Many people are starting to grow curious about some of the intermittent fasting diet protocols that are starting to be used. In some cases, your decision to adopt such an approach to your diet is due to the fact that you run a busy lifestyle and don't have time to spend cooking numerous meals each day and sitting down to eat them.
In other cases, you may choose to adopt this way of eating because of certain beliefs, such as during the Ramadan period where you fast from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Whatever your particular situation, you may wonder whether you can still effectively build muscle using this design set-up. Many individuals are quick to assume it's impossible, but if you spend some time setting up your day correctly, it's far from it.
Here are the main things to know to maximize your success rate.
Commit To Late Night Training Sessions
If you are having a specific time period where you are going to fast (such as the 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. set-up), then you're best off placing your workouts in the evening hours since most people are not going to be able to get up much earlier than 5 a.m. to perform them.
Since you should be eating before any form of resistance training, performing them mid-way through the day is out of the question. You'd also need to take in both protein and carbohydrates after the training session to kick-start the recovery process, something that also wouldn't be permissible if you were fasting all day long.
If you're training later on in the evening, this makes it convenient to have a smaller dinner meal as soon as you get home from work to pre-fuel the workout session.
You can then workout at 7:30 p.m. for sixty minutes (however long your workout typically lasts), still allowing you to be out of the gym by about nine so you can get in another really good meal before going to bed at 10:00 p.m.
Place The Bulk Of Your Calories Immediately After Your Workout
The second thing you should be doing on this type of set-up is being sure you are placing the bulk of your calories immediately after the workout period. This is because it is at this point the body will most likely use them for generating lean muscle mass and because it will help to really boost your recovery from the workout itself.
So what you need to do is first figure out your calorie requirements in order to build muscle. Then take in about 20% of those calories right before the workout period, using a mix of both protein and carbs.
After that, you then consume 60% of your total calories in the time period immediately after your workout until you go to bed (you can spread this into 2-3 meals over the next 2-4 hours if you wish).
It will likely be a high number of calories to take in, however if you're focusing on as calorie dense of foods as possible (raw oats, dried fruit, bagels, red meat, etc.) then you should be able to get it in.
Also, since it's so soon after the workout period, with this type of diet set-up you're better off utilizing a higher carb diet for building muscle rather than a low carb, high fat variation. This is due to the fact that immediately after the workout period you want mostly carbs, so providing higher amounts of fats in this time could be detrimental.
You don't have to eliminate all fats; you could have a large carb/protein meal immediately after training and then a higher fat/protein meal just before bed if you prefer, but try and keep the food intake right after the workout lower in total fat.
Since fats are more calorie dense and easier to eat in higher volume (nuts, nut butters, oil, etc) it can be easier than trying to shove down more carbs when you're already feeling quite full.
Aim To Eat Something Just Before 5 A.M.
Finally, the last thing you should do on this type of intermittent fasting set-up for building muscle is to eat something as soon as you wake up. For those who are just fasting for convenience sake, you can have this at any point depending on your natural wake-up time.
If you're someone who is following Ramadan, then you should aim to wake up just before the fast begins (at 4:30 a.m.) and eat a slow digesting source of quality protein, such as cottage cheese along with more red meat, making up the last 20% of your total calorie intake.
Some carbs or fat can certainly be added to this meal as well, but be sure you are taking in at least 35% of your daily protein needs at this time (this is to provide your body with a steady stream of amino acids while you perform the fasting period throughout the day).
If you wish to go back to sleep after eating, that is your decision. It may seem like a nuisance getting up to eat and then going back to sleep, but since that really early meal is only for a limited time period (during Ramadan), it's not something you'll have to do for long.
If you naturally just get up that early for work, then it shouldn't be an issue in the first place.
So be sure you keep these points in mind. Attempting to do higher volume, intense workouts while maintaining an extremely low calorie intake due to a prolonged fasting period will backfire on you eventually.
In time the body will become glycogen depleted and will not be able to keep up and recover effectively. To prevent this, you will have to get used to force eating, but as time goes on and you utilize this approach, it will feel more normal and natural to you.