Intermittent Fasting Keto Bodybuilding
What would you say if someone told you that intermittent fasting keto bodybuilding was a possibility? That you could gain muscle while constantly eating high-fat foods and largely reducing the number of hours spent eating in a day. Before you dismiss the idea, check out this article to find out how this works.
Intermittent Fasting Vs. Keto Bodybuilding: Which Is Better?
Intermittent fasting and the keto diet are two things that have gained a lot of attraction in the weight loss and fitness communities in recent years. Before deciding which of these two would help in muscle gain, you must first understand what they are and how they work.
This is an eating pattern that revolves around periods of fasting and eating. In IF, people go through extended periods of fasting and have a few short hours (aka the feeding window) where they can eat (6).
However, it should be noted that I.F. is not a diet. In intermittent fasting, you can eat whatever you like during the feeding window, while in the fasting hours, you are only allowed to drink water, black coffee and tea. Despite this, it is advisable to eat within your allowed calorie intake and keep your food choices as healthy as possible.
This is a high fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb diet. On this diet, your calories should come from 55-60% of fats, 30-35% protein, and 5-10% carbs (7). People trying to lose fat love the keto diet since it puts your body in a ketosis state. Due to the lack of carbohydrates in your diet, the body turns to burn fats, turning them into ketones, which it uses as energy instead of glucose (9).
While people doing the keto diet do not consume a lot of protein, you should increase your protein intake if you are trying to gain and build muscle. However, eating too much protein can prevent ketosis. Amino acids in protein-rich foods can be converted to glucose, which the ketogenic diet tries to prevent (3).
A standard keto diet requires 20% of your cals coming from protein (8), however since you are trying to build muscle, try matching your protein intake to your overall weight; i.e. 1.0 gram of protein per kilogram of lean mass.
It should be noted that while many believe ketosis is only achieved via a keto diet, fasting and intermittent fasting can help you achieve ketosis too (10). When trying to build muscle, you can combine intermittent fasting and keto. These two factors will help you lose weight and fat.
You should also mind your calorie intake and keep working out by doing your cardio and lifting weights. Please note that intermittent fasting and the keto diet are not safe for everyone. Before doing either, or both, be sure to speak to a doctor or a dietitian.
Here is an example of what a keto bodybuilding meal plan looks like. Note that the number of calories consumed differs from person to person, and thus, this is just a simple guide. You can tweak it to fit your daily energy intake for intermittent fasting keto bodybuilding goals.
6 large fried eggs, 45 g of bacon, 85 g of broccoli cooked in bacon grease
Calories: 740. Fats: 49 g, Proteins: 53 g, Carbs: 6 g
10 g coconut oil, 112 g of cooked chicken drumstick
Calories: 288. Fats: 18 g, Proteins: 21 g, Carbs: 0 g
1 cheese stick and 33 g of almond butter
Calories: 282. Fat: 20 g, Proteins: 13 g, Carbs: 7 g
224 g of salmon, 15 g coconut oil, 84 g cauliflower
Calories: 598. Fat: 25 g, Proteins: 59 g, Carbs: 4 g
1 scoop protein shake
Calories: 130. Fat: 1 g, Proteins: 25 g, Carbs: 2 g.
Total intake for the day: Calories: 2,038. Fat: 113 g, Proteins: 171 g, Carbs: 19 g
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The first and most important thing to do before making a workout plan is to determine your goals. Are you a beginner looking to start building muscle or working out for some time and want to gain bigger muscles?
If you are a beginner, here are some great bodybuilding tips (11) that can help you whether or not you are intermittent fasting and on a keto diet.
1. Keep Your Plan Simple
There are thousands of blogs and videos that offer advice on the best bodybuilding workouts for beginners, and this may be confusing. It could also lead you to cram multiple workouts in one session leading to overtraining. Keep your workout plan as simple as possible by concentrating on full-body exercises that target all your muscles.
2. Eat Before And After Your Workouts
When you do not eat well, your body lacks energy from calories and thus turns to burn muscle for energy, leading to muscle loss and messing up your bodybuilding progress.
Bodyweight exercises are fantastic, especially as a beginner; however, they can only take you so far. After a couple of weeks, invest in some light weights or use some household items such as soup cans and water bottles to add resistance.
4. Join A Gym
This gives you a community that will motivate you whenever you are slacking off and feeling unmotivated.
