Can You Get Stronger While Doing Prolonged Fasting?
July 5th 2019
As strength athletes, we are always looking for the newest tactics in order to help us become the strongest versions of ourselves. One “secret” that has been done for thousands of generations is known for its mental, physical and spiritual development. In fact, this method was not even considered by athletes until relatively recently. What is this phenomenon - fasting.
Fasting is a period of time where people do not eat. Typically, we all “fast” to a degree - when we go to sleep. So, we all do a fast for 7-9 hours at least.
But that is easy. What people usually refer to as fasting is when you are consciously awake and you need to go through periods of time of no eating. No, I am not talking about intermittent fasting where you break your fast within the same day. Intermittent fasting is usually broken up into 16 hours and 8 hours. Prolonged fasting involves you are not eating for more than 24 hours. But there are many ways of going about fasting and this is just one example. For instance, one of the most famous and iconic fasting rituals still performed today is Ramadan, where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for thirty days. Other fasting protocols can be done; you can go two days without eating and break your fast with one meal on the third day. This can be done repeatedly. The possibilities are endless when it comes to fasting.
The biggest question we have to answer is, can you get stronger while doing prolonged fasting?
Can you get stronger while doing prolonged fasting?
Do not expect to gain strength during a prolonged fast. While on a prolonged fast, your primary mission would probably be more focused on your spiritual development rather than any physical gains.
What should you expect from your body when doing a prolonged fast?
Your body is not stupid
Your body does not want to die and it will do everything it can do to keep itself alive. But if you live anywhere in the world, particularly in a Western society, you will find that we are always consuming. Whether it is food, information, social media, etc., we are addicted to the idea of consumption.
Yet, it can all be traced back to our consumption with food. When you limit your meals or even restrict your meals after a prolonged fast, you can expect your body to maintain your strength.
You may ask how? It’s tough to internalize what fasting can do for you if you have never done it.
It can be done, after countless testimonials from thousands of lifters worldwide.
You will probably lose strength
Different people go into fasting for different reasons. A lot of people want to lose weight in the Western world (Go figure, in one of the most advanced societies in the world, they have lost their connection with the spiritual). If you ever dove into the idea of doing a prolonged fast, your reasons for even considering this path may be more than just physical strength.
And I applaud you for that. It takes a lot of discipline and courage to be able to let go of the material and physical attachments you have on this Earth and to seek your answer from above.
Holding onto that idea, your primary goal may not be to develop or even maintain your strength. You allow The Almighty to dictate where your strength will go. All you want is clarity, calmness, peace and tranquility. You are willing to sacrifice your physical strength for gains in mental and spiritual enlightenment. You may workout to still attempt to maintain your strength but if your body is saying no, you will not make a big fuss about it.
You will just accept that your body is not in an optimal environment to build or maintain muscle and that is okay. You will continue to live and learn as you continue your fast.
You won’t be able to train to failure
If you are interested in gaining strength while doing a prolonged fast, you will be heavily disappointed. You will not be able to do reps until failure or train with high intensities.
Both of those training parameters are essential for strength athletes in order to continue building their strength. However, during your prolonged fasting period, you may find yourself more at ease with yourself and with your shortcomings.
And instead of being frustrated and angry about your circumstances, you can only accept it and move on until you are finished with your prolonged fasting.
How often should I do a prolonged fast?
For athletes, a general rule of thumb is to start small. Try to fast at least once a year. Gradually, you can work your way to fast for a period once every quarter. Obviously, if you are competing in a competition soon, it would be unwise to fast right before a big contest. But in your offseason, it is totally fair game to begin your fast and cleanse your body of impurities.
First, make sure you are healthy
Get your blood work done. For many people in the Western world, they have never gone to bed hungry. So, a prolonged fast will be a challenge, whether lifters would admit that or not. Before you dive deep into the realms of prolonged fasting, make sure you are healthy. Get your blood work done and address any deficiencies or issues you have before going into a long fasting period.
At the same time, make sure you also take pictures of yourself prior to the fast. You want to keep tabs on your body composition and size. Take measurements of your arms, legs and waists as well.
Educate yourself on the proper foods to eat and prepare for the battles to come.
Are you afraid? You should not be. Your forefathers, for centuries, have fasted and were initiated into rites of passages. To test their physical and spiritual strength, they developed a stillness and peace that is rarely found in today’s Western world.
It is not my job to convince you to fast or not. Rather, I am here to provide you the necessary information on whether or not a prolonged fast would help benefit your character and your life. We are all placed on this Earth for different reasons but we all assemble and gather towards powerful ideas that help transform our lives for the better.