Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Fasting and Gaining Mass NOT Losing Muscle

One of the biggest panics folks have about using Brad Pilon's Eat Stop Eat program is that they will lose muscle mass by fasting. Brad assured me (and them) that as long as someone is doing resistance training, they won't lose muscle by fasting 1-2 times per week.

And after I read his new ebook, "How Much Protein" and his guide for gaining muscle, I decided to...

...experiment with his program. And not only am I testing to see if you'll lose muscle with fasting, but I'm taking the "muscle gain" challenge with fasting...

...and so far, so good.

It's been six weeks since I had this photo taken of me at 170 pounds. I now weigh 183 pounds, despite fasting once per week (and look like a slightly larger version of that photo, with minimal IF ANY fat gain). And I'm now on my 6th fast of the "muscle gain" challenge today. 

Brad's program was designed as a simple lifestyle solution for fat loss and weight maintenance. But there's no reason why it wouldn't work for building muscle too.

Here's the secret why it works...

=> The human body is incredibly resilient. Much more so than typical bodybuilding culture believes.

It can survive going longer than 2.83 hours without eating. You won't lose muscle mass if that happens. We also don't need 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Heck, research suggests the more we train the LESS protein we need.

Humans were designed as/have evolved into a species that can easily go long periods of time without eating and still maintain our muscle mass provided their is some type of stimulus applied to the muscles to maintain their composition (i.e. if you workout with weights, it's really, REALLY hard to lose muscle mass).

So take a deep breath and relax the next time you go more than 187.2 minutes without food. You won't shrivel up.

Heck, you can even gain muscle while incorporating a weekly fast into your lifestyle. It's not about how many calories you consume every 3 hours, it's about how many calories you consume every 7 days. Look at the big picture, not the minutiae.

And my secrets to gaining 13 pounds of lean mass in 6 weeks?

Bread, creatine, vegetarian protein sources, lots of fruits and vegetables, and a lot (and I mean a LOT!) of almond butter and peanut butter. Plus some meals with meat. A little pizza on weekends. And chocolate milk. Good old chocolate milk. The kind you buy at the convenience stores here in Canada.

No fancy schmancy, overhyped, unproven, expensive supplements (those are for 19 year old kids that don't know better).  

More details to come as the muscle gain fasting challenge progresses...

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

PS - Brad's 24 hour fasting program for fat loss "and muscle gain"...

is available here:

Eat Stop Eat


pnw fitness said...

Wow. Nice gains CB!

Wazzup said...

Did you do any precise fat measuring apart from the "minimal IF ANY " guestimate ?

Anonymous said...

craig, if you dont have any access to weights, do you know if bodyweight circuits will preserve muscle mass??? also, do you workout fasted now do you switch it up between fasted workouts and pre workout meals workouts?? thanks


Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS said...

Hey Joe,

I don't time my fasts around the workout. Haven't thought that out too much.

The bodyweight question depends...upper body will be easier to maintain than lower body. Depends on strength and muscle mass levels.

keith said...

hey craig what if im about 173 pounds and 6 ft. i want to lose fat and show my 6pack but should i still try to gain 7 pounds of muscle to get up to 180 even though im not super skinny.

Anonymous said...

Craig, do you have any preferance with regard to lifting slow or lifting fast? they say lifting slow takes momentum out of the lift and causes your muscles to lift the weight. they say when you lift fast, momentum is helping you to lift the weight. any thoughts on this?


Raynsty said...

Just wondered if you still reply to old posts.
I am a moslem and about 15 days left I will face the month of Ramadhan (not sure if you're familiar with it or not)and I have to fast (no eating or drinking) for at least 14 hours every day from 4 am to 6 pm for 29 or 30 days in a row.
Based on your knowledge, is it possible for me to gain muscle or at least avoid muscle loss? For your information I am a hardgainer.