Intermittent Fasting and Muscle Gain: Benefits, Downsides, and Research

A common dietary strategy for people who want to increase their muscle mass while also aiding fat loss is intermittent fasting (IF). Although IF has mostly been linked to weight loss and better metabolic health, there is mounting evidence that it may also be helpful for keeping and gaining muscle mass.

Intermittent fasting: What is it?

A nutritional strategy known as intermittent fasting involves alternating between times of eating and fasting. The 16/8 approach, which entails eating within an 8-hour window and then fasting for 16 hours, is the most popular type of intermittent fasting. Other well-known IF strategies include the alternate-day fasting (ADF) strategy and the 5:2 approach, which both entail restricting caloric intake on alternate days of the week.

Muscle Gain and Intermittent Fasting

Typically, eating a diet rich in protein and calories is linked to muscle gain. Intermittent fasting, however, may also be useful in increasing muscle growth, according to current studies. Here are a few ways that IF can aid in building muscle:

  • increased production of growth hormone
    The body produces more growth hormone when it is fasting, which is necessary for maintaining and repairing muscle tissue. Growth hormone also speeds up the metabolism of fat, which makes it simpler to keep a slim physique while adding muscle.
  • Increased Sensitivity to Insulin
    Since IF has been demonstrated to increase insulin sensitivity, nutrients like glucose and amino acids can be absorbed more effectively. This may encourage the development of muscles and post-exercise recuperation.
  • Protein Synthesis Uptake
    According to studies, the body’s process of constructing muscle tissue—protein synthesis—may be accelerated by intermittent fasting. An increase in the activity of specific genes that support protein synthesis may be the cause of this impact.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Muscle Gain

Intermittent fasting may also provide the following additional advantages besides helping people grow muscle:

  • Fat Loss
    In order to acquire a lean body, people can use intermittent fasting, which has been demonstrated to enhance fat reduction while maintaining muscle mass.
  • A better metabolic state
    Inflammation, insulin sensitivity, and other metabolic health indicators have all been proven to improve with IF.
  • Streamlined Eating
    Intermittent fasting is a tempting choice for people with busy schedules since it can make meal planning easier and cut down on the time needed to prepare and consume food.

Downsides of Intermittent Fasting for Muscle Gain

Although there may be numerous advantages to intermittent fasting, there are also some drawbacks to take into account:

  • Loss of Muscle at Risk
    Intermittent fasting can cause muscle loss if not done correctly. Protein and calories must be consumed in sufficient amounts throughout mealtimes to maintain muscle growth and repair.
  • cravings and hunger
    People may feel hungry and have cravings when they are fasting, which can make it challenging to stay on a diet. For people who are new to intermittent fasting, this can be particularly difficult.
  • Possibility of Nutritional Deficiencies
    It may be more challenging to get enough critical nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, when you fast intermittently. To guarantee proper nutrient intake, it is crucial to eat a balanced diet when eating.

Research on Intermittent Fasting for Muscle Gain

While additional research is required, studies on intermittent fasting and muscle building have produced encouraging findings:

  • In a 2016 study, overweight men who underwent intermittent fasting and resistance training saw gains in muscle mass and losses in body fat.
  • According to a 2018 study, resistance training plus alternate-day fasting helped middle-aged women lose body fat and gain muscle mass.
  • A 2020 study discovered that young men’s muscle strength and endurance enhanced when intermittent fasting and resistance exercise were combined.


The use of intermittent fasting as a dietary strategy for weight loss and enhanced metabolic health has grown in popularity. Recent studies, however, imply that it might also help with muscular growth. With better insulin sensitivity, greater protein synthesis, and increased growth hormone production, intermittent fasting encourages muscle building. Intermittent fasting has a number of potential advantages besides muscle gain, such as fat loss and enhanced metabolic health. The possibility of muscle loss, hunger and cravings, and possible vitamin deficits are a few drawbacks to take into account. While additional study is required, studies on intermittent fasting and muscle building have yielded encouraging results. Before beginning any new nutritional approach, it’s crucial to speak with a healthcare provider, especially if you have any underlying medical ailments or worries.

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