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5 Tips to Maintaining Muscle While Fasting

Just because you are restricting your food intake, doesn't mean you have to lose muscle.

How far along are you on your ‘full body transformation’ mission? Have you been sweating or panting to shift extra pounds while trying to bulk up? Well, you might have heard that fasting enhances weight loss. But at the same time, can you lose your newly hard-earned muscle mass as well?

Fasting is increasingly becoming a health trend with its major emphasis on weight loss. But then, we cannot but ask if it helps preserve and build muscles.

This article broadly discusses fasting, its types, benefits, and tips to maintaining muscle while fasting. Enough prepping, let’s get started!

First, What is Fasting?

Before we get into the tips to maintaining muscle while fasting, let’s just brush over what exactly is fasting.

Fasting is a term that describes a period of not eating completely or almost not eating. A fast usually lasts from 12 to 24 hours. During fasting, a feeding window begins from the last bite you have from a meal to your next mouthful of food. This includes periods of sleep.

However, one may wonder if exercise is possible while fasting. Exercise has its own set of health benefits. So, it’s understandable that you’d want to keep up a regular full-body workout routine while fasting. You can integrate a full-body workout with fasting.

For your full body workout, you don’t necessarily have to leave your house. You can easily participate in a virtual gym and save some commute. Professional trainers can guide and coach you through workout routines virtually. Taking such weight loss exercises at home while fasting will also save you a lot of energy.

If you are exercising while fasting, make sure to take it easy and increase your protein intake. This will help you prevent burning out. This said, let’s examine the common types of fasting.

Related: 10 Protein-Packed Foods You Had No Idea About

Types of Fasting

There are three major types of fasting. They are:

1. Calorie Restriction Fasting

This is the most common type of fasting. Typically, it occurs within 18 to 48 hours. For effectiveness, it is advisable to consume adequate calories in the days before to support the fast.

To keep track of your calorie intake during this period, it is best to use a calorie counter.

Furthermore, during the fast, it is best to only consume water and keep activity levels low to support the fast state.

Tips to Maintaining Muscle While Fasting

2. Nutrition Restriction Fasting

This involves restricting certain macronutrients. Particularly carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Nutrition restriction fasts work best for athletes or people having a higher protein requirement.

During this fast, it is best to consume only high-quality fats, fibre, and carbohydrates. However, it is noteworthy to ensure that the body activities are minimal while fasting.

3. Modified Fasting 

Modified fasting allows you to consume about 20% to 25% of your normal daily energy needs on scheduled fast days. One popular version is the 5:2 diet. It requires 2 non-consecutive days a week of 24-hour “fasting” except for a very light meal. 

Top 3 Benefits of Fasting

Fasting is an eating habit that has been linked to a slew of benefits for the body. Studies indicate that it can have significant health and cognitive benefits. Some of the top benefits of fasting include:

1. Changes in the Cellular and Hormonal Functions

When you don’t eat for a while, various changes occur in your body. For instance, your body changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible and initiates important cellular repair processes.

2. Reduces Oxidative Stress and Inflammation 

Studies show that fasting prevents oxidative damage and inflammation in the body. This in turn provides anti-ageing benefits and alters the development of various diseases.

3. Induces Cellular Repair Processes

During fasting, the body cells initiate a cellular “waste removal” process called autophagy.

Increased autophagy protects against several diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. 

Top 5 Tips to Maintaining Muscle while Fasting

Of course, muscles don’t grow from sitting around. Targeted training and a balanced diet are some of the most important adjusting tools for gaining muscle. However, there are a few things you can do support what took you so long to build. Check out these 5 tips to maintaining muscle while fasting:

1. Exercise Regularly 

This is the most common and effective way to maintain or build muscle while fasting. 

Some of these include full-body workouts, cardio workouts, weight lifting, and many more. Depending on your fasting protocol, you might want to consume a protein snack for 1 to 2 hours before exercising.

Ideally, you may want to consume high-protein foods every few hours for muscle gain. So, ensure you make an effort to cram in adequate protein in your eating window. You can easily keep track of your activities by using various apps like the exercise planner app, workout scheduler app, etc.

2. Refrain from Extremely Long Periods of Fasting

Basically, a smaller eating window makes it more difficult to get enough nutrients. So, it is best to fast consciously and sparingly. For instance, 16-8 isn’t a bad choice, because a meal window of eight hours will leave enough time for adequate nourishment.

3. Pick the best diet for you

To bulk up or to maintain muscle, you must consider what you eat carefully. Trying to cram your daily caloric intake into a small window is not an excuse to consume what you want. 

Although weight loss occurs by eating fewer calories to create a calorie deficit, consuming more calories helps in building muscles. You can consult a dietician to learn more about diets for weight loss as well as the best diets for muscle gain.

Related: Worst Diet Mistakes For Losing Fat

4. Maintain a Workout and Meal Plan

In addition to constantly staying hydrated, a nutrient-dense diet is also key to healthy muscles. To be specific, this means a high intake of vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats.

Furthermore, include long-chain carbohydrates, such as whole grain pasta or whole grain bread, in your meals. This will help your muscles recover. On rest days, a low-carb diet is a great choice.

5. Elevate Growth Hormones

Fasting is one of the most effective ways to stimulate human growth hormones (HGH) naturally. 

HGH promotes cartilage, bone, and muscle growth. As a result, you get bigger and stronger muscles and protection from age-related bone and muscle loss. In short, fasting is a kind of anabolic biohacking.

You maximize the release of growth hormones until you break the fast after training. You’ll also send the body into an anabolic state at the right time for targeted muscle growth.


Those were the top 5 tips to maintaining muscle while fasting.

As mentioned above, fasting is rapidly becoming a health trend for weight loss, with the potential to maintain or gain muscle. Fasting can be beneficial for health. Particularly for burning fat, reducing insulin resistance, increasing human growth hormone, and lowering blood pressure. 

By exercising regularly, fasting will help you maintain lean mass and preserve muscle. Remember, you can only successfully bulk up if you stick to your fasting schedule, so choose one that works for you.

Can I build muscles while fasting?

Yes, it is possible to build muscles while fasting. You can do that by following some of the listed tips.

Is fasting ideal for bodybuilding?

Since it spikes human growth hormone 4 to 5 times as much as the exercise itself, fasting is an excellent bodybuilding option.

How can I prevent muscle loss during fasting?

As long as you eat a diet with adequate protein, you likely don’t have to worry about losing muscles when fasting. Furthermore, adding resistance training to fasting preserves and maintains the muscle.

How do I get enough protein when fasting?

You get enough protein during fasting the same way as without – by eating. Fasting does not mean eating less but eating within a specific time window. This sets hormone balance to promote muscle gain.

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