You know what happens when you try to ‘bulk up’ (AKA bulking) with intermittent fasting?
The same thing that happens when you ‘bulk up’ without intermittent fasting – you get fat.
The concept of eating as much as 10,000 calories a day to build muscle is perpetuated by a few small groups of people:
- 20 year old guys (because it works for them as they’re still kids)
- Supplement companies
- Writers affiliated with supplement companies
- People using steroids but who don’t want to tell you that they are using steroids
- And last but not least (and likely the largest group); people who have been influenced by the opinions of the aforementioned in group 4.
The most convincing evidence for grown men building muscle while bulking comes from guys I know who were using steroids and had to explain the new muscle growth to their friends/parents/loved ones/and anyone else who asked “how did you get so big?”
The standard answers you get from guys who use steroids who don’t want to admit it goes something like this: “I’m just eating a ton of calories and getting my protein”
So where does Intermittent Fasting fit into bulking?
In my extremely biased opinion, Eat Stop Eat is one of the absolute best ways to lose fat and keep the fat off for good… but bulking? I don’t see a connection.
Intermittent fasting, carb cycling, calorie cycling, protein cycling, high fat, high carb, they’re all different ways of desperately trying to make ‘eating for size’ actually work.
But here’s the truth:
Calories are permissive to the muscle building process. The driving force behind muscle growth happens in a gym, in a syringe or the combination of the two.
Yes, Protein is also important. If you are not eating ‘enough’ you can hinder muscle growth. But once you start eating just ‘enough’, eating any more on top of that will not FORCE more muscle growth.
The point is calories are permissive, but not a driving force for muscle growth in adults. Protein is essential (that’s why I wrote a book on protein), but still can’t force muscles to grow faster.
The simple art to ‘eating for muscle growth’ is discovering exactly how many calories are ‘enough’ to allow for muscle growth, and for that the answer will always be ‘it depends’.
Depends on your age, training status, training program, training goals, and level of body fat among other things.
So ‘simple’ but not ‘easy’.
Most guys (and girls) over 40 can remember one time (long ago) when they could eat a lot and gain a significant amount of muscle. Most likely they were between 17 to 25 years of age when it happened.
I was there, and I remember it – it was awesome.
This doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again.
There’s a big difference between
A) Eating ‘enough’
B) Bulking – adding weight at all costs in hopes that it builds muscle
Eating enough can EASILY be done with intermittent fasting.
“Bulking” can be done too…there just doesn’t seem to be any benefit, unless you are young, on steroids, or your goal is to be a sumo wrestler.
Here’s the other issue I have with bulking, and it’s probably the most controversial thing I’ve said in a while.
I am not convinced that putting on 50 pounds of body fat so you can hopefully gain 15 pounds of muscle is any less dangerous than taking steroids to gain that 15 pounds of muscle.
In fact, it could even be worse (especially since chances are you won’t gain those 15 pounds of muscle with bulking).
Large amounts of excess fat are associated with many disease states, and it doesn’t matter if the fat was added out of laziness or the goal of adding muscle. Fat is fat.
Also, please remember that the metabolic consequences of bulking include a hormonal profile that PREVENTS muscle growth. From low testosterone to insulin resistance and growth hormone resistance, bulking does NOT set you up for some sort of super anabolic metabolism, in fact, it’s just the opposite – it sets up a metabolism that prevents an unneeded increase in lean body mass.
So those guys telling you to eat 10,00 calories a day to build muscle are not doing you any favors.
Here’s the other thing – I have no idea why people are continually bringing up bulking being a ‘weakness of intermittent fasting’ but there is one thing I do need to point out – Not all styles of intermittent fasting are the same.
Eat Stop Eat isn’t fasting every day. It’s not even fasting every other day. It’s fasting once or twice a week, and you still eat EVERY SINGLE DAY.
So, try not to lump ESE in with the rest.
Eat Stop Eat is a great way to lose fat and it’s a fantastic way to maintain that fat loss. You can absolutely build muscle while following Eat Stop Eat.
That being said, I should say that other forms of Intermittent fasting are also find for losing fat and building muscle. People get great results because calories are permissive, anyone who tell you otherwise are just perpetuating a myth.
Finally, remember – fat is fat, and gaining excess amounts of fat, no matter the reason, is never a good idea.
Eating enough to build muscle is an essential part of optimal muscle building (obviously), but anything above that is just excess.
Try to eat the right amount of protein, and track your measurements. If your weight is going up, but your waist measurement is staying the same you are doing something right. If your weight is going up AND your waist is going up… the weight your gaining is most likely fat.