The Winter Bulk: What You Can Learn From My 1+ Year Long Bulk So You Don’t Get Fat!

It’s that time of the year again; the winter bulk is upon us! This is that amazing time when most of us are putting on the good ole’ sweats and going to the gym to train heavy, only to return home and stuff ourselves in hopes of packing on as much size as possible before the shredding season comes.

But First, My Story (It’ll help you later on I promise)

I worked so hard to get to where I was during my NPC Classic Physique competition in 2017. I dieted hard for 16 grueling weeks. I thought I looked pretty damn good…

Edited Side Chest

Could I have come in more conditioned? Absolutely. But for my first NPC show, I thought I did pretty well; not even having a coach and acting as my own coach. But then decision time came, it really hit me…

Before we get to that, let me give you a little background. I signed up for two classes; both the open class, which anybody can participate in, and the novice class, which you can only enter if you have never placed in the top 3 in a competition before. Given that I’ve never placed before, I thought this would give me a much better chance of victory competing in this category.

I was DEAD wrong. I did absolutely terrible. I got 9th out of 13 in the novice class and LAST in the open class. I was shocked. “Why did I do so bad?” I asked myself.

I compared myself to the other competitors. They were all so much bigger than I was. Exactly why they were bigger than I didn’t matter to me. I just wanted to get bigger. A lot bigger.

I came in at 147 lbs soaking freakin wet, and I expected to win? What was I thinking? And with a weight cap of all the way up to 165 lbs for my height of 5’5″ to boot. I had a lot more work to do. I did not gain enough size in my previous offseason to constitute competing at that time.

I was so determined to win the next time I competed that I was going on a bulk indefinitely. I was not going to stop until I packed on as much muscle as possible and stayed below my personal body fat cap that I set for myself at 16%. Once I reached this mark, then I’d stop.

Why Am I Telling You All This?

Because it’ll help provide you with context as to why and how it can be possible to bulk for either too long or not long enough. There’s a happy middle ground here. And I’ll help you find it with this sappy story of mine.

I Bulked…FOR A Long Time

Starting right after my competition, I bulked all the way till September of 2018. At first, I was scared to add one more pound to my already deteriorating physique. I wasn’t as lean anymore due to excessive water weight gain. It was a huge psychological (“mind fuck”) in my head. I was having negative self-esteem issues because of my loss of leanness. And I still looked small in my eyes.

However, after a few months, things started to come together. I started to gain weight steadily. The pounds started to pack on (in a good way). I was getting stronger in the gym. I finally sucked it up and forced myself into a caloric surplus, despite my fears of getting fat.

And I didn’t get fat. I added a respectful amount of muscle, going from 147-166 lbs over the course of half of a year.

And this trend continued up until the summer time of 2018. During this time, I started to get lazy. Not with my workouts, but mostly with my nutrition. I started not to track macros anymore, just eating whenever I felt like it. I noticed I was starting to get weaker in the gym as well. Most likely because my protein intake dropped because I just wasn’t tracking anymore.

September came around. And I wasn’t like what I was seeing in the mirror. I wasn’t getting any stronger either. I’d been in a stalemate for months. Did I get bigger? Of course. People were even telling me so. But I hated how fat I looked. I hated that I was able to so easily grab on to my “love handles” (does that sound weird coming from a dude?). I was curious to see what my body fat percentage was at this point.

20180927_004609

I was at 16.2% body fat! Perfect timing! Just slightly above the cap I set for myself. I was finally happy with how big I was in terms of weight (183 lbs) and I was now ready for the next phase.

TRUTH: Adding on Muscle Mass Takes A LONG time!

Do I need to repeat myself? This takes a long freakin ass time people! It’s not easy. It can get super boring and repetitive sometimes. But if you’re serious about it, you’ll make it happen.

