Can Intermittent Fasting Lead to Muscle Loss?
Posted on Jun 02, 2021

There are a lot of popular fad diets going around. One of the most recently popular ones is intermittent fasting. It has been around for many years.

There have even been some studies trials looking at the effectiveness of IF.

But is it a good option for weight loss? Recent evidence does not show promising results.

Later, we will discuss the evidence in favor of intermittent fasting.


Intermittent fasting is a diet that involves only eating during a specific timeframe. The most popular version is the 16:8 that involves 16 hours of fasting and an 8-hour timeframe to eat. Most doing the 16:8 fast will set their eating period to happen between the hours of 12 pm and 8 pm.

There are no hard and fast rules limiting the types of food eaten during those 8 hours.

There is a school of thought, with a lot of great evidence behind it, that limiting eating to a natural circadian rhythm is the true key to better health.

For example, all food intake should be early in the day from about 7AM to about 3PM.

This diet runs on the fact that your body should enter a fasting state that can boost metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and fat burning.

Going through these long periods of fasting forces the body to release more sugar from your cells for energy.

There are a number of other significant health benefits of entering a fast beyond simple weight loss. These will be discussed in a later blog.


Let’s discuss a recent study that discounts the effectiveness of intermittent fasting.

Ethan J. Weiss, MD at the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of California ran the study with 105 participants split into two groups.

One group was given a 16:8 fasting schedule and the other group was told to eat 3 meals a day from 7 am to 11 pm.

Neither group was told what to eat or how to exercise, only that the study was for weight loss.

Participants weighed themselves for 12 weeks following their instructions.


At the end of the study, Dr. Weiss did not observe a “big difference” in weight loss between the two groups.

There were also no significant differences in the extra measurements taken from the 46 participants.

However, Dr. Weiss did observe that the weight lost from the intermittent fasting group was mostly muscle mass, not fat loss.

It is hard to say for certain the main cause of this muscle loss because a food and exercise log was not taken during the study, but it can be interpreted that intermittent fasting has a higher chance of leading to muscle loss over a “regular” diet.

To be certain further studies will need to be conducted.


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