When you fast for long periods of time, you lose a substantial quantity of lean muscle mass and body mass, which includes water, bones, organs, etc. But fasting can also lead to muscle loss. So, what is considered the best way to fast to ensure no muscle mass is lost?
Intermittent fasting is a popular method people use to lose weight. The body goes through a process known as metabolic switching during this fasting phase, in which it runs out of carbohydrate resources to ingest for energy and instead begins to burn fat. Since this fasting method is designed to take place for short periods of time, there is, fortunately, no risk of losing muscle mass when practiced properly.
Continue reading to learn more about fasting including, how fasting works, how to fast without losing muscle, as well as the benefits fasting, can provide, and more.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Fasting, which is sometimes done for religious or medical reasons, is the practice of not eating or eating very little for a certain length of time. When it comes to weight loss, the type of fasting you participate in is referred to as the practice known as intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is a well-liked weight-loss strategy that places more emphasis on the timing of meals than it does on the actual foods consumed.
For example, when intermittent fasting, most of the time, an individual will eat for a specific number of hours and then fast for the remainder of the day. Another way to accomplish this form of fasting is by eating properly most days but then skipping meals twice a week.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Individuals who practice intermittent fasting simply limit their eating periods during the day and advocate fasting during the other hours of the day. During this fasting period, the body goes through a process known as metabolic switching, in which it runs out of carbohydrate resources to consume for energy and instead begins to burn fat.
Many experts advocate this sort of fasting as the healthiest type of fasting overall. After all, limiting the hours when you eat, implies that you should, overall, eat less. As a result, when proper foods and nutrition are consumed during these periods, you should see both fat loss and muscle growth.
Can Fasting Cause Muscle Loss?
Fortunately, when compared to other weight loss approaches, intermittent fasting won’t make you lose much muscle.
Almost all research on intermittent fasting has been done to help people lose weight. It is, therefore, crucial to understand that weight reduction without exercise often entails a loss of both lean and fat mass. Lean mass can, unfortunately, also include muscle.
Unfortunately, all weight loss techniques will bring on the loss of lean mass at some point. Nonetheless, several studies have indicated that after a period of intermittent fasting for many months, only a small portion of lean mass will be lost. Take note, however, that this is often only 1-2lbs.
Other studies, on the other hand, have found no loss of lean mass when intermittent fasting is done correctly. In fact, some experts feel that intermittent fasting is more beneficial than non-fasting diets for retaining lean mass during weight reduction, although more study is needed on this issue.
How Long Can You Starve Without Losing Muscle?
When the brain suffers from a loss of glucose, the muscles in your body can also start to atrophy. This process, however, needs a longer duration of 8-10 days without nutrition to be triggered.
For example, if you stopped eating, the brain and muscles would lose 50% of their nitrogen supply in 8-10 days because they have been relying solely on the glucose levels in your body. The body’s own skeletal muscles will begin to degenerate as a result of the extended fasting.
Overall, as long as you are not fasting for more than 24 hours, you need not be concerned about muscle loss. Muscle atrophy is an effect of chronic malnutrition and will not take place after a few hours or even a day of fasting.
How to Fast Without Losing Muscle?
Researchers have discovered that intermittent fasting is, overall, the most effective method for preserving lean mass when compared to calorie-restricted diets. This means that in order to fast without losing muscle, intermittent fasting is the way to go.
Due to the shorter fasting periods spread throughout the week, this method does not give your body enough time to burn muscle, only fat. As a result, while both strategies can help you lose weight, studies suggest that time-restricted eating can result in you losing 0.4 kg less lean muscle mass than a calorie-restricted diet.
Furthermore, compared to calorie restriction, intermittent fasting promoted greater muscular development and endurance.
When Done Properly, What Are The Benefits of Fasting?
Fasting Can Trigger Fat loss
Many people who experiment with intermittent fasting do it in order to lose weight. Overall, intermittent fasting causes you to consume fewer meals and calories, which will ultimately lead to fat burning. Intermittent fasting also improves hormone activity to aid in weight reduction.
For example, when intermittent fasting is practiced, lower insulin, greater HGH, and higher norepinephrine levels all promote the breakdown of body fat and make it easier to utilize as fuel. As a result of this, intermittent fasting actually helps you burn more calories by raising your metabolic rate.
