Intermittent fasting has been proven to work when done correctly, and adding the correct amount of macros into the equation will allow you to build muscle, or lose weight depending on your individual goals.
I don’t like talking about a lot of different diets or trends because the majority of them aren’t sustainable for a long period of time, in the end you will only end up creating a pattern where you go between gaining and losing weight.
Otherwise known as the yo yo effect.
When you can’t implement a nutrition plan for an extended period of time you will at some point fail and revert back to your bad habits, and gain the weight back that you lost.
Intermittent fasting while counting your macros is not a fad or a trend, it’s not even a diet. I would describe it more as a program or schedule that you follow on a daily basis to allow your body time to control its insulin levels while targeting its fat reserves for fuel.
The main point of this article is to teach you how you can use an intermittent fasting program and combine it with macro counting in order for you to still get the nutrients you need to sustain a prolonged calorie deficit to lose weight.
Or to make sure you’re still receiving the correct amount of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to create a calorie surplus needed in order to gain muscle.
What Is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is where you break down the day into periods of eating and periods of fasting.
There are many methods of intermittent fasting that break the day or week into different eating and fasting periods.
The most popular method is the 16/8 schedule, this is where you fast for 16 hours and eat your daily allotment of calories and macros in an 8 hour period.
This isn’t as hard as you may think since the time you sleep is included in the 16 hours of fasting.
Let’s say you sleep for 8 hours a night, all you would have to do then is not eat 4 hours before you go to bed, and 4 hours after you wake up. Then make sure you eat all of your calories and the correct ratio of macros in that 8 hour period and you just successfully completed a 16/8 fasting schedule.
Different Types Of Intermittent Fasting Methods
There are many different options, but I feel some of them are extreme and not sustainable over a long period of time.
I don’t think anyone should implement a nutrition or fitness plan that can not be used for an extended period of time. If the diet you’re doing is only short lived you will only end up gaining the weight back and becoming a yo yo dieter.
This is why I’m only going to go over the methods I feel are actually plausible for the everyday person to accomplish and reach their goals.
The 16/8 schedule
This is where you break the day down into a 16 hour fast and an 8 hour feeding window.
This is the easiest method since all you have to do is eat dinner at an earlier time, abstain from eating anymore before bed then skipping breakfast the next morning.
It’s recommended that men fast for 16 hours and women fast for 14 hours, I honestly can’t tell you why, but all the experts will tell you that women receive better results with a somewhat shorter fasting period.
Skip meals when convenient
Have you ever skipped eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner due to not being hungry or being to busy.
You just performed a type of fasting, a lot of times people eat out of social commitments, think about it, how many times have you gone out to eat only because it was scheduled or because you were bored.
If you’re not hungry don’t eat, or if you’re really busy and have other things on your mind that will prevent you from harping on being hungry use it to your advantage and fast for a couple hours.
The warrior diet
This is when you eat small amounts of fruits and vegetables during the day and eat a huge “warriors” dinner in the evening, you’ll typically eat the majority of your calories in a 4 hour window.
The type of food you will eat during this small window will mostly be made up meats, fish, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Whole foods that aren’t processed in any way.
This may sound extreme, but after the initial week your body surprisigly adapts very well to it and it can be sustained over an extended period of time.
The only concern I would have is for people that have a physically demanding job, it is hard to ask your body to do laborious activities while only fueling it with small serving of fruits and vegetables.
This method is great for people that have desk jobs that aren’t very active during the day.
Can You Eat Or Drink Anything While Fasting
I would recommend staying away from solid foods while on a fasting period, technically if you stay under 50g of carbs you will continue to fast, but it’s easy to go over that number without knowing it.
As far as liquids go, feel free to drink coffee or tea while fasting, just as long as your drinks are under 50 calories you’ll stay within your fast. That means if you’re heavy on the milk or cream you’ll need to make sure to dial it back quite a bit.
I recommend black coffee and tea without sugar, milk or honey.
Make Sure To Drink Plenty Of Water While Intermittent Fasting
You definitely want to drink as much water as possible during your fasting period, since drinking water will also help you feel full during the first couple days when your body is becoming used to fasting.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that if you’re trying to sustain a calorie surplus while intermittent fasting you’re going to have a lot of food to eat during your feeding period.
So you may not be able to drink as much water during this time, so make sure to drink enough during your fasting period.
Benefits from Intermittent Fasting While Counting Macros.
Higher amounts of energy
If you make sure that you’re eating natural whole foods and hitting the correct ratio of proteins, carbs, and healthy fats during your feeding period, your body will have the correct type of fuel in it to provide the proper amount of energy during your fasting period.
Eating the correct way will also give you more stamina and strength during your workouts.
A lot of people don’t eat the correct food while intermittent fasting and have a hard time working out or staying focused while at work.