It took me 16 months to get where I wanted to be. Most people want instant gratification. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out like that. So don’t go spinning your wheels in the dirt going on short bulking and cutting cycles of a few months each. Sure, you can lose a considerable amount of fat in a matter of 3, 4, or 5 months. But you CANNOT add a significant amount of muscle to your body in just a few months. Unless you’re just starting out in the fitness world, you can gain muscle and strength doing virtually any training program (1), which is an entirely different story altogether.

Each Bulk Has an Expiration Date

What do I mean by this?

Everybody’s different. Different genetics. Different background. Different training experience. But everybody has a point in time in which they reach a sticking point in their bulk. They simply can’t gain any more muscle (or a significant amount anyway). It seems as if there’s a certain point where all the extra weight gained just goes to fat and not muscle. This happened to me as well…

For those last few months of my bulk where I was lazy and more unmotivated when it came to my nutrition, I started to gain a good amount of fat without adding much muscle mass. I went from 14% body fat in June up to 16% in September, while only gaining approximately 20% muscle mass and the rest coming from fat! Now, why did this happen?

It’s hard to say with absolute certainty, as there is a huge lack of scientific literature on the topic. This is because this would require an exorbitant amount of time to study this phenomenon in multiple individuals, as most would not want to commit to such a long study. Studies of that magnitude are mostly saved for those in a clinical setting, such as pharmaceutical studies.

Because of this, much of what we can go on is anecdotal. However, one theory that can be speculated is that it has to do with something called insulin resistance. This is when the body cannot effectively store glucose (sugar) into the tissues of the body effectively, which raises one’s blood sugar, leading to a myriad of health complications. This can occur in up to 25% of nonobese individuals with what appears to be normal glucose levels via an oral glucose tolerance test (2). Now, this doesn’t cause weight gain directly per se. But, it can possibly shift our body composition adaptations from primarily gaining muscle to gaining fat, while still gaining the same amount of total weight. However, this is just a theory, as there haven’t been any adequate studies conducted on resistance trained populations. If you’ve been overconsuming calories for a while now (usually via carbohydrates) this is something to think about.

insulin
Hopefully, you won’t need this

The Bottom Line

As it looks right now, the mechanism as to why bulks start to fail after prolonged periods of time is still unclear. More studies are definitely going to need to be conducted in order to analyze this phenomenon further.

So, how should you bulk? With patience. This is a must. As the cliche saying goes “This is a marathon, not a sprint!” And it holds very true. Don’t rush it. The results that you get from it will be worth it. Trust me.

But also, don’t prolong it for too long either. Be your own guinea pig and constantly gauge your progress. Do this by utilizing:

  • Progress Pictures
  • Weight
  • Body Fat Analysis (skinfold calipers, BodPod, DEXA, etc.)
  • Progressive Overload (are you getting stronger?)
  • If others comment on your physique (seriously!)

These are just a few ways in which you can see if you’re headed in the right direction. Also, everybody has different images of what they want their physique to look like and why they want it to look like that. So if somebody is at 18% body fat and they like the way they look, then that’s great, don’t criticize them for that. Getting upwards of 20%, however, is when we start to run into health and performance problems, which is a story for another day.

If you guys have any questions, feel free to reach out either in the comments or on social media! Have a great week!

References

  1. Cunha, P. M., Nunes, J. P., Tomeleri, C. M., Nascimento, M. A., Schoenfeld, B. J., Antunes, M., . . . Cyrino, E. S. (2018). Resistance Training Performed With Single and Multiple Sets Induces Similar Improvements in Muscular Strength, Muscle Mass, Muscle Quality, and IGF-1 in Older Women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 1. doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000002847
  2. Reaven, G. M. (1997). Role of insulin resistance in human disease. Nutrition, 13(1), 64. doi:10.1016/s0899-9007(96)00380-2

Research vs. “Bro Science”: Who Can You Really Trust in this Industry?

In an online space full of so-called “gurus” and online coaches, who can you really trust in this world? This doesn’t only apply to the fitness community either.

