Can You Do Intermittent Fasting While Bulking?

Posted by Wen Dan Jiang on

Can You Do Intermittent Fasting While Bulking?

Can you do Intermittent Fasting while Bulking? Yes, you can.  Intermittent fasting has been the talk of the town in the fitness and diet industry for a while now. In mainstream medical science, intermittent fasting is now known as a foolproof method for losing excess weight and fat. Not only that, IF (Intermittent Fasting) has proven to provide innumerable benefits to the body, including prevention and fighting diseases, keeping bones and muscles healthy, supporting mental and psychological health, etc.

While IF is seen as a safe medical intervention or a technique to lose weight, research shows that it is also connected in some ways with bulking, which sounds quite paradoxical at first. The reason is that the term 'fasting' is used to hint at losing extra weight while going into a calorie deficit, whereas 'bulking' is all about gaining muscle mass through increased calorie intake. The question that ultimately arises is of utmost significance because we need to find out; can you do intermittent fasting while bulking? Let's look at what bulking actually entails, how it is related to intermittent fasting, and whether or not it is possible to do intermittent fasting while bulking.

What is Bulking and How Does it Work?

Bulking is a term known usually to men and refers to the process of gaining muscle mass through a combination of increased consumption of calories and weight training. While the term is more popular among bodybuilders, men with lean bodies are also attracted to bulking as a means of gaining more muscle and weight. Precisely, bulking can be done as a recreational activity, to look better and in shape or as a competitive sport.

During the bulking phase, people are required to intentionally consume more calories than their body needs in a day. The process usually spans from 4-6 months, and all the extra calories, along with intensive strength training, help the body increase muscle size. An overview of research on bulking shows that the average calorie intake for a man during bulking is around 3800 calories per day, while for women, it is 3200 calories.

It may sound as if bulking is equivalent to indulging or overeating, but that is simply not the case. No bodybuilding expert tells you to give in to your cravings while you are bulking. Rather, you are told to consume the recommended amount of calories from foods that are nutritious and healthy. Just like any other well-balanced diet, the diet plans while bulking suggest you gather your energy from sources that include fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, dairy, nuts, legumes, oils, and nut butter. Similarly, the foods that are meant to be avoided include alcohol, refined and added sugars, fried foods, and other less nutritious food items. The idea behind bulking is not to give in to everything you feel like eating, rather making smart food choices and consuming the suggested calories from foods that are dense in nutrition.

Lastly, strength training is an integral part of bulking. You cannot allow yourself to eat excessive amounts of calories without training for it to turn into muscle mass. Hence, bulking is a combination of a highly nutritious diet and intensive strength training.

Can You Do Intermittent Fasting While Bulking?

This is where it all gets confusing for people who wish to do intermittent fasting while they are in the process of bulking. As numerous researches have proven the benefits of intermittent fasting, it is safe to say that this technique leads to a variety of healthy effects on the human body. Some of the benefits of intermittent fasting include a reduction in appetite that aids in weight loss, helps with improved insulin, increases the production of growth hormones, promotes autophagy, as well as less risk of muscle loss. As fascinating as it sounds, the established notion that intermittent fasting helps with weight loss makes it puzzling to figure out whether it can be a good option for those who are bulking.

Although there is this argument that intermittent fasting results in a reduction of appetite, which leads to weight loss, that certainly can be challenged with the help of more insightful knowledge into making the two (intermittent fasting and bulking) work together. It is important to know how intermittent fasting works while bulking because it actually goes well with it (not for everyone, I must add)! What basically happens is that during the feeding window of intermittent fasting, you consume the surplus calories that are required for bulking, whereas, during the fasting period, your body loses some of that fat that you gained during the feeding window. All in all, you do not gain extra fat due to the time restriction you have put on yourself during intermittent fasting.

Makes sense? Well, the idea behind this whole complex process is to make you understand that the idea of intermittent fasting while bulking is great if you don't want to go overboard with the gains of bulking. Intermittent fasting is a great tool to keep the fat gain in check and allows the body to gain muscle from bulking while keeping the fat gain restricted. Other than that, the technique itself does not assist in the process of bulking. It is, in fact, the other way around.

Intermittent Fasting Benefits While Bulking

Despite the fact that intermittent fasting does not assist in the bulking process itself, it certainly plays other roles that tend to be beneficial. For example,

  • Intermittent Fasting Produces More Growth Hormone

One of the popularly known benefits of intermittent fasting is that it helps in the promotion of growth hormones, an inevitable factor for men who want their bulking to work efficiently. For those who are bulking, intermittent fasting may not help you gain mass muscle, but it certainly is going to increase your growth hormones.

  • Provides Body with Nutrients

Another advantage of intermittent fasting that cannot be undermined is that it provides the body with nutrients before and after work out, which the body can use quite effectively for the gains. If you work out after your feeding window, the nutrition you get during the period is likely to help you in a more energetic workout session.

The downside of Intermittent Fasting While Bulking

Not that intermittent fasting is harmful, it may not be suitable for some, considering the effects it has on the following:

  • Hard to Reach Calorie Surplus Goal

You are likely to miss on the extra calories that you are required to eat while bulking if you do intermittent fasting unless you have a huge appetite and can easily consume the required calories within the feeding window.

  • Slows Down Muscle Growth

As compared to the traditional method of bulking while eating many meals a day, intermittent fasting while bulking slows down the process of muscle growth. So, if you are skinny and wish to gain muscle, intermittent fasting while bulking is certainly not the choice for you.

Things to Keep in Mind

For a lot of people, it is indeed a struggle when it comes to gaining weight and building muscle. In that case, intermittent fasting should be avoided because it does not allow that rapid increase in weight and muscle that other types of calorie intake methods do. The best it can do for you is to provide you with a lifestyle that is sustainable for a long period of time. It is a great option for those who are trying to stay lean while bulking whereas, for those who want to gain both weight and muscle, they need to have at least 5-6 meals per day so that they can consume the required calories their body needs in order to grow muscle and gain some extra pounds.

Final Verdict

While intermittent fasting has its share of benefits for people who are bulking, it is a great tool for a leaner body but does not work for everyone.

Research and studies conducted in the domain predict that doing intermittent fasting while bulking is not the best option for gaining muscle, especially for skinny people, primarily because it is meant for losing fat and weight, whereas bulking is all about gaining muscles and body weight.

Still, the benefits that it provides to the body while bulking cannot be ignored altogether. Intermittent fasting can be a great tool for those who wish to stay lean while bulking, a struggle for many.

Studies also assert that this technique of keeping the extra weight at bay combines well with bulking in case you are involved in intensive weight training along with highly nutritious calorie intake. In that case, your intermittent fasting may help you with maintaining muscle despite the loss of fat from the body.

In a nutshell, the research about doing intermittent fasting while bulking shows that it does not help the body in gaining mass or weight, but it does help those who wish to stay lean while they are bulking. It all comes down to the personal preference of those who wish to do intermittent fasting while bulking, but the rational advice is that skinny people should refrain, and those who have a hard time staying lean while bulking are good to go with intermittent fasting as their savior.


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