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Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?

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We’ve all seen them on Instagram; the fitness models. The big guys, with super-sculpted muscles and tight-triangular waists. Modern-day Adonises so shredded they look more like a different species rather than an experienced athlete – and then they tell you anyone can do it.

And what do they say when asked how? Intermittent Fasting. Only eating at a certain time in a day, or on some days not at all.

But is intermittent fasting safe?

If you’re just starting out on your cut, you’ll notice more than a few ripped guys swear by the methods of intermittent fasting, or IF. But what is IF, and how does not eating keep you not only lean, but big?

It’s an interesting question, and it’s not as a straight forward as these guys would have you believe, and it takes a lot more effort than you think to pull off behind the scenes.

But first, what are the common misconceptions of IF?


What People Think Intermittent Fasting Is

As soon as people hear the word ‘fasting’, they often interpret it as ‘starving’. This instantly sets them up with the fear of going catabolic (burning muscle) and the terrors of missing their anabolic window – especially if their feeding time doesn’t line up with your workout. Strike 1.

Another common complaint with Intermittent fasting is that only eating at one point per day, or not at all, will not give the body a lot of opportunities to process food, and will cause a crash in metabolism levels. Strike 2.

And finally, critics also think this modern method is unsafe as the body won’t get enough varied nutrients throughout the day to stay healthy and to continue making gains. Strike 3.

There are two things all these conceptions have in common; they all think it will crucify gains, and they’re all false.

Let’s set the story straight.

Moving over to IF form normal eating habits can be tough, and a lot people like to make excuses, rather than sticking with it.

If you’re struggling…

A good way to start IF is to begin with a large feeding window (say 12 hours) making it shorter and shorter.

Lack of energy and a lot of hunger can be a big problem for some when adjusting to IF, and a great way to get around is through taking Instant Knockout throughout the day.

Our fat burner not only contains caffeine and green tea to keep your energy levels perk up, but it’s also rich in the fibrous complex glucomannan. Swelling in the stomach, this fiber increases the feeling of fullness in your body and keeps you on track with your feeding windows.


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How and Why Intermittent Fasting Works for You

Contrary to what you might hear, Intermittent Fasting is not only an effective way to burn fat and maintain (or even improve) your gains – it’s also safe.

A typical IF schedule consists of an 8 hour feeding window where all your daily calories should be consumed. It isn’t a change in diet, it’s a change in timing – and depending on your lifestyle it can make a serious difference.

In between feeding time, drinks like water and green tea are acceptable. Fruit teas and any other form of calorific beverages are right out as giving your body this kind of nourishment tarnishes it’s ‘fasting state’ – which you definitely don’t want to do.


Your Muscles While Fasting

The Fasted State

This is what you’ll be in for the most of the day, and the secret to getting lean. Once your body has finished digesting what it received during your feeding window and used up that energy, it must find another source to keep you going.

It’s here where we’re going to address ‘Strike 1’: Going Catabolic, and where people wonder if intermittent fasting is safe.

You’ll be told at this point that your body is now going to start burning muscle to make up the difference for all the energy lost.

This is not the case.

What actually happens is that your body beings to eat into the fat stored in your body, however it will also use some of the glucose and glycogen in your blood and muscles – which makes all the difference if you workout out towards the end of your fast.

Working Out Fasted

Training without a pre-workout meal to some people sounds like one of the worst things you can do, but when you’re fasting it can really help you get ripped quicker.

Remember the glycogen that fasting can pull from your muscles? Well, without that in the mix they still need something so you can work out and keep lifting hard – so it relies on your fat cells for energy.

Doing this can actually increase the amount of insulin sensitivity in your body [1], which if you’ve read our other article ‘Does Cardio Burn Muscle?’ allows us to absorb more from our food and store less of it as fat. This also promotes faster muscle growth and recovery.


intermittent-fasting-couple

Your Metabolism While Fasting

The Myth of the Anabolic Window

Many of the people who wonder is intermittent fasting safe, are the same people that believe heavily in the anabolic window.

For those of you that don’t know; the anabolic window is a mythical time frame that follows your gym session when your should be fuelling your body with protein and carbs to maximize your gains. It is believed to be have anywhere between a 30 minute to 1 hour cut off point after your session.

Many guys who participate in Intermittent Fasting usually time their feeding window to happen just after their gym session. It’s a smart move. Your insulin sensitivity is higher, and you’ll be incredibly hungry.

