workout protein shake. Instead, I save mine for directly before bedtime. I prefer the Keto Protein because of how helpful the healthy fats are for preparing my mind and body for the next day’s writing session and fast, but Buck Feed grass-fed whey is also an incredible option.
Fast On — And Feast On The Benefits
Whether your primary goals are in muscle growth, fat loss, anti-aging, cognition, or a combination of each, the verdict remains the same. Intermittent fasting is a highly effective way to improve your overall quality of life, helping you reach your goals.
Don’t forget to head on over to the website (link here), and stock up on the optimal Intermittent Fasting pre-post stack as you embark on this new experiment of your fitness journey. Click here to read about flexible dieting.