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BendtheBar 05-24-2012 12:37 PM

Intermittent Fasting Debates
Over and over again I am cornered by proponents of intermittent fasting. It happens on nearly every article in which I mention frequent feeding. I am usually told in a very passionate manner about how frequent feeding has been discounted as bunk, and intermittent fasting is the only method of cutting. I do not know what is taking place at the Lean Gains community, but I personally believe that this dogmatic war being waged against frequent feeding is slightly narrow-minded.

There, I said it.

Bodybuilders have used frequency feeding for decades. To my knowledge it has never let a single bodybuilder down. To say it's "disproven" or "bro science" is a bit close-minded. Is this the way we intelligently approach and process training and diet information?

So that's my opinion. What's yours?

The greater question here has little to do with intermittent fasting. It's really about this:

If something is working for top-level competitors, has worked for top-level competitors for endless decades, and to my knowledge has never let a top-level competitor down, even if it doesn't stand up to science or a study, is it still broscience?

Not trying to push my opinion here, but rather open this up as a discussion topic. I've shared my opinion. What's yours?

bruteforce 05-24-2012 01:00 PM

I think that the people, on both sides, who are getting results are usually more open minded than the people who are still spinning their wheels.

For me, intermittent fasting is a bad idea. I gave it a solid go for 3 weeks and it messed up my metabolism pretty bad and I ended up on an epic binge for a week. This isn't anyone's fault, and it was worth a run as I don't like eating during the day much. However, I have a metabolic disorder and I need to keep my fat intake high throughout the day, otherwise my liver gets irritated and begins producing massive amounts of glucose in retaliation.

My opinion for the general public is: do whatever works. I haven't run a study, don't approve of most studies anyway as they seem poorly run, and really think the skinny kids on lean gains should shut up, squat, and eat a pizza.

As is my usual fashion, I have to rage for a few paragraphs before I calm down and become reasonable. Discussing pencil vs pen? Rage. Tap vs. bottled? Rage. Carbs vs. not? Rage. Personality flaw or not, I'm very excitable.

I honestly don't like either system for me. 4 meals a day, each heavy on protein and fat works the best for my metabolism and gains or losses.
My worry with the general population is that IF is being used by skinny teenagers to justify the way they want to eat, not to make solid gains. Frequent feeding may lead to constantly elevated glucose levels, leading to insulin resistance.

BendtheBar 05-24-2012 01:18 PM

I need to add before Google catches this and tosses it into search world that I run an intermittent fasting variation, and have for 4 years.

I tried strict intermittent fasting and lost 11 pounds of muscle in 2 months. Granted, I am a fairly muscular guy compared to the average lifter, but as they say it is what it is. After this occurred we (another friend of mine lost muscle as well) asked Ori Hofmekler (Warrior Diet author) about this, and he recommend more protein during the day. This is how I've been eating ever since, and it allows me to retain muscle mass when I am cutting.

During my underfeeding window I consume 500-600 calories, mostly protein, no carbs. I have some fish oil caps with eat meal. Nothing substantial. Yes, this isn't true "intermittent fasting" but I don't care. It works for me, and is close enough so I still call it IF.

I think true intermittent fasting can work for some, but if someone is looking for maximum muscle mass retention while cutting they need to monitor their composition with at least a caliper. Also, consider using some BCAAs.

TitanCT 05-24-2012 01:34 PM

forgot the science and broscience. let's make this simple...
use your own brain. theres probably a reason so many elite bodybuilders and powerlifters eat often and have for literally DECADES.

Chillen 05-24-2012 01:34 PM

To me, again, people make topics such as these overly complicated than it needs to be. When forming a bound relationship with common sense, fairness, and relatively good knowledge of dietary basics, and body building history of dietary trends/tendencies, one can learn fairly quickly that frequency of meals (and in some cases timing) of these meals have worked for years. This bound relationship formed with education then, should carry over to IF protocols and make one realize that, for some, this could also work (and in some cases as well), and could be used for different set of circumstances.

In addition, this bound relationship, should make one also realize, that for some frequency of meals, while working to improve muscle mass (keeping training equal), doesn't work for some when trying to lean out, and less is better, or more is better (etc), dependent on the person. Likewise, I.F. works and doesn't work well with some in this sort of personal goal want. We can not remove the personal component, and not blanket dietary mechanics.

