Let’s talk about how to bulk while you are intermittent fasting. The biggest benefit of doing this is to reduce some of the fat gain from your bulk while keeping the muscle gains optimized. Studies suggest that there may be hormonal benefits as well.
Why Bulk While You’re Intermittent Fasting?
We all know that you need to be in a caloric surplus to grow. Inevitably, you will put on some body fat as you’re growing. But if you minimize the fat gain, it’ll be an easier time when you want to lean out.
To make it work, you will be in a surplus for most of the time (at least on every training day) and fast for fat loss and hormonal benefits at strategic times.
There are different ways to go about this whole thing and the best choice is the one that suits your lifestyle best. Let’s go over the 2 methods that I like best:
Eat Stop Eat
An Eat Stop Eat style fast involves fasting for 24 hours to reduce your weekly calorie intake. This will reduce fat gain and also improve insulin sensitivity. If you want to grow consistently, I wouldn’t recommend fasting more than once a week.
The biggest benefit to this method is that changes to your diet and training are minimal. Focus on creating a weekly calorie surplus and you can eat and train as you always have.
Besides its simplicity and effectiveness, my favourite benefit of this approach is improved digestion. For me at least, giving my digestive system a break once a week keeps it running smoothly for the rest of the times during a bulk. This allows me to make progress more consistently and smoothly. Check out my Eat Stop Eat Review to learn more about it.
20 lbs In 28 Days
Tim Ferriss featured an article on his blog by Nate Green and John Berardi, PhD. They used an Eat Stop Eat style fast in their bulk and still put on 20 lbs in 28 days. The point of the experiment was to push the limit on gaining on ‘useful weight’ fast.
Useful weight means getting a significant increase in performance with the weight gain. This type of bulk was designed to help a professional fighter move up a weight class.
LeanGains is fantastic for people that enjoy bigger meals. If you don’t have a big appetite and struggle with bigger meals, this type of bulking is not for you.
Here is a summary of how I understand the Leangains method.
A good place to start is to:
- Fast for 16 hours a day and eat during an 8 hour window.
- Eat 2-3 g of protein per kg of bodyweight. So, if you weigh 75 kg, you need to eat 150-225 g of protein a day.
- Fill the rest of your calories with carbs and fats
- For a bulk, eat 30-40% above maintenance on lifting days, -10% on resting days
- Cycle your fat and carbs: High carb/low fat on liftings days. Low carb/high fat on resting days.
- Increase calories as needed, this is different for everyone and you will need to test how much you need.
Here is a chart that gives you an estimate of maintenance calories for your height. Use this is a starting point:
You will need to train according to how you eat. If you’re eating at a big surplus, you can afford to train with more volume and intensity. If you reduce the amount you eat, you will have to reduce the amount of work you do. Otherwise, you won’t be able to recover and grow.
Martin has a preference for high intensity and low volume training, focussing on the basic barbell exercises (with the addition of weighted chin-ups). It’s most time efficient for the results it produces.
You can follow your own preference as long as it’s working. It’s just about balancing the amount of work you do and how much you can recover.
Intermittent Fasting Vs Regular Bulking, Which is better?
Regular bulking and training with intermittent fasting has both created impressive physiques. For someone that’s training naturally, both methods are effective and the question of ‘most optimal’ is just dependant on your preference. Try it out and see what you like best.