This is seen in nearly every niche. Whether in fitness, finance, marketing; the list goes on. There’s good, honorable individuals who truly want to help others for a living. And then there are others who want to prey on the vulnerable and misinformed in order to make a quick buck. Sometimes its intentional, sometimes it’s just pure ignorance. Whatever the reason, it needs to be put to stop.

On the other side of the spectrum, you have actual researchers with a formal education in some exercise science related topic. But just as with the “bro scientists”, you must think critically when evaluating what these researchers have to say as well.

Wait wait wait, you mean I can’t trust them either? No, that’s not what I’m saying either. There are many variables that influence my bold claim (see what I did there?). Let’s dive in!

Fitness Gurus & “Bro Science”

You see that guy or gal on Instagram with the physique you aspire after; rock hard abs, toned legs, small waist, broad shoulders. You get my point. They’re giving you some free content to look at like snippets of their workouts and what they eat in a day. They usually have a caption about why you should do the workout their doing or why you should take the supplement they take. Aha, we’ve found out how they’re getting paid.

Now listen, I’m not saying that wanting to make a living isn’t bad (like I do with this website), but it just makes me sad to see individuals that just getting into this scene get ripped off by people who claim to know what they’re talking about, but aren’t.

Just take a look at the literally thousands of supplement companies out there nowadays. You think all of them are adequately dosed with the highest quality ingredients and that they are looking out for your best interests. No. Of course not. There are very few and far in between. And these “gurus” and usually sponsored by said companies and receive commissions to sell there (usually bullshit) products to you.

A few other things to be weary about when looking at these fitness gurus:

  • They don’t have a formal education on a related topic
  • They don’t cite their references when making claims
  • They don’t hold any certifications related to health or fitness
  • If they’re selling something to you that’s too good to be true, it probably is

They don’t have a formal education on a related topic

Listen, you don’t NEED  a formal education in exercise science to understand the fundamentals and even some of the intricacies of exercise science. BUT, it certainly does help when you’re explaining the finer details, which this field most definitely requires.

A big thing many people miss is that it a formal education helps out a lot when it comes to interpreting the research in the field. Sure, anybody can access most of these articles through free databases online. But it takes a trained eye to spot out key variables in the study, such as:

  • Were the methods/procedures used appropriate for the topic?
  • How were the results analyzed and interpreted?
  • How can this be practically applied to the real world?

They don’t cite their references when making claims

Anybody can just type something and claim it as fact. But, you need solid evidence to backup your facts and claims.

This is where the scientific literature comes in. These must be properly cited in order to back up what you are saying. Because if not, then you’re in for world of trouble when people call you out on your bullshit.

Again, this is also where a formal education plays a vital role. Just like anybody can just type something, anybody can just cite something as well. This is even if the reference doesn’t even match what they’re saying. I’ve gone through some of these fitness blogs and looked at their references and proven this to myself (not going to cite these sources to avoid exploiting them).

You have to know how to interpret the data properly in order to know what exact implications can be drawn from it.

They don’t hold any certifications related to health or fitness

Now, this should be the next best thing to a formal education. In fact, it gives a person brownie points if they pair this with a formal education.

These would include things such as a personal trainer certification, a sports nutrition certification, exercise physiology certification, and the list goes on and on.

For example, a personal trainer certification gives an individual a basic understanding of human anatomy and physiology, as well as Sports Nutrition. Even with this, somebody can most definitely be more trustworthy than someone who just did their research on Google.

If they’re selling you something that’s too good to be true, then it probably is

Oh yes, the biggest culprit of them all. The oh so famous keto only burns fat diet craze is definitely included in this category.  But there are definitely other ones as well.

I’m going to lay a very hard truth on you, what actually works in this field isn’t exactly what I’d call “sexy”.  And by this I mean there’s never really just one variable to be blamed here. It’s hard to package it in a nice, flashy ebook.

For example, going back to keto, many people who are firm believers in this and demonize carbohydrates will put insulin to blame. The raising of insulin is the reason why you’re gaining body fat. This is a much too simplistic way of looking at it.  Now I’m not saying a keto diet is bad , far from it. It happens to work well for many people and that’s absolutely fantastic, but it’s not magic that’s making that happen, it’s often personal preference in terms of what foods they like to eat and what they can sustain as a diet long term.

