Intermittent fasting can be an utterly daunting thing if you’ve never tried it. The idea of going 16 hours without food seems ludicrous to some people, never mind something like fasting for 24 or even 48 hours!
While those are all options for intermittent fasting, they can be challenging to do, so it’s always best to start easy and work your way up. That way, it’s a bit less intimidating.
But let us tell you, once you get into intermittent fasting and pick a type that works for you and your lifestyle, it’s really not that bad.
And also, if you’re looking to maximize your athletic performance, boost energy, and overall improve health and well-being, intermittent fasting can be a super simple way to do that.
Combined with other supplements, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a powerhouse.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not a new practice by any stretch of the imagination. It’s been around since the hunter-gatherer times when food wasn’t always plenty and fasting for extended periods was the only option until they found the next meal.
Not only this, but the meals our ancestors ate were also high in calories and nutrients, meaning meals kept them full and nourished for longer than what we eat today does.
In today’s day and age; however, we have access to food 24/7 and going long periods without food seems completely absurd, so what’s the point of fasting?
That’s precisely what you’re going to learn in this article.
But first, what is intermittent fasting?
It refers to the idea of rearranging your eating schedule to allow your body to go prolonged periods without food. This can range anywhere from 12 hours to over 24 hours, depending on the type of fasting you’re doing.
For example, if you’re fasting for 16 hours, you would have dinner at 6 pm, and then you would restrict food and beverage intake to only water, black coffee, or tea until 10 am the next morning.
Types Of Intermittent Fasting
There’s no right or wrong way to fast. Many kinds are practiced, so it’s about finding one that works for you. Here are four of the most common forms:
- The 16/8 Method — Fasting for 16 hours each day, this method restricts the eating window to 8 hours. For some, however, the fasting window is extended and can range anywhere from 16 to 20 hours, which further restricts the eating window.
- Alternate Day Fasting — Involves rotating between days of eating normally and days of fasting. For example, eat normally Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and fast Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
- The 5:2 Method — Involves eating normally five days of the week and restricting calories, usually to around 500-600, the other two days.
- 24-Hours (OMAD) — The 24-hour fast or One Meal A Day method is more challenging and means going 24-hours over a chosen period without food. For example, eating dinner at 6 pm and not eating again until 6 pm the next day.
How Intermittent Fasting Works
Your body runs like a well-oiled machine, and when it’s in feasting mode, it operates differently than when it’s in fasted mode.
In a fed-state, your body is in growth mode. Insulin signalling and the mTOR pathway tell your body that it’s time for cells to grow, divide, and initiate protein synthesis.
As we’ve talked about before, the mTOR pathways are upregulated by the presence of protein and carbs, and when this pathway is active, the body shuts off autophagy—the cellular clean-up process that removes damaged and misfolded proteins; there’s no time to clean up when the body is busy growing.
When the body is fed, your cells have many genes turned on that enable cell survival and proliferation. While these genes are turned on, others are turned off. These genes include those linked to fat metabolism, stress resistance, and damage repair.
But what’s interesting is that some of your fat actually gets converted into ketones, which helps to lower inflammation and improve stress resistance in the brain 1.
In a fasted state, however, things are different.
Your body sees fasting as somewhat of a stress and changes the expression of genes that function to protect you from this perceived stress (i.e. food shortage).
During both fasting and exercise, the AMPK signaling pathway is activated, which essentially acts as the brake pedal for the mTOR pathway. AMPK signals cells to go into a self-protective mode, thus initiating autophagy and lipolysis.
And because you don’t have any glucose or protein around, NAD+ levels increase; protein and sugar cause the conversion of NAD+ to NADH, and NAD+ is what activates SIRT1 and SIRT3—molecules that stimulate protein synthesis and are involved in creating new mitochondria, along with cleaning up free-radicals 2.
Depending on the length of your fast, you may also start to produce ketones, which act as deacetylase inhibitors and turn on genes responsible for antioxidant processes and damage repair.
IF Benefit Summary
While we haven’t touched on all the benefits of intermittent fasting, know that there are a lot more. Intermittent fasting also 3-7:
- Accelerates fat loss
- Improves glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity
- Normalizes autophagy
- Balances gut microbiota
- Boosts cognitive function
- Recycles faulty mitochondria
- Reduces oxidative stress and inflammation
- Induces autophagy
- Improves athletic performance
How’s that for reasons to try intermittent fasting?
What You Need To Know About HMB
We’ve talked a fair bit about HMB and why there’s such a hype around it in the fitness world.
As a by-product of the breakdown of the essential amino acid leucine, HMB is especially beneficial for preventing muscle breakdown and loss during periods of fasting, helping to improve muscle strength and growth, boosting recovery, enhancing fat loss, and may even enhance your overall athletic performance.
But in any case, here are some benefits of incorporating HMB into your daily supplement regime:
1. It Reduces Muscle Breakdown
Probably the most well-known effect of HMB, it helps to attenuate muscle loss by stimulating the mTOR pathway, which is central to regulating metabolism 8.
HMB also helps to stimulate mRNA translation, muscle cell proliferation, and protein synthesis, along with an increased expression of factors that enhance muscle growth, namely insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and growth hormone (GH) 8.
It may also reduce levels of 3-MH, an indicator of muscle protein breakdown.
2. It Boosts Energy Levels
Through its ability to increase fatty acid oxidation, upregulate AMPK, and improve the activity of SIRT1 and SIRT3 in adipocytes and skeletal muscle cells, HMB may directly contribute to enhanced energy levels 9, 10. However, this mechanism is poorly understood.
