21 days of fasting for 12-24 hours—is it possible/safe to FAST and WORKOUT? Short answer, yes!! Here are 4 MAIN THINGS you will need to consider during your journey:
Earlier this year, I fasted for the first time for spiritual purposes not really knowing what to expect but open, ready, and excited to try it. It was LIFE CHANGING. Not only did I pray the most I have ever in my life, but I also saw myself improving in how I treated others, increased my SELF-CONTROL, PATIENCE, and was more focused on others. Even though the focus of the fast was to grow closer to God, I still continued some of my daily activities like training clients and myself! Once it was over,
I realized that FASTING & WORKING OUT is DEFINITELY POSSIBLE, but you will need to adjust the TIME, DURATION, AND INTENSITY of your workout and the FOODS you eat post-fasting.
Picking a Time to Workout—
Every fast will look different, but if you are fasting from food for over 6 hours, I would suggest doing your workouts closest to your last meal or closest to your next meal!
For me, what worked best were workouts in the mornings then fueling late morning then fasting (12hrs). On the days I fasted 24hrs I decided not to workout as my focus was seeking spiritual direction, prayer, and praise and not on myself.
I’ve also worked with clients with similar fasting habits where they decided to workout in the evenings before they broke their fast, or early mornings a few hours after they broke their fast. Everyone will be different so it is important you try a few ways to see what works BEST FOR YOU & BE SUCCESSFUL!
It was LIFE CHANGING. Not only did I pray the most I have ever in my life, but I also saw myself improving in how I treated others, increased my SELF-CONTROL, PATIENCE, and was more focused on others.
Changing in your Workout Routine—
Duration of Workout: If you are trying to build muscle mass like me, or training intense cardio sessions (80% max effort, cardio workout for over 1 hour) you are going to have to make sacrifices and CHILL OUT. I had to CHANGE my workout routine completely. I am used workouts ~1:30hrs, several times a week. While fasting I had to learn REAL QUICK that your body will not allow you to keep working out the same amount of time; I had cut back my workout time by HALF (45 minutes tops).
Why? Well for one, you aren’t consuming as much so you don’t have the same reserves to do the workouts (less calories = less energy).
How? Depending on the time of the day you workout and the duration of the fast, you won’t have a meal right after so you will feel LOW on ENERGY & exhausted.
Result? you will lose weight. I continued to workout but even after changing my routine, I lost 4lbs—not what I wanted. The good thing is I gained it back 1.5 months later.
If you are doing light workouts (30-45min workout, not too many weights or taking long walks) you won’t have to change too much of your workout routine.
Intensity: Working out with high weights or intense HIIT workouts? You are going to have to DROP THE WEIGHTS BRO. Trying to do the same number of sets and high weights during a fast will be frustrating and EXHAUSTING. Modify the weights by ~ 5lbs and decrease your # of sets! Same thing for HIIT workouts, decrease your number of sets and switch to no weights or lower the weights.
Foods to Eat—
To make sure you are not feeling overly weak and sustain energy, focus on CARBS & PROTEIN. We are talking fruits, potatoes, rice (carbs) and complete sources of plant-based protein (for examples see Building Muscle Mass & Being Vegan article). Your muscles need both carbs and protein for growth and recovery during a workout and CARBS because it is your body’s MAIN SOURCE of ENERGY.
How much to eat when you break your fast will be up to you, depending on your motive for fasting.
I hope you found this helpful and are feeling more prepared if this is your first time working out while fasting!