Another example is when people tell you specifically how to train. This could include making very black and white statements such as “only lifting very heavy weights makes you build muscle and lifting light weights makes you tone”.  Again, much too simplistic for a topic so complex as exercise physiology.

So they’ll make this very strong claim, and then they’ll coincidentally provide you a product that fixes the problem they just addressed. Trust me, nothing in life is ever that simple. The plan you put in place must be calculated and planned by an expert.

Researchers

This is where it gets real interesting.

The research field is ever-expanding to address a wide variety of topics. This is amazing as it helps us to address the many gaps we have in our knowledge about this broad field.  However, just like with our fitness influencers and gurus, there are good and bad researchers and studies.

Lets use an example that’s become very infamous in the exercise science research realm.  The one I’m talking about here is Dr. Jacob Wilson’s study about the supplement HMB. This has received a lot of controversy due to its claims of the results being “better than steroids”, with subjects gaining over 16 pounds of lean body mass over the course of 12 weeks just by taking this supplement. Ironically, he just released a video defending his study, if you would like to watch it the video is below.

You also have to take into consideration something called inter-individual variability. Basically, what this entails is that there are many things that make individuals different from one another; including genetics, age, sex, and our body’s physiological responses to certain stimuli, such as particular nutritional protocols, supplements, and drugs.  Because of this, research can only do so much to standardize these variables

Also, there’s also something that we call in the scientific literature external validity. This refers to how the results of the study can be applied to the real world. This correlates with something called internal validity, which is basically how effective the protocols  are being used to test what is being tested.  The higher the internal validity, the lower the external validity most of the time and vice versa.

Looking at the research is a great way to help us establish the best direction in which to go or where to turn. But also, one shouldn’t take it too literally either.  As the saying goes, what works best for one person may not work well for the other. Utilize the literature for the fundamentals, but also use critical thinking as well to be your own researcher. Essentially, be your own guinea pig. Apply what’s in the research and see if it actually works for you.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, clear answers are very difficult to come by these days. It’s hard to know who exactly to trust. Invest in the content of those we have never let you down. Use that intuition of yours to determine what this person’s goal is. Overtime, you can see if they’re in it just for the money, or if they’re really interested in making a difference in your life.

That even includes myself. I can say as much as I want that I care about your best interest, but until I prove that to you (which is what I hope I’ve done) then you really have no idea what my intentions are.

Bottom line; if you mostly see the selling of products rather than the distribution of information at the forefront of this person’s content, then I think you know what their motive is.

Wanna Grow But Can’t Fit In All That Food? Check Out These 3 Weight-Gaining Methods

It’s a common problem amongst those “cursed” with a fast metabolism (myself included). Ectomorphs, forever-skinnies (I just made that up now), whatever you want to call them. You really want to build muscle, but unfortunately, it’s just too difficult to eat all that food required for you to gain weight. So what do you do in a situation like this?

Well, you could do it the old fashioned way and just suck it up. Eat all the food you need to and lie in bed at night feeling like you just ate a boulder along with feeling like it’s gonna come back up any second now. But c’mon now, there’s gotta be an easier way, right?

The “GOMAD” Diet

Those of you who have been into lifting may have heard of this before. “GOMAD” stands for “Gallon Of Milk A Day”. It’s just like it sounds, you drink 1 whole gallon of milk per day, split up amongst various meals throughout your day. Doesn’t sound too expensive either, right?

milk

Well, let’s think about it for a second. A significant amount of people are lactose intolerant in the United States alone, about 30-50 millionand even more throughout the Eastern world, as Western countries consume much more dairy than those on the Eastern side of this planet [1].

And secondly, that just sounds disgusting. Don’t get me wrong, I love myself a good glass of milk. But even for somebody who isn’t lactose intolerant, too much milk in one day and I’ll be sittin in that good ole’ water closet for an hour at least.

