Which Type of Intermittent Fasting is For You | The Truth About Intermittent Fasting

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Previously it was touted to eat every 2 hours if you are bodybuilding, with some even waking up in the middle of the night to eat. The thought was that if you did not eat your body would begin to break down your muscles, which is the last thing we want.

Now you have likely heard about intermittent fasting and how without this approach you will not be maximizing your fitness potential. So which strategy is correct, or are different approaches better for different goals?

What is IF?

The idea is to go without food for a period of time so that you deplete your immediate energy sources, ie your blood glucose and liver glycogen stores, so your body is forced into fat-burning mode.

The main benefit that those of us trying to keep muscle and lose fat are concerned with is the increase in Human Growth Hormone (HGH).

HGH is made in the pituitary gland and plays a role in the our development as we grow as children, but also plays a key role in bone strength and lean body mass. Higher HGH levels are associated with higher lean muscle mass - thus more muscle and less fat.

HGH was used as a performance enhancing drug, but in a supplement form was found to lead to increased blood sugar, pre-diabetes, increase in blood pressure and possible increased cancer and heart health risks. This makes sense as our bodies naturally have hormones vary in level throughout the day, so an increased level of hormones throughout the day to that degree is not healthy. IF is the natural way to increase HGH levels.

HGH peaks in adolescence and then steadily decreases with age. Eating suppresses the release of HGH.

HGH secretion is found when we first wake up in the morning after our night fast, and if we continue to fast, secretion continues throughout the day until we begin to eat again.

In essence, HGH signals our bodies to burn fat when we are in a state of caloric deficit. So IF done correctly can encourage our bodies to hold onto their muscle and get rid of fat!

So how can you use this to your advantage, and who should stay away from IF? First we must understand the two different IF approaches and who they are for.

Two approaches: Full Day Fast or Daily Fast

Full Day Fast

What is it? Take one full day off of eating every week.

Purpose? Recovery from injuries over the week and keep weight low or lose weight.

Benefits: Higher growth hormone levels, decreased inflammation, detoxification, lower caloric intake.

For Whom? Endurance athletes, weight class athletes, everyday people who want to reap the health and weight loss benefits.

Who Should Avoid Full Day Fasts? Those who are trying to put weight on, bodybuilders

Daily Fast

What is it? Daily fasting window, often around 16 hours, followed by an 8-hour eating window.

Purpose? Increases mental focus/concentration and focus at the gym, strength gains

Benefits: Quicker reaction times, increased focus. Can benefit those doing weight training and work sessions. Get things done more efficiently.

For Whom? Athletes who could benefit from increased focus, business people who could use increased energy and focus, people traveling or who have busy schedules - reduces how often you have to think about and eat food.


If you are a bodybuilder or professional athlete, you will want to be careful when performing IF. Full day IF creates a caloric deficit and is a good idea to avoid if you are trying to put on weight or have a high caloric need.

When trying to get a lean, ripped look, daily IF can benefit you. You will find increased focus at the gym, and your body will use the increase in HGH to burn stubborn body fat stores, such as around your midsection.

Daily IF - best to skip breakfast and workout before eating to capitalize on the increased concentration at the gym. Best to eat shortly after workout to provide muscles with protein to heal.

You can pair IF with BCAA supplementation when working out to provide your muscles with the tools to repair. Take about 5 g of BCAAs before, during and after practice.

Endurance athletes should not compete during a fasting period as they need immediate energy stores available, not just the slow energy provided from fat.


1. Intermittent Fasting for Athletes: The Why and How
2. Fasting and Growth Hormone Physiology https://intensivedietarymanagement.com/fasting-and-growth-hormone-physiology-part-3/
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