Is intermittent fasting better than calorie restriction? Yes, it is—especially if you lift weights and are trying to get leaner and stronger.
The most popular type of intermittent fasting is known as 16/8 IF (researchers call it “time-restricted eating”). Each day you fast for 16 hours and squeeze all your calories into an 8-hour window. Many people eat from 12:00 pm—8:00 pm. Some studies on IF have had mixed results, but most are conducted on inactive obese people.
So today, one study I want to look at was published in late 2016, and it was the first study of 16/8 intermittent fasting on athletes.
- They took 34 young men (oldest was 33) who had been lifting weights for at least five years.
- Half of them did 16/8 intermittent fasting, where they ate three meals within an 8 hour period. The other half did regular dieting.
- They lifted weights 3x per week with the same program.
- Both groups had 20g of protein from a whey shake after lifting.
- They ate the same amount of calories / same macros.
After eight weeks, they got a DEXA scan to find out their results.
Both groups made minor strength gains—but the fat-loss is what’s interesting.
As you can see, those doing the average guy doing 16/8 intermittent fast burnt 5x more fat in the same amount of time—while eating the same amount of food—and gaining the same amount of strength.
What’s crazy is some guys on the regular diet *gained* fat. And some individual guys on IF got even better results, with over 3kg of fat burned off. (Studies will average out results and not individual results, which is why you should try experimenting for yourself.)
These are guys who have been lifting for at least five years—suddenly, one group is getting results 500% more effective just by one little trick.
Now, intermittent fasting doesn’t work for everyone.
Some people feel shaky and irritable when they skip a meal. Some people need to have a good meal in them because they have stressful jobs with a lot of responsibilities, or they work an active job.
But intermittent fasting can fit like a good glove for those who do desk-work like busy professionals. Essentially, you aren’t eating while sitting all day and burn fat to fuel your day—and then you can break your fast, go lift some weights, and fuel muscle gain.
My experience with intermittent fasting
I was pissed.
When I first discovered intermittent fasting—and how easy it was to burn fat while getting stronger, I had to tell my business partner Shane about it.
And he casually responded with, “Oh yeah, it works. I used it when I did that super successful cut before.”
A few years earlier, we had decided to do burn some fat off at the same time because we trained together at the gym, and we’d change our training program to match. The only problem is—I got weaker and didn’t burn much fat while he seemingly got stronger and ripped. If my memory serves me right, this is a photo of Shane that covered this time:
I was pissed because he used intermittent fasting and got results—and I didn’t.
I asked, “How come you didn’t tell me you were going to experiment with it?”
He said, “I did, but you didn’t seem to care.”
He was probably right. (I likely didn’t remember his suggestion because I obviously didn’t act on it.) I only found out the power of intermittent fasting years later, and now I’m hoping I can save you some time. It’s worked out amazingly for me to burn off fat while getting stronger *without* calorie counting.
Now, the study I covered above shows something else beyond 16/8 intermittent fasting.
It shows the power of something called “nutrient timing.” Nutrient timing is the idea that “when” you eat matters when it comes to building muscle and getting leaner.
We cover all this in deep detail in the second edition of True Gains, our flagship program to help men become stronger and get a six-pack. And it’s worked amazingly for many of my clients like Jason and Abiel (who chose to use intermittent fasting.)