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Does intermittent fasting diet lead to muscle loss? Account from my personal experience?

Intermittent fasting, or the idea of fasting for most of the day and then eat all your calories in a short period of time, is the latest craze in the dieting community. Does it really work? Does it cause muscle loss? Read more to find out

Traditional wisdom in the fitness community recommends that instead of eating traditional 3 meals a day one should break down their diet into 5 or 6 different meals. When I learned about this new intermittent fasting diet of skipping breakfast and eating all the calories in one or two meals the first thought that came in my mind was, sure this diet will help in losing weight, but at the cost of losing muscle. I disregarded it and moved on with my life, until I found myself struggling to keep up with my regular cutting diet.

After 4 months of cutting and losing 20 pounds I had reached at the point where my body had just given up on losing fat anymore and no matter what I did that scale was not budging. With that terrible feeling of being hungry all the time and all sorts of food cravings crossing my mind, I decided to give up on cutting, atleast for the time being. I knew that of the 20pounds that I had lost, not all of it was fat: I had also lost muscle. I was weak; all my lifts were down by about 20%. My plan of action was to sustain for the next 6-8 weeks and then get back to cutting. Deep down inside though, I never wanted to go back to cutting. This is when I was forced to look back at alternatives and I stumbled across intermittent fasting again.

This time I was a bit more open to try it out, so after finishing my sustaining program, I decided to try intermittent fasting for a few weeks and see what happens. I decided to follow the 16/8 program where you fast for 16 hours and then eat all your calories in the remaining 8 hours. I have been following this program for 8 weeks now. I eat from 12pm to 8pm during the day and fast for the rest of the time, with just a scoop of whey right after getting up to minimize muscle loss. I always do my workout during the feeding time of the day, so that I have energy to do the workout.

Since all my calories are now concentrated in the two meals I feel really satisfied from 12pm onwards during the day. I have never been a breakfast person and generally don’t feel like eating in the morning. It in fact is good for me that now I can skip the breakfast. In terms of hunger, the only hard time during the day is from 10am to 12pm as opposed to the whole day in the 6 meals a day plan. I think, if need be, I can easily sustain this diet for the rest of my life.

After following this plan for the last 8 weeks, I have lost 8 pounds and have not lost any strength, I have not gain any strength either but that is expected while cutting. So far, I have not lost any size on my chest and shoulders, while my belly size has decreased by about an inch. This might not sound much but keep in mind that after losing 20 pounds from my previous cut, I am already quite low in my body fat percentage. I did lose a quarter inch on my arms and half an inch on thighs, but am not really sure if this loss is due to fat or muscles loss. Considering the fact that I have not lost strength I believe most of this loss is fat, but some muscle loss cannot be ruled out. Overall I am very satisfied by my results and feel confident that I can follow this diet with ease in the future.

Please note that intermittent fasting does not mean that you can eat anything in your meals. You still need to be in calorie deficit to have weight loss.

Bottom-line: Although it goes against the conventional wisdom of many small meals, intermittent fasting leads to minimal strength and muscle loss. In my opinion, intermittent fasting is a great way of losing weight while maintaining strength.

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