The Ugly Side of Intermittent Fasting

June 2, 2021

About the Author: Eric Bach

Intermittent fasting is great for fat loss. But it sucks for muscle growth. 

Intermittent fasting for muscle growth is like trying to get rich while working 2 hours per day and not tracking expenses. Could it happen? Sure. Is it likely? No.

Intermittent fasting is so effective for fat loss because it allows you to eat at a calorie deficit while still enjoying many of your favorite foods. By restricting when you eat, it’s harder to overeat.

When it comes to building muscle, the crucial for gaining size is to eat a surplus of calories and protein to stimulate muscle growth.

See the issue here?

The mechanisms that make fasting so powerful for fat loss make it harder to do the most essential thing required to build lean muscle: Eating enough calories to grow.

My advice? Intermittent fasting is great for losing fat and maintaining leanness. But it takes an already difficult task, building lean muscle, and makes it harder. 

Intermittent fasting can help control mindless overeating.

How many times have you found yourself elbow deep in a bag of Doritos before you realize you’re eating out of boredom? Maybe I’m a glutton, but I’ve had my share.

Intermittent fasting helps reduce mindless overeating by limiting the duration in which you eat. When you stick to your eating window, it’s hard to mess up. And when you do get the chance to eat, you’re going to enjoy it more and be present with the process.

Intermittent fasting helps rewire some of your hunger hormones, namely, ghrelin. 

Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and increases when your stomach is empty–such as during a fast. 

The less food you eat, the less ghrelin your body produces. The more food you eat, the more ghrelin your body makes. This is why you can devour food for 2-3 days on a long weekend, then battle ravenous hunger when trying to get back on track–you’ve dun’fucked up ya ghrelin.

Here’s the good news: your body adapts to when you eat. It can take 5-7 days, but the hunger pangs you feel at the beginning of a diet (especially with fasting) will wither away. You’ll develop better control over when you eat, why you eat and learn the difference between mental and physical hunger.

So, what’s the downside?

If you follow an IF diet, then stop… you may get hooked on gorging yourself with large meals.

I’ve seen my share of people fall into binge eating tendencies with intermittent fasting. This is made worse if you transition to a diet where you’re eating earlier in the day again–you still eat a massive meal at night and blow through your calories.

Other times I’ve seen people devour junk food because of the built-in flexibility IF provides. It’s crucial to eat many fruits, vegetables, quality dead animal flesh, and minimally processed foods both for your health and physique.

If you find fasting leads you to binge and reach for unhealthy choices because of the flexibility it provides, I’d steer clear.

Intermittent fasting can reduce stress.

But it can also increase stress. 

Why the double-edged sword?

IF can reduce food stress because you don’t need to think about eating every few hours or waste time meal prepping. When you don’t need to make decisions regarding food, it’s naturally easier to make fewer bad decisions.

If you’re incredibly busy and run out of time to make meals and don’t use a meal delivery service, intermittent fasting makes it harder to “mess up” your diet. This itself is one of the key reasons I recommend fasting to many of my busiest clients.


If you get leaner with IF, there’s a good chance testosterone levels increase and cortisol, your primary stress hormone, decreases.

Heck, there’s evidence that shows an increase of dopamine and brain-derived neurotrophic factors in the brain with fasting.

But it’s still a slippery slope.

Consider how stressed out most people are. Beyond the shit-show of 2020 and the calamity that’s ensured people have been sleeping less, experiencing more mental illnesses, and reporting sky-high stress levels for years.

Now let’s add in the diet factors:

  • Going for prolonged periods without food is a stressor on the body.
  • Eating at a calorie deficit/dieting for fat loss is a stressor on the body.
  • So is eating at a calorie deficit/ dieting for fat loss… and this is what most people use it intermittent fasting to do.
  • If you stay in an aggressive diet too long, especially with fasting, your anxiety levels will rise, and your sleep quality will plummet.

The point being, if you’re someone who’s already incredibly stressed, intermittent fasting for fat loss may be another unnecessary stressor that makes existing problems worse.

So, what’s the wrap on intermittent fasting?

Whether fasting is the best diet strategy for you comes down to you, your stress levels, and your goals.

Fasting is great for some people in some circumstances.

It’s also a poor option for some people in some circumstances.

Intermittent fasting, just like KETO, eating six meals per day, and the Zone Diet is a tool.

And like any tool, some tools are a perfect fit for the job while others aren’t.

You wouldn’t try to screw a nail into a piece of wood. You would use a hammer.

When it comes to your health, you need the right tool for the job. Every tool at your disposal has tradeoffs. And it’s up to you to decide which tradeoffs are worth it.

If you’re looking for more information on whether intermittent fasting is the right strategy for you, grab your free Intermittent Fasting Guide for Free. Grab it here: Intermittent Fasting Guide


  1. Shane K McLean June 2, 2021 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    Great stuff coach. Spot on.

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