Intermittent Fasting, hGH, and Muscle Mass Preservation

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In the past I’ve written that muscle mass generally is not a result of surplus caloric intake but mechanical stimulus from resistance training or anything that requires higher muscle tension.

There are complex pathways influencing the rate of muscle turnover — and this rate can push the balance in favor of either muscle growth or muscle loss, or somewhere in between.

Some factors influencing this balance include inflammation, adequate nutrition (though not excessive calories), repeated and progressive muscle tension, and rest.

Essentially, though, strength training delivers the primary signal to push the balance toward more muscle mass. Muscle-protein turnover rate, in response, favors more muscle.

Muscle preservation is another factor contributing to overall muscle mass. The greater the preservation, the less likely the muscle loss during the natural turnover process — and therefore the greater the chance of muscle gain.

I’ve also written about how growth hormone stimulates fatty acid metabolism (fat release and utilization for energy), but I haven’t talked much about how it also spares muscle mass… not just glycogen-sparing, not stored-protein-sparing, but actual muscle mass. Growth hormone preserves muscle mass.

Fasting has been shown to increase natural growth hormone significantly, which stimulates healthy energy balance and preserves muscle mass, influencing not just metabolic health but also the longevity of physical function, or creating a healthy foundation for increased muscle mass.

Intermittent fasting, it’s not just for fat loss.

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26 Responses to Intermittent Fasting, hGH, and Muscle Mass Preservation

  1. Rick says:

    Great post. Great timing too, I just upped my daily fast to about 20-22 hours for a little while.

  2. Ada Vaskys says:

    n=1 shows this for me. Best guns I’ve ever had and eating less frequently than I ever had in my entire life.

  3. dboxing says:

    Johnny,
    Do you see any added benefit in IF’ing on an increasing rotational basis? In other words, day one – 24hr fast with one meal; day two – 21.5 hours with two meals; day three 17.5 hours with 2-3 meals; repeat day one? I don’t believe that a person can “ruin” their metabolism through IF, but isn’t true that it does slow down somewhat? Would increasing intervals as the foregoing indicates off-set this effect?
    Additionally, on my last post on your previous article, I had inquired as to more specifics with respect to resistance training and maintaining muscle mass while fasting. My joints just can’t take the heavy weights anymore.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Brandon says:

      prolong “extreme” calorie reduced diets are what cause metabolism slowing down. According to some of the studies in “Eat, Stop, Eat”, one can go up to 72 hours in a fasted state before showing any metabolism slowing. Using Johnny as an example….he wouldn’t be able to look the way he does if daily intermittent fasting slowed down. You lift heavy and eat nutritionous food, your muscles will not waste away like “conventional wisdom” says it will.

    • Johnny says:

      dboxing, I cannot see any measurably added benefits to “cycling” your IF. There maybe added benefit, there maybe not.
      Going longer between eating should give you great health benefit, whether you’re trying to lose, maintain, or gain weight.
      You will gain WAY MORE benefit if you stick with IF as a way to control calorie intake as to not overeat.
      In other words, you’ll get benefit only if you can stick with a healthy eating lifestyle.
      So make it sustainable.

      Best,
      Johnny

      • dboxing says:

        Thanks Johnny. As far as resistance training goes, would you think that a body weight based workout (i.e. push-ups, pull-ups, hitting heavy bag, jumping a weighted rope, etc.) is sufficient to maintain and/or gain muscle mass while IF’ing?

      • Johnny says:

        Hi dboxing,

        It depends on your training experience. You’ll see greater result if you’re relatively new to exercise.

        Best,
        Johnny

  4. David says:

    @ dboxing : I think that Intermittent Fasting has nothing to do with metabolism problems, so you should feel free to skip a meal whenever you want, and eat one whenever you feel like. Metabolism problems are just an excuse of the nutrition/bodybuilding/whatever beginner. I think it’s a myth, just like the idea of gaining excessive weight during the night.

  5. Matt says:

    Hey Johhny, some interesting posts.

    What do you think of HIT, a la Doug McGuff, Mike Mentzer etc?

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Matt,

      I’ve used Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty in the past.
      It was a good method. But I was bored to tears after a while.
      Just another tool in the tool box.

