View Full Version : IF causing muscle atrophy

Heidi Anschultz
09-11-2007, 04:53 PM

Scott Kustes
09-11-2007, 05:06 PM
Eat more. Fat is a concentrated source of calories...use good sources like coconut milk, nut butters (peanuts aren't nuts), nuts. I have consistently gained weight with IF while lifting heavy.

Mike ODonnell
09-12-2007, 07:30 AM
How could 2000 calories not fit my needs? What will eventually happen to me if I keep losing weight? Am I going to need to go to the ER and get checked out or something? Thanks.

Most athletes who are active need 6000+ calories just to maintain! Guys like myself who are active here and there still need 3000+ cal to maintain...and 4000+ to gain size. As your activity level goes up, so must your calorie intake. Start by adding 500 a day for a week and see if that makes a difference.

Also a VERY important question, how much protein are you getting daily (as in grams)? Most active people who have muscle mass need at LEAST 0.8-1.0grams/lb of lean body mass. That's a hell of alot of protein which you may not be meeting.

Also dont confuse muscle size with muscle. You may be losing stored glycogen from the muscles which will also shuttle out water. (think bodybuilding techniques of pumping up the muscle).

In the end there are lots of variables to IF that you need to be able to analyze and fine tune to make sure you are getting optimal results. My guess is not enough protein. You can also extend your eating hours to say 6-7hours to make sure you do get enough calories in. It's ALL about the daily calories and the adaquate protein intake for your active lifestyle.

Your "tiredness" comment also shows the lack of calories. Don't base it around high carbohydrates as you can use fat for fuel for walking, hiking, and other non-explosive glycogen based activities. Fat (healthy sources) is also a great concentration for calories (9grams/cal vs carbs at 4grams/cal). And as we know...it's about the daily calories.

One last side note about high carb intake. If you take 2 people and put them on a daily restrictive cal diet....one with high carbs, little protein....one with high protein, little carbs.....can you guess which one loses a ton of muscle and which one doesn't?

Mike ODonnell
09-12-2007, 09:25 AM
On that note....great post by Dr Eades....while calories are important....the macronutrient ratios are more important....protein and fat being the top 2....guess which other one came in last......


Even though most nutritionists tell you to get more carbs for energy....I have trouble finding any nutritionist that is NOT overweight with little to no lean mass.

Garrett Smith
09-12-2007, 09:47 AM
Are you only eating for 5 hours and then fasting for 24 hours? If so, you need to extend your eating window. From your description, it sounds like you have combined the Fast 5 and the 24 hour every other day approaches.

I'd suggest you either go to the 5 hour eating period *during* a 24 hour period, or go to the eat for 24 hours, then fast for 24 hours, rinse and repeat.

If you are losing muscle, you are not eating enough and/or not eating the correct foods and/or not digesting and assimilating properly.

Eric Jones
09-12-2007, 10:49 AM
I had the same problem at first. I got very lean and seemed to get quite a bit smaller. I found that I wasn't hungry ever and wasn't eating anywhere near enough, nor was I lifting consistently, doing mostly CrossFit type WODs.

Once I started to ensure I was getting my heavy lifts in at least three days per week and eat a ton during my feeding window (6 hours) everything turned around. A trick I use is to get most of my carbs at the beginning of the feeding window and ride the insulin wave down, tapering the carb percentage until my last meal is all fat and protein. It also happens that I usually put my workout right before I end my fast, turning that first high-carb meal into a Post-workout gycogen replenisher.

I have been consistently putting on muscle for the last two months, even getting comments from people noticing.

Robb Wolf
09-12-2007, 04:36 PM
Longer eating period for sure...muscle loss is NOT the goal!

Patrick Donnelly
09-12-2007, 05:02 PM
Has your strength dropped at all?

Allen Yeh
09-13-2007, 02:55 AM
I eat a lot though. I ate about 2000 calories yesterday, fat from various sources, a little bit of protein from meat, and 1/2 a cup of rice, and I think it only sped up my metabolism to lose more body fat this morning, which is all good and fine, but I did not gain any muscle.

