Fasting. Another F word that health-conscious people are wary about aside of course from the ever stubborn fat. Diet and fast just don't come along quite well. Much more with bodybuilding.
Most bodybuilders would smirk at the idea of fasting as part of a regular routine arguing that a bodybuilder needs to have a continuous intake of protein and nutrients to prevent muscles from breaking down and being used as energy. But this has been more of a myth than fact. Want to know why? Just stick it out with the rest of my piece.
What You Don't Know
Do you love meats? How about eggs and milk? Hmmm. How about that protein packed low fat cottage cheese? You surely love those things especially if you are into bodybuilding and have decided that you need to build more mass on your physique. My question would be, do you also get enough fiber in your diet? Why do I ask this? Simple.
If you don't have enough dietary fiber in your meal plan, chances are you have already stockpiled more than enough toxins in your intestines for you to be considered as hazardous. Hmm. That's an exaggeration. But the truth is not that far from it.
Those dairy products and meats that you consume every freaking day, believing that it would build mass and make you healthier, without taking in enough fiber in your diet actually end up hurting your body more than helping it. You've probably built up enough toxins in your belly and intestines to qualify as some forms of cancer-causing gunk. Studies show that the most obese have enough of this intestinal garbage to amount to at least 20 more pounds of weight.
Now that you have already learned what most people don't know, wouldn't you want to find out how to get rid of this intestinal gunk? Simple and short answer: Fast.
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. It is normally an abstention from hard and solid foods as you let the body cleanse itself from all those toxins brought about by an unhealthy diet and lifestyle.
Fasting is also used in a medical context to refer to the state achieved after digestion of a meal. A number of metabolic adjustments occur during fasting and many medical diagnostic tests are standardized for fasting conditions.
The body is a highly adaptable and natural machine. It adapts to its environment in the course of time and it has its own natural healing machinery. Fasting is necessary to jumpstart this healing process.
You see, fasting flushes out toxins from your body. It helps to rest the digestive tract and in lowering blood lipids. It has been proven to lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol and it helps in the lowering of the systolic blood pressure. In fact, in Islam, fasting is highly-recommended for the treatment of mild to moderate, stable, non-insulin diabetes, obesity, and essential hypertension. This is because during the fasting period, the body systematically cleanses itself of everything except vital tissue.
Fasting allows you to refocus and reconnect to your body. You may have been so focused on work and food that you forgot to check whether your body is still at a level that would help you attain much of the goals that you have set in your life.
The body goes where you lead it and by maintaining a lifestyle that hurts your body, you minimize your chance of becoming happy in the near future. Fasting is like a reboot button on your desktop that helps your body recharge and recover.
But Isn't It Hurting My Muscles?
I don't want to lie about it. You would surely lose some of the muscle you have built through training. The question is, how much mass would it be? In my opinion, not much. Especially if you plan on continuing a workout program while fasting.
A one-week cleansing diet program to lose a couple of pounds surely won't be a cause for alarm in terms of muscle loss. If you keep on hitting the gym and pumping iron, the muscle loss would be very minimal. Not zero, but minimal. Much like losing a dime out of a month's worth of salary. You know that I'm kidding right?
Have you heard about the one they call intermittent fasting? If you are a hardcore bodybuilder, you may have come across this one. What is this? This is a method of fasting wherein a day is broken into two different parts. The 16-hour fast and the 8 hours of overeating.
It wouldn't be good if I discussed it here since this topic is not about the intermittant method, but in a nutshell this rather unique and controversial system of fasting has done wonders for those who dared try it. Just go to Google and type intermittent fasting if you don't believe me.
The bottom line on this is that the benefits you get from fasting easily outweigh the concerns for muscle loss - muscle loss that you could and would definitely be able to regain after a one week cleansing fast via a consistent and proper workout routine.
Tell Me More
I think I have gotten you curious about this. Well, since I have your full attention now, let me add some more cream on the pudding.
Fasting and bodybuilding, contrary to what others believe, can work together. You see, both have the same objective - to keep the body healthy and the mind alert. So why would two things with the same goal fail to blend perfectly? The secret is knowing how to make them work together.
Like a vintage Volkswagen - that could reach a top speed of 120 km/h with proper engine tune-up and calibration - our body could also reap the benefits of both a well-timed fasting and a properly scheduled bodybuilding routine. A perfect example is the type of fasting is intermittent fasting.
A controversial method during its inception (actually until this very moment), Intermittent Fasting met a lot of resistance, especially in the bodybuilding world, when it was introduced during the last half of 2007.
The idea of depriving our body with the right caloric intake, as we throw those heavy plates around, went against traditional concepts of eating at least 6 meals a day to gain lean muscle mass. But as history has shown, this rather radical principle has recorded significant success to those who tried it.
How Does It Work?
Intermittent fasting has at least two common ways of being done - the condensed window and the 24-off-24-on variation. This is how they work:
The condensed window is a method that allows a person to fast at least 15 hours a day then overfeed the body within the 8 hour window. This method allows maximum absorption of the needed caloric intake condensed in the prescribed 8 hour window.
The 24-on-24-off method, is self-explanatory - fast for a full 24 hours then start the eating cycle on the 25th hour. This variation, which is also known as an alternate-day fast, is considered easier to follow since the meal preparations and intake are spread throughout the whole day, 24 hours after you last had your meal.
The question is, did it work for bodybuilders? You would probably be astonished to find out that most of those who successfully used this technique were fitness experts and full-time bodybuilders. And all of them agreed that intermittent fasting coupled with a regular workout routine produces unprecedented fat loss and lean muscle gains.
Now that you have learned the benefits of pausing for a while - giving your midsection it's much deserved break - will you still keep wasting time waiting for the clock to hit 7 so you can start your daily eating frenzy cycle?
Or would you go straight to the market, buy yourself some good fruits and vegetables, throw some into the blender then take a sip as you let nature's process take over your body for a while.
Or if you are like me, an old-fashioned bodybuilder who loves losing weight but hates losing mass, you take on the intermittent fasting approach. You approach fat like a double barrelled shotgun - lose fat while gaining lean muscle without depriving yourself the luxury of eating anything you want.
This is what the word relaxation and replenishing really means. I guarantee at the end of it all you'll have more in terms of physical energy, appeal and mental focus.
Live, FAST and enjoy the rest of the way.