A quick good news / not so good news post today about building muscle and fasting.
The Good news – Research shows (once again) that even 72 hours of fasting (way longer than I recommend) does not change whole body protein turnover or measures of protein oxidation (you’re not losing muscle). This is great since with the Eat Stop Eat style of Intermittent Fasting we never go more than around 24 hours without eating.
The not so good news news – The same research also shows that that massive doses of amino acids and insulin after a fast are no more anabolic then they are in the fed state. In other words fasting didn’t some how turn you into a muscle building monster. Now, there is some research to show that the muscle building machinery in your body are more ‘sensitive’ after a fast, but I’m pretty sure we’re looking at the minutia of muscle building – small things that won’t really change how much muscle you build over the course of a year or two.
Bottom line – Eat Stop Eat is supported by EVEN more research showing it’s a great way to lose fat without losing muscle! You’re not losing massive muscle when you are fasting and you are not building massive amounts of new muscle because you ate a high protein diet right after coming out of a fast (there’s no magic muscle building effects from the post-fast period).
This is an important part of the Eat Stop Eat philosophy.
Once you complete your 24 hour fast, simply pretend the fast never happened. Don’t do any special post-fast rituals, don’t over eat, don’t make some special amino acid/protein cocktail.
Just resume eating as you would have on any other normal day.
The point of Eat Stop Eat is to take a break from food, and then go back to doing what you were doing before you took your break.
As soon as you start coming up with special ways to eat and things to do at the end of your fast you’re complicating things and missing the point of the simplicity of Eat Stop Eat.
Finally, as always…it’s the way you workout that decides if you are building muscle, and the way you eat that decides if you are losing fat.
(Gjedsted et al, 2009)