You commented that you lift weights, and I'm pretty active all day (walking all over a big university campus, up stairs, etc.), and some days I'll just be so tired at the end of the day that it's really hard to walk up stairs. This didn't used to be an issue, but I think the daily fatigue is caused from not eating enough starches with my meals.

How could 2000 calories not fit my needs? What will eventually happen to me if I keep losing weight? Am I going to need to go to the ER and get checked out or something? Thanks.

What is has your training regimen looked like for the last few months?

William Hunter
09-13-2007, 04:54 AM
Let's also not disregard the fact that she's 18.

Darn youthful metablolism.

Stretch out that eating window for sure.

Mike ODonnell
09-13-2007, 08:49 AM
I can't seem to build up muscle no matter what I do. I can't eat more than 2000 calories, because I'll explode. It's just too much food (even if it's all high fat/oily). I really think I've screwed up my body. But I'm afraid to go back to eating three meals or two meals a day. I just want to gain some muscle and lean out at the same time, which I thought Intermittent Fasting would do. But it seems to have mainly resulted in loss of the majority of my muscle and a large loss of fat (but I still have fat to lose, trust me).

Eating lots of protein didn't work for me.
Eating more calories didn't work.
Eating more carbs didn't work.
Separating eating protein and fat didn't work.
Cycling the length of my fast didn't work.

#1) Do what you have to do to get healthy and full of energy, no use training if you can't do anything or feel sick. If that means going back to 3 meals a day, go back to it. Eat more paleo selections, aka meats, veggies, fat, fruit, etc. Get your health back first and then worry about fasting here and there....there are plenty of ways to gain muscle and lose fat, but you have to be healthy first.

#2) You main calories from the looks of it are CARBS....honey and rice will give you nothing but muscle loss and fat gain. Eat MORE protein. I deal with people all day long who tell me they eat a ton.....and then once we figure out they eat 2 3oz chicken breasts a day...which is 40grams of protein a day....they are NO where near what they need.

Start with writing down all your food....serving sizes...etc. Don't just guess it at this point because it is not working. If you eat 3x a day and need at least 80g of protein to start building muscle, then that means each meal has to be at least around 25gr of protein...which can be 4oz of chicken, 5 whole eggs, etc....

#3) Everything you say is classic signs of low calorie intake....so you need to just find more calories somewhere....open up that eating window to bigger times....even if it means eating all day for now.....get back to IF later, or do it once a week.....start slow work back into it.

#4) Your body isn't broken and can rebound from anything. You can go get checked out but you have to really put the effort into eating more.

#5) Trick: Take a day off once a week and eat like a pig....pizza....buffett.....donuts....I don't care....spike that metabolism with a rediculous amount of food as being in a cal defecit mode with just shut down your metabolism and thyroid. You need to signal that there is no famine with a feast here and there. Just keep your other days clean.

So in the end, don't give up hope as there are always things you have not tried....just make a plan, write it down and go do it. If you want more details suggestions write down everything you are eating for a week in full detail for portion size and so forth and report back. We will then know for sure what you are eating. You can do it, just find out first what your real numbers are for intake and then adjust as neccessary.

Stuart Mather
09-13-2007, 09:19 AM
Edit: As response to what my training regimen is, I don't train. But I walk all over campus all day in between classes, so I'm pretty active, but tired.

Heidi, I'd say that's the issue. It doesn't matter what you eat if you don't work your muscles more. I don't mean the cardio exercise you are getting walking between classes. Have you ever seen a muscular long distance walker/runner? I mean pushing heavy things around. You may well be eating enough protein to grow a decent amount of muscle if you worked those muscles in the way they need to be worked to grow. One of the wonderful things about IF for me is that the muscle growth gene expression it seems to promote builds a given amount of muscle with far less dietary protein. In other words, IF is a very efficient way to use all the macronutrients, protein included. If you start doing some resistance training, and you don't start building muscle after a few weeks, then you might start looking at how much protein you are eating. You said eating more protein didn't work. That's because you weren't allowing it to work. There simply is no way known (yet :) ) to build muscle without resistance exercise.

