This article discusses the difference between intermittent fasting and intermittent dieting. Learn how to use them to become insulin sensitive and build muscle while effortlessly burning fat
Ocean. That’s the thing about good friends, you always have one another, no matter how much time passes you’re always going to take up where you left off. You could be leading completely separate lives, but you can always call each other and talk about anything. Alright Mr. Beatty, what the hell has that got to do with muscle building? Slow down my friend, slow down. Building muscle takes a long time. It takes dedication, it takes pain but above all it reJust last week I was speaking to a good friend of mine. It was quite a while since we spoke last but nonetheless nothing has changed. We’re still great friends despite being separated by 3,000 miles of the Atlanticquires having a best friend. Your new best friend is insulin. Insulin is your body’s storage hormone.
Here’s how it works; every time you eat you spike your blood sugar levels. It goes without saying that some foods spike your blood sugar more than others. Regardless, you must take that sugar from your blood or you’re about to suffer a few major health complications. That’s a job for insulin. Insulin is secreted into your bloodstream and it takes the sugar from your blood and stores it somewhere in your body. If you’re already great friends with insulin it’s going to treat you nicely and pump all that sugar into your muscles cells. If you’re not friendly you’re in for some trouble. Insulin is going to fill your liver with this sugar. The problem here is that your livers energy stores are extremely small meaning there is going to be spillage. Spillage means you get fat.
Being overweight is the worst possible way to be if you’re looking to build real muscle. How so? It’s really simple. In the vast majority of cases, if you’re overweight it’s because you eat too many carbohydrates, specifically carbs with easily accessible sugar. Carbs cause the biggest spike in your blood sugar and in turn the biggest spike in your blood insulin levels. This is great post-workout but if it happens regularly throughout the day you’re likely going to become insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is to your body like wheat is to a celiac; the damn devil. The more resistant you are to insulin the less effective it will be at taking sugar from your blood and shuttling it to your muscles. In fact, the more resistant you are to insulin the more fat you’re going to store.
Here’s the beauty of insulin though; if you play nice and don’t over indulge in the wrong foods at the wrong times it will be your best friend. Just like I said at the beginning, me and my mate can take up where we left off without talking in months. He’ll always look out for me and vice versa. You want the same relationship with insulin. Greater levels of insulin sensitivity means when you workout and eat a ton of sugar afterwards, it’s all going to be pumped into your muscles cells.
Is insulin your best friend? If not, why not?
How To Effortlessly Build Muscle and Burn Fat
Become insulin sensitive, duh. You do this of course by keeping your simple carbohydrate intake to a minimum. But you need a ton of carbs to pack on muscle mass, right? That’s exactly why you’re going to take full advantage of nutrient timing. There are certain times of the day when carbohydrates are tolerated much better than others. For example, after your workout your body is approx. 150% more capable of glycogen synthesis, meaning it can store more energy in your muscles energy stores than at any other time of the day. Please take note of that figure; I said ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY PERCENT. That’s nothing to be ignored. Not only are you able to store more muscle energy but your insulin sensitivity is increased for a short period of time too. Basically this means your body can handle a crap ton of carbs and you won’t put on any fat. This window of opportunity is open for 3-4 hours post-workout. Take full advantage with your most sugary foods immediately after your workout as that 150% starts to get lower and lower at about 15 minutes post-workout.
OK, so your window of opportunity is great for muscle building and fat loss but it still doesn’t help you if you’re really insulin resistant. You’re going to overcome this by intermittent fasting or intermittent dieting.
#1 Intermittent Fasting
Let’s get this clear from the start; it’s highly unlikely that intermittent fasting will burn muscle. The only way it would potentially burn muscle is if you did it for extended periods at a time and with terrible diet habits throughout the week. It really is that simple. Intermittent fasting works to increase insulin sensitivity by allowing your body an opportunity to take care of all the sugar in your blood and clear it out. The knock on effect of this is that insulin will not be needed during your fasting periods meaning you’re going to become more insulin sensitive. You already know what that means, don’t you? Easier muscle building and greater fat loss.
Try experimenting with 36 hour fasting and/or 16/8 fasting. 36 hour fasting can be difficult at first but more often than not they can become quite easy and enjoyable. Heck, a day without having to prepare food? That sounds magical. Let’s take Monday as your fast day; you would stop eating around 10pm on Sunday night, and you wouldn’t eat again until breakfast on Tuesday morning. If you are worried about losing a minute amount of muscle supplement with BCAA’s throughout the day. These super proteins will preserve all your hard earned muscle.
16/8 fasting is a hell of a lot easier. You’re going to fast for 16 of every 24 hours, allowing you an 8 hour eating window. This approach works well for a lot of people but you have to make sure it fits your schedule. If you workout in the morning you’re going to want your 8 hour eating window to begin at breakfast. The only issue I have with this is some find it difficult to stop eating in the middle of the day. It’s usually easier to skip breakfast and fast until midday. Having said that; it’s a personal preference so do what works best for you. Just DON’T skip your pre- and post-workout nutrition. These two methods are great for improving your insulin sensitivity and of course promoting pounds of new muscle growth.
By the way, don’t be surprised if your sex drive takes a boost; intermittent fasting has been shown to increase testosterone production too (who wouldn’t want that?).
#2 Intermittent Dieting
I love this approach. It’s exactly what bodybuilders do, except for a shorter period of time. Think about this for a minute; bodybuilders diet for weeks and sometimes even months in preparation for a show. After the show they pig out and eat everything in sight, literally. The question is, why don’t they gain fat? The answer of course is; insulin sensitivity. Because they have kept their carbs low for such an extended period of time, except of course around their workout they have never had large amounts of blood insulin. The beauty of this is that after their show, if they train and eat smart it’s possible to pack on slabs of rock solid muscle in no time at all. It happens as if by magic. Now, I’m not suggesting you get in contest prep mode but I am suggesting you take a similar approach. Take the time to manipulate your body and become more insulin sensitive. Try reducing your calories to about 3-500 below maintenance for a 10 day period. During this time you’re going to continue to workout but you’re also going to include 30 minutes of cardio on 7 of those 10 days. Most of your calories will come from protein and fat with the remainder (about 25%) coming from carbs. However, you will only have carbs during your pre- and post-workout shakes. Again, the purpose is to manipulate your body’s hormones and use them to your advantage.
After a short 10 day period you’re going to follow it up with intense eating for 20 days. You’ll cut the cardio completely and bump your carbs up to 50% of your total calories which have more than doubled from the first 10 days. With your heightened insulin sensitivity you’re going to be able to pump that energy into your muscles stores. Again, the timing of your carbs is important. Assuming a mid-afternoon workout here’s what your meal schedule is going to look like;
- Meal 1 Large carb and protein breakfast
- Meal 2 Protein and Fat (midday)
- Meal 3 Carb and Protein (pre-workout drink)
- Meal 4 Carb and Protein (post-workout drink)
- Meal 5 Carb and Protein (60-90 minutes post-workout)
- Meal 6 Protein and Fat
Remember the story about my friend and I. We stay good friends all the time, despite not seeing each other very often. You need to create this relationship with insulin. You want insulin to treat you right when you’re taking advantage of it during the longer muscle building cycles. The happier your relationship with insulin the easier it will be for you to build huge amounts of muscle and effortlessly burn fat.
p.s. Enjoy your new muscle. It feels good, right?