What is your experience with intermittent fasting while trying to build muscle and take on heavy lifting sessions?

I really wanted to share the results I’ve slowly accumulated due to intermittent fasting on a daily basis. This is such an important question you are asking, and I do feel that only like minded individuals will be able to appreciate the answer I’m about to give you.

To note also, this is from a females perspective, and I’m an avid weight lifter. This has been my story so far, for over 14 years now. I’ve competed in body building, bikini and various other physique categories. I live and breath health, fitness and creating a spectacular body composition.

The road to dieting

I have been dieting most of my life, mainly due to allergies and intolerance’s of a vast variety. Nothing really compares to the journey of a body builder. It’s intense to say the least. You can probably appreciate the huge food consumption, as well as the training regime and the constant restrictions. Fasting is not something we did during this time, as it’s not really the bodybuilders way of life, and losing precious muscle we worked for over the course of many years, is every lifters nightmare indeed!

After a while, this way of life wears out your body, not to mention digestion. Eating this much food on a daily basis is exhausting. Yes it is effective, but long term, is it enhancing your quality of life or decreasing the efficiency of your bodies capabilities.

Fasting for a female

This is just based on my experience, although many women who have similar goals as mine, will most definitely agree with the method and results. If you research the wonderful benefits of fasting, you may encounter conflicting research papers and different theories on building muscle, decreasing fat and enhancing longevity. I would say, read all that you can on this, but dive in deep and make certain nuggets of discovery yourself. We all respond in different ways.

Disadvantages of fasting for a female

For me, keeping in mind I’m a female, the only disadvantage stems from a hormonal point of view. Irregular periods is the main culprit. If any female is reading this, when planning to have kids and fasting, do consult your doctor first. If you don’t care, then read on.

Advantages of fasting for a female

The plus points definitely out-weight the disadvantages (as you will notice my long list!)

  1. Increase in growth hormone, especially when training if you’ve been fasting for a long time (17, 18 or 20 hours).
    I have found that my best results come from a fasting time of around 17–18 hours. Depending on what I’ve done through the day, 20 hours is a make or break time. What I’ve found is that HGH is especially active, as I’m working out closer to the end of my fast. The strength, power and endurance I have far surpasses eating a meal beforehand (or a snack mind you). I save my energy for lifting weights, there is no doubt about this.
  2. Better utilisation of carbs – more gains.
    Because I fast every day, my body is better able to keep my insuline stable, and I can indulge in extra helpings of carbs. This would not normally happen on a calorie restricted diet. Even going carb free was not working for me prior to intermittent fasting. I do believe that resisting food constantly, allows your body to become more in tune with the limited amounts of food you do ingest, shuttling nutrients into where it’s needed, a lot more effectively. Eating more carbs means maintaining blood glucose levels during exercise, and replace muscle glycogen. Noticing this difference took about a month or so.
    Results differ for each individual.
  3. Sustaining you’re high levels of training.
    That means, the ability to lift your heaviest weight during fasting, and having the stamina to do this without feeling lethargic. There is no greater feeling, then being able to lift your heaviest weight and surpassing it, without too much effort. I have found this a reality with fasting. It has always left me in complete confusion. In the past, I would be loaded up in my macros, and still struggling, as well as accumulating injury, due to over training. Now here, at 41, I’m gliding through, without any side effects at all! How is this possible? Your body is actually doing what it’s supposed to do, because you are rewarding it with the gift of allowing it to happen with fasting. Truly a wonderful discovery,
  4. You won’t need much cardio (if any at all)
    If your intention is to lean up, as well as build muscle – you have chosen the most challenging double faced goal there is! When you fast for long periods of time, cardio is rarely ever needed. This is something females need to trust.
    For year’s we’ve been conditioned to think cardio is key to weight loss, maintenance and developing the lean physique we want. It’s furthest from the truth, but we don’t listen!
    Excessive, or even too much moderate or challenging cardio, will inhibit any muscular growth and development. In fact, you could be compromising your muscle mass by allowing it to be used as fuel. This cycle certainly needs to stop right now.
    Your primary aim should always be, to increase your muscle mass, develop your strength and increase mobility in your connective tissue. This will set you on the right path towards a longer, more robust life in old age. Excessive cardio is exhausting, time consuming and ages your body. Too much stress is never a good thing for anyone.
    If you must indulge in cardio, limit it to 20 minutes of HIIT, only a couple of times per week. Don’t fall into the trap of pushing yourself beyond control with cardio. Push yourself to lift more weight, increase your rep range, try circuit training and rest more.
  5. Leaner than you’ve been in years – and much easier than any diet you’ve tried!
    It’s hard to deny the easy fat loss that comes with fasting. After you get these kinds of results in far less time than dieting, it becomes a way of life. One that is worth every restriction you’ve enforced. It really isn’t a restriction, because you know that in a few hours time, you may eat again. This is the beauty of fasting. It’s so easy, it’s cheap and very simple to maintain for life. You aren’t restricted by what you can eat, you still keep the physique you want, even if you had a piece of pizza for dinner one night. It’s all about balance, and eating the healthiest and most nutritious diet you can, in order to get fat loss and muscle building results. I do believe this is the healthiest, most natural kind of lifestyle eating plan you will ever come across.
    When it comes to building muscle, we always need to eat the right amount of protein. Perhaps that may mean eating a larger sitting, or splitting those sittings between two or more meals. 20 hours is a bit challenging, but can be done.

I know this blog post got a little of track, but as a female, I wanted to highlight just how important weight training is, and how impactful fasting has been on my own strength training and leaning out goals. It’s been a relatively seamless progress, and the easiest one I’ve had in my many years of training. I might add that I do not consume animal meats, which has also had a huge impact on healing my body, and maintaining proper digestion, decreasing inflammation in my joints and connective tissue, as well as ceasing any allergic reactions I was plagued with for years. If this is a similar factor in your life, why not give up animal protein for one month. See the difference it can make for you.

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  • Val , 12/12/2019

    When is best feeding window when training on a fast of 15-20 hours? As a beginner to IT, how often should I do this a week? My concern is feeling fatigued with lack of food and the impact of this on training? Can I drink coffee and water while in a fasting window?
    Thank you

    • admin , 14/12/2019

      Hello Val,
      Do not worry about the fatigue, you will not feel this at all, and instead be a lot stronger and more effective with your training efforts. The tiredness is only apparent when you first start IF. Give yourself time, and allow your body to adapt as it needs to. Soon enough, you’re body will become accustomed to this way of training, and it will become relatively easy.

    • admin , 17/01/2020

      Over time, when your body becomes accustomed at burning fat for fuel, you will not feel lethargic. This is what a lot of people suspect from a lack of food. Our bodies are able to become more metabolically flexible when intermittent fasting.

      I personally fast every day, using different fasting and feeding windows. There is no right or wrong. Do what suits your goals, lifestyle and what you can handle. I feel better when I eat during the day, and then choose to keep my stomach free and able to cleanse in the late afternoons, right through to early evenings.

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