Lastly, it’s not the “leanest” way to gain size either. Given that one is drinking whole milk during this diet, as it is the most dense (8g of fat, 12g of carbs, 8g of protein, and 150 calories in a 1 cup serving) type of milk there is. Simply multiply these numbers by 16 (1 gallon), and you’re already at 128g of fat, 192g of carbs, and 128g of protein without adding in your other food for the day. Now this is great for hitting your protein targets for the day, however, having all that fat in your system during the day will certainly slow down digestion to a great degree, affecting your workout performance for sure if you work out later in the day.

However, if you like milk, are on a tight budget, and don’t mind using this $3 per day method, then go for it. There’s nothing really “unhealthy” about milk, given that you don’t do this for a long period of time, over a month long or so [2]. After that point, your gastrointestinal tract may take a turn for the worst, but individual results do vary.

Apetamin

What the hell is apetamin? Well, it’s actually an antihistamine (for allergies symptoms such as sore throat and itchy/watery eyes). So why would you use it to gain weight? It contains an ingredient called cyproheptadine, which produces a side effect of increased hunger. Because of this, it is often used in the treatment of anorexia and malnutrition [3]. A simple Google search will show many people’s stories (particularly women) who have gained “healthy” weight by just using this “weight gain syrup.” One of the most common plans using this product being the “Slim Thick Plan”.

apetamin

In a 2016 cross-sectional study (meaning that the subjects were observed/answered questions at only one particular point in time, i.e. questionnaires, etc.) that observed a Kinshasa population (a society near the Congo River in Africa), a whopping 72.9% of them (364 out of 499 participants) had used apetamin as an appetite stimulant [4]. This is a surprising amount due to the fact that this purpose of use is considered “off-label”, therefore, unethical and unlawful usage.  When used in access, it can cause hallucinations, convulsions, and sudden cardiac arrest.

Weight Gainer Supplements

These types of supplements have become very popular throughout the years. High in carbs and protein while containing good amounts of “healthy fats:, what’s not to love?

Well, unfortunately, not all supplements are created equal, and weight gainer supplements are no different. For example, let’s look at one of the most popular weight gainer supplements on the market; Serious Mass by Optimum Nutrition.

Serious mass

Now, on the surface, it looks decent; high amount of protein from common sources (50g from whey and egg proteins, among others, and fats coming from MCT’s (Medium Chain Triglycerides), which have the ability to positively influence fat mass [5].

However, the issue here is that most of the carbs come from something called Maltodextrin, which simply put, is a type of fast-digesting sugar. Now, as we all know, we need high-quality nutrients in order to see the body adaptations that we want to (decreased body fat and increased muscle mass), right? Well, having most of your carbs coming from sugar really isn’t the best route to take, now is it? Not that sugar is necessarily “good or “bad” as the media makes it out to be, [6,7]it’s just that it is very easy to over-consume it due to its low satiety rating (ability of a food to make you full) and it often takes people away from the consumption of essential nutrients and minerals such as fiber, particular B-vitamins, and iron, just to name a few. May companies add this as an ingredient as it is a very cheap filler.

Now, not all of these supplements are bad. Let’s look at another brand of weight gainer supplement:

 

This supplement is called Mass Tech by the popular sports nutrition company Muscletech. Now, the ingredient profile in this supplement is of higher quality, as we take a look at what they call the “Multi-Phase Carb Complex”. It does contain a notable amount of sugars to start, but gets much of its carbohydrates from oats, quinoa, buckwheat, and other high-quality carb sources.

It’s not that all of these supplements are simply “good” or “bad”, just as with sugar, it is less of a black-and-white answer. Some are just of a higher quality than others. People are better off simply consuming whole foods for their caloric needs. However it’s more convenient to supplement the calories that one needs to gain weight, as getting all of them through whole foods is quite difficult. I mean, that the purpose of supplements. To SUPPLEMENT, not REPLACE, an adequate diet.