You’ll feel satiated longer
If you eat crap during your feeding period when you’re going to go into your fasting period already hungry, tired, or mentally drained.
All of these will sooner or later cause you to breakdown and fail.
If you eat the right type of nutrition, you may be able to go your entire fasting period without feeling considerably hungry. weak, or mentally fatigued. All of which are the main reasons people are unable to stick to intermittent fasting long enough to enjoy any positive results.
It will also help you if you schedule your workouts during your fasted periods.
Helps With Negative Digestion Symptoms
Giving your body a digestion break for 12, 16, or 24 hours (depends on what fasting period you choose) will give it a chance to heal any issues and allow your system to clean itself up leading to more regular bathroom visits and any irregular stomach problems many of us have.
Helps you stay hydrated
I can’t tell you how many of my clients tell me that they can’t bring themselves to drink water.
My wife’s grandmother actually went into the hospital a year ago and was found to be severely dehydrated, when the DR asked her why she wasn’t drinking water her response was “I forgot to”.
WTF…… is wrong with people?
I love drinking water and have a hard time understanding this, and also haven’t figured out a fool proof method to change my clients minds.
Until I noticed the change when any of them started to practice intermittent fasting.
If you do a 16/8 method, and 8 hours is sleeping, you’re still spending 8 hours awake while you fast.
This is the time when water becomes everyone’s best friend, even the most hard headed individual will look forward to drinking water in order to help them lighten their hunger.
Staying hydrated also helps you digest your food quicker during the feeding phase, so that you don’t have a hard time fitting it into your desired window.
How Many calories Kick You Out Of Fasting
I’m going to be honest with you, I have no idea why 50 calories is the point at which you’ll break your fast if you eat anymore than this.
I have been told by a great deal of nutritionists, and dieticians that this is true and if you want to successfully see results while performing intermittent fasting you better adhere to it.
So, this is why I’m passing it on to you, normally I like to show links to case studies showing you why this method is the correct one to follow, but in this case I can’t find a single study that disputes or proves this notion.
What I will say is that I have been doing intermittent fasting for a while now and have seen great results, and I always make sure my morning coffee is under this magical number of 50.
How Many Calories Can You Eat While Using The 16/8 Schedule.
The 16/8 schedule is the most popular and what I feel any beginner should try first, I think it’s the easiest to perform since the only change you make is skipping breakfast.
The majority of this article will be using examples of someone on a 16/8 Intermittent fasting schedule.
Since this is what I recommend to my clients I get asked a lot about how many calories you can eat while on the 16/8 schedule.
The answer is however many calories you need that fits the goal you’re trying to achieve.
If you’re trying to lose weight then you need to be on a calorie deficit, if you’re trying to build muscle then you need to be on a calorie surplus.
Make sure your nutrition plan matches up with your fitness goals.
Can You eat Rice while Intermittent Fasting
This is another odd question I receive, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why this is even thought of.
Yes. You can eat rice while Intermittent fasting
One of the healthiest meals you can eat is skinless chicken breast and brown rice.
There is a reason it’s been a staple among bodybuilders and powerlifters, it combines a healthy source of carbohydrates, and protein, two of the three macros you need to build muscle.
Intermittent fasting while On Keto
This is very easy to accomplish, you just have to eat the correct ratio of macro’s during your eating period.
You’ll want to break your macros down into portions of
- 70% fat
- 25% protein
- 5% carbs
It really is that easy, you still need to make sure you’re eating the correct amount of calories to keep yourself on a calorie deficit to still lose weight, but just as long as you eat these ratio’s you’ll keep yourself in ketosis.
Signs That Intermittent Fasting Isn’t For You Or That You’re Doing It Wrong.
Intermittent Fasting is one of the oldest weight loss methods out there and has been proven to work, but this doesn’t mean that it is for everyone.
When it comes to you finding a weight loss program there isn’t a one size fits all choice, so you have to listen to your body and understand when something is working, or if you need to stop and try another approach.
Here are some symptoms you need to watch out for, if you can’t fix them or if they don’t go away after a couple weeks then intermittent fasting probably isn’t for you.
I actually feel more alert and energetic during my fasting periods, but this doesn’t happen to everyone. Some people will feel unfocused and drained, if you’re just starting off then this may go away after the first week when your body starts to adjust.
If it lasts for more than 2 weeks you can either shorten your fasting period, eat more calories during your feeding period. If neither of those help you may have to try something else.
Poor sleep habits
A lot of people experience a better nights sleep while fasting, I didn’t see a difference for good or bad.
Some people are affected by their body not entering REM sleep, this is the deepest part of your sleep pattern that is responsible for improving your memory and learning.
If you find yourself starving at bedtime you can change the time of your feeding period so that you eat closer to bedtime, you just have to make sure you’re extending your fasting period the following day.
