Fasting and Strength

In Health-Mastery by Logan ChristopherLeave a Comment

Brandon asks:

“Have you ever done the warrior diet before, or any other fasting diets? If you have were there ever any gains in strength even if it was gradual? I ask mostly bc I’m trying to shed fat but I desprately don’t want to lost any strength. I want to maintain but would rather gain as well.”

I’ve done all kinds of fasting…

In fact, The Warrior Diet was the very first nutrition plan I ever followed. (I was skinny so I wasn’t trying to lose weight at all. Because I did on the program, I ended up moving away from it, though I learned a lot from the process.)

For those not familiar, The Warrior Diet is basically to under-eat significantly during the day and then have a large dinner. This was based on some evidence of past warriors and military members engaging in such.

Not only can it be healthy and help to lose fat, but it is convenient in a time-saving way too.

Now, there are only two big reasons you could lose strength while fasting, or with any sort of diet.

1) Not getting sufficient calories and/or protein for your energy and muscle demands. If you don’t have enough your body may need to strip away not just fat, but muscle, to continue.

But by no means am I saying it’s all about the calories. This is more to say this is an issue if you’re aggressively dieting or fasting. (i.e. Fast from food completely for a month and yeah you’ll be losing some muscle.)

2) Stopping or cutting back on training.

You have to understand that strength training is a stimulus. And even if you’re in a calorie deficit, if you’re using your muscles, your body is not going to want to get rid of them.

In fact, training while fasting or dieting is the best way to ensure you don’t lose muscle mass.

Now, muscle is only one piece of the strength puzzle. Yes, if you lose or gain muscle that will pretty much 100% affect your strength.

But it’s not the only game in town. Even if you were to lose some muscle you could be gaining nervous system strength during that time. Your technique could improve. Your energy systems may work better to do more reps. Your connective tissues might be getting stronger (and bigger just imperceptibly so).

So yes, you absolutely can gain strength while on a diet or fasting.

If your goal is to shed fat without losing strength then here’s what you want to do.

Take a long-term approach with diet. Strive to just lose a pound or so a week, not 10 pounds in one week. Doing so you can make sure it is fat mass and not muscle mass that is lost.

Keep on training. Stick to the same schedule you’ve been on one. Keep striving to progress and it should happen.

To give you some other ideas I just went through a 3 day fast. My plan is to do this as a routine each quarter (in addition to my weekly 24 hour fast that I’ve been doing for a couple years now). A new routine for the new year.

I didn’t change up my training at all. (Though the final fasting day was on Sunday, my normal off day from training.)

When I got back to training on Monday, I was setting PR’s. No strength lost despite 3 days without food.

Contrast this to the week-long fast I did about a year ago. I did lose muscle there (as well as fat, in fact I got down to the lowest weight I’ve ever been as an adult). I did lose strength. But it all came back within about a month of continued training.

You can see parts of the workout I did on the final day of that fast here.

If you’d like to learn more about fasting, I covered tons about it inside of Powered By Nature. The benefits of fasting, the many different ways of doing it like intermittent fasting vs. longer fasts, water fast vs. dry vs. juice, etc.

You can also find some about it inside of Upgrade Your Growth Hormone, because one of the benefits of fasting is the spike in GH that occurs.

Upgrade Your Growth Hormone

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