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Old 12-06-2007, 05:06 PM   #1
Gittit Shwartz
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Default IF and muscle loss experiences

I follow all the IF threads on this forum closely, and I noticed different people post very different experiences with fasting, in particular with regard to muscle loss. Some report no muscle loss at all or slight increase, and some a very sharp and dismaying drop in LBM.
I personally tinkered with 14-18 hr fasts for a couple of weeks. I lost a visible amount of muscle and some hard-earned strength quickly. I loved fasting though because of the energy and sharpness I gained: eating every 3 hours makes me groggy throughout the whole day. I'm really longing to leave the "Tupperware lifestyle" behind...but I don't feel like I can afford to lose strength!
So I've been thinking what may be the factors involved in muscle mass gains or losses on IF, and what could have been my mistakes:
(a) Sex - I'm female. I think more females as a % have reported muscle loss.
(b) Daily activity - I'm pretty active and training sessions are long: I do Capoeira or gymnastics 2-4 hours every evening, and usually some lighter skill work in the mornings (hand balancing and more).
(c) Weight training - I don't weight train regularly, but I do plenty of bodyweight stuff (gymnastics style).
(d) Macronutrient intake - I eat low carb paleo, with plain whey PWO and a carb-up of 100g carbs from fruit/sweet potato once every 5 days. At the time I was eating about 120g protein per day (at about 115lbs BW, somewhere between 15-17% bf I guess), 30-40g fat.
(e) "Easing in" - I sort of jumped into IF from a couple years of 6 meals a day.

I'd like to hear everybody's experiences, and any comments/additions you have to the list of factors I came up with.

...Because I really want to IF like all the cool guys...
- G
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Old 12-06-2007, 06:56 PM   #2
Mike ODonnell
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Simply...if you are losing muscle you are either:

A) Not eating enough protein for your activity level
B) Doing extended anaerobic training (over 45min) that eats away at muscle because you glycogen levels are too low and your cortisol is elevated.
C) Doing A or B

Easy thing....more protein...more BCAAs before training sessions...anything over 45 min is going to tear down muscles esp if you are not eating carbs. More carbs pwo if you are still losing muscle.

Remember the saying...if it aint working...fix it!
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:20 PM   #3
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I agree with Mike. How many calories are you getting total? Macro breakdown, precisely? It sounds like you're training too much. There's no reason to workout for hours on end; as a mater of fact, it's detrimental. I don't know if you're familiar with Arthur Devany at all, but I would go to his site and type "intermittent fasting" into his search engine to get a really good description of what you should be doing. I sort, keep it random (you may be creating a chronic stress, rather than an acute one) and absolutely make certain that you're getting enough calories and protein
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Old 12-06-2007, 09:27 PM   #4
Gittit Shwartz
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Definitely familiar with Art De Vany. I know that my training is not "paleo" or healthy, but it's a given thing for at least the next few months. So I'm not sure if I can make it work with IF at all.
I hadn't thought of BCAA's though. So taking them does not "break the fast" , because they don't need to be processed by the body and elicit no hormonal response - am I getting this right?
Thanks for the helpful replies!
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Old 12-06-2007, 09:38 PM   #5
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#Greg - macro breakdown: 120g P, 40 F, 50 C is what I was aiming for on average (1040 kCal), during my short IF experiment, trying to lose some fat.
I really do very badly with carbs. The only time I can tolerate them is after something like a sprint session or metcon. (I guess I'd do it if it's what I need though, so I won't complain).
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Old 12-07-2007, 05:44 AM   #6
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1040 kCal is not alot considering your activity level.....best way is to up your fats during the day and perhaps a few more carbs pwo....you need more calories as you are cutting into muscle for glycogen production. BCAAs should be fine because you are not wanting muscle loss after all...the more free amino acids you have, the less your body will ravage for energy and the more your muscles can uptake for repair. Beneficial especially before and during (if you can) training.....as after 2-4 hours training the damage has been done. Trainng 2-4 hours is not a fat burning activity...but more a muscle destruction event, so make sure you are recovering. I mix some gatorade, water and scoop of whey when I do hockey for 2 hours...to help preserve muscle and keep energy levels high, just an idea. Or just eat protein/fat all day and pound down a higher carb meal with some protein and little to no fat after a workout...don't worry, your blood sugar levels will come crashing down 2 hours later just in time for sleep. Fish Oil can also help reduce overall cortisol levels and excessive muscle breakdown. Vit C prior to training and bed also can help reduce cortisol levels.

Honestly lots of things to try...calories are the main issue....just start with one and see how your performance and lean body mass respond...try something else in a couple more weeks...you will eventually find something that works and have a better understanding of how your body reacts and recovers.
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Old 12-07-2007, 05:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gittit Shwartz View Post
#Greg - macro breakdown: 120g P, 40 F, 50 C is what I was aiming for on average (1040 kCal), during my short IF experiment, trying to lose some fat.
I really do very badly with carbs. The only time I can tolerate them is after something like a sprint session or metcon. (I guess I'd do it if it's what I need though, so I won't complain).
A quick observation, if you are doing 2-4 hours of capoiera and/or gymnastics a night then 1040 kCal is not enough per day IMHO. Up your fat and your protein in the feeding window.
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Old 12-07-2007, 12:41 PM   #8
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You're cals are WAY too low for you're activity level. Also, your macros are in a dangerous ratio, in my opinion. Keep your protein and carb intakes static and increase clean fat intake. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much your energy and body comp. improves. Let us know what happens, I'm betting you'll be amazed.
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Old 12-07-2007, 12:56 PM   #9
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Parrot what others have said. Up the fats and green leafy veggies. Other than that, try replacing the shake with real food. I found the shakes to be nothing but a waste of liquid. As we know the carbs help shuttle the protein to the muscle cells after an intense workout to facilitate the recovery process and replenish glycogen levels. Maybe it was a dillusion, but I swear that process never took place when I was downing protein powder shakes. This was about 2 yrs ago when I completely eliminated shakes from my diet. Best move I ever made. Zero muscle loss while I continue to grow fitter and stronger everyday.
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Old 12-07-2007, 06:46 PM   #10
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Steve, I couldn't agree more. I tried the whole PWO insulin spike act and it never did anything other than distort my body composition for the worse. I do much better with something like what Art D. recommends; waiting about an hour or so after training to eat.
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