Exercise and Alternate Day Fasting

Many people wonder if it is okay to exercise while alternate day fasting. I personally have had no issues whatsoever. I regularly bike 50km or walk 10km on a fasting day. I don’t feel any difference in strength or speed.

More importantly, I have a set routine of bodyweight exercises that I cycle through on a weekly basis in order to ensure that I don’t lose muscle mass as I lose weight. I perform my bodyweight exercises regardless of whether or not it is a fasting day. Basically, I focus on one exercise every other day. So I do one day of pushups, one day of pull-ups, one day of dips,  and one day of abs. Within each exercise group, I try and do different types of variations to work out as many muscles as possible. So for example, for pushups, I do standard, wide, military, elevated, and staggered. During the day, whenever I feel like it, I will whip out a set of one type or another until exhaustion. Over the course of the day, I end up completing at least one set of each variation and sometimes two, depending on whether or not I am home all day or out most of the day.

Using this routine for the past four months, I have seen consistent gains in every exercise group. Even though my numbers are going up, though, it’s hard to actually say that I am getting stronger as the exercises are getting easier as my weight steadily goes down each month. At the minimum, though, I believe that I am not getting weaker. And the fact that I can now perform 70 consecutive pushups and 15 chin-ups at age 46 is by anybody’s book an indication of an above average fitness level. Furthermore, as these numbers are the best that I have achieved in my entire life, I think it fair to say that alternate day fasting is proving to be beneficial from a fitness standpoint.

Diet is an important factor in maintaining muscle mass. On my feeding days, I make it a point to consume a fair amount of protein. My breakfast is a huge salad, usually with fish, or sometimes chicken. Then over the course of the day, I try and eat chicken and beef or pork, in addition to other less protein dense foods such as bread or nuts or tofu.  I’m not fanatical about it. I don’t count calories or grams of protein. I just make a conscious effort to eat nutritionally well on my feeding days because my body only has half the opportunity to get the proper nutrients. Right now my focus is seeing how far I can progress in terms of muscle development using purely natural protein sources so I don’t take any protein supplements. I want to try and keep my eating habits as normal as possible so that I can live anywhere, shop locally, and live healthily.

Hopefully, this should help allay any fears that anyone has that alternate day fasting will be detrimental to their fitness level unless of course you are an elite athlete, in which case your experience may be different. Having said that, I do feel that it is important to stress that regular muscle training in some shape or form should be performed in order to maintain muscle mass. Otherwise, you will not only lose weight, but you will also lose muscle mass, and losing too much muscle mass will prove detrimental to your health.

Maintaining your muscle mass as you age should be one of your key fitness goals. The exercise routine I have described above takes very little time; at most 30 minutes a day, spread out into five-minute blocks at any time of the day. By splitting it up into small chunks over the course of the day, it doesn’t even feel like exercise. The amount of time you will save every other day by not eating should be more than enough to fit in some good solid exercise. No matter how you cut it, there really is no good excuse not to exercise your muscles if you do alternate day fasting.


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