Skip Nav
Workouts
Get a 6-Pack With This Trainer's Intense 7-Move Ab Workout
Portion Size Tip For Weight Loss
Diet Tips
If You're Not Losing Weight, These Comparison Photos Could Explain Why
Diet Tips
These 10 Fruits Can Actually Help You Lose Weight
30 Days to Strong Fitness Challenge
30-Days-to-Strong
30 Days to Strong: A Month-Long Fitness Plan
30-Minute Latin Dance Workout
30-Days-to-Strong
Latin Dance Workout For Your Living Room (So You Can Dance Like Nobody's Watching)

Can Intermittent Fasting Help You Gain Muscle?

Nutritionists Reveal How Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Gain Muscle and Burn Fat

Photographer: Kathryna HancockRestrictions: Editorial and internal use only. No advertising, no printPhotographer: Kathryna HancockRestrictions: Editorial and internal use only. No advertising, no printProduct Credit: Tory Sport leggings and sports bra

Intermittent fasting, also known as IF, is one of the latest diet crazes that has everyone's attention. With talk of incredible weight loss and tons of before-and-after photos on Instagram, it's hard to not pay attention.

But maybe you're not trying to lose weight, but you do want to change your body with some new muscle gains. Trying to lean out and build some definition? This could be your ticket. "IF is an excellent tool to use while trying to gain muscle and get stronger," said clinical/sports nutritionist and personal trainer Autumn Bates, CCN, CPT. "Multiple studies show that IF helps to boost growth hormone, which assists in forming muscle," she told POPSUGAR. "What's also unique about IF is that it boosts fat burning while still maintaining (and forming new) muscle. I use IF with many of my athlete clients to boost performance levels while increasing muscle mass and losing fat mass."

Precision Nutrition coach and personal trainer Austin Lopez, CSCS, confirmed that fasting stimulates human growth hormone, known as HGH. "I personally love intermittent fasting (IF) for all sorts of reasons," he said, noting that the hormone stimulation from fasting "in addition to an increase in insulin sensitivity from not constantly ingesting carbohydrates produces the fat-loss effect we recognize from IF."

ADVERTISEMENT

That fat loss can lead to muscle gains, according to Bates. "The longer you use IF, the more efficiently your body begins to burn the fat calories that are stored in your body," she said. "As you become more metabolically fit, your body will turn to stored fat as a source of energy rather than glycogen. Your body can store many more fat calories than it can glycogen calories, so IF helps to tap into that for sustained energy levels."

But there is a bit of a catch, Lopez says. "What I have found with regards to building muscle [through IF] is a little complicated," he said, explaining that the primary use of IF is to "cut weight," which is typically counterintuitive if your goal is gaining muscle. "Basically, if you end up eating one less meal, you will end up losing weight — thermodynamically sensical," and from this, he typically sees muscle maintenance vs. muscle gain.

"Where I have seen the most lean mass gain is from people who continue eating the same or more calories, but fit all of their eating into a relatively small eating block (seven to nine hours a day where you can eat)," he said. "This gives you the benefit of the fasting, plus the benefit of a high-calorie diet," which you need to build new lean muscle tissue. So with this approach, you're burning fat and gaining muscle simultaneously. "This is no small feat, as you realize you are constantly eating in your eating block." Easier said than done, apparently!

Here's another key to success: "If you choose to use IF to help gain muscle, I recommend working out during your fasting period (preferably in the morning)," said Bates. She noted that this tactic "will help your body take advantage of the boosted growth hormone levels that you achieve during the fasted state." And the biggest consideration? Be mindful of what you're eating. "Just make sure that once you are ready to break your fast, you eat a nutrient-dense meal with healthy fats, proteins, and carbs."

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Kathryna Hancock
From Our Partners
Stability Ball Ab Workout
Best Workout Clothes For Women
How to Do Stability Ball Mountain Climbers
Regina King's Arms at the Emmys 2018
Breathing and Exercise
How to Do a Single-Arm Row
Workouts to Get Back in Shape
What to Prioritize For Fat Loss
What Should I Eat After a Workout?
High Sodium Foods
MCT Oil For Smoothies
A Trainer's Favorite Dumbbell Exercises
From Our Partners
Latest Fitness
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds