Guest Blog Post Written By: Alex Clewlow
Intermittent Fasting For Men: The 3 Areas To Focus On
Intermittent Fasting is an incredibly powerful fat loss system that works for both genders. Things such as fasting, low insulin, sleep optimization, sunlight, hydration etc. are critical for everyone looking to live a hormonally-healthy lifestyle.But when it comes to Intermittent Fasting for men, there are a few ‘focus areas’ that need to be highlighted, that differ from women.Women often have drastically different priorities and concerns.
Skincare routines are probably a higher priority. Their limiting belief set is often drastically different (usually in regards to pregnancy and hormonal changes changes later in life), to mens beliefs. Their hormonal fluctuations are going to be very different. So without further ado, let’s get into the male-perspective for Intermittent Fasting.
Alright, this one’s the big Daddy and potentially the most obvious one when it comes to Intermittent Fasting for men.
Now, this isn’t to say that more testosterone and less estrogen is ALWAYS better, because it’s not – you need the right balance. But testosterone is THE hormone that distinguishes you as a man. And the ‘more T, less E’ mantra is usually good advice for, perhaps, a whopping 90%+ of the male population.
If you’re overweight or obese, then it’s pretty safe to assume that there’s excess estrogen circulating in your system. This study for instance, found that even a 10cm (3.9 inches) increase in your waistline leads to a 75%(!) increase in your likelihood of having low testosterone.
And by the way, when doctors in the 21st century say “low testosterone”, they mean LOW. You’re often being compared to 80 year old men in the overall sample, and their definition of “low” means <350 total testosterone.
You need it to be >800 for optimal male health.
So the question naturally becomes “HOW do you increase testosterone levels with Intermittent Fasting?”
Fat loss, or specifically getting down to 15% body fat or lower, is your #1 priority. A 72 hour fast is a great way to get started with this, but you don’t have to approach it this way. If you do, make sure you do it properly.
Eliminating sugar is your next point of call, and this is something that will literally beneft the entirety of your existence, for the rest of your life. Testosterone, body fat %, energy levels, relationships, finances – everything.
If you can simply get into the habit of cooking all your meals from home, and prioritizing protein and healthy fats, you’re setting yourself (and your family) up for the rest of your lives.
But in addition to the body fat side of things, there are other methods you can utilize to increase testosterone..
Magnesium citrate is a very useful supplement that aids testosterone production AND sleep quality, so it’s almost a double-pronged testosterone-booster. Taking 200mg of this 30 minutes before bed is extremely helpful, and I highly recommend it as part of your routine.
Vitamin D3 is a critical core component of testosterone production, and it’s going to become even more crucial as time goes one. We live in a world of computers, robots and technology, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get adequate sunlight.
My suggestion is to build the habit of fasted morning walks, combined with a Vitamin D3 spray. Sprays tend to be superior in terms of quality and absorbtion.
Finally, you really want to be focusing on fatty fish for testosterone production. Foods like oysters, salmon, mackerel, sardines, shellfish, anchovies. Cynthia wrote a cracking article right here with more information.
Human Growth Hormone
Growth hormone is responsible for many anti-aging benefits, muscle growth, bone strength, and even fat loss. It’s a critical hormone that declines rather sharply once men are over the age of 40 or so.
So how do you combat this decline?
- Fasting for longer periods
Fasting for extended periods may or may not be a good idea for women, depending on various hormonal factors. Things like OMAD may cause more problems than it solves (although bio-individuality is huge here, and it really depends on the individual).
But with men? One meal a day appears to be incredibly effective, almost universally. This is especially true for Men Over 40.
When you’re only eating once a day, you’re automatically going to be fasting for over 23 hours, which is a hugely effective Intermittent Fasting schedule for growth hormone optimization.
Now, the main difficulty with an OMAD diet is getting enough protein in that one meal. You NEED protein for muscle mass (more on that coming), so you can’t be sacrificing this.
My suggestion is to have a large portion of meat or fish, and rotate these every single day so that you’re getting maximum nutrients and variety as part of your weekly diet. So this could be salmon & oysters one day, steak the next, liver the day after, and make sure you’re not eating the same thing all the time, as you’re opening yourself up to nutritional deficiencies doing that.
Sipping on a protein shake post-OMAD-meal may also be an effective strategy while you’re getting accustomed to this new fasting routine.
And you may be wondering about extended fasts and their impact upon growth hormone. Well, it’s good news – a well known study found a 300% increase in HGH (human growth hormone) levels after a three day fast, and it’s one of the key reasons as to why I recommend you do one every 1-2 months.
Your muscle mass not only looks good, but it also plays a crucial role in physical performance, hormonal health, your metabolism, anti-aging, and your overall sense of well-being.
This is true of women too, but I would argue that it’s even more important for men due to things like confidence, physical power, speed, testosterone, sex appeal etc., where some of these benefits tend to be more masculine.
Let me be really clear – women still need to lift. Holy crap it’s important.
But for men it’s EVEN MORE important.
So how exactly do you construct an Intermittent Fasting routine that maximises muscle gain and retention?
Possibly the biggest thing you can do, is to ensure that you’re not going super-low-carb every day. You need higher carb days.
I recommend jacking up your carbs significantly 1-3 times per week, and timing this with your most strenous, high volume training sessions (exceptions are if you’re really obese – stick to low carbs).
This will allow you to:
- Stay high energy
- Build more muscle
- Sleep better
- Increase your testosterone (or rather, stop it from declining due to high cortisol)
And that last point is arguably the most critical, and it’s something I’ve spoken about repeatedly for years at my own blog – low carbs for an extended period of time simply isn’t sustainable.
Cortisol is one of the main reasons why.
And cortisol will absolutely eat away at your muscle mass over time, which erodes your appearance AND your long-term health.
So when it comes to carbs, what foods should you eat?
Obviously you’ve got to be careful here, as there’s a whole industry that’s built upon highly processed carbs (garbage), and we want to be avoiding all that.
But there’s plenty of top-quality carbs that will lower your cortisol and increase muscle mass, especially when consumed post-workout, including:
- Boiled potatoes
- Jacket potatoes (great with some butter)
- Sweet potatoes (my favourite by far)
- Leafy greens
- Chia seeds
- Hemp heartsSo as you can see, there’s a nice long list of potential foods you can stock your kitchen with, and these are potentially the key to simultaneously gaining muscle AND losing fat (when you map out the weekly averages).
When planning out your Intermittent Fasting schedule, the three areas you need to focus on as a man are testosterone, growth hormone and muscle mass. Specifically preserving them, and then maximising them.
Fat loss, magnesium, vitamin D3 and fatty fish are all going to be incredibly helpful for this.
In regards to growth hormone, OMAD is often your best plan of attack, and a 72 hour fast or two may also be very useful. HIIT training is a useful tool too, perhaps 1-3 times per week (don’t want to overdo it with your central nervous system.)
Then with maximising your muscle mass, you want to be carb-cycling with high quality, high fiber carb sources – potatoes being my favourite.
If you like this article, you’ll love my Ultimate Guide To Intermittent Fasting – you can check it out here.