5. Experiment With Different Weights And Avoid Classic Errors
Doing the same workouts over and over can cause a weight loss plateau and even weight gain. Switch out your dumbbells for kettlebells, add some barbells, battle ropes, or medicine balls.
Always remember to warm up before every workout. Warming up revs up your cardiovascular system by raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles. They may also help reduce muscle soreness and lessen your risk of injury (1).
Here are some great examples of the best basic workouts to help you gain muscle on a keto diet while intermittent fasting (4).
- Stand facing forward with your chest up.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider and extend your hands straight out in front of you to help keep your balance. You can also hold your hands at chest level or place them behind your head.
- Bend at your knees and hips, sticking your butt out like you’re sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your chest lifted and your spine neutral, and do not let your lower back round.
- Squat down as low as you can, keeping your head and chest lifted. Keep your knees over your ankles and press your weight back into your heels.
- Keep your body tight, and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position.
- Do this 10 to 15 times.
- Position the feet shoulder-width apart with toes under the bar.
- Stabilize the abdominal muscles by bracing them. Squat down, bending at the knees. Keep your back straight or arched in slightly and not rounded at the shoulders or spine.
- Grasp the bar just outside the line of the knees with an overhand or mixed grip.
- Lift the bar by pushing upward with the legs from the knees. Breathe out on exertion. The bar should rest at the thigh level when you are standing.
- Lower the bar to the floor with a reverse motion ensuring that your back is straight again.
- Try doing this 10 to 15 times.
- Lie down on your back. Bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor, hip-width apart. Place your arms behind your head, pointing your elbows outward.
- Brace your abs. Lift your knees to 90 degrees and raise your upper body. This is your starting position.
- Exhale and rotate your trunk, moving your right elbow and left knee toward each other. Simultaneously, straighten your right leg.
- Pause before inhaling and returning to starting position.
- Exhale. Move your left elbow to your right knee and extend your left leg. Pause. This completes 1 rep.
- Sit on the floor, legs together in front of you. Bend your knees slightly. Place the band around the soles of your feet and hold the ends, palms facing inward. Brace your core.
- Exhale and pull the band until your hands are over your thighs, keeping your elbows tucked in and your back neutral. Pause for one second.
- Inhale and slowly extend your arms, counting to three.
- Complete a set of 10 to 15 times.
Dumbbell Bench Press
- Lie back on a bench holding a dumbbell in each hand just to the sides of your shoulders. Your palms should be facing towards your feet in the starting position.
- Press the weights above your chest by extending your elbows until your arms are straight, then bring the weights back down slowly.
- Take the weights down past your shoulders and bring them closer together at the top of the movement. Don’t touch them at the top to take some of the strain off your muscles.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at your sides, palms facing each other.
- Stagger your stance, with your front foot 2-4 feet in front of your rear foot.
- Lower your hips until your front thigh is at least parallel to the floor.
- Push through your front heel, extend the hips and knees to return to the starting position, and repeat on the opposite side.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand at the sides, with palms facing in toward the side of the thigh and arms straight down.
- Position your feet about shoulder-width apart. Brace the core muscles to be ready to lift the weight.
- Lift one dumbbell toward the shoulder, rotating the arm as it moves up so that the palm with the dumbbell is now facing upward and the elbow is pointing to the ground with the forearm almost vertical.
- Keep the elbow close to the body. Exhale while lifting.
- Lower to the side position and perform the same movement with the other arm. Inhale while lowering the weight.
- Continue to alternate until the set is complete.
- Do 10 curls with each arm.
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Before determining which intermittent fasting method is best for you, you need to first learn and understand the different types of I.F. (intermittent fasting). Here are the most popular fasting methods for weight loss and bodybuilding (10).
This intermittent fasting method has set fasting and eating windows. Fasting for 10 to 16 hours may cause the body to convert its fat storage into energy usable by our body, and will consequently release ketones into the bloodstream. When combined with keto, this helps the body get into ketosis even faster. Versions of the time-restricted eating are:
- The 12:12 method: Fasting for 12 hours and eating for the other 12.
- The 16:8 method: Eating for 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours. Start at noon and stop at 8 p.m.
- The 14:10 method: This means fasting for 14 hours and eating for the other 10 hours. Start at 11 a.m. and stop at 9 p.m.
