On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, we answer a viewer question who asked, does intermittent fasting work for muscle building?
This question is from #AskLiveLeanTV Ep. 007.
Ahmed Gamal El-Basuony on Facebook asks: Hey guys, thanks for all your efforts. I have lost 30kg and am now 4.5% body fat. Now I want to build lean muscle, but I’m afraid to gain the fat back. I’m following a high fat, low carb diet, so I don’t eat a lot of carbohydrates. I follow the nutrition teachings of Brad, Mark Sisson, and Dave Asprey. Currently I have a bulletproof coffee every day before my breakfast and follow Brad’s meal plan. But I have 3 meals instead of 6 meals per day.
My question is, does intermittent fasting work for muscle building? Or do I just need to continue following a high fat and low carb diet to gain muscle? It’s important to me that I maintain a low body fat percentage. I’m not looking to gain muscle quickly, but I want to build as much muscle as I can without adding fat. To do this, do I have to be in a calorie surplus? Or can I do it at my maintenance calories? Sorry for the long question.
First of all, awesome work on losing 30kg and achieving a 4.5% body fat level.
So let’s summarize your question.
You’re asking if eating 3 meals a day and doing intermittent fasting can build muscle as effectively as eating 6 meals a day.
Before getting to that, let me do a real quick summary of what intermittent fasting is.
Intermittent fasting is a nutrition approach where you eat all of your meals and hit your nutritional goals, within a shorter time period.
The most general approach to intermittent fasting is the 16/8 approach.
So instead of eating your meals whenever you want throughout the day, you would consume all of your calories within an 8 hour feeding windown.
Now that you know what intermittent fasting is, the question is, is it ideal for building muscle?
By restricting the amount of time you can eat throughout the day, most people find intermittent fasting is more ideal for fat loss rather than building muscle.
If your goal is to build bodybuilder style muscle as fast as you can, it’s easier to do that when you eat more frequently.
Our teachings are not directed towards people looking to become bodybuilders.
Especially since both Jessica and I definitely don’t consider ourselves bodybuilders.
Our physique preference is having more of an athletic and fitness oriented body type.
This is less muscle and a little bit leaner than a bodybuilder’s physique.
So based on this physique goal, intermittent fasting works for my body type.
In the past I’ve used intermittent fasting and I liked the results that I achieved from it.
You can check out my 14 day experiment with intermittent fasting here.
In fact, I’m actually starting to get back into following the 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol.
I like to occasionally do intermittent fasting just to throw something different at my body.
By doing this, I’m consuming my meals in a shorter window.
So I’m simply delaying my meat and nuts breakfast until a little bit later in the day and eating my dinner earlier.
I’m still getting the same amount of calories in, but I’m shortening my eating window.
Since it doesn’t sound like your goal is to get “bodybuilder huge”, I recommend you try intermittent fasting.
This way you can test it out and see how you do with it.
Again, at 4.5% body fat, you’re probably pretty stoked with your results right now.
Therefore, if you want to stay the course, do it.
However don’t worry if you add a little bit more body fat.
Even at 8% body fat you’ll still be rocking a lean physique.
Finally the last part of your question asked if you need to be in a calorie surplus to build muscle.
Since you mentioned you’re afraid to add extra body fat, I would recommend you try going in a slight calorie surplus.
This would simply be a surplus of 100-200 calories over your maintenance calories.
That slight calorie surplus will help you slowly build muscle over a longer period of time.
You won’t build muscle as fast if you were in a 300-500 calorie surplus, but it will help maintain your current leanness.
This means you won’t be adding the extra typical bulking fat you see a lot of people get when they try to add muscle faster.
Hopefully that helps you out.
Go with a calorie surplus 100-200 calories a day and you should be good.
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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.