You may have heard of intermittent fasting as a way to loose weight. And, it can have benefits, if you’re just trying to loose a bit of fat. But, there’s a better way of looking at this type of weight loss. Rather than intermittent fasting, consider the opposite – intermittent eating*.
The problem with intermittent fasting, especially if you’re also exercising, it that when you exercise, you’re already breaking down your muscles during your workouts. Your body requires protein to rebuild those muscles. The more muscle fibers you build up, the faster your metabolism becomes, helping you to burn fat.
The problem with intermittent fasting is that the longer you go without eating a meal, the more muscle protein you break down. When you finally do eat, your body may be getting just enough protein to maintain your current level of muscle, rather than growing muscle. So, all those workouts you’re doing, get wasted with intermittent fasting.
The idea behind intermittent eating is to maximize the amount of protein your body can absorb, while minimizing the amount of muscle protein that gets broken down. Your body synthesizes protein from the food you eat, and delivers it to your muscles to rebuild muscle protein that has been broken down, while adding / building new muscle. The more your meals favor protein over fat & carbs, the more muscle you’ll carry.
In other words, even though you may build muscle through your workouts, you can still lose it if you don’t maintain your diet and training in a way that encourages a positive protein balance.
When you eat a high protein meal, this spikes muscle protein synthesis. But you can’t just spend all your time eating protein to build muscle. If you eat too soon after your last meal, you may be keeping the amino acids from your last meal from working. You get a spike of protein with that first meal, but after that spike, the protein being processed needs to drop, or that extra protein will go toward energy or get converted to fat, rather than building muscle.
The key to intermittent eating is to go long enough between meals to get a big enough spike in muscle protein synthesis without incurring too much protein breakdown. The sweet spot for this appears to be 3-4 hours between meals.
Based on studies done by the Nutrition & Metabolism journal, they found the best way to schedule protein-rich meals is to consume 20 grams of whey protein every three hours. Whey protein spikes muscle protein in less than an hour but then drops back toward normal levels within 2-3 hours. Adding a slower-digesting protein (like casein) to whey extends the length of time that muscle protein synthesis remains elevated and has been shown to produce greater gains in muscle mass. So, you may want to do a protein mix of whey and casein as a supplement between food-based meals that are higher in protein, and space those meals out to every 4-5 hours.
This also means no other calories between meals. How much protein you consume at each meal is another key factor to consider. It’s critical that you take in enough of the branched-chain amino acids—leucine, isoleucine, and valine. A sample meal plan for a typical day may look like this:
- Breakfast: 3 eggs, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, and 1/2 cup oats.
- Lunch: 1 can tuna mixed with 1 tbsp mayo, on 2 slices of whole wheat bread.
- Dinner: 8 oz Steak, 1 cup steamed broccoli, 1/2 cup steamed white rice.
- Pre-Workout Meal: Protein shake – Mix of casein & why protein
- Post-Workout Meal: Protein shake – Mix of casein & why protein
- Late Night Snack: Protein shake – Mix of casein & why protein
*Based on an article on Intermittent Eating from Bodybuilding.com
Latest posts by Bob Lachniet (see all)
- Healthy Recipe – Ginger Salmon - February 3, 2023
- Product Spotlight: Spirit CRW800 Rower - February 2, 2023
- Protein: Why It’s An Important Part Of Your Fitness Plan - February 1, 2023