Re: Vegan Gains and Intermittent Fasting (RESEARCH)

This video is in response to Richard, aka Vegan Gains, regarding intermittent fasting. Richard recently presented arguments against IF, albeit with supportive research, in his response to OFFICIALTHENX, aka Chris Heria.

With this video, I wanted to take the chance to offer a bit of a counterpoint on the subject. I will be specifically focusing on weight-trained individuals.

I agree with Richard in a LOT of areas, for instance: when it comes to training frequency. Something Richard called Chris Jones out on recently. I also agree with him on the core argument against Chris Heria with regards to spot reduction.

But, we do have divergent views in some areas. IF is, obviously, one of those.

As many of you know, I implement IF. And have done since early 2015. More specifically the 16:8 protocol, which was popularized by Martin Berkhan of LeanGains fame.

Personally, I find IF incredibly convenient. I can begin my days without needing to think about, prepare or grab food. As, typically, I am on the fly in the mornings, and have generally settled-in by the afternoon hours. But, that’s just me. What I consider convenient may not be an issue for you at all.

Anecdote aside, I did a video about the proposed health benefits of intermittent fasting back in 2016 in response to Durianrider. I’ve linked that video below for your convenience. Therefore, I won’t be rehashing that aspect of IF with this video.

Rather, I will be addressing IF’s effects on body composition and performance, per an October 2016 paper specifically comparing Martin’s brand of 16/8 to a normal dietary approach where folks began eating at 8 AM each day.

This study is actually more recent than the one Richard had shared in his video.

The paper, which I’ve linked below, examined 34 resistance-trained males, who were each randomly-assigned to either a 16/8 intermittent fasting group, or a non-fasted group. Both groups were matched for calorie and macronutrient intake, and were assigned the same 3-day resistance training program to follow over the course of 8 weeks with their respective diets. They were required to lift between 4 and 6 PM, and stick entirely to the program as-written. No deviations.

Various measurements were collected at the start and end of the 8-week period. Those measurements included mass, both fat and fat-free, strength, energy expenditure at rest, hormone levels, as well as other odds and ends like glucose and cholesterol levels.

Subjects were also pretty evenly-matched for age, weight, height, fat mass, and fat-free mass at the baseline.

This really IS one of the better papers on the subject at the moment. Not perfect, but better. As it was pretty well-controlled.

Now, looking at some of the pertinent results:

We see that fat-free mass outcomes were not significantly-different for either group. Fat loss, however, was significantly higher in the IF group by almost 136%. The normal dietary group gained a bit more arm and leg muscle, by approx. 37% and 21% respectively, though both groups built muscle. There was greater Bench Press strength gained by the IF group, but the normal dietary group gained a bit more strength on the Leg Press. Hormonally, the IF group actually experienced a 23%-drop in testosterone levels. But that decrease clearly didn’t negate fat loss, strength gains, or muscle growth. And I will discuss the testosterone drop more in a moment. Finally, the IF group experienced heightened energy expenditure at rest by 11-calories-per-day, which is about a 0.6% increase from baseline. Whereas the normal dietary group actually had REDUCED energy expenditure at rest, by 6-calories-per-day, or about a 0.3% drop from baseline.

As I mentioned, I was just looking at SOME of the outcomes from the paper. There were other hormones assessed, like IGF-1 and T3, as well as glucose and cholesterol levels. Feel free to check out the entire paper, which I’ve linked over at my blog, which is linked below.

All-in-all, 16/8 intermittent fasting DOES appear to be superior for fat loss when calories, macros, and training are equated. 16/8 IF also presents a slightly higher daily resting energy expenditure of approx. 17-calories-per-day compared to a normal dietary schedule.

Now, while muscle growth can occur on a 16/8 IF protocol, it isn’t as significant as seen with a normal dietary approach. So you need to pick your battles. More fat loss with less muscle growth, or more muscle growth with less fat loss. And you also need to consider your own personal tolerances, lifestyles, etc. For instance, the daily fasting period can take some getting used to. And I can speak to that from experience!

But, in any case calories still matter. If you are eating in a caloric surplus, you are going to gain weight. And if you are eating in a caloric deficit, you’ll lose weight.

While the resting energy expenditure appears to be slightly higher on a 16/8 IF protocol, it isn’t so high as to mitigate the impact of excessive caloric intake. No matter what yarn some fitness guru is spinning for you to the contrary.

But, if you are consuming a caloric deficit, and are actively engage in resistance training and/or cardio, 16/8 IF does appear to provide an edge over a normal dietary schedule.

Now, for those who are concerned about the testosterone drop witnessed in the IF group, here’s something to consider:

Greg Nuckols, a respected strength coach, with a degree in Exercise and Sports Science, has presented a theory. He suggested that the testosterone drop may just be due to intermittent fasting shifting the daily rhythm of testosterone secretion. As daily testosterone levels can fluctuate anywhere from 25%-to-50%, or even more!

Martin Berkhan, who wasn’t involved in this study, remarked that he wished the researchers had taken more blood samples per day, as feeding patterns ARE “well-known” for shifting daily hormone values.

As I said previously, it was a decent study, with good controls, but obviously not perfect. And, certainly, I hope more research is to come with regards to this dietary approach. Especially examining a larger duration and sample size.

Anyhow, I hope this video has provided some interesting insight into intermittent fasting, specifically the 16/8 protocol, when it comes to weight-trained individuals.

I am not saying IF is for everyone, and that’s why I don’t prescribe it in my eBooks which have a broad audience, but it is certainly a specialty-tool in the toolbox depending on YOU and YOUR needs.

Do leave your thoughts and comments below.


Response to Durianrider’s “Intermittent Fasting THE TRUTH!”

Effects of eight weeks of time-restricted feeding (16/8) on basal metabolism, maximal strength, body composition, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk factors in resistance-trained males

The Leangains Study | Leangains

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