Fasting is good for you in the long run. The advantages of giving your body a break from its digestive chores pave the way for autophagy and waste removal. The world is acknowledging that fasting has many benefits.
But what of the gym-goer who wishes to pack on muscle?
During prolonged bouts of fasting, during which one abstains from food for more than a day, one’s glycogen levels are depleted and the body can turn to one’s muscles as a source of energy. This is why some bodybuilders can look flat if they are not adequately charged up with glycogen to create that full look.
I recently decided that being lean was ok, but I wanted to pack on more size too. This presents a conundrum. How does one combine the longevity and health aspects of a fast, whilst still being in a muscle-building mode? For the muscles to grow, they need to be stressed and then adequately fed. I have been experimenting with a mode that is working like a charm, and I would like to share this with you. A caveat here is that this works for me personally, and may not work for the next.
During the week, I maintain a 500 calorie deficit from my maintenance calories. In order for the metabolism not to slow down in anticipation of prolonged famine, I have an overfeed day. When Sunday arrives, and the clock passes 1 pm (my fasting window), I begin to salivate, because its Game on. I kinda eat anything that doesn’t get up a tree quick enough. While I usually eat around 2500 calories, I can easily pass 5000 calories. Ice cream, rusks, and chocolate are on my personal “most wanted” list. This reprieve from what is essentially a high protein diet during the week, makes my taste buds scream “yummy” as (I lunge for another shortbread biscuit)t. Do I pay a price? – Yeah, I do and by bedtime, I literally waddle to bed as the biscuits slosh around in ice cream.
The next day (Monday) is a re-set for me, during which I don’t eat at all. The problem with this is that I am not strong in the gym when I work out. My next meal is Tuesday midday. In order to overcome the lower energy, I will still burn calories. I go for a long walk whilst listening to a podcast. Tuesday morning is the same. I walk and burn more calories in the morning. The net result, is that I will burn more calories overall than I was able to take in on that Sunday feast. I will schedule my gym workout for the evening on a Tuesday. By this time, I will have eaten again and will have bathed the muscles in glycogen once again. This is a form of pulsing one’s food intake. The take-away, here is that I feed in anticipation of the exercise that I’m going to do. When you’re going to hit the gym, make sure that you have enough glycogen in your system for your muscles to draw energy from.
By abstaining from resistance training during a fast, you’re still able to burn calories by going for a walk. The famous strength coach Poliquin, says that a strength athlete needs to earn his carbs. – So, to have the best of both worlds, namely the longevity benefits which a fast provide, and the muscle-building benefits of carbs and protein saturation, make sure that you’re fed when training with weights, and when not, you can burn the fat off with a more gentle form of training, in the form of a 30 to 45 minute walk. I start my Monday feeling full and overfed from my Sunday Binge, but by Tuesday afternoon, I’m generally leaner than I was the week before. – Taking a step back to take 2 forward. This works for me, – it’s a bit extreme, but heck, I love my Sunday evening movie more when I’m clutching a tub of Ben and Jerries.
Works for me, and I offer this as a means of having one’s health cake and eating it too.