If your sleep behavior doesn’t get better your body may not be able to adapt and you’ll need to stop fasting.
If it’s causing stress or anxiety
If you’re experiencing higher levels of stress or anxiety since you started intermittent fasting then you may be fighting a losing battle.
When you’re stressed your body will produce cortisol which will make your body store, and retain higher levels of fat.
The entire reason you’re fasting is to lose weight not gain it, so if you’re seeing yourself feeling more stressed then try different fasting periods to see if you can change it, if you can’t then you may have to try something else.
Hair loss and missed periods
People have a hard time fitting all of their calories into a shorter feeding window, and sometimes this leads to a high calorie deficit, that can cause hair loss or abnormal menstrual cycling.
This normally takes a while to happen, just make sure you know how many calories you should be eating daily, and that you’re hitting that goal.
How Does Intermittent fasting Affect Your Metabolism
Research has shown that the effect of intermittent fasting on your metabolism isn’t as pronounced as we thought, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t working.
There is actually a higher percentage of actual fat loss while fasting and a higher preserve of lean muscle mass.
This means that when done correctly you have the opportunity to target excess fat reserves while keeping your muscle. That sounds like the perfect outcome to me.
You just have to be sure that you’re eating the correct amount of calories, being in to much of a calorie deficit will tell your body to find energy in other ways which will lead it to absolve lean muscle.
How Does Intermittent Fasting affect Your Muscles
I’m going to sound like a broken record, but when done correctly you won’t have any problem building or maintaining your lean muscle mass while intermittent fasting.
It’s all about how many calories you’re eating everyday when it comes to building or maintaining your muscle mass.
You need to be on a calorie surplus to build muscle, or eating a neutral amount of calories to maintain it.
If you’re not sure how many calories you should be eating, then use this calorie calculator to find out.
It doesn’t matter that you’re fasting just as long as you’re supplying your body with the correct amount of energy to maintain or build your muscle.
When you fast the first thing your body targets is your fat reserves, many people think this is the opposite, and you’ll hurt your lean muscle mass reserves, but this isn’t true.
How Much Protein Should You eat While Intermittent Fasting
The normal guideline is to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, so if you weigh 180 pounds you would consume 180 grams of protein per day.
This is hard to do when you’re only eating within an 8 hour or smaller window, so I would suggest that you aim to eat between 80 and 100 grams of protein a day.
Adding more protein into your diet will allow you to keep more of your lean muscle mass in case you are on a calorie deficit, and if you are trying to build muscle protein is essential to produce protein synthesis.
How Do You Fit All Of Your Macros Into Your Feeding Window
This is going to change for everyone and you’ll need to play around with the sizes of your meals to see what works best for you.
I like to start my feeding period with a hearty meal high in carbs and protein, this gives me a feeling of satiety while giving my body the energy it is craving. Then I eat 2 more meals that are just a little lighter.
There isn’t a wrong or right way to do this, I know people that have a hard time eating a big meal first and save that for last.
Figure out what foods you have to east to hit your macro, and calorie goals then split them up into manageable meals within your feeding window.
Macro Calculator provided by calculators.tech
When Should You Workout While Fasting
This is going to depend on how your body feels during fasting and feeding periods.
I do not like working out in the morning whether I’m fasting or not, I have never felt strong or energetic in the morning. I prefer to wait until the evening when I’ve had time to drink a gallon of water and eat enough food to give me the energy I need to perform an intense workout.
My wife on the other hand likes to wake up and workout first thing before she eats or drinks anything.
Neither one of these options are wrong, you need to find what works for you so that you can do it on a daily basis and sustain it over a long period of time.
Unless there is a good reason for it don’t conform what you like doing to match what someone else says or does.
Be Careful Working Out While Fasting
There isn’t anything wrong with working out while you’re fasting but you want to make sure you aren’t feeling light headed, and that you have the right amount of focus and energy to safely perform your exercise routine.
Hurting your self is never someone’s goal and it will only hinder your results.
Be smart and listen to your body.
Cycle during Intermittent Fasting
Again this is only my opinion and you don’t have to do this, but the best results I saw when it comes to building muscle while intermittent fasting was to eat more calories on days that I trained and less on days that I didn’t.
I also ate more carbs on the days that I trained and less on the days that I rested.
I love intermittent fasting, but other people I’ve met absolutely hate it and look at it as a type of torture.
When you’re looking to perform any type of a diet or eating schedule you need to make sure the strategy fits into your lifestyle and that you can comfortably do it.
You also need to take into consideration the goal you’re trying to achieve, it is possible to gain muscle while intermittent fasting, but it isn’t what I would recommend for you to do if you were my client and asking my advice.
You’re not going to succeed if you’re trying to do something that you despise, find what you enjoy doing and what works best for you and your lifestyle.