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Intermittent Fasting Body Recomposition 2024: How Does It Work?


Reviewed by Rob Peterson, MS
intermittent fasting body recomposition
Intermittent fasting can be used to accomplish fat loss and muscle gain. Photo: Thanh Thanh

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When setting off to do body[1] recomposition, there are two goals in mind: losing body fat and gaining muscle. Together, these elements help create a leaner body frame. A combination of tailored exercises and diet can help achieve body recomposition.

Intermittent fasting[2] (IF), or the practice of alternating fasting periods and eating windows, is one dietary approach that can be used to accomplish fat loss and muscle gain.

This article will discuss best practices for doing IF to achieve lean body mass with body composition intermittent fasting, as well as safety tips and other considerations. As always, before starting any weight loss or muscle-building regime, discuss it with a qualified healthcare professional.

This article will discuss best practices for doing IF to achieve lean body mass with body recomposition, as well as safety tips and other considerations. As always, before starting any weight loss or muscle-building regime, discuss it with a qualified healthcare professional.

Tips For Body Recomposition Intermittent Fasting

  • Choose an IF method.
  • Focus on nutrient-dense foods.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Plan meals.
  • Schedule workouts.
  • Work with a healthcare professional.

Intermittent Fasting Body Recomposition

Choose An IF Method

Choose An IF Method
A common IF method is the 16:8 intermittent fasting method. Photo: Billion Photos/Shutterstock

A common IF method is the 16:8 intermittent fasting method, which involves fasting for 16 hours and giving yourself an 8-hour feeding window every day. Other methods, like keto intermittent fasting, have different time restrictions for eating and fasting.

For example, the eat-stop-eat method suggests fasting for a full 24 hours, but only once or twice a week. Spend some time experimenting with different methods and choose one that feels right for you.

Focus On Nutrient-Dense Foods 

Your feeding windows are your time to prioritize nutrition. Focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods that support your health goals. Lean protein, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and legumes are all great sources of nutrients that can complement intermittent fasting and body recomposition.

Other nutrient-dense foods include fermented food, which has natural probiotics, and foods containing prebiotics, such as garlic, onions, and unripe bananas. You may also consider supplementing with probiotic supplements.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is essential for everyone, but especially during periods of fasting. Staying properly hydrated by drinking water between meals will not only help the body function better but may help ward off hunger. Read more about what you can drink while intermittent fasting!

Plan Meals

Without proper planning, IF can result in people choosing unhealthy snacks or overeating during their feeding windows. Be proactive about planning your meals so that you have healthy options available as soon as your feeding window opens. This will help you stay on track with your muscle-building and fat-loss goals.

Schedule Workouts

Certain people enjoy exercising in a fasted state and find that it helps them burn more fat.[3] This is individual, however, and some people may find exercise on an empty stomach too taxing on the body.

Exercise during intermittent fasting is not one-size-fits-all. Take your time experimenting with workout schedules and plan your workouts based on what your body prefers.

Work With A Professional

Whenever undergoing any new dietary or exercise regime, it’s best to consult a qualified medical professional. This is especially true when you undertake a workout and dietary shift at the same time.

Seek professional advice on how to approach your body recomposition goals and track your progress over time. You may wish to track your progress with the best intermittent fasting app.

What Is Body Recomposition?

Body recomposition involves sculpting one’s own body by simultaneously losing fat and building muscle mass. The combination of these two approaches helps tone the body. Body recomposition requires both adjustments to diet and exercise routines.

You may also want to incorporate muscle-building supplements such as the best protein powder for muscle gain or a fat-burning supplement. Read the LeanBean reviews to learn more.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

IF aims to initiate certain metabolic effects by alternating feeding windows and fasting periods, the length and frequency of which can vary depending on the specific IF method. Some components of IF include:

Insulin Regulation

Eating stimulates the release of insulin, the hormone responsible for blood sugar regulation–it moves glucose from the bloodstream into our cells for energy. When we fast, insulin levels lower, which causes the body to start burning fat for energy instead. This can improve insulin sensitivity[4] and promote fat loss when practiced consistently over time.

