I’m sure you already know, but mountainous activities and exercise can be a rigorous challenge demanding the most out of even the fittest individuals. For athletes that operate in the mountains, they tend to have a lean yet toned body composition. This is due in part to lower oxygen concentrations (meaning the body has to work harder for the same amount of work) and in part to the duration of the activity (many of these sports are done in more remote environments).
But what about when they aren’t in the mountains? What happens for those athletes who aren’t regularly able to get to higher elevations for training but still want to stay competitive? How about those of us who can’t get out every day but want to have solid body composition so we can enjoy ourselves when we do get to go?
Based upon my research into this matter, intermittent fasting may be just the edge we’ve been looking for. Ultimately, we want to have a low % of body fat but with the ability to retain muscle mass. As it’s been spouted for years, having lean muscle mass not only gives you a more athletic figure, but also improves your overall health and performance. Lean and mean is how I like to put it.
The two key factors as to why you should start intermittent fasting are found in the forms of Growth Hormone and Insulin. Whenever you fast, even in terms of daily activities, your body will trigger the growth hormone. This is the most essential hormone in terms of fat loss as it helps your body regulate metabolism, build lean muscle mass, and prevent aging. Insulin on the other hand, will completely block growth hormone in terms of you metabolizing stored fat – meaning in the presence of insulin you cannot lose weight (save for net calorie deficiency, but that’s for another day).
So, why should these be a factor in terms of how often you eat? Well, as it turns out every time you eat (not just when you’re putting away carbs) your body sends a signal to produce insulin. If you eat 3 meals throughout the day and have snacks periodically in between, the only time your body won’t be triggering insulin production is when your asleep. Say you get 8 hours of sleep, and you eat as soon as you wake – that’s 16 hours of insulin impeding on your ability to metabolize stored fat.
When we eat, our body is triggered to block burning our stored fat as energy. Historically, our ancestors didn’t know where their next meal came from – so when they did have food, it was important that it be burned for energy to create stores for future periods of food drought (for lack of a better word). It wasn’t until the implementation of farming and the agriculture boom that we’ve had such an abundance of food, so in a sense fasting is ‘natural.’
How should your intermittent fast work? Well, from what I’ve found there are two primary periods in which people have experienced the best results. Those are the 16/8 and 20/4 splits. The first number is the hours you fast and the second is the hours you eat (tough right haha). For example, say you wake up at 6 am and eat at 8 am. If you’re on the 16/8 split, you need to be finished eating for the day at 4 pm. I get it – cutting yourself off of food at 4pm may be a bit of a long shot and difficult, but the benefits well outweigh the former. As an added note, you will still gain or loose weight if you have excess or are deficient in basic caloric needs.
In case you wanted a quick recap.
– Intermittent fasting allows growth hormone to metabolize stored fat.
– Every time you eat, regardless of what, your body produces insulin and your fat-burning ability is stopped
– The two primary types intervals for intermittent fasting are 16 / 8 and 20 / 4 hour splits for fasting/eating respectively
If you’re like most workers (9-5 workweek and weekends off), I think you’ll find intermittent fasting as a useful tool to help maintain a lean and mean figure. That way, you can go out and enjoy your weekends knowing you don’t have the added bodyweight weighing you down!
If you made it this far, thanks for reading the article! I appreciate you spending your time here and want this info to be of the most use possible. That being said, please leave a comment down below letting me know where I can improve or what you find most useful. Thanks!
*As a special note, I am neither a doctor nor certified specialist, just someone who’s looking to achieve the best bang for my buck when I get out to the mountains. Therefore, be sure to contact your doctor/physician before undertaking any new diet or training regiment, especially if you have any previously diagnosed medical problems.*