Gain muscle, lose fat & have balance - One trick pony!
Updated: Apr 22
Wow!! The holidays are quickly approaching and will be done and gone soon. Crazy that it’s almost 2020! Trying to balance it all can be really tough. I personally find that eating the right stuff, food prepping and remembering to eat is the most tedious and time-consuming thing of my routine…EVER! I believe I have found a resolution. Now, I don’t believe in ‘magic pills’ just hard work, consistency and dedication but when it comes to managing it all I really think this could be the jack of all trades!
Background, Wellness Guinea Pig & Disclaimer
Let me be clear about something first. I am not just someone who goes to the gym and workouts and likes to talk about it. I know my stuff. I have a B.S. in Kinesiology (Exercise Science) from Kansas State University. I have devoted 10 years of my working career – SH*T! It’s been 10 years already – to health and wellness. I have also personally tried hundred and thousands of things in the name of health to take my sh*t to the next level. Sh*t being mind, body, soul, spirit, sleep, skin, EVERYTHING well-being! I keep doing what makes me feel good or what gets good results and nothing is off the table….nothing! A few things I’ve done just for perspective are cryotherapy (freezing your body for 3 minutes), micro needling (which is essentially rolling needles on your skin), shots with oregano oil (burns like a bish), eating no gluten, eating no dairy, light therapies, adding collagen to everything, smoothies, juicing, apple cider vinegar, oil pulling, cbd oil and so much more! **Deep Breath**. With all that said, I am also not a doctor nor claim to be. Everybody is different and somethings I do or blog about may not be for you and that’s okay. You are your best doctor. Listen to your body. Pay attention to how it responds and tweak your routine accordingly. Health is wealth and health means different things to different people – once again, that’s okay!
Sustainability, personal goals & the way these health hacks make one feel should be the tell-tale if it’s right for you. When it comes to your diet and fitness, sustainability and consistency is the utmost important! Some of the stuff I did above I may have only done once or twice and not consistently and that’s okay. They have their place but it’s not feasible to incorporate 100 things into my daily routine which is most critical. Example. The cryotherapy is great for inflammation and pain. So, if I injure myself, I can set up an appointment and help nip that in the bud quickly otherwise it may not be adopted into my daily regimen because it costs $40 per session and is a bit of a drive so it’s not as feasible. Make sense?
Now let’s get back to the diet part. This is something that I struggle with just like many other people do. Food tastes good and I'm human. There is a lot of good tasting food out there and nowadays it’s so easy to access and on every street corner. The true key is having some balance. I eat really healthy 90% of the time and that seems to work for me! The pizza, the snacks, the sodas should be a treat and not the regular. That's my philosophy. I never feel guilty for having them (EVER!) because life is meant for enjoyment but they are a rarity. In the past and then again recently I started doing intermittent fasting. I have found success in using this method of eating in a few different ways and I want to share the benefits because it is a versatile way of getting different kind of results and allowing one to keep balance in their life! The best of both worlds.
So, what is intermittent fasting (IF)?
Well, it’s an eating pattern that you cycle between eating and fasting. Essentially you undergo a fasting period and an eating period every day. It doesn’t specify the types of food you eat but rather the times that you eat them. There are several different versions of intermittent fasting out there. The one I use is the 16 – 8 rule. What that means is that I fast for a window of 16 hours (a good chunk of that is when I’m sleeping) and have an 8 hour window of eating each day. This has proven to be very successful for me now and in the past! In the past, it helped me really lean up and show a lot of definition. In the present, it’s helped me keep my weight up where I want it and my stomach lean. I’ve also been able to be a little more flexible with my diet because the fasting phase helps the body to burn fat.
How does IF work?
One time at lunch I tried to explain this concept to my family and my mom goes ‘Well, that doesn’t seem healthy!” In reality it is! I think all she heard was the not eating part J But it’s very natural and a good reset for your body to put it through periods of no food. After 12 hours, your body switches to a fat burning stage and if you are into building muscle it helps boost your HGH (human growth hormone) levels. This in itself helps with regulating body composition, metabolism, bone growth and body fluids. Going 16 hours without food isn’t very long in my opinion however some people struggle with it and that’s okay. As stated above your body switches to a fat burning mode after 12 hours. If you struggle with 16, then start with 13 and increase or keep it to what you can do! The goal is NOT to starve yourself. If you do 13 hours, then for 1 hour your body is in the fat burning stage. Many people already skip breakfast and that is perceived to be okay and acceptable so in theory this is really the same thing just with a bit more structure. This is a great method for those looking to lose weight, cut up or lean out. The 16-8 method for me is very sustainable. I don’t do this all the time but it’s usually in my Monday-Friday regimen and then on the weekends I don’t fast. Going back to IF on a Monday is typically a good reset for me. One thing I’ve also noticed is I used to eat dinner so late. Usually around 7:30 I would finish dinner and then being an old lady, I would hit the bed around 9 pm. It feels really good going to bed not on a full stomach and I wake up feeling that much better. My ‘eating window’ during the day is from 8-4 pm. I’ve been eating my dinner around 3:30 and then at 4 pm I don’t have any more food. Since I am cognizant of maintaining muscle mass, I have made sure to have BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) in the evening. These are typically zero to little calories (anything liquid and under 30-40 calories will keep you in the fasted state) and helps to keep my muscles replenished and refueled. They are actually great at curbing the appetite as well! Another good method to curb the appetite is lemon water which is my crutch in the morning (see my morning routine post!). People often mistake hunger for dehydration and in reality, they just need to consume some water.
Bulk & Muscle
So this go around on intermittent fasting, I’ve actually maintained all the muscle mass I’ve worked hard to get. I even added a few pounds! I was completely shocked by this as I figured it worked well for leaning me up but didn’t know it would help me with gaining weight. Here is the key and this is the challenge if you want to use IF to gain muscle mass, I had to eat the same amount of meals and calories but had to do it in a shorter window and within my 8 hours. To sum that up, I was eating my breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and post workout protein shake in the hours of 8-4. It is doable but still challenging! The biggest challenge is scarfing down a dinner at 3:30 when I’m not hungry all the time. When you do IF, your stomach shrinks so it’s harder to get in larger portions. Now to get lean and for weight loss that’s a great thing but not when you are trying to bulk up and add weight!
Another challenge was my workouts in the morning. Depending on what muscle group or workout I did, having not eaten since 4 pm the day before was a little difficult, especially on leg day. What I’ve found to help was having my hot lemon water first thing in the morning along with some BCAAs. Then I get to the gym and in the zone and once I started, I was fine but boy was I ready for food by 8 am!
Conclusion & Usage
This may not be for everyone. I find it very manageable! I find that I get great results with allowing my diet some more flexibility. It could even be a technique used to reset when you get back from a vacation or a weekend where you’ve over indulged in food and drinks. Another side note I'd like to add is those that want to have dinner with their family or their kids, all you need to do is move your window a bit! If your family eats dinner at 5:30 pm, adjust your eating window from 10 am - 6 pm and you are good to go! IF is an easy wellness technique that can fit into anyone's schedule!
Another benefit I’ve noticed is I can indulge a little more often within my window and maintain my results because I have a ‘Fat Burning Phase’ daily during the week. It’s given me more flexibility and the balance I want that doesn’t constrain me to only chicken and veggies. I’m eager to get feedback on anyone that has done this or is going to try it!! Please share your thoughts and results with me at firstname.lastname@example.org (I will read every single one!). If you want to see something specifically, not related to this article, let me know and I will put something together :)
What was your biggest challenge of trying out intermittent fasting?
What is your biggest obstacle in your normal, everyday diet that intermittent fasting would help solve?