Of these three methods, the 14:10 and 16:8 routines are the most famous.
Also known as the fast diet, it involves eating normally for 5 days a week while restricting your calories to about 500 (women) to 600 (men) calories for two days a week. If you choose to do this intermittent fasting method, separate your fasting days. i.e., fast on Wednesday and Saturday.
Eat-Stop-Eat Aka The 24-Hour Fast
This method involves fasting completely for 24 hours a day, once or twice a week. You fast either breakfast to breakfast, lunch to lunch, or dinner to dinner. Once the 24-hour period passes, you should return to your normal eating plan. This method is not as easy as it sounds and may cause mood swings, fatigue, or headaches.
The Warrior Diet
This means fasting for 20 hours a day, leaving just a 4-hour window to eat at night. However, since this requires not eating for a lot of hours, you are allowed to eat a few raw fruits or veggies during the day.
This is another option for busy beginners who do not have enough time to slow down and eat. You may skip breakfast or lunch each day.
To know what method works best for you, try the skipping meals method first since it is not as restrictive as other methods. The time-restricted eating plan is also quite beginner-friendly. Instead of jumping straight into the popular 16:8 routine, try the 12:12 or 14:10 plans fast.
For you to successfully use I.F. to build muscle, here are some simple things that you can do:
1. Watch Your Calorie Intake
While gaining muscle requires you to eat more calories than you normally would when losing or maintaining weight, you should still keep an eye out on how much you consume. Opt to eat 250 to 500 calories more than you usually do on a daily basis (2).
2. Adhere To Your I.F. Hours
Sneaking in meals during the fasting hours will not only mess up your intermittent fasting plan but also counts to add to your calorie intake and might lead to weight gain.
Muscles grow at different rates depending on age, sex, genetics, and intensity of exercises (5). When you work out, muscles tend to tear, and once you stop and rest, they repair themselves and grow bigger. Bodyweight and resistance exercises, and strength and weight training will help build your muscles even while intermittent fasting.
As long as you eat enough nutrient-dense foods during your feeding window and work out hard enough (without overtraining), you can easily use intermittent fasting for bodybuilding.
Here are some things that you can do to ensure that you gain muscle while doing keto and intermittent fasting
It is easier to stick to a diet if you already have the meals at hand. Keto diets can be quite hard and confusing for beginners. Before embarking on this journey, pick a day when you meal prep, and that way, you always have keto-friendly meals at the ready, preventing you from breaking it. If eating the same things every day does not appeal to you, opt for food prep. Food prepping involves preparing all the nutrient-rich ingredients you would like to eat for the week; that way it is easier to grab them and make a new meal.
Make A Workout Program
This prevents you from wasting time at the gym (or at home) deciding on what exercises you should be doing. With a program already in place, you wake up already knowing what to do.
While fasting, choose keto-friendly foods that are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. This helps keep your blood sugar levels steady and prevent nutrient deficiencies.
Drinking water, sugar-free coffee, and tea during the fasting period keep you from obsessing over food. Always drink at least 8 glasses of water daily!
This helps in keeping you from constantly thinking about food.
The Bottom Line
Intermittent fasting keto bodybuilding is possible. I.F. and a ketogenic diet both put you into ketosis, which will burn fat as a source of energy for your body. Despite this, working out and watching your calorie intake matter more than what and when you eat. Without exercise, your muscles would grow, and eating more than necessary would most likely make you gain weight.
That being said, you should consult your doctor or dietitian before starting intermittent fasting and keto for bodybuilding. Exhaustion, irritability, constipation, and endurance issues are just some side effects that you might experience. These side effects might be worse, depending on different factors like age, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and chronic illnesses.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Aerobic exercise: How to warm up and cool down (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Calorie Intake To Gain Muscle (n.d, livestrong.com)
- Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss (n.d, hsph.harvard.edu)
- From Here To Weightlifter: Muscle Gain For Beginners (n.d, bodybuilding.com)
- How to build muscle with exercise (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Intermittent Fasting: Everything You Need To Know (2019, bodybuilding.com)
- Keto diet: 1-week meal plan and tips (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Ketogenic diets: Boon or bane? (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Ketosis (2020, webmd.com)
- Seven ways to do intermittent fasting (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Building Muscle (2020, menshealth.com)