22 5 / 2012
Bodyhack! My experiments with fasting to reduce fat% and put on muscle.
- Fast 16 hours everyday. I do it from my 10pm dinner until lunch at 2~3pm. Google “Intermittent Fasting” to know more.
- Workout at the gym or take a brisk walk just before you break this fast. Don’t worry - you will have stamina and you won’t lose muscle.
- Have your first and heartiest meal within 30 mins of this fasted work out. This should be the biggest meal of your day.
- Invest in an electric grill so that you can cook healthy food quickly - eat grilled chicken, fish, vegetables and eggs. Google “Paleo Diet”.
- Reduce carbs - lesser chapatis and sweets. Use multigrain atta. Maida is a big no-no.
- Cut out processed sugar and its products completely.
- Drink lukewarm lime water first thing in the morning. Have sugarless black coffee or green tea whenever you want.
- Take the right supplements while working out. (See last section)
- Sleep well, for at-least 7 hours.
For extreme fat loss.
Reduce your carb intake to less than 50gms for 6~8 weeks for extreme fat loss. This will make your body go into “Ketosis” - metabolizing fat stores for fuel instead of dietary carbohydrates and sugars. You will lose fat quickly, but it’s not recommended for long periods of time as it has its own side effects. At no point should you keep doing this for more than 4 weeks continuously. I tried alternating between extremely low carb (50gms) days and low carb (150gms) days and it was easy to do! Research “Atkins Diet” for more info.
Processed sugars are really bad. Cut them out of your life for good - research has shown that they are bad for the body in many ways - they have even been linked to the feeding of malicious cancer cells. Honey and jaggery are good substitutes but for extreme fat loss, don’t even take them. Cut your chapatis to 1 per meal, no potatoes/bananas etc and completely avoid beer. Count the grams of carbs you take by searching on the internet. Combine all this with a brisk walk or sport every day and you’ll be losing all your fat in no time. I would not recommend strength training or any vigorous sport during this period. Brisk walks with some music or while making telephone calls using a handsfree worked for me!
For reducing fat% and putting on muscle at the same time.
I’m seeing pretty good results with the 10 points outlined above.
You need at-least 1.5 gms per kg bodyweight of proteins to add muscle. For me that’s 2 grilled chicken breasts, 4 whole eggs and 8 egg whites per day.
The secret to putting on muscle is to spike your insulin, blood amino acids, and protein levels together within 45 minutes of working out!
Fasting helps because your body is mostly burning your fat stores to fuel itself after 16 hours. Don’t worry, muscle is broken down to fuel the body only after much longer fasts (~36 hours). Working out fasted is great. I feel no energy or stamina loss. Infact, I feel much better generally! Besides, research has shown spikes in growth hormone levels while and after working out fasted as compared to normally fed working out. This is great because it will burn fat and get your muscles to grow even more!
Eating a good meal with sufficient carbs and sugars right after your fasted workout spike your insulin levels - Insulin shuttles proteins and glycogen to your muscles, thereby suppressing catabolism, which is muscle breakdown after working out. That’s good - your body is naturally breaking down muscles for a couple of hours after an intense workout and this will help prevent that and get into recovery mode quicker.
BCAAs (the purest form of proteins) take care of immediate amino acids availability in the blood - BCAAs (leucine, primarily) signals your muscles to go anabolic - ie, start synthesizing protein in the muscle to rebuild itself. And the effectiveness of BCAAs is highest when your muscles are spent. Taking BCAAs (0.4gms/kg bodyweight) while working out will help you get much bigger, and stronger muscles!
Dietary protein intake takes care of trickle feeding proteins into your bloodstream as fuel for your muscles to rebuild themselves! This trickle feed can continue for as much as 24 hours, so fasting for 16 hours after that protein rich dinner is not going to make you lose any muscle! Besides, the body starts breaking down muscle for energy only when it runs out of body fat. This also means that fasting might not be a good idea for those of you who are already on 6~7% body fat.
Can’t find time to head to the Gym?
Workout using body weights at home or take a brisk walk in your neighborhood alternatively. Consistency is more important than going to the gym. You can do complex exercises that will take care of challenging many muscle groups at once while improving your core strength and overall fitness. You can make them intense too, buy adopting a few variants. This is what I do:
- Chest - 8 sets of clapping pushups (very effective!) or vigorous Incline Pushups.
- Back - 8 sets of vigorous pull-ups and chin-ups on whatever home fixture you can do them on. I use a overhead ledge in my kitchen.
- Legs - 8 sets - squat-jump-land into a squat-repeat.
- Abs - 8 sets of crunches, reverse crunches and 90 second plank holds.
- Arms and shoulders - taken care of while doing all of the above.
- Creatine - Take it 15 minutes before working out. It’s not very important - can be skipped. I take one course every 6~8 months only.
- BCAAs - Sip it during your workout. Mix 0.4gms per KG bodyweight of BCAAs in water. Buy the powder and not the capsules. Very effective for muscle gain!
- Whey Protein - Within 10 minutes of your workout. This can be skipped for a protein rich meal immediately after working out. I don’t take one myself.
On days when you are not working out or just doing light cardio, you can skip supplements completely or just take 10grams of BCAAs right before you go for that walk.