Conclusion

Now the methods I have presented here are few of many methods out there that are available to you. I don’t endorse any of the companies presented or recommend the off-label use of Apetamin. However, the choice is yours to make. None of these methods are perfect, but they do work. I’ve been through this predicament before on the weight gain journey, in fact, I still am. So I know what it feels like. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask in the comments or DM. Thanks 🙂

References

  1. Lang, S. S. (n.d.). Lactose intolerance seems linked to ancestral struggles with harsh climate and cattle diseases, Cornell study finds | Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved from http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2005/06/lactose-intolerance-linked-ancestral-struggles-climate-diseases
  2. P., C., & P. (2016, December 08). Daily milk consumption and all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease and stroke: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational cohort studies. Retrieved from https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-016-3889-9
  3. Apetamin is a New Trend in Unapproved Drugs. (2018, July 27). Retrieved from https://www.legitscript.com/blog/2018/05/apetamin-unapproved-drug/
  4. Lulebo, A. M., Bavuidibo, C. D., Mafuta, E. M., Ndelo, J. D., Mputu, L. C., Kabundji, D. M., & Mutombo, P. B. (2016). The misuse of Cyproheptadine: A non-communicable disease risk behaviour in Kinshasa population, Democratic Republic of Congo. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 11(1). doi:10.1186/s13011-016-0051-8
  5. Marten, B., Pfeuffer, M., & Schrezenmeir, J. (2006). Medium Chain Triglycerides. International Dairy Journal, 16(11), 1374-1382. doi:10.1016/j.idairyj.2006.06.015′
  6. Saris, W. H., Astrup, A., Prentice, A. M., Zunft, H. J., Formiguera, X., Verboeket-van de Venne, W. P. H. G., … & Vasilaras, T. H. (2000). Randomized controlled trial of changes in dietary carbohydrate/fat ratio and simple vs complex carbohydrates on body weight and blood lipids: the CARMEN study. International Journal of Obesity, 24(10), 1310-1318.
  7. Surwit, R. S., Feinglos, M. N., McCaskill, C. C., Clay, S. L., Babyak, M. A., Brownlow, B. S., … & Lin, P. H. (1997). Metabolic and behavioral effects of a high-sucrose diet during weight loss. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 65(4), 908-915.

Intermittent Fasting: Is It Really The Weight Loss Miracle It’s Advertised To Be?

I’m sure you’ve heard all about Intermittent Fasting and all its touted benefits by weight loss “gurus” and experts” such as:

  • Faster weight loss
  • More energy
  • Less hunger
  • And more
Intermittent-Fasting-to-Get-Ripped-1024x538
Oh wow, who knew the only way to get ripped is not eating for 16-20 hours a day? 😉

However, are all of these claims really even true? Is there actually any scientific evidence that proves these claims?

Well, let’s not waste any time here.

Intermittent-fasting
Aha Zach, I see what ya did there

What is Intermittent Fasting Anyway?

Well before we figure out if it works, we have to know a little bit about it. There are many versions of fasting out there, but the “intermittent” part of fasting, meaning occurring at regular intervals, is the most common form of fasting in the fitness realm, so that’s where we will focus our attention. This includes eating all of your meals within a 4-8 hour “feeding window” and fasting for the remainder of the day (Chaix et al. 2014).

The theory for this type of diet is that, with calories equated (equal to another group), it is more effective at fat loss and muscle mass maintenance/growth when compared to a standard calorie-restricted diet. However, the answer is not so black-and-white.

Adherence

There’s no point to a diet if you can’t stick to it. In the scientific literature, we call this “adherence” or “compliance”.

In a 2016 study, subjects that were part of a fasting group ate less total calories than the traditional diet group over an 8 week time period. A questionnaire was given to participants of the fasting group after the conclusion of the study. The majority of participants claimed that the only difficulties that they had with adherence was during the weekend due to differences in one’s schedule and the social opportunities that presented themselves (Tinsley et al. 2016).

