If you search the Internet looking for ways to cut body fat while increasing your testosterone levels, chances are you have stumbled upon intermittent fasting. Some people love it, some people don’t love it.
We’ve found intermittent fasting to be one of the most useful devices when dropping body fat while simultaneously increasing testosterone levels.
You should be a supporter of intermittent fasting and this post will explain WHY. But first, let’s start with the basics.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
It has an extremely self-explanatory name. Intermittent fasting simply involves taking short periods of time to abstain from consuming calories.
There are different methods to the madness, but that is the basic idea behind it. Short fasts that can have amazing effects on your health. During the fasts, you may consume non-caloric beverages; this doesn’t break the fast. Drinks such as water and coffee are okay while your in a fasting period.
No negative effects should be encountered as long as no caloric foods or liquids are consumed during the fasting period.
If you think about it, fasting is already a bodily reaction to stay healthy. When a human or animal gets sick, or is in a time of healing, appetite diminishes. Fasting has been used for centuries as a medicinal exercise.
Does intermittent fasting raise testosterone?
In the scope of testosterone, it carries with it the benefits of increasing testosterone naturally while also shedding body fat.
They secret to the success of intermittent fasting is because it provides a means to decreasing body fat through a caloric deficit, while also not having the negative hormonal side effects that usually accompany a caloric deficit.
Intermittent fasting makes body recomposition more seamless during a caloric deficit, influencing the expression of GnRH, LH, insulin, and leptin to boost testosterone levels.
Why Keep the Fasts Short?
Many people ask this question about intermittent fasting. Why not just fast for 24-48 hours so you take in NO calories at all? Won’t I burn more fat that way? The answer to this question is simple: fat loss is just as hormonal as testosterone increase.
Studies show that during fasts of 24-48 hours, testosterone levels drop while cortisol levels rise. Naturally, most humans will have an acute stress response to the lack of feeding during this period.
This is why we suggest fasts of under 24 hours, because there are actual benefits, and your body will likely avoid the acute stress response.
The results can be seen in studies on both obese and non-obese men. In obese men, one study showed that short-term fasting (overnight) causes an increase in LH production. The same study was conducted on non-obese men, and the results were much more pronounced. The non-obese men after just an overnight fast saw an increase in LH of 67% and a 180% increase in testosterone.
The difference between obese and non-obese men makes sense because the levels of cortisol, estrogen, and insulin will be higher in obese men which will inhibit testosterone production. But if you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you already know that ☺.
As you can see, short-term fasts have an immediate effect on your endocrine system; however, spikes are not permanent. In order to see a positive effect on your overall testosterone levels, you should take part in regular daily intermittent fasts.
Personal Experience with Intermittent Fasting
You can start intermittent fasting without even realizing it. Don’t really care for eating breakfast? Do you skip it on an almost daily basis? That’s intermittent fasting!
If you get the chance, you should read Martin Berkhan’s work, in which he outlines why breakfast is not physiologically necessary. It turns out that breakfast is simply a socially expected ritual, not something that we actually need. Once you start thinking of skipping breakfast as part of your diet, it becomes a whole lot easier.
Martin wrote an article on Leangains.com entitled “Why Does Breakfast Make Me Hungry?” It’s worth checking out. In it, he talks about how most semi-fit individuals experience hunger soon after eating breakfast, making it harder to diet.
Skipping breakfast is preferable for your diet adherence AND your hormonal functioning. When you wake up every morning, your body will experience a spike in cortisol to wake you up. When you consume food, your insulin will also spike.
In fit individuals, the cortisol spike coupled with an insulin spike in higher insulin sensitivity, will cause a drop in blood glucose after you are done eating. This will trigger hunger, even though your stomach is full of food. So by mid-morning you will be hungry again and looking to take in even more calories, making your diet that much harder.
If you skip breakfast, you will therefore be skipping the possible caloric intake of two meals, which will have beneficial effects on your hormones.
Intermittent Fasting and Leptin
The hormone leptin has been shown to be inversely proportional to testosterone levels as well as BMI in men. The good news is leptin is effectively regulated by intermittent fasting.
Leptin is known for its role in regulation of appetite, energy balance, and energy stores in the reproductive system. It is secreted by the fat cells and plays a role in reducing food intake and increasing energy expenditure.
Due to the inverse relationship between testosterone and leptin, men have significantly lower leptin levels than women. This suggests that gonadal steroid hormones may be potent regulators of leptin levels.
In short, more leptin is produced the more body fat you have. The more body fat and leptin you have, the lower your testosterone levels will be. Testosterone, leptin, and body fat levels are all intricately connected in a weird three-way seesaw.
So what does all that mean about the relationship that exists between intermittent fasting and testosterone? When you intermittent fast and leptin levels are regulated, you should see an increase in testosterone, which will in turn cause a decrease in body fat.
During a short-term fast, leptin also has less power over the regulation of epinephrine and norepinephrine, which has positive implications on fat loss.
Intermittent Fasting and Adiponectin
Adiponectin is another hormone that is affected by intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting increases levels of adiponectin, which is inversely correlated with body fat levels. During a fast, the spike in adiponectin will improve insulin sensitivity.
This means that the body will have to produce less insulin in order to function, so your body fat will shed.
Three Intermittent Fasting Methods
Although there are many methods to going about intermittent fasting, here’s an outline of three methods also outlined in the TestShock program.
1. The Leangains Method
This is Martin Berkhan’s method of intermittent fasting and is probably the most popular in the fitness world. Martin has backed it with research and it has had outstanding effects on both clients and himself.
The Leangains style of intermittent fasting is designed to maintain low body fat while training. It revolves around a 16/8 eating schedule. This means 16 hours of fasting a day and eating during the other 8 hours.
Of course, as with any of these methods, make sure the food you are eating during the eating period is food that will work with you to increase your testosterone.
2. The Eat Stop Eat Method
This method is from Brad Pilon, who promotes flexible dieting and using intermittent fasting as a tool to reach lower body fat less easily.
In short, the Eat Stop Eat Method involves two 24-hour fasts per week as metabolic resets and fat-burning stimuli.
So if you tried the Eat Stop Eat Method, you could spread out your fasts and not eat anything on Wednesday and Saturday. This style would have to fit your personality and work schedule, so it will not be for everybody, but it delivers quick results.
3. The Just Skip Breakfast Method
This is the easiest method. Many people can do this without even thinking. Just skip breakfast; that’s all. Have lunch around 1pm, dinner around 7pm, and then fast from 7pm to 1pm the next afternoon.
If you think about it, this is very similar to the Leangains 16/8 method, but it seems easier to follow because you don’t have to think about it too much.
Try out all three methods at some point and see which one gives you better results and fits into your schedule. Do not let your diet cause you much stress, because increased cortisol levels will inhibit testosterone production and keep you from seeing any real results.