But in my personal experience, IF is the best way to get muscle growth results from a certain amount of dietary protein and amount of resistance exercise. That's why it's so healthy to eat this way. It's a very clean burn. The world is full of people who eat constantly, train a lot, and build a lot of muscle. It certainly does work to do it this way. But IMHO it's just not as healthy (and much more time consuming).

And if you simply don't have the time to train then just fill a backpack with something really heavy, and carry that as well as whatever you normally carry between classes. At least then you'll be getting 'some' resistance exercise. But unfortunately that's only going to put some muscle back on your legs. To get it back on your arms/upper body, you'll have to do more.


Mike ODonnell
09-13-2007, 04:25 PM
Mike, you make a good point that I'm probably not consuming enough calories. There are days I'll feel more energetic than others, which I think signifies I have consumed more calories the night before the day I have more energy. Eating carbohydrates doesn't help me at all, in fact, it causes fat gain along with making my guts feel uneasy and quezy.

Yep work on that first, as that is usually the issue 99% of the time, not enough calories and the wrong kind of calories...and really most people on here are moderate to low carbs and higher proteins and healthy fats...and still get lots of calories. Lengthen your eating window and remember there are no set rules of IF....just what works for your lifestyle and body condition. You may do better with 2 larger meals over 6 hours than 4 smaller snacks....you just may need more time to digest between feedings. Play with it and find what works. Keep a journal and see on the days of high energy what you had the day before....pretty soon you will pick up the pattern of what foods work for you and what are not. In general the carbs will not....as most on here don't go over 60-150grams a day....which is low carb compared to the average american diet. Start with protein first...get enough and then move onto limiting carbs to under 100grams a day and getting the rest of calories from fats (eat almonds, almond butter, olive oil, etc...). You will see a difference.

Garrett Smith
09-17-2007, 10:51 AM
You really should get some basic bloodwork done (CBC, CMP), to rule out major issues. Ask your general physician. This needs to be done.

As for this board, you should start a thread/journal that fully outlines exactly what your eating and exercise habits are, day-by-day. The more detail it has (times of feeding, amounts, how you feel before/after) the more we can help you out. Feel free to start it within this thread.

Mike ODonnell
09-17-2007, 12:34 PM
Plenty of basic strength training can be bodyweight with pushups, pullups and 1 legged squats....if you can't do 3 sets of 15 of all those...then you have plenty to work on before buying stuff.

Jordan Glasser
09-17-2007, 12:42 PM

there is more then enough info throughout this thread to get you on track, so, there's no need to repeat what's been said. But, from first hand experience, IF is difficult without proper diet. Eating too much of the wrong foods, in small windows will magnify your dietary mistakes. It certainly didn't give me energy or get me to meet my fitness goals. But, starting a food log, and listening to the advice of the experts on this board, I have worked out many of the problems I started with.

Garrett Smith
09-18-2007, 10:29 AM
One must have their muscles exert force in order for the body to take steps to keep or increase muscle. No strength training, say bye-bye to muscles.

I have to constantly tell this to my geriatric patients who are so surprised that their muscles are disappearing--"but I'm doing what I've always done and now my muscles are shrinking..." Duh.

Stuart Mather
09-18-2007, 04:23 PM
Plenty of basic strength training can be bodyweight with pushups, pullups and 1 legged squats....if you can't do 3 sets of 15 of all those...then you have plenty to work on before buying stuff.

Not to mention that resistance exercise this way is just so much more convenient. Pull ups can be a bit of a challenge, but there are so many approaches to compound bodyweight resistance movement. Do it anywhere, anytime. Separates getting to like the 'burn' in some worked muscle from all the inconvenient stuff so often involved in working muscles really hard.
Heidi, if you are reading this, stop, get on the floor and do as many pushups as you can as fast as you can. And when you've finished, ask yourself if you really need or even want kettlebells. Nothing wrong with kettlebells, of course. But you're made of heavy stuff. IMHO it makes sense to use it to keep and build muscle.