However, quite a few guys don’t, and plan their meal around when’s most convenient – while others look on in horror as the anabolic window and gains passes these lifters by. It’s a tricky one, and a big reason why most people won’t touch Intermittent Fasting.

But they couldn’t be more wrong.

The anabolic window as we know it is a total and utter myth. Various clinical studies have disproved the short term time for muscle growth, and extended it to a 24hr period.

However, studies have shown training fasted, and then not eating can cause muscle breakdown. Although this will only be an issue if you have a 24 hour fasting and decide to train.

You can read more about the Myth of the Anabolic Window over here, the guys over at FitChief.com sum it all up rather well.

Intermittent Fasting and Metabolism

Older fitness blogs, and mainstream dieting will tell you that ‘little and often’ (eating many smaller meals throughout the day) is the best method to raise metabolism, and that things like fasting lead to ‘starvation mode’ and a sluggish metabolic rate.

However, the opposite happens. Studies have shown that subjects participating in short term starvation, have seen their metabolism rise by up to 14% over a period of 3 days [2], along with a dramatic rise in the fat burning hormone norepinephrine.

The idea behind ‘little and often’ isn’t as great as you might think, and doesn’t help boost metabolism in the ways that many once thought. The idea of your body constantly burning more calories to process multiple meals is a farce – it takes just as much energy to process as 1000 calorie meal as it does 10 meals of 100 calories.

The only reason this method helps people lose weight is because it makes snacking incredibly difficult. If you’re constantly grazing through mini-meal after mini-meal, you’re not going to have time to squeeze in a snack.

Essentially that method is aimed at those that struggle with portion control and doesn’t have the added benefits that you’d get with IF, like the increased insulin sensitivity and additional norepinephrine.


Your Life While Fasting

The Convenience of Fasting

Not only is intermittent fasting safe and benefits your physique, it also benefits your life.

One of the main things that’s great about IF, is how much easily it slots into you life. As you only have one meal a day, you have more time to get things done and enjoy your life.

It takes a lot of thought out of the tedious parts of your day and allows you to channel that energy into more productive ventures like work and training.

It’s better for gains

As well as insulin levels, continued intermittent fasting has been seen to increase the levels of growth hormone in the blood to five times the usual amount. [3]

On top of this, if your serious about IF, your meal of the day will be planned in well advance. This will ensure all the nutrients you require for recovery have been factored into your dish and will leave no room for further cheating throughout your window. Keeping you eating both clean and lean.


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Important Things to Note for Intermittent Fasting

You need discipline

No food outside of your window means no food outside of your window. If you sneak a treat, you’re cheating yourself. This will put a hold on your fasted state, and start burning what you ate, instead of your fat cells for energy.

This is not the only thing you need to get cut

IF will help you lose more weight than usual, but calories in and calories out still need to change to see effective changes in your body. Regular exercise and a proper diet are you keys to success, this method of eating just makes the process easier, combine this with Instant Knockout and there’ll be nothing stopping you from becoming a fat burning machine.


Summary – Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?

Although this method of dieting has often been looked down upon, the evidence against Intermittent Fasting is purely subjective – and it is in fact totally safe.

Intermittent Fasting has been shown to have multiple benefits on muscle gains, weight loss, and lifestyle. The studies show it does not crash your metabolism, put your body into a catabolic state, or deprive you body of essential nutrients (as long as you continue to eat healthy). It’s ideal for anyone looking to burn fat.

If you’re curious about Intermittent Fasting, the benefits surely warrant that you give it a try. Combining the fat burning benefits of this eating pattern, along with our supplement and an active lifestyle will give your body every opportunity to really cut down to that shredded physique you know is within your grasp.


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References

[1] Heilbronn LK, Smith SR, Martin CK, Anton SD, Ravussin E. Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2005;81:69–73.

[2] Zauner C., Schneeweiss B., Kranz A, et al. Resting energy expenditure in short-term starvation is increased as a result of an increase in serum norepinephrine. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71:1511–1515

[3] Hartman ML, Veldhuis JD, Johnson ML, Lee MM, Alberti KG, et al. (1992) Augmented growth hormone (GH) secretory burst frequency and amplitude mediate enhanced GH secretion during a two-day fast in normal men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 74: 757–765.