Capture
This may look confusing, but all this table tells us is that the fasting group (RT-TRF) ate less total calories than the traditional diet group (RT-ND) across both calories and all macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats). The ± symbol simply means how much the totals differentiated from the average in both directions (positive and negative). The p-values and effect sizes are simply thresholds (has to be below .05) that need to be reached in order to reach statistical significance (meaning that the results shown actually show a change). So in this scenario, there was only a difference in the results BETWEEN GROUPS, not due to the duration of the study or interactions between the groups. However, the details of this are outside the scope of this article. However, if you would like to know more about it, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!

In a study concerning obese subjects, individuals became used to the fasting protocol in as little as 2 weeks (Johnstone, 2015). This used a fasting every other day approach, which is even more difficult to follow for most people. This was measured every fasting day by asking the subjects about their changes in perceived hunger, satisfaction with the diet, and satiety (feeling of fullness). The conclusion was reached after a majority of the subjects reported very little hunger on the fasting days. The data also illustrates that the subjects became increasingly satisfied with their diets after 4 full weeks. The only parameter to not increase significantly was the feeling of fullness; however, for obese subjects undergoing a caloric deficit, this is common.

Now, even though the focus here is primarily on athletic populations, the fact that significant amounts of adherence are seen in the obese is a great indicator for athletes to have success with this type of diet. This is because athletes are stereo-typically more determined than most populations, especially the obese, as it pertains to achieving their physical fitness goals. If obese subjects are able to adhere to a diet in as short of a time as 2 weeks, than the possibilities of success with this same type of diet for athletes looks positive.

Effects on Testosterone and Other Anabolic Growth Factors

One primary concern about beginning a fasting plan (particularly for men) is the effect fasting has on ones’ anabolic hormonal levels. Moro et al. (again, “et al.” means that others were included in the research besides Moro himself) discovered that after 8 weeks of fasting, the growth factors of insulin, IGF-1 (Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1), and testosterone decreased. However, no negative changes in body composition or muscular strength were detected when compared to the traditional calorie restriction group, which is a good sign. And this trend is seen across the board among various studies as well.

Capture
Here’s some more practice reading those fancy shmansy tables. IF represents intermittent fasting and ND represents the traditional diet. Pre and post simply means before the study started and after the study concluded respectively. All the other complex numbers you see are not a cause for concern.

But Do You ACTUALLY Burn More Fat When Fasting?

A 2011 article in the Strength and Conditioning Journal describes the examination of stored body fat burning only during an exercise session itself as extremely shortsighted (Schoenfeld, 2011). The body is ever-changing and it continually adjusts its energy utilization due to a host of factors such as hormonal secretions, enzyme activity, etc. Ultimately, if one burns more carbohydrate during training, than fat will be utilized more greatly during the post-exercise period, and vice versa.

So unfortunately, the answer is no. There is simply not enough evidence out there to make a decisive answer to this question. However, the research shows that many people can better stick to this diet as compared to a traditional calorie-restricted diet. Therefore, it’s up to the person, if you can better stick to this diet compared to any other, then yes, this diet will help you burn more fat FOR YOU, but probably not for somebody else. Give it a shot, if you don’t like it, that’s okay, there’s definitely another diet out there for you. But as for the physiology behind it, no, there is nothing magical about it.

References

  1. Chaix, A. Zarrinpar, P. Miu, S. Panda (2014). Time-restricted feeding is a preventative and therapeutic intervention against diverse nutritional challenges. Cell Metabolism, 20, pp. 991-1005
  2. Johnstone, A. (2014). Fasting for weight loss: An effective strategy or latest dieting trend? International Journal of Obesity, 39(5), 727-733. doi:10.1038/ijo.2014.214
  3. Schoenfeld, B. (2011). Does Cardio After an Overnight Fast Maximize Fat Loss? Strength and Conditioning Journal, 33(1), 23-25. doi:10.1519/ssc.0b013e31820396ec
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