3. It Decreases Cortisol Levels
If you’re looking to burn fat and gain muscle, cortisol can be a huge roadblock for you.
While intermittent fasting has a lot of benefits for weight loss and markers of health, restricting food intake for any length of time can drive cortisol through the roof, which puts a big stop sign in front of any anabolic progress.
What might be to your benefit is supplementing with HMB. Research suggests that taking HMB in a fasted state may help to blunt the effects of cortisol, but also helps to increase testosterone levels relative to cortisol—an indicator of your anabolic state 10.
Why You Should Combine HMB and Intermittent Fasting
In terms of intermittent fasting, preventing muscle loss is the major selling point for HMB.
When you restrict nutrient intake for prolonged periods, especially protein, you risk increasing cortisol levels and putting the body into a catabolic state, whereby muscle tissue is broken down to supply required nutrients. Doing this puts your hard-earned gains into the danger zone.
One specific study looked at the effects of HMB supplementation on muscle breakdown, cortisol levels, testosterone, and resting energy expenditure during periods of acute fasting.
Participants included five healthy men and six healthy women supplementing 3g per day of HMF during a 3-day meat-free diet, followed by a 24-hour fast.
Salivary cortisol, testosterone, the testosterone to cortisol ratio, and cortisol awakening response were assessed during the experiment.
Results showed cortisol awakening response differed between the two conditions; cortisol levels rose from awakening to 30 minutes post-awakening in both groups, but interestingly, the group taking HMB saw blunted cortisol levels 30-45 minutes post-awakening by approximately 32%.
Also, in male participants, the testosterone to cortisol ratio increased from 0 to 24 hours of fasting with HMB supplementation by 162% 10.
This T:C ratio is a critical component in the body’s ability to maintain and build muscle.
If that wasn’t enough, rodent studies confirm that HMB supplementation under fasted conditions increases AKT (protein kinase B) phosphorylation and attenuates increases in atrogenes expression, which are genes that influence muscle atrophy.
There was also an improvement and gain of skeletal muscle weight, suggesting that HMB protects skeletal muscle against the damaging effects of fasting 11.
Where You Can Find HMB
Now that you see why you should be taking HMB while doing IF, it’s time to get yourself some.
If you’re looking to maximize fat loss and reduce muscle breakdown during fasting, Burn Lab Pro is an excellent choice.
The combination of ForsLean (forskolin), Capsimax, HMB, GTF chromium, and BioPerine black pepper extract add up to the most powerful and effective fat burner on the market designed to boost training intensity and calorie burn while preserving hard-earned muscle mass.
- MP Mattson, K Moehl, N Ghena, M Schmaedick, A Cheng. Intermittent metabolic switching, neuroplasticity and brain health [published correction appears in Nat Rev Neurosci. 2020 Aug;21(8):445]. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2018; 19(2): 63-80.
- S Hayashida, A Arimoto, Y Kuramoto, T Kozako, S Honda, H Shimeno, S Soeda. Fasting promotes the expression of SIRT1, an NAD+ -dependent protein deacetylase, via activation of PPARalpha in mice. Mol Cell Biochem. 2010 Jun; 339(1-2): 285-92.
- RE Patterson, DD Sears. Metabolic Effects of Intermittent Fasting. Annu Rev Nutr. 2017 Aug; 37: 371-393.
- N Halberg, M Henriksen, N Söderhamn, B Stallknech, T Ploug, P Schjerling, F Dela. Effect of intermittent fasting and refeeding on insulin action in healthy men. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005 Dec; 99(6): 2128-36.
- SM Rothman, KJ Griffioen, R Wan, MP Mattson. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor as a regulator of systemic and brain energy metabolism and cardiovascular health. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2012; 1264(1): 49-63.
- MA Faris, S Kacimi, RA Al-Kurd, MA Fararjeh, YK Bustanji, MK Mohammad, ML Salem. Intermittent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects. Nutr Res. 2012 Dec; 32(12): 947-55.
- Q Huang, S Ma, T Tominaga, K Suzuki, C Liu. An 8-Week, Low Carbohydrate, High Fat, Ketogenic Diet Enhanced Exhaustive Exercise Capacity in Mice Part 2: Effect on Fatigue Recovery, Post-Exercise Biomarkers and Anti-Oxidation Capacity. Nutrients. 2018 Sep; 10(10): 1339.
- M Holeček. Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate supplementation and skeletal muscle in healthy and muscle-wasting conditions. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2017; 8(4): 529-541.
- JM Wilson, PJ Fitschen, B Campbell, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB). J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Feb; 10(6).
- R Nogueiras, KM Habegger, N Chaudhary, et al. Sirtuin 1 and sirtuin 3: physiological modulators of metabolism. Physiol Rev. 2012; 92(3): 1479-1514.
- G Tinsley, AH Givan, AJ Graybeal, MI Villarreal, AG Cross. β-Hydroxy β-methylbutyrate free acid alters cortisol responses, but not myofibrillar proteolysis, during a 24-h fast. Br J Nutr. 2018 Mar; 119(5): 517-526.
- F Gerlinger-Romero, L Guimarães-Ferreira, CY Yonamine, RB Salgueiro, MT Nunes. Effects of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) on the expression of ubiquitin ligases, protein synthesis pathways and contractile function in extensor digitorum longus (EDL) of fed and fasting rats. J Physiol Sci. 2018 Mar; 68(2): 165-174.