Calorie Restriction

Providing yourself with a feeding window will often lead to reduced calorie intake. Consuming fewer calories can help lose weight and decrease body fat.

Hormonal Changes

Intermittent Fasting can influence changes in hormone production and activity. For example, fasting can increase HGH[5] (human growth hormone) levels, which may encourage fat burning as well as muscle preservation. Conversely, ghrelin[6] levels can be reduced in response to fasting. Ghrelin is the hormone that ignites feelings of hunger, so a reduction in ghrelin should help manage appetite.

Cellular Repair

Autophagy[7] is a bodily cellular repair process. IF may help initiate autophagy during fasting, the body will recycle damaged or old cells, this allows for new cells to grow. Resulting in positive impacts on health beyond body recomposition.

Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting For Body Recomposition

intermittent fasting body recomposition
There are several benefits of IF for body recomposition. Photo: I T A L O/Shutterstock

Fat Loss

Fat loss is half the battle of body recomposition (the other half is muscle gain). Intermittent fasting can be effective for fat loss because fasting can promote fat burning. Additionally, restricting feeding times can reduce overall calorie intake.

Muscle Mass

Sometimes, weight loss can lead to muscle mass loss, not just fat loss. However, IF may help preserve muscle mass[8] especially when combined with resistance training, while it helps to reduce fat. 

Insulin Sensitivity

Intermittent Fasting can help improve insulin sensitivity by lowering insulin levels during fasting periods. Having increased sensitivity to insulin can be beneficial for body composition and intermittent fasting because it makes the body more efficient at utilizing carbohydrates for energy and regulating blood sugar. Together, these aspects can help prevent the body from storing excess fat.

Hormone Support

IF can influence hormone activity which can have positive effects on body recomposition. For instance, IF can increase HGH (human growth hormone) promoting both fat-burning and muscle growth. While IF may reduce testosterone,[9] studies suggest this does not reduce muscle mass.

How To Gain Muscle While Intermittent Fasting

Choose An Adequate Eating Window

Strategically plan your eating windows to ensure you have enough time to consume enough calories and nutrients for muscle growth. Adjust your IF method and eating windows as needed to allow for adequate caloric intake.

Focus On Protein

Protein[10] is the building block of cells and muscles. Include plenty of protein from healthy sources (lean meat, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds) in all your meals during your feeding windows. Aside from protein, you may be interested in some other tips to gain muscle while losing fat.

Fuel Before & After Workouts

Consume healthy sources of protein and carbohydrates before and after workouts. The nutrients consumed before exercising provide energy to sustain you during workouts, and the nutrients consumed afterward help support muscle recovery and replenish glycogen stores.

Caloric Surplus

Muscle gain requires a caloric surprise–you must consume excess calories to maintain the body and the muscles you wish to grow. Establish your daily caloric needs, including additional calories to build muscle, and aim for a bit more to enhance muscle growth.

Resistance Training

To stimulate muscle growth, engage in regular exercise. Resistance training[11] in particular is excellent for muscle building. Squats, deadlifts, and bench presses are excellent examples of resistance training exercises. As tolerated, you can gradually increase the intensity of your workouts.


Body recomposition involves simultaneously losing body fat while building muscle to achieve a leaner body composition. IF is a dietary approach that can aid in this process by influencing hormones, increasing fat-burning, and restricting calories.

Before embarking on body recomposition or IF to decrease body fat and build lean body mass, talk with your healthcare provider to find a suitable IF method for you that will be safe as well as effective, and establish a plan to track your progress.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much protein should I eat to build muscle?

Everyone will require slightly different amounts but aim for roughly 1.5-2 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight.

What is the best IF method for body recomposition?

There are several IF methods, however, no research currently exists that suggests which method is the most helpful. It’s best to experiment with different methods and find one that works for you. It helps you achieve your goals and it’s one you can easily stick to.

Can I do cardio as my exercise for body recomposition?

