Athlean-X, one of the most popular fitness YouTube channels, with over 10 million subscribers, dominates the fitness airwaves by giving science-backed advice on how to lose body fat and gain muscle.
But the ripped founder, Jeff Cavaliere, made a video against intermittent fasting, one of the most popular dieting protocols used by thousands every day as a tool for losing body fat.
Other fitness experts claim intermittent fasting is the one fat loss tool you’re not using that could take your body to the next level.
Are fitness experts spouting pseudo-science to ride the wave of popularity?
Or is the Athlean-X opinion on intermittent fasting wrong?
Does Intermittent Fasting KILL MUSCLE?
In this video, Jeff Cavaliere, explains how he categorizes intermittent fasting, and whether he thinks it helps or hurts your ability to build muscle.
What Is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
Before we go into Jeff Cavaliere’s opinions expressed in the video, let’s first define what Intermittent fasting (IF) is…
To put simply, IF is an eating protocol that dictates WHEN someone should consume their daily calories. There are no restrictions on WHAT foods should be eaten nor are there restrictions on the QUANTITY.
Essentially, IF is a protocol that governs eating frequency and timing with the most common setup being 16/8. This setup requires you to fast for 16 hours (the majority of that being asleep) and then consume your daily calories in an 8-hour eating window.
The benefits to IF include:
- More mental alertness during the fasted period
- Simpler meal planning
- Diminished hunger cravings
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Is Intermittent Fasting A Long Term Solution For Muscle Gain?
There are a few takeaways from Athlean-X’s video.
First, Cavaliere suggests that intermittent fasting is a “fad diet” and should be put into the same group with other diets like:
- Juice diets
- Atkins low carb
- No fat
- If it fits your macros (IIFYM)
Second, any type of eating that you would refer to as a “diet” isn’t sustainable (and isn’t meant to be). Jeff suggests that using the word “diet” inherently means to apply a certain eating method for a limited amount of time.
This leads him to pose a question – Could you follow intermittent fasting for 30 years?
According to Jeff, eating for the purpose of building muscle should revolve around methods and strategies that you can sustain for the rest of your life.
It makes sense, but I don’t completely agree with his points.
Other Fitness Experts That Support Intermittent Fasting
Jeff is recognized as a professional in the fitness industry, but not every expert shares his opinion on intermittent fasting.
Brad Pilon, a Canadian author with a degree in Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences is a huge advocate of IF. Basically his personal brand and nutritional recommendations all revolve around this protocol in addition to his popular book, Eat Stop Eat.
Martin Berkhan who regards himself as the godfather of IF has a bachelor’s degree in Medical Sciences and Education (and I believe some additional schooling in Public Health Sciences) is regarded as a leading authority on the combination of IF with building muscle and strength.
Keith Lai, a fitness coach with over 10 years experience, and creator of the Superhero X12 System, recognizes IF as not any sort of magic pill, but still another effective tool to keep on your tool belt.
Intermittent Fasting Vs Athlean-X Nutrition
So, what are the major differences between intermittent fasting and nutrition that’s taught in Athlean-X’s courses and programs?
Well, the most obvious difference is meal-timing and flexibility.
By definition, intermittent fasting imposes restrictions on when you can consume calories, but Jeff Cavaliere dislikes this type of nutritional rigidity.
Jeff’s basic Athlean-X nutritional guidelines consist of:
- Cutting out most of your junk food and substituting with things you can live with
- Eating SOME junk so you’re not forced to live with cravings
- Basing your intake around foods that are actually good for you
- Eating as many meals as necessary
- Making your nutrition as pain-free as possible
Intermittent fasting on the other hand, uses rigidity on meal timing to control hunger cravings.
For example, I’m the type of person that when I start eating, it’s difficult for me to stop. That’s why I actually LIKE intermittent fasting, because often the best solution for me is to completely skip a meal instead of running the risk of overeating in the first place.
Using Intermittent Fasting If You Have 15-20% Body Fat
Athlean-X mentions specifically that for a guy with 15-20% total body fat, fad diets like intermittent fasting still shouldn’t be the solution.
Instead, your overall focus should simply be to eat healthier.
Jeff Cavaliere Using Supplements For Convenience
One of the benefits of IF is its contribution to convenience. When you’re skipping entire meals, your life becomes a little simpler instantly.
- There are fewer meals to cook
- There are fewer groceries to buy
- Overall, there are fewer things to worry about
Jeff combats this benefit by saying that not eating is more of a symptom of poor planning.
He refers to a trip he took to Las Vegas in which he didn’t have access to nutritious food, so he opted to consume simple protein powder during the day to make sure he reached his daily macronutrient targets.
Simple, yet effective.
Keeping Yourself Accountable
Overall, the Athlean-X opinion in this video is to form an eating plan that can work for the long term and keeps you accountable to what you actually eat.
Cavaliere shares an interesting story exploring this idea when he talks about consultations with guys who say, “I just can’t lose weight no matter what I do”
Jeff claims he gives the same response to this type of complaint each time he hears it…
Write down everything you eat in an entire week and turn that paper into me when you’re done.
He goes on to say that out of the 1000 or so times he’s given this request, he’s actually received the client’s paperwork two times.
Why? He says it’s because once someone pays attention to what they put in their mouth, it becomes so obvious why they’re not losing weight that they don’t even need to continue their denial.
Do I Agree With Athlean-X And His Opinion On Intermittent Fasting?
After hearing Jeff Cavaliere’s opinion on intermittent fasting, do I agree with him?
No. Here’s why…
First of all, like I said earlier, intermittent fasting is an eating protocol, not a diet. That’s why I don’t think IF should be grouped with fad diets like juice diets or Atkins.
Technically, you can eat whatever you want when doing IF as long as you follow the eating windows.
I should also say that I’m not an IF extremist. While I follow the general principles of IF, I have cream in my coffee in the morning, and often eat past 8PM at night. This breaks both of the major rules of fasting and feeding according to the protocol.
However, I do follow the general concepts of consuming 99% of my calories in a single eating window and make snacking almost non-existent.
Why do I do this?
- I think it’s easily sustainable. I’ve been doing it for over 6 years without problems and it’s easily been the best tool for controlling my hunger.
- I have more mental alertness in the morning since I’m not running on pancakes or cereal calories.
- I hate making breakfast.
I will make it clear that intermittent fasting and bulking generally don’t work well together.
All that being said, Athlean-X obviously has some great points about nutrition that I would be stupid to disagree with.
First, good nutrition is more important than IF. If I ate a bunch of garbage, but followed the 16/8 IF protocol religiously, this would be worthless.
You have to eat food that supports your goals no matter what other eating tools you’re using. If you’re not consuming what your body actually needs to build and maintain muscle, no amount of dieting trickery will help.
Second, a long-term solution should always be your nutritional goal. It doesn’t matter if it’s IF or something else. You shouldn’t attempt an eating plan if you don’t think you can stick to it for a VERY long time.
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