Fasting Can Help Increase Your Immunity
Intermittent fasting can also stimulate the production of infection-fighting white blood cells, which essentially rejuvenate your overall immune system. Ultimately, intermittent fasting enhances the rate of autophagy, thus, also reducing inflammation in the body.
As a result, the immune system can use its resources to combat sickness and illnesses more efficiently.
Fasting Can Help Build Muscles
Exercising while intermittent fasting is a healthy way to burn fat and build muscle. When you fast, your body creates more HGH and testosterone while fighting insulin resistance. This mixture, when combined, allows you to grow more muscle, and recover faster, as well as preserve your gains.
Fasting Can Increase Longevity
One of the most intriguing uses of intermittent fasting may be its capacity to prolong life. For example, studies have shown that intermittent fasting enhances the longevity of rats in the same manner that chronic calorie restriction does.
Daily fasting has also been demonstrated to benefit male mice’s overall health. When performed by these rodents, intermittent fasting slowed the emergence of illnesses including fatty liver disease and hepatocellular cancer, both of which are frequent in aged rats.
Although it has yet to be established in humans, intermittent fasting has grown in popularity among anti-aging enthusiasts as is it more than likely connected to extending your lifespan.
The Mental Benefits of Fasting
More often than not, what is good for the body is also beneficial for the brain. For example, different metabolic processes that are known to be crucial for brain health are improved by intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting can also lower insulin resistance, blood sugar levels, oxidative stress, and inflammation.
Intermittent fasting appears to promote the creation of new nerve cells, which should improve brain function, according to a number of studies in mice and rats. Additionally, a hormone in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is increased by fasting. A lack of BDNF has been linked to depression and a number of other cognitive issues.
Emerging data also shows that intermittent fasting could be beneficial in preventing neurological illnesses like epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and strokes.
Are There Any Downsides To Fasting?
So far, the consequences of intermittent fasting appear to be overwhelmingly good. However, if a diet is not treated properly, it may always have a negative impact.
For example, feeling hungry throughout your fasting time may make some people more likely to binge when they are not fasting. Even if you continuously fast for 12-16 hours every day, eating more calories than your body burns will result in a long-term gain in body fat.
Long durations of fasting can also cause blood sugar levels to drop, which can leave you feeling faint, woozy, headachy, and/or nauseous. So, before attempting intermittent fasting if you have a medical issue, check with your doctor to be sure it’s safe to do so.
For example, those who have type 1 diabetes and/or are taking diabetic drugs may be more prone to adverse effects or have difficulty managing their blood sugar levels. Therefore, if you have any current health issues, it is advised that you speak with your doctor before engaging in this type of fasting.
Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is, unfortunately, not suitable for everyone. For instance, if you are underweight or have previously had an eating disorder, you should not fast without first speaking with a doctor. In these circumstances, it can be quite hazardous.
Skipping meals and excessively reducing calories can also be risky for individuals suffering from certain diseases, like diabetes.
Fasting may also cause electrolyte imbalances in those who use blood pressure or heart disease drugs. Therefore, if you fall into any of these categories, it is best to avoid intermittent fasting altogether.
Take note, it is also essential that pregnant women never take part in any form of fasting as both the baby and their bodies rely on constant nourishment in order to achieve a full-term successful, healthy birth.
In order to avoid losing any muscle mass, most people often employ intermittent fasting as their main weight loss strategy. During this fasting period, the body undergoes a process known as metabolic switching when it switches from burning fat to ingesting carbs as a source of energy.
Fortunately, there is no risk of losing muscle mass while using this fasting method properly because it is intended to last for only brief periods of time.
Compared to calorie-restricted diets, researchers have shown that intermittent fasting is often the most effective strategy for maintaining lean muscle. This suggests that intermittent fasting is the best method for fasting without sacrificing muscle.
This strategy only allows your body to burn fat because of the shorter fasting intervals that are spaced out throughout the week. Additionally, intermittent fasting encouraged higher muscle growth and endurance than calorie restriction.
Intermittent fasting is, however, unfortunately, not suitable for everyone. For example, if you are underweight, have previously had an eating disorder, are pregnant, or suffering from diabetes, you should not fast without first speaking with a doctor. In these circumstances, it can be quite dangerous.