Intermittent Fasting and Building Muscle: Fasting for Muscle Gain

Written by Stephen Anton PhD on August 3rd, 2020

An important question is how or why intermittent fasting helps muscles stay strong.

I think the fundamental factor is the metabolic switch, where the body shifts to using ketones as a primary fuel source (1).

The reason that matters is because ketones are “anti-catabolic” which means they help prevent the breakdown of muscle during fasting.

They do this by activating the expression of thousands of genes and proteins throughout the body and shifting the source of energy from glycogen in your liver or muscles to your own body fat.

This means that your precious muscle is preserved since the body feeds on its own fat for energy.

Activating Autophagy

An additional way in which fasting helps to preserve and create high-quality muscle is by “activating autophagy”, which is your body’s waste removal system that is present in every cell in your body, including your muscle cells.

So, when you remove the “bad stuff” from your muscle cells, they become cleaner and stronger.

Not only that, but they will have more energy to power your workouts.

The Power of Ketones

Ketones generate approximately 25% more energy within your muscle cells and every other cell of your body than glucose.

When you have healthier muscles with more energy, your workouts will be better, which means your body will become stronger and leaner.

Your body will develop much faster than if you didn’t fast.

Ketones generate approximately 25% more energy within your muscle cells and every other cell of your body than glucose.

When you have healthier muscles with more energy, your workouts will be better, which means your body will become stronger and leaner.

Your body will develop much faster than if you didn’t fast.

The Impact on Aerobic Capacity

Not only that, but recent studies show that intermittent fasting can improve your aerobic capacity (how fast your body can replace oxygen while exercising), which means you will be able to run (bike or swim) longer and faster than before.

If lifting weight is part of your routine, which we highly recommend, you will notice that you recover faster between sets and after training sessions.

You will also likely be stronger, as the body’s overall/total work capacity has increased.

Fasting and Growth Hormone Levels

An additional way fasting enhances muscle growth is by increasing growth hormone levels (2).

This does amazing things for our body including helping our body make new and better-quality muscle after training sessions.

So, Will Fasting Alone Build Muscles?

Yes, to some degree.

But the real benefit comes from when you combine fasting with an exercise program.

The fasting primes the body to get the most out of every workout and also helps your body recover faster.

When fasting and exercise are combined, the benefits of both are amplified.

More on intermittent fasting:

Two Keys to Ease Into Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting for Bulking: Can You Gain Muscle While Fasting?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Anton

I’ve had the privilege of studying the fields of obesity, metabolism, and aging for the past 20 years and felt an increasing desire to share what I’ve learned with as many people as possible the past few years.

More About Dr. Anton
RECENT ARTICLES

Real science. Real advice. Straight to your inbox!

Get the latest news on topics like intermittent fasting, healthy aging, reducing obesity, and more.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Dr. Anton

    I’ve had the privilege of studying the fields of obesity, metabolism, and aging for the past 20 years and felt an increasing desire to share what I’ve learned with as many people as possible the past few years.

    More About Dr. Anton
    BLOG CATEGORIES
    RECENT ARTICLES

    Real science. Real advice. Straight to your inbox!

    Get the latest news on topics like intermittent fasting, healthy aging, reducing obesity, and more.