A 35-year-old man submitted an average day’s eating for Insider’s Nutrition Clinic to review.
He told Insider that he does intermittent fasting but struggles to gain muscle.
A nutritionist says eating more regularly will help her get enough protein and overall calories to reach her goal.
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The advice in this article is not a substitute for professional medical diagnosis or treatment.
Joseph, 35, submitted his eating routine to Insider’s Nutrition Clinic, where trained dietitians and nutritionists offer advice on readers’ eating habits.
He told Insider his goal is to “gain lean muscle mass” and he lifts weights 4-5 days a week.
Joseph said he lost 77 pounds through intermittent fasting and kept 66 pounds off for over a year, but struggled to gain muscle.
Nutritionist and personal trainer Becs Sandwith told Insider that weight loss happens because of a calorie deficit, not the fast itself.
She suggests Joseph consider whether he actually likes intermittent fasting, because if he doesn’t, it might be easier to reach his goals by eating in a larger daily window.
Joseph takes his first meal at noon
Joseph fasts for 16 to 18 hours each day, then eats a “big lunch” of rice, a source of protein, and beans at noon.
Sandwith said Joseph was training the right way, but if he was training on an empty stomach (meaning before he had eaten anything) and a few hours before his first meal of the day , its performance and progress will be limited.
“Joseph should consume a meal before the workout, as well as another meal as soon as possible afterwards,” she said.
To build muscle, Joseph needs to make sure he’s no longer in a calorie deficit, Sandwith said. When the body does not have enough energy, it draws on muscle reserves, which Joseph wants to avoid.
“On the other hand, if we increase calories too much too quickly, we risk not only gaining muscle mass, but also gaining unwanted extra body fat,” Sandwith said. “Joseph is trying to keep the weight he lost before, so the process can’t be rushed, and he has to make sure he’s eating the right amount of calories each day.”
Joseph has dinner at 6 p.m.
For dinner, Joseph eats a “varied meal” that includes protein and carbohydrates at 6:00 p.m.
Sandwith said it’s good that he eats protein at every meal, but he may not be getting enough.
Joseph should make sure he eats protein throughout the day, which is optimal for muscle growth, she said. According to Sandwith, fasting for less could also help him get the nutrients he needs.
Eating enough carbohydrates and fats is also important to ensure the body doesn’t break down muscle for energy, she said.
Eating more regularly would promote muscle growth
Sandwith recommends that Joseph eat more regularly to promote muscle protein synthesis (growth) and reduce muscle protein breakdown (loss).
Eating meals spread out throughout the day can help ensure he’s getting enough calories and staying in a positive protein balance, she said.
“It’s also important to note that the body can only digest a certain amount in one sitting, which is why smaller meals, spread out more frequently throughout the day, rather than Joseph’s current diet consisting of of just two big meals, can help him achieve his goal,” Sandwith said.
To build muscle, Sandwith recommends having a trained nutritionist help you personally calculate Joseph’s calorie goal to make sure he’s eating enough overall.
Read the original Insider article