T Nation

Training While Fasting


What is a good way to train while fasting for 1-5 days to keep as much muscle as possible? In this case fasting is nothing but water, EPA/DHA, multivitamin + ZMA. I won't be able to keep up the same workouts with the same intensity (WS4SB).

What's the ratio of fat:muscle lost while fasting?

Let's not discuss the why's of fasting for now. I'm not doing it to for aesthetical purposes (to cut).


Personally I would take those days off. I don't see any way of those workouts being productive.

You might want to throw in some BCAA if you can. They might be your only hope at preserving muscle mass while fasting.


Under your fasting parameters would Glutamine be allowed? That seems like it would be useful to help retain muscle.

I am not sure what to advise as far as workouts go though that would avoid muscle loss. If I were you I would plan it as a recovery week and just go for a nice relaxing walk in the sunshine and do some stretching.

Just an aside though, for what it's worth, if this is a fast for spiritual purposes, worrying about muscle retention might be contrary to the psycho-spiritual shift and growth that the fast is meant to teach.

I don't know what your goals are though.


Maybe just do 1 low-volume heavy upperbody day and 1 low-volume heavy lowerbody day.

Like a 3x3 bench on day 2, and a 3x3 squat on day 4.


I fasted for Yom Kippur (Fri 7pm - Sat 7pm) out of tradition and curiosity and after 24 hours were over, I felt so great that I decided to fast a little more to clear my mind (I need that as some of the not-so-good things were gone after the fast).

I could take BCAA, glutamine, but I was under the impression that it's better to fast completely than to eat 100 cals a day.

Also, how could I bring my metabolism back up once the fast is over? I just read that downward changes (up-to 20%) are fairly permanent.


I never heard about downward changes being permanent. I guess that may explain why my metabolism and digestion seem kind of slower now than say 5 years ago, despite having as much or more activity at work, and more difficult workouts. I have fasted in various ways in the past.

Personally if it were me, I would try to fast with as little supplementation as you feel comfortable with. Your body's systems get a rest from digesting and processing what you would otherwise be putting in, and your mind gets a rest from focusing on taking all the right pills at the right times for a physical result. You can't look up and down at the same time.


Can you drink water at least on the fast? If you keep properly hydrated, you aren't going to have too much of an issue with muscle loss or permanent metabolism shifts after only a few days.


I'm trying to fast with as little supplementation as possible exactly to give my body rest from years of non-stop (meat)-eating. I take fish oil for mood stabilization, vitamins not to get deficient in them and ZMA to sleep well. This doesn't distract me too much and I doubt it present any real work for my stomach.

I'm fasting longer than planned just because I feel so damn good and my mind is clearer than ever before. I do feel slight physical weakness in the morning, but I could still train, apparently. I've been so concerned with nourishing my body with food for so long, and it turned out that to nourish my mind, I need to fast. I've read in the past a lot about fasting helping the mind, but only now I got the proof.

I am dropping weight crazy fast though. 2 weeks ago (when caloric restriction/higher metabolism came unwillingly) I was 165. Now I'm 155 and feeling like fasting a full week (5 more days). I'm 24 and people started saying that I look 18... Haven't heard that in 4 years! If I drop down to 148, though, I'll stop and start eating again.


when people stop eating they DIE!!!!!! just something to think about how healthy do you really think this plan is we are made to eat and eat every day thats how were built. Eat good foods, and youll be golden

Just my 2 cc



Well, actually, there have been plenty of cases of persons that fasted for periods as long as a month or two that did not die.

5 days, while a challenge, is far from extreme or dangerous. I think skor has the right attitude to get through his fast and probably find what he is looking for.

Best wishes skor.


His point is highly overlooked. People gain 500 lbs and live for years, doesn't mean they won't eventually die from the weight.

I've fasted and yeah it can feel good once you get over the thought of not eating, but it's in no way good for the body. Specially when repeated over and over and for lengths of time.

A person who is not doing much performance wise might not have to worry but anybody who is consistently doing it throughout the year is hurting their body more than helping. If you really want to do right by your body just eat healthy.


I'd probably just skip out on the training.



People can fast 40 days and still maintain good health. Some fast for 75 and feel good.