      Johnny

  6. Jordan says:

    Hi Johnny,

    Great and informative post as always. The idea of writing articles like Muscle building 101 is great because it concentrates all that one need to know on a specific subject. (Although, as we know, there isn’t lots of cutting edge science we need to know either for muscle building or fat loss…).
    Just wondering if you can write one article on Maintaining a lean condition over time (for years, maybe life) thanks to your experience and what you learn with some years now of staying lean and maintaining your “ideal weight”. I’m sure you have tips to give us like getting lean back very quickly if you’ve overdid with food or less activity for some time… Also, counting calories or getting geeky with the macros isn’t a way to stay lean for life it’s too restrictive.. So, how do you just stabilize your weight without counting calories (etc.) since when one finally gets to his goal he doesn’t want to lose more weight or gaining it back like it appears to be the case with the majority of traditional diets.

    Thanks in advance!

  7. dboxing says:

    What are your thoughts on consuming let’s say one or two cups of coffee with cream during IF? I do not believe it would have much effect related to fat loss from calorie restriction. My concern/question is whether or not it would negate or adversely effect any or all other the other benefits from fasting (i.e. growth hormone release, etc.)

  8. frrances says:

    I am relatively new to IF but I love it. It feels so natural to me and it is so easy to get through some mid-day hunger when I know a deliciously satisfying meal awaits me. My comment is this, though. I think it’s so funny that we even consider going 15-20 hours a day without food as “fasting”. If you are eating every day, how is this even radical? I think it’s so funny when people act like IF is scary or dangerous. It is really such a mild form of “fasting”. I think IF needs a new name.

    Thanks for producing such a thoughtful blog. I really enjoy reading it.

  9. David says:

    I can’t believe how simple (but not easy at first you do get hungry but later on I realized that hungry is good!) this is to IF.
    More energy, more time because I am not preparing food and my strength shot up as I became leaner. I also tend to eat better foods because I am only eating two meals a day, so I tend to make them more nutritious.
    Lost 23 pounds and spreading the word about IFing.

  10. Tim says:

    Hi Johnny,
    I am 80-90 lbs overweight.
    For someone as obese as myself, I was wondering what you thought about a very low calorie diet combined with IF?

    I was thinking of eating ~800 calories within a 5-6 hour eating window until I reach a normal weight.

    Would that be unhealthy? This weight is making me unhappy and exhausted, and I’d love to get it off FAST.

    • Brandon says:

      a protein sparing modified fast following the IF protocols described on the leangains.com website might be something worth looking into. The basics of a PSMF is, eat 1 gram of protein ONLY (as lean as you can find, minimize fat intake) per kg of lean mass for about 3 days, then on the fourth day do a full body workout followed by a refeed meal (anything you want), then repeat. Using a 5-8 hour window to eat those protein calories, about 800 or so, will help keep you more satisfied than trying to space them out all day. Every 2-3 weeks you should take a break from such low calories. Of course, talk to your doctor before doing this, as you need his advice before starting any “crash diet” like that. Look into the “Rapid Fat Loss Diet” by Lyle McDonald for more information. He has a GREAT book on that topic. But I feel using an IF protocol makes it A LOT easier to follow.

  11. Mac says:

    Hi Johnny,

    I know you’ve posted pics of yourself before starting IF. How long did it take you to drop from there to your current BF%? Was it a constant transition or did the fat loss slow when you started to get into the single digits?

    Thanks!

  12. Daniel says:

    Johnny
    Talking about muscles I wonder what do you suggest a skinny-fat guy should do to change his body composition. I have been looking for an answer to this question for quite some time now.

    Everyone knows what to do with skinny people: tell them to eat more and lift.
    Everyone knows what to do with fat people: tell them to eat less and lift.

    What about a skinny-fat person? Someone who looks thin but has stubborn fat and lacking muscles? Skinny-fat can be descrived as being small where you want to be big and big where you want to be small. In other words I’m too skinny to lose weight and too fat to gain weight. I’m paralyzed by this confusion; I don’t want to become fatter where I should be smaller and smaller where I should be bigger.

    What should I do?

    • Johnny says:

      Daniel,

      Keep lifting weight, using a good resistant training program focused on building muscle mass. Try to chose mostly wholesome food — and just the right amount — to support your physical effort in the gym and through the day.

      Best,
      Johnny

  13. Fabulous, what a blog it is! This web site provides useful facts to us, keep it up.

  14. Pingback: Lysine And Arginine For Hgh | HGH facts

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