An effective exercise program that incorporates high-intensity interval training combined with intermittent fasting can help counteract muscle aging and wasting, and boost fat-burning. If at any point you don’t have enough energy or don’t feel good, then it is likely time to shift your experiment and reduce the hours of fasting. Intermittent fasting should make you feel better, and if it doesn’t then it is best to reevaluate your strategy.
Make sure to keep the following two points in mind:
- Timing of meals: Intermittent fasting is not extreme calorie restriction. You’re not supposed to starve yourself. Rather it’s simply a matter of timing your meals properly by abstaining from food during much of the day, and limiting your eating to a small window later in the evening. If you were to limit eating to say 4-7 pm, you are effectively fasting for 21 hours. Ideally, you’ll want to fast for at least 12-18 hours.
If you can’t abstain from food entirely during the day, limit it to small servings of light, low-glycemic, mostly raw foods such as fruits, vegetables, whey protein or lightly poached eggs every 4-6 hours. Whatever times you choose, it will be very helpful to avoid having any food or calories for three hours prior to going to bed as this will minimize oxidative damage to your system and give your body a major jumpstart in intermittent fasting.
- Break your fast with a recovery meal on workout days: On the days that you work out while fasting, you need to consume a recovery meal 30 minutes after your workout. Fast-assimilating whey protein is ideal. Then fast again until you eat your main meal at night. It’s very important that you eat an appropriate recovery meal after your workout session, as this will prevent brain and muscle damage from occurring, so do NOT skip this meal.
If the thought of fasting for 12-18 hours is too much, you can get many of the same benefits of fasting and exercise by simply skipping breakfast and exercising first thing in the morning when your stomach is empty. This is because eating a full meal, particularly carbohydrates, before your workout will inhibit your sympathetic nervous system and reduce the fat burning effect of your exercise. Instead, eating lots of carbs activates your parasympathetic nervous system, (which promotes energy storage – the complete opposite of what you’re aiming for).