Fasting, at first, can be draining. And we don’t want you to think that everything with fasting is rainbows and unicorns. Compare it to the first time you worked out intensely after some time in between workouts. More than
likely, you were exhausted, right? But if you stuck with it, surely you found it became easier and easier.
Fasting works much the same way. It’s a difficult stress to endure, but only at first. After you’re conditioned to the fasted state or adapted to a fasting lifestyle, fasting becomes no more strenuous an activity than brisk walking is for the conditioned runner.
These sections examine how fasting serves to boost energy levels and amplify the positive effects of exercise. Contrary to popular belief, fasting doesn’t bog you down, nor impair your ability to work out intensely, quite the opposite, actually!!
If at any time during your fast you feel excessively lightheaded or unable to function, have a small snack. Adapting to the fasted time takes time, and it even takes more time to function optimally while fasted. Ease your way into it and don’t push too far too fast.
Increasing your energy
Fasting actually works to increase your energy in a similar way that exercise does. The body responds to stress via the release of adrenaline, a person’s natural fight or flight hormone. Typically, the bigger the stress you experience, the bigger the adrenal response is. For example, if a lion were chasing you or you were being held at gunpoint, you would experience a massive adrenaline surge, which is your natural response to danger
When your adrenal glands release adrenaline and noradrenaline, you feel awake, alert, and ready for action. When your body enters a fight or flight mode, your body goes into survival mode and you typically experience the fol- lowing physiological processes:
- Accelerated breathing
- Constriction of blood vessels
- Increased heart rate
- Liberation of energy stores (fat and glycogen) into the bloodstream
- Pupil dilation
- Tunnel vision
Fasting isn’t such a large stressor, though, so the adrenaline response is far milder, but it’s still enough to provide a natural boost in adrenaline. The adrenal response to fasting also helps to explain why fasting is so darn effective for fat loss, because adrenaline helps to drive energy stores, such as fat and muscle glycogen, out of storage and into the bloodstream to maintain energy output and blood sugar. You can almost think of adrenaline as the key that unlocks stored body fat.
Furthermore, this extra adrenaline explains how fasting boosts energy, focus, and concentration, rather than inhibiting them. With fasting, all the hor- mones are in healthy balance. Too much adrenaline, like too much anything, is a bad thing. But you don’t have to worry about having too much adrena- line from the occasional fast, especially not in a society where most people already abuse their adrenals with the overuse of stimulants.
Effects of exercises
The combination of fasting and exercise triggers an amazing rejuvenation and detoxification process, far beyond what exercise and fasting offer by themselves. In other words, fasting and exercise, when joined, enhance the benefits of one another.
You can assume that all the benefits to be had from exercising are increased when you exercise in a fasted state, such as an increase in the following:
- Cellular stress response (to protect us against illness and aging)
- Fat burning (lipolysis)
- Insulin sensitivity (making it easier to build more lean muscle)
- Muscle tissue repair
- Neurogenesis (the birth of new brain cells)
The reverse is also true, meaning that the benefits to be had from fasting are increased when you add in exercise. You can look at it from either angle. The body responds to negatives positively. Hardship in the form of fasting and exercise is a trigger for growth. Without adversity, prowess fades away.
And so you may be wondering, what is the best way you can combine fasting and exercise? It largely depends on what sort of fasting protocol you choose to follow. You can read more about cover the pros and cons in this section.
To really kick-start the muscle-building process, you need to eat within the window of opportunity, the 30 to 60 minutes after your workout, which is when your muscles are most receptive to nutrients and will most effectively utilize these nutrients to build and rejuvenate muscle tissue. In other words, when your muscles are hungry, they have priority. During this window, you should have your largest meal, because the fuel you take in, so long as you don’t overdo it, will go toward replenishing muscle glycogen and repairing muscle tissue, instead of being stored as body fat.
Slowing your metabolism
This myth is a classic, and how the foolish idea that your metabolism, if not fueled every couple of hours, will slow down became so widely accepted is beyond us. Your metabolism is the energy cost to keep your cells alive; it’s the summation of all the biological processes that sustain your life. For the most part, your basal metabolic rate is tied closely to your weight.
No matter where this myth came from, it’s simply not true, because despite popular belief, researchers have proven many times over that only the amount of food you eat matters, not the pattern in which you eat it. That’s to say, how frequently you eat or when you eat doesn’t dictate your body composition.
The only thing that matters and the only thing that has ever mattered is how much you eat in terms of weight and body composition. In terms of health, the quality of what you eat matters very much as well.
To take a closer look at this myth, we look at the false idea that your metabolism has different speeds, or that it is something that can be sped up or slowed down. Your metabolism is the collection of all the entire biological processes that sustain life. It’s not some mystical fire in your gut. And it’s not something that you should be trying to constantly speed up. Rather it’s something you should be trying to optimize.
Fasting doesn’t decrease your metabolism, nor does it put you into starvation mode. Starvation mode is a myth, unless of course, you’re actually suffering from starvation, which then it’s very real. But you’re not starving with fasting, not even close.
The truth is, you’re going to burn whatever amount of calories you’re going to burn. Aside from adding in exercise, there’s really no other way to burn more calories. The only way to lose weight is to eat less, move more, or both.
Eating more frequently isn’t the solution. It never was. Eating all the time improves your metabolism to the very same extent that keeping your eyes always open improves your eyesight, which is to say not at all. In fact, fasting gives your digestive system a chance to rest, like blinking does for the eyes.
When you stop to think about it, eating more frequently doesn’t make any sense from a weight-loss perspective. For example, say it takes 20 calories to digest 200 calories, which is about accurate. Now who, wanting to burn 20 calories, in their right mind, would ever eat 200 calories to do so? It’s just a ludicrous idea and completely broken logic! But really, it’s what this whole “speed up your metabolism” thing is based around.
You may have known some people who eat frequently and who still lose weight. Frequent feeding diets still work, as long as they put someone in a calorie deficit. The only problem, however, is that over time too much frequent feeding may lead to decreased insulin sensitivity and other health problems. Refer to the earlier section, “Making muscle gain easier” for more about these potential health problems.