I fasted for 1 day last year and could barely wait until the end of 24 hours. I think a lot depends on one's attitude, but 3 days of fasting cleared my mind considerably. Periodization is good in most things - why not use is for food?

I'm not going to train the next 2-4 days (I plan to fast 7 full days now). Walking and stretching is all I'll do.

Apparently most of the muscle mass is lost in days 2 and 3. Then body enters ketosis stage and one loses 1/4-pound of muscle a day while burning considerable amount of fat. I don't think anyone should fast for body comp goals, but absence of huge muscle loss makes fasting for my mind (at least once a year) worth it.


THank you, thats exactly the point. we can choose to do and live through a Lot of shit we are amazing adaptive creatures. I mean ive smoked, drank, inhaled and well hell a LOT of shit in my day. im alive and kicking very well. But that doesnt mean it is or was good for me in the long or short term. Even training there are points we over do it and a good thing becomes bad, diet as well. Im more then sure Me doing what it takes to DL 630+ lbs, drag 18,000 lb trucks, load atlas stones and kegs and logs over my head in the long run will have its tolls you know.

Yhea youll live, but really ask yourself is this really going to help you in the long run any more or less then just a smart diet?? thats all im saying. WE have to pick our battles and accept the negatives with the positives for each and every one.




Fasting helped/helps me to clear my mind and increased my ability for self-reflection. For the first time in a long time I'm able to relax and let go. Since I have little physical energy, I'm able to break a lot of habits I didn't like.

I read books again (something I wanted to do, but never found time). I meditate again, I enjoy nature to a much bigger extend. I used to be very strict about nutrition and get slightly worried if I missed a meal or I couldn't make good food choices for a while. Once I'm off the fast, I'll still do everything the same way, but I'd worry way less about it.

Our bodies are well designed to fast. For me, at this point, the positive outweigh the possible negative.

Off-top: Is there a single great intellectual thinker who had an impressive physique? I'll the ones I can think of are non-impressive in any way.


Of course not. When one decides they are going to devote their lives to the pursuit of knowledge they give it 110%. There isn't much room leftover for anything else. Just like anything- you can either do one thing exceptionally, or a lot of things half-assed.


When I fast ( currently now doing Ramadan) I usually train right before breaking fast by about 45 mins. I train heavy, low reps and higher sets and I almost always get invigorated to go some more and so I'd finish off with some blood pumpers, some Kettlebells or some calisthetics, but of course my training goals are not for BB.

Excuse my ignorance but do you intend on continuing fast without any break throughout the day? Is that how Yom Kippur fast is done?

I know what you mean about the mind becoming clearer. That's why I laugh when people who haven't done it make comments like "you'll die" or you'll whither away. The body is a little more resilient than that, unless of course you have babied it into a spoilt state of gluttony.

Ori Hofmeklers book should be of interest to you.

Last times I trained through Ramadan and had fights about a week after I fought with a much more focussed attitude than ever before and knocked out both opponents. Both much bigger and supposedly stronger than me.


Skor, I'd advice against prolonged fasting.

I agree that the human body is designed to be able to fast, and can benefit tremendously from doing so, but anything more than a day or two is counterproductive, to say the least.

Have you looked into intermittent fasting? Some people alternate fasting days and eating days, whilst others eat only within a 3-5 hour window (usually in the evening). This could give you the best of both worlds..

Check out this site: http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/?p=278

Best of luck!


im a big fan of fasting myself (maybe becuase i have alot of body fat to drop :slight_smile: ), but amoung that there is considerable benefits.

from what ive read most free-radical damage not only is produced by mitochondria, but the mitochondria are also the most likely organelles to be damaged by them and thus stop working.

fasting also stimulates Lysosomes which are the house keepers of cells, cleaning up junk.

fasting is one of those things that gets a bit easier the longer you go into it. the first 30 hours of fasting can be hell with extreme hunger pangs but at the 40 hour mark the hunger vanishes and you feel very 'clean'.

and dont forget david blaine did 44 days of fasting only on water :D.

the only thing that worries me about extended fasting is the loss of electrolytes, especially potassium, usually youd get this from drinking water but nowadays its virtually non-exsistent in water. so like others have recommended id not do any major exercise during extended fasting.



So your trying to be plato?
Whatever floats your boat.