A topic that a lot of people don’t seem to understand, but the question always seems to be asked, is intermittent fasting good for building muscle?
The short answer is that, yes, it absolutely can be, but we need to go a little bit deeper to understand what intermittent fasting is.
Intermittent fasting is a meal timing schedule that condenses your eating habits into a small window of time. This amount of feeding time can vary, but the most common feeding window is 8 hours.
This is what is known as the 16/8 method of intermittent fasting. The concept here is to spend 16 hours fasting, and then you can eat within your 8 hour window.
Let’s see 2 examples of what that might look like for a normal day:
Option 1 – My favorite intermittent fasting schedule
Feeding Window: Noon – 8pm
Fasting Window: 8pm – Noon
Option 2 – Better intermittent fasting for morning people
Feeding Window: 9am – 5pm
Fasting Window: 5pm – 9am
Nutrition – The intermittent fasting ground work
Now that we are starting to understand how to intermittent fast, we must talk about nutrition. I have heard of people just eating whatever they want during their feeding window, and not seeing results.
Intermittent fasting is not a magic pill. It is to be used in conjunction with other methods of either muscle building or weight loss for maximum results. Speaking of maximum results, check out 3 Tips for Going From a Thin Body to Muscular Body.
Caloric deficits and caloric surpluses are the major contributing factors for what type of body you are going to have. It is very simple. If you are eating more than your body burns, you are at a caloric surplus.
Caloric surpluses are great for putting on muscle. People looking to gain muscle size and strength absolutely need to be eating at a caloric surplus in order to build muscle or they are wasting their time. I struggled with this, which is why I even created a recipe for a 1000 calorie protein shake. With caloric surpluses, it is important not to go too far here. You will still build muscle, but also fat if you are eating thousands of calories over your threshold.
Caloric deficits are a state in your body when you are eating less calories than your body maintenance. Caloric deficits are great for shedding fat and maintaining muscle. Notice how I said maintaining muscle?
It does not matter what any influencer or so-called “expert” will tell you. If you are eating at a caloric deficit, you will absolutely NOT build muscle. It is fairly simple, and I am shocked at how many people make a living off of trying to sell you this idea.
So how does this all tie in to intermittent fasting? Make sure you are eating for your goals, within your intermittent fasting feeding window, and you will find success.
Let’s visualize this for a second:
Goal – Build Muscle
Action – Make sure you are eating at least 500 calories OVER your caloric maintenance
Goal – Lose Fast
Action – Make sure you are eating at least 500 calories UNDER your caloric maintenance
These tasks are so basic, yet so many people seem to forget the concept. Learn more about how to calculate my maintenance calories. Is intermittent fasting good for building muscle? Based on what you have read so far, I think it is safe to say that yes it is, if it is used properly.
Working Out – The intermittent fasting muscle building portion
We now know that yes, you can absolutely build muscle with intermittent fasting. In fact, building muscle and burning fat is more likely with intermittent fasting.
What about working out though? What workouts do we need to do to build muscle?
Well, you can stick with a plan, or you can do tried and true exercises, included in 5 Workouts for Skinny People to Gain Muscle.
While those exercises are great for building muscle, there is also a better option. Sticking with a plan. I have personally built a lot of my muscle working out 3 days per week. As long as you are eating right, and not skipping days at the gym, results will come.
You can find all sorts of workout plans and tips online, but we condensed everything you need into one app called All Workouts: Personal Trainer (iOS | Google Play). In this workout app, you will find FREE workout plans for 3, 4, and 5 day schedules.
To me, working out is the easy part. All I have to do is go to the gym 3-4 days per week, and I will build muscle. The tougher part is counting your calories and eating within your feeding window. You may get cravings during your fasting period, but the results will be completely worth it.
Main Point – Is intermittent fasting good for building muscle
The answer at this point is not as easy as yes or no. But, if you are willing to follow all of the rules of intermittent fasting AND muscle building, then yes, intermittent fasting is great for building muscle.
Too many people try to cut corners when it comes to building muscle. Put in the work and watch the results happen.
Have you had success with intermittent fasting? It is one of the most talked about eating strategies in the fitness industry. Leave us a comment about your experience.