Have you been spending a lot of time working out to achieve a toned physique? You probably feel stronger, but maybe you cannot see that beautiful muscle poking through just yet, which can be frustrating.
You know that you need to work on lowering that body fat percentage but do not want to diet because it typically means that you will sacrifice some of that hard-earned muscle mass along with your fat loss. What are you supposed to do? Is it possible to tailor your body composition to lose fat while maintaining and even encouraging muscle growth?
Well, we have some good news – it is possible! You may not have heard of it before, but an anabolic fasting diet may be just what you need if you are looking to both gain muscle and lose fat.
What exactly is an anabolic fasting diet, you ask? Keep reading for more information about this game-changing diet and its benefits.
The anabolic fasting diet combines the idea of intermittent fasting with the anabolic diet. The combination of these two diets allows you to burn body fat while maintaining or gaining muscle mass.
If you are unfamiliar with the term, intermittent fasting is when you go approximately 16 hours without food to help burn body fat. The idea is that if you are not actively consuming calories, your body will just burn through its fat stores for energy.
The anabolic part of the diet is similar to the ketogenic diet in that it largely emphasizes consuming foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in fat. This is supposed to promote weight loss by encouraging your body to burn fat as its main source of energy instead of carbs.
What distinguishes the anabolic fasting diet from keto comes down to how often you are supposed to follow this eating pattern. With keto, you are supposed to follow this plan every day, but with an anabolic diet, you switch to a high-carb diet on the weekends. You are working mainly on fat loss during the week but are getting an extra boost of carbs on the weekend to help fuel muscle growth.
This schedule allows you to tailor your workout program to incorporate your more strenuous exercises that build muscle at the beginning of the week when you’ve increased your carb intake, as the carbs will help refill your glycogen stores. The idea is that you will then continue to burn off fat during the rest of the week without losing any muscle mass.
To burn off as much fat as possible while maintaining or growing muscle mass, you will be combining the benefits of the anabolic diet with intermittent fasting. Therefore, in addition to the constant cycling of low-carb during the week and high-carb on the weekends, you will also need to incorporate fasting periods.
Ideally, you will be fasting for between 12 and 16 hours a day on this diet, therefore leaving you with about 8-12 hours to consume all your meals and snacks.
Before you start this cycling of carbs, you will need to get your body used to a low-carb diet by eating as few carbs as possible for 12 days. You can then go straight to the two high-carb (or refeed) days before officially beginning the low-carb to high-carb cycling process.
There are no restrictions on your caloric intake on the anabolic fasting diet, but there is a certain carb, fat, and protein breakdown (macronutrients) that you are to consume during each low-carb and high-carb period:
*This carbohydrate intake comes from your fat and protein sources, so choose carefully.
You do not necessarily have to start doing your low-carb days on a Monday and high-carb days on a Saturday – just remember to do five days in a row of low and two days in a row of high. Then repeat the cycle.
While on the anabolic fasting diet, your main sources of nutrition are going to be from the proteins and fats you will be consuming on your five low-carb days during the week.
Since you will likely be consuming much fewer carbs than you are used to and can only eat between certain hours of the day, you may find yourself extra hungry during this time. This is why it is important to choose your protein and fat sources carefully so that they will satiate your hunger and you will not be tempted to stray from your diet.
When considering what to eat for your recommended fat intake, look for options that contain saturated fat. Saturated fat can be helpful for those on a low-carb diet as it can help boost endurance, allowing you to push yourself and your muscle further during your workouts. Look for foods like oils and nuts to help boost your fat intake.
You can also look for these fats in your protein sources. Think fatty cuts of red meat, wild salmon, and chicken thighs. If you are getting enough fats elsewhere, you can also consider leaner cuts of meat for protein such as chicken breasts and turkey. Pair these with some leafy greens like spinach and lettuce to get in some extra nutrients from vegetables while not packing on the carbs.
Finally, if you find yourself struggling to meet some of your macronutrient goals, do not be afraid to add in some dietary supplements. Tools like whey protein powders can keep your energy levels up and help make up that daily protein intake. You may also consider taking vitamins or a vegetable-based powder to ensure you are getting enough nutrition.
Why not start the anabolic fasting diet today to kickstart your fat loss while building and maintaining strong, lean muscle?!