By Andrew Beatty
Why can’t you build muscle? Seriously, why is it so damn hard? Do you feel like banging your head against a brick wall when you see how little you’ve progressed each year? I can tell you this; I was the same. I once thought this. Why, oh why do I dedicate my life to something but still not look like that guy. Are you jealous of those guys that seem to do nothing but still look jacked? Don’t be, if you work for it you’ll respect it more. Those lucky guys are just genetic mutations. Do NOT do as they do, it won’t work for you.
Here’s the reason most people can’t build muscle quickly, or why most people tend to get fat when they try to build muscle. Forget the myth of bulking and cutting. That was made up so that you can feel comfortable in yourself when you get fat. To build muscle OR to burn fat you need to be highly insulin sensitive. Don’t know what that is? No problem I’m going to tell you.
Insulin is your body’s storage hormone. When you eat, all food is broken down and causes some spike in your blood sugar levels. Now, it goes without saying you have to get that sugar out of your blood to stay healthy, let alone build muscle or burn fat. This is where insulin comes in. Insulin takes the sugar from your blood and distributes it throughout your body. Now ideally it’s going to take the sugar straight to your muscles cells, but it doesn’t always work so easily I’m afraid.
Unless your body needs that sugar it isn’t going to serve it up as muscle. You’re more likely to store it as fat. This is where insulin sensitivity kicks in and becomes very important for your muscle-building quest. The more sugar you give your body the more often you have to secrete insulin. The more often you’ve got insulin in your blood the more resistant you become to the effects of insulin. Yep, that means you’re becoming more insulin resistant. This is a bad thing, a very bad thing. Insulin resistance means slow muscle gain and a lot of fat gain.
How To Overcome Insulin Resistance To Build Muscle & Burn Fat Fast
This is so simple. Think about the life of a bodybuilder. They spend months and months dieting coming up to a show, right? Afterwards they feel so depleted they literally eat everything in sight. Now you would think that they are likely to add some extra fat to their bones. In actual fact, by and large bodybuilders will continue to work out in the aftermath of their show, but they’ll take advantage of a huge boost in calories to pack on new rock solid muscle.
Here’s how it works; dieting for an extended period of time boosts your insulin sensitivity. For the most part, when dieting you keep carbs low. Carbs cause the biggest spike in blood sugar and in turn blood insulin compared to any other food type. It only makes sense then that when keeping carbs low you will become more receptive to the effects of insulin as you haven’t been bombarding your body with it day and day out. This helps bodybuilders pack on new, lean muscle quickly because the extra food when combined with proper workouts will be pumped directly into their muscle cells.
It all comes down to insulin. Insulin must be your best friend. Make friends with it, take care of it and it will give you the body you deserve. Are you friends with insulin? If not you better do your damndest to fix that problem.
So we know that the best time to build lean muscle is when you are most insulin sensitive, which by and large comes after a period of extended dieting. So that’s exactly what you’re going to do, you’re going to make yourself insulin sensitive by dieting. Are you almost tearing your eyes out reading that? You want to build a ton of muscle and this lunatic Irish man thinks you should eat less. Yes, that’s exactly what you need to do. You’ve got two options.
Muscle Building Option #1 – Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting does not burn muscle. Let’s just address that from the get go. If you’re eating right throughout the week and you incorporate a day of intelligent intermittent fasting then there is no way that you will burn muscle. I know how hard it is to build muscle, I’m not about to tell you to sacrifice all that. It turns out that intermittent fasting can have a profound effect on your body hormonally. I’ll talk about the individual hormones in another article but for now just know that intermittent fasting has been shown to have positive effects on testosterone (what man doesn’t want this), growth hormone, insulin, ghrelin and leptin. Every one of these plays a major role in your quest to build muscle and burn fat fast. To revert back to our old friend insulin, intermittent fasting will help you become more insulin sensitive because you are giving your body and organs a break. For probably the first time ever you won’t have a constant flood of insulin in your blood. Remember, if you’ve got insulin in your blood the ONLY thing that you’ll be doing is BUILDING FAT. It’s impossible to burn fat if insulin is in your blood. And if you’ve got insulin in your blood for extended periods of time it won’t be working in your favor; it will take all the energy from what you’re eating, store it in your liver and most certainly lead to a ton of spillage, leading to fat gain.
I recommend experimenting with 36 hour fasting and/or 16/8 fasting. A 36-hour fast will be done on a non-training day. Let’s take Monday as your fast day. You would stop eating on Sunday night and fast until Tuesday morning. Is it difficult? At first, yes. But you grow accustomed to it pretty quickly.
If you choose to try 16/8 fasting you will be fasting for 16 of the 24 hours in the day and fast for 8 of those hours. This is a short eating window but it can be highly beneficial to improving insulin sensitivity and in turn helping you to build pounds of new muscle.
Muscle Building Option #2 – Intermittent Dieting
I like this option. You are going to use short periods of ‘dieting’ followed by longer periods of muscle building. For example, you will cut your calories to approx. 3-500 below maintenance for a period of 7-10 days. You will workout as normal but add cardio or high intensity interval training each day. After 7-10 days, you are going to cut cardio completely and bump up your calories to approx. 20 per pound of bodyweight. Here’s how it works. During your initial period of 7-10 days you will have built up a good amount on insulin sensitivity, in addition to depleting your body. The next periods of 21 days is a time to replenish your muscles by way of your new best friend, insulin. Insulin is going to pump all the food directly into your muscles cells as a thank you for giving it a break for 7-10 days.
It really is that easy. Don’t over complicate muscle building. Refuse to ‘bulk up.’ It’s a cop out. You want to look GOOD. You want people to know you workout and you want them to respect your efforts. Don’t let yourself down by gaining a ton of fat that will conceal all your hard work. Make friends with your hormones, especially insulin and you’ll be rewarded.
P.s. Enjoy your new muscle.