In short, that is my personal opinion.

Best wishes,


Kuytrider 05-24-2012 03:00 PM

I've been doing IF for a couple of months now and I also throw in a 22-24 hour fast. My week works something like this: 5 x 14-16 hour fasts, 1 x 22 hour fast, and 1 day which is about 12-13 hours.
I've been hitting PR's regularly and lost a few pounds but that could be just down to eating better and training hard and with determination. The experiment is ongoing. It suits me because I have a medical condition which causes me to produce insane amounts of phlegm. The morning is terrible for me and it's always hard to eat breakfast anyway. I decided to give this a shot and it's worked fairly well so far. I hit my existing squat PR after a 15 hour fast so it's not all bad!

I think it's crucial for me to point out that I still get an average of 2500-2700 calories a day and 250g+ of protein. Although I shouldn't have needed IF to help me clean up my act, it's turned out that way.

However, even if this turns out to work well for me over a long period of time, I will NOT get up on a soapbox and proclaim IF as king! We all know that frequent feeding has worked for decades and will continue to work. It will prove that it's a good choice for me however!

Long story short, you gotta do what's best for YOU, which is what MAB is all about. I am not all that strong and am carrying a bit of chub which means IF has a decent chance of working for a while. I believe Fazc, who is light years ahead of me in strength terms, is experimenting too. It will be interesting to see if fasting works for stronger guys trying to cut a few pounds.

Off Road 05-24-2012 03:16 PM


Originally Posted by BendtheBar (Post 244612)
So that's my opinion. What's yours?

Calories are king. Eat too many and you gain. Eat too few and you lose. The problem with the fitness community and especially the internet community is that everybody has to believe they have the secret. I've said it sooo many times, but sometimes good-enough is good-enough. I've seen enough people make progress on so many variations that I just think you need to do what's right for you and not listen to others.

Fazc 05-24-2012 03:27 PM

I've been doing a very similar approach to Kuyt, I've been doing this for around 3-4 months now in total if I recall correctly. Perhaps longer, anyway I don't think it's the be all and end all but there are a couple of key benefits for me personally:

1) My appetite used to far exceed my daily intake, this was with considerable daily activity. This makes maintaining a good level of bodyfat uncomfortable at the best of times and in the midst of a diet next to impossible. The IF'ing has helped to curb my appetite and need for sugary products considerably.

2) If I get too heavy or eat too much I tend to get sluggish at work. This is something I've only truly appreciated once I've seen the other side of it. As in now I tend to eat light throughout the day I can actually see a large increase in my productivity and general activity throughout the day.

For once I can see this as a dietary approach which would actually be sustainable. Of course the counter-answer is that any diet requires willpower and results come to the person who is willing to refrain from foods that are bad for them. I agree with that, but having this mechanism of appetite control working for you, rather than a diet which leaves you unsatisfied and leaving you hungry for larger meals can only help the process.

The other criticism is that bodybuilders/powerlifters have been eating frequently for years and it has worked just fine. I won't disagree, I'm not so committed to IF or blind to other approaches that I would ignore this, but as a strictly personal preference I like an IF approach far moreso than a regular multi-feed approach.

Another criticism is that there be a loss of muscle. If strength is anything to go by this seems not to be the case, in fact I set a (surprisingly) considerable PR today after a 24 hour fast with 220lbs on the Bench for 20 reps. Bearing in mind I'm natural and relatively experienced this is quite something I think you'd agree. I don't seem to be wasting away.

In the end I like it as just another approach, perhaps one which is friendlier toward an individuals particular circumstances and the friendlier it can be to your life the more likely you will stick to it.

Fazc 05-24-2012 05:07 PM

I should add to my above post that I spent the majority of my lifting career as a lean 83kg raw lifter, usually by eating up to 5 meals a day. So I have some experience of both sides.

5kgLifter 05-24-2012 07:12 PM


Originally Posted by BendtheBar (Post 244612)

The greater question here has little to do with intermittent fasting. It's really about this:

If something is working for top-level competitors, has worked for top-level competitors for endless decades, and to my knowledge has never let a top-level competitor down, even if it doesn't stand up to science or a study, is it still broscience?

If something has worked for a number of people over a number of years, that in itself is an undocumented study, and as such it cannot be regarded as broscience even if some refuse to view it as a real-time, real-situation study. IMO.

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