Cardio is great for metabolic health, however, it’s not the ideal form of exercise for building muscle. Resistance training, such as squats and weight lifting are better suited to increase muscle mass.

+ 11 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Barakat, C., Pearson, J., Escalante, G. and Oliveira, E. (2020). Body Recomposition: Can Trained Individuals Build Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time? [online] ResearchGate. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/343549590_Body_Recomposition_Can_Trained_Individuals_Build_Muscle_and_Lose_Fat_at_the_Same_Time.
  2. Izzah Vasim, Chaudry Nasir Majeed and DeBoer, M.D. (2022). Intermittent Fasting and Metabolic Health. Nutrients, [online] 14(3), pp.631–631. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14030631.
  3. Hassane Zouhal, Ayoub Saeidi, Salhi, A., Li, H., M. Faadiel Essop, Laher, I., Fatma Rhibi, Sadegh Amani-Shalamzari and Abderraouf Ben Abderrahman (2020). Exercise Training and Fasting: Current Insights. [online] Volume 11, pp.1–28. doi:https://doi.org/10.2147/oajsm.s224919.
  4. Templeman, I., Gonzalez, J.T., Thompson, D. and Betts, J.A. (2019). The role of intermittent fasting and meal timing in weight management and metabolic health. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, [online] 79(1), pp.76–87. doi:https://doi.org/10.1017/s0029665119000636.
  5. Hartman, M.L., Veldhuis, J.D., Johnson, M.L. and Thorner, M.O. (1992). Augmented growth hormone (GH) secretory burst frequency and amplitude mediate enhanced GH secretion during… [online] ResearchGate. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/21608063_Augmented_growth_hormone_GH_secretory_burst_frequency_and_amplitude_mediate_enhanced_GH_secretion_during_a_two-day_fast_in_normal_men.
  6. Al-Rawi, N.H., Madkour, M., Haitham Jahrami, Salahat, D.F., Alhasan, F., BaHammam, A.S. and Faris, E. (2020). Effect of diurnal intermittent fasting during Ramadan on ghrelin, leptin, melatonin, and cortisol levels among overweight and obese subjects: A prospective observational study. [online] 15(8), pp.e0237922–e0237922. doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0237922.
  7. Parzych, K.R. and Klionsky, D.J. (2014). An Overview of Autophagy: Morphology, Mechanism, and Regulation. [online] 20(3), pp.460–473. doi:https://doi.org/10.1089/ars.2013.5371.
  8. Keenan, S., Cooke, M. and Belski, R. (2020). The Effects of Intermittent Fasting Combined with Resistance Training on Lean Body Mass: A Systematic Review of Human Studies. [online] 12(8), pp.2349–2349. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12082349.
  9. Cienfuegos, S., Corapi, S.E., Gabel, K., Ezpeleta, M., Kalam, F., Lin, S., Pavlou, V. and Varady, K.A. (2022). Effect of Intermittent Fasting on Reproductive Hormone Levels in Females and Males: A Review of Human Trials. [online] 14(11), pp.2343–2343. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14112343.
  10. Alex Silva Ribeiro, Luiz Carlos Pereira, Schöenfeld, B.J., João Pedro Nunes, Witalo Kassiano, Nabuco, H.C.G., Sugihara, P., Fernandes, R.R., Antunes, M., Andreo Fernando Aguiar and Edílson Serpeloni Cyrino (2022). Moderate and Higher Protein Intakes Promote Superior Body Recomposition in Older Women Performing Resistance Training. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, [online] 54(5), pp.807–813. doi:https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0000000000002855.
  11. Ribeiro, A.S., Oliveira, A.V., Witalo Kassiano, Matheus, Mayhew, J.L. and Edílson Serpeloni Cyrino (2022). Effects of resistance training on body recomposition, muscular strength, and phase angle in older women with different fat mass levels. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, [online] 35(2), pp.303–310. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-022-02313-7.


A health coach specializing in Integrative Nutrition, I approach wellness with a holistic and functional medicine perspective. As a writer, I simplify intricate topics such as nutrition, gut and hormone health, mental well-being, and spiritual health,… See More