Intermittent Fasting Variants - Part 2
My three most popular IF protocols for competing clients
For Performance Sports, Burning Fat and Building Muscle
Written by: Joachim Bartoll
Classic Muscle Newsletter, June 2015 (issue #10)
This is a teaser of part 2!
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In the first part we covered some of the basics and the importance of planning your Intermittent Fasting schedule in accordance to your innate circadian clock. We also covered the big difference between the actual net fasting state and simply counting the hours we go without eating.
Now, let’s take a look at the three most popular IF approaches among my competing clients.
Regular IF with workout nutrition
This strategy is most popular with my clients during the beginning of a competition diet leading up to a physique show such as Bodybuilding or Body Fitness. In all simplicity, it’s a “regular” Intermittent Fasting-protocol with the difference that you break your fast with your pre-workout nutrition.
While you may burn a few extra fatty acids by training on an empty stomach and break your fast with your post-workout nutrition, the many benefits with pre-workout nutrition simply outweighs the few benefits of the regular Intermittent Fasting protocol. It is the “secret key” to rapid body transformations – and that includes fat loss, muscle gain or both.
The idea of dividing your workout nutrition to the hour before your training session, during training and post training has been one of my most important strategies since my article in Ironman Magazine back in 2001 (at that time, it was called “bracketing”.) I wrote a lot about it in 2007 and 2008 and it was included in my second book, The Maximum Muscle Guide, from 2009. If you want to know more, read my book Träningsnutrition (only available in Swedish at the moment.) It describes the science and gives examples based on different types of goals.
The main benefits of consuming carbs, protein, some performance enhancing supplements (such as creatine and beta alanine) and electrolytes before your training session is increased protein synthesis, better hormonal environment for muscle growth, increased intracellular fluids (which increases anabolism), more energy and better pump (expanding the muscle fascia).
For best effect, about 25 to 33 percent of your daily caloric intake should be distributed as your workout nutrition. Start out in the low end and slowly increase the amount of macronutrients.
Since you slowly increase your calories as your diet progresses and your body’s ability to release body fat decreases, it’s ideal to add carbs to your workout nutrition and the first meal after your training session.
If you’re unfamiliar with increasing your energy intake during a diet, I will explain the reasoning and the mechanics behind this superior way of dieting in my article series Burn The Fat (this 6-part series will be published during June to August of 2015.)
Another huge benefit with proper workout nutrition is that the following meals doesn’t have to be as big as they would be on a typical Intermittent Fasting plan. One problem is that large meals can cause a lot of stress on your digestion and the intestines. As a rule of thumb, I recommend to keep most meals under 1400 kcal if you’re a big guy and under 1000 kcal if you’re more of average size. If you only have time for two or three meals during your feeding window to get all your nutrients and calories, they can get pretty big or be pretty close to each other – becoming a real stress on your system.
Since you shed 25 to 33 percent of your calories by utilizing proper workout nutrition, your feeding window doesn’t have to be as long as 8 hours, since you probably will need only two meals to cover your nutrient and energy intake. At the same time, your last meal for the day can probably be smaller, allowing for faster digestion and a longer net fasting state! It’s a win-win!
Example of this strategy:
5:00 PM: carbs, protein, performance enhancing supplements
5:15 PM: fast acting carbs and protein (or amino acids)
5:30 – 6:30 PM: Training
7:15 PM: fast acting protein or amino acids
7:30 PM: Meal 1, carb dominant
8:45 PM: Meal 2, balanced
For someone dieting on an average of 2100 kcal, he could have 90 g of carbs and 60 g of protein in total before and during his workout (600 kcal) and a meal of 1000 kcal after his workout and a final meal for the evening of 500 kcal.
By splitting it up like this, you should be in a fasting state at about 1:00 to 2:00 am, depending on your digestion, giving you a net fasting state of 15 to 16 hours!
IF with amino acid pulses and workout nutrition
Most foods will break the fast and negate the effects of fasting, but there might be some exceptions.
These include small portions of fast assimilating nutrients such as hydrolyzed whey protein, amino acids (BCAA, EAA or single amino acids) and green vegetables.
These nutrients contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients and they target the same genes as fasting. Some scientist believe that small servings of protein or amino acids and green vegetables during your fast may actually increase the benefits you get from fasting.
If you want to experiment with vegetables, I highly recommend a quality vegetable powder. They’re packed with nutrients while still being very low calorie and easy for the body to absorb.
While some parts of nourishment during a fast is still a bit unclear, and it may take science another 10 years to figure all of this out, using small pulses of amino acids are an important addition for a lot of my clients. They simply perform better and retain or gain more muscle mass compared to athletes following a strict Intermittent Fasting protocol. And no, I don’t care about what IF-purists think or say, I only care about superior results while at the same time keeping it simple and doable.
Once you reach a pretty low level of body fat and you risk losing muscle mass from the prolonged periods of fasting, we usually switch to this variant where we introduce small pulses of amino acids. These pulses should be less than 100 kilocalories (if you’re somewhat active), or preferably closer to 50 kcal if you mostly sit on your ass during the day. By keeping them within this calorie-range, we minimize the risk of breaking the fast. And since they’re small and fast assimilating, they will provide benefits without taxing your digestion. These pulses will stimulate your protein synthesis, keeping you in an anabolic environment most of the day and thus minimize the risk of muscle catabolism.
By introducing pulses of proteins and/or amino acids...
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