There is genuinely a countless number of diets and dieting strategies in the modern era. We’ve seen new “fad” diets pop up each year to take center stage while some new research and scientific findings will also unearth some very viable and even optimal diet strategies depending on individual needs and goals.
When it comes to an ectomorph though, the mantra has always been the same:
“Eat big to get big”
Ectomorphs are tarnished with the tag that it’s difficult to build muscle and the term hardgainer is used so frequently that it’s basically lost all meaning. I’ve seen people with 20%+ body fat claim to be hardgainers!
This mentality means ectomorphs are often restricted by diet choice either due to badly informed advice or the general guideline of eating everything you can, usually resulting in a dirty bulk or rushed bulking phase.
For those looking to try a different strategy, a question is often asked which is – can ectomorphs do intermittent fasting?
Read on to see if this is a viable dieting strategy for an ectomorph or if the thought of fasting in any capacity will likely make it impossible to build muscle or develop a physique.
Table of Contents
What Is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a popular dieting strategy that is used to control calorie consumption. Intermittent fasting is a form of calorie restriction dieting and is a popular strategy used by those on a cutting phase to lose excess body fat.
The strategy is very straightforward to follow with intermittent fasting. When doing intermittent fasting, you can only consume calories during a predetermined period of time (or window) each day. Commons splits include 18/6, 16/8, or 14/10 with the first number being the time spent fasting and the second number is the window in which you can consume food.
There is not a restriction on how many calories you need to consume but due to the restricted time period that you can consume food, it’s often a diet used when cutting and trying to lose body fat or maintain weight (prevent gaining it).
Source for further reading on intermittent fasting – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide
Intermittent Fasting Benefits
As a dieting strategy, intermittent fasting has a number of benefits which include:
- Insulin levels drop to improve fat burning
- Increases human growth hormone levels to facilitate fat loss and muscle growth
- Reduces Insulin resistance
- Improves cellular repair
- People following this diet see a reduction in weight and visceral fat
Can Ectomorphs Do Intermittent Fasting
Ectomorphs can do intermittent fasting, however, it will not be the optimal strategy for ectomorphs trying to build lean muscle mass. Intermittent fasting is best used for fat loss instead of muscle gain which most ectomorphs are pursuing.
When it comes to a dieting strategy, anyone can theoretically follow a diet plan and see results. They might not be the results that you expect or even want but if you follow a diet plan properly, you’ll see some form of result.
The issue with an ectomorph is that their characteristics include:
- Low levels of body fat
- Little muscle mass
- Difficulty gaining weight
Intermittent fasting is a diet that is best utilized for minimizing calorie consumption to promote fat loss. For this reason, intermittent fasting is a diet best utilized by Endomorphs.
While ectomorphs can do intermittent fasting, the purpose of the diet isn’t necessarily aligned with the aims or goals that most ectomorphs are striving for – which is muscle growth.
Does Body Type Matter When Intermittent Fasting
I always say that there is no such thing as a true body type. Most people will have characteristics of all body types and you should only use body types as a general guide to assist with diet or training choices.
Therefore, I think the reverse is true when it comes to intermittent fasting. The body type doesn’t matter for intermittent fasting but body composition certainly does!
Intermittent fasting is best used by people that have a high body fat percentage (18% or more), have poor insulin sensitivity, struggle to control calorie consumption, want to lose weight…
There are exceptions but intermittent fasting is best used for weight management or fat loss and for this reason, Endomorphs tend to see the most benefit.
Ectomorph Intermittent Fasting Pros
In my opinion, there are fewer benefits for an ectomorph doing intermittent fasting than another body type (like an endomorph struggling with insulin resistance).
Having said that, there are still some benefits that ectomorphs can get from intermittent fasting.
Helps Restrict Unnecessary Fat Gain
Ectomorphs tend to spend the majority of their dieting period in a bulking phase. This means calorie consumption is consistently in a surplus (above what is needed to maintain weight) and with that, you run the risk of excessive fat gain.
To optimally build muscle mass, you need a sufficient supply of calories to fuel training sessions and aid recovery. With that, the more calories consumed do not all directly correlate with muscle growth and in the process, you will gain body fat!
Managing this will not only improve your efficiency of building muscle mass but will also ensure you look better in the process. As intermittent fasting restricts the window in which you can consume calories, it makes it more difficult to over-eat, and in the process, you’ll minimize excess fat gain – though not eliminate it.
Bulking is hard when it comes to consistently eating in a calorie surplus, especially if you don’t have a particularly large appetite. There are a number of hacks to make it easier like liquid calories (shakes) or consuming more calorie-dense foods, but they only help rather than act as a solution.
Related – how to bulk with a low appetite
Going long periods without food will therefore increase your appetite during the times that you do eat. This means that intermittent fasting could help an ectomorph improve their appetite and consume more despite the foundational impact to be consuming less for most people.
Ectomorphs Intermittent Fasting Cons
No Real Need To Manage Calorie Intake
One of the main benefits of intermittent fasting is that it restricts the period of time that you can consume calories. For this reason, most people doing intermittent fasting will consume fewer calories and lose weight.
An ectomorph will assume they have a set window in which they can consume a load of calories and as a result, there’s less motivation to monitor or track these calories.
The issue is that when an ectomorph tries to ‘freestyle’ their calorie intake, it’s almost always short of what is needed to build muscle and gain weight. It’s one thing to think that you’re consuming a lot of calories but when you put them into a calorie tracker like MyFitnessPal, it’s always short of your actual requirements.
Therefore, intermittent fasting reduces the motivation to track calories which in turn could impact your overall calorie intake.
People respond to fasting differently. Some people thrive whereas others struggle with hunger and energy levels, though this depends on individual genetics and lifestyle factors so it’s impossible to generalize.
What can be an issue is that you could be faced with reduced energy levels when training which is not ideal for the ectomorph looking to build muscle mass. Depending on when you train and your work schedule, timing your intermittent fasting window to not impact the time you train could be difficult.
If you train first thing in the morning then energy could be impacted if your fasting schedule is also during the morning. Trying to train around your eating window is not possible for everyone so this could definitely impact your training and progress.
Difficult to Hit Daily Calorie Surplus
If you are eating your meals during a very narrow period of time, it becomes essential that you don’t miss a meal… Which is easier said than done when you have such a short timeframe to get your calories in!
It will be difficult for most people to hit a calorie surplus each day (especially the deeper into a bulking phase you go) and this is more true when restricting the hours you have to consume calories.
Restricted Eating Hours
This ties in with some of the above points but if you have restricted eating hours, training, work, and life, in general, could impact this.
Intermittent fasting is good for the general person just looking to maintain or lose weight with a more optimized diet. If you have specific goals though around performance in the gym and building muscle mass then reducing the hours you can consume food will cause an unnecessary hindrance rather than being a benefit.
Adding additional restrictions will make it harder to stick to a plan and hit daily and weekly requirements. You’d be much better focusing on the big goal and not adding limitations that can distract from this.
Overall, intermittent fasting is an excellent dieting strategy with multiple benefits, especially when it comes to losing weight.
There is a number of people that will definitely benefit from intermittent fasting but for ectomorphs, this isn’t necessarily the ideal diet and I’d go as far as saying it won’t be beneficial for most ectomorphs.
Ectomorphs tend to want to gain weight and build muscle mass and restricting the period of time that you can consume calories will be counter-productive for these goals.
For this reason, ectomorphs can do intermittent fasting but it wouldn’t be recommended.