Fasting and Exercise

So it’s not so bad to have a cheat day or a cheat meal every once in a while during fasting. Sometimes there is just no way to around it. Eat Stop Eat author Brad Pilon explains it in part 8 ,of this expert interview series.

Today Brad Pilon describes his experience with fasting during one competition.

Craig: Okay, cool. Next question has kind of come from some questions that we’ve seen on Facebook here. People just want some general information on what you’ve seen have been good ways of providing exercise with fasting. That’s a question from Brad Henry.

Another person on Twitter asks, Is it a bad idea to schedule a fast day after endurance exercise, a very long endurance exercise session? They mention a 60 mile bike ride.

You’ve probably heard a whole bunch of different stories of people exercising under fasting conditions or people doing their fast before their workout or doing the fast after. Is there any general way that seems to work really well mentally for people and does it change their results at all?

What have you done in a fasting state? I know you were going to do some competitions or something, but I don’t know if you got around to doing that.

Brad: Yes, I did the power lifting contest back in June. It really depends. This is purely psychological, and it’s WHEN YOU GET YOUR BEST WORKOUT IS WHEN YOU SHOULD BE WORKING OUT even when you’re not fasting. On a normal day if you have better workouts in the morning than at night don’t let anybody tell you that you should be working out at night.

It all depends on when you feel your best, when you have your best lifts, and when your mind is in your workout. It’s easy to go through your workout almost mindless, numb and apathetic just sort of going through the motions, but when you’re actually there and aware, and you know what you’re lifting and why you’re lifting it and what you’re trying to accomplish, when your brain is that into your workout that’s when you want to be there.

Same thing when you’re fasting. If you dread the concept of working out on your fasting days just don’t. I think arguing over the taking advantage of the increased growth hormone during fasting versus taking advantage of the insulin when you’re not fasted, we’re dealing with minutia that’s not going to make real world difference.

It’s fun stuff to debate, but is it going to make a difference in how you look real world? No. It all comes down to when are you getting your BEST MOST SUCCESSFUL WORKOUTS.

When I did that power lifting contest it was fantastic, I loved lifting fasted. However, I’ve always liked it, especially dead lifting. For some reason, dead lifting on a full stomach is never a good idea for me, the same with squatting.

So, I’m more mentally with it when I’m fasting, that’s just me. I don’t think there’s any sort of metabolic explanation, just that’s sort of when I’m in the zone for lifting.

It’s not going to affect your immediate strength in any way shape or form, at least for me it doesn’t and it should for you unless it’s psychological. When it comes down to endurance activity, again, it just comes down to intention.

Obviously if you’re doing a 60 mile bike ride you’re not doing it for fat loss, you’re a biker. So, if your goal is to bike 60 miles in two days  then the fast in between is probably not in line with your goals. If you’re going to bike again the following weekend it does not matter if you throw in a fast right after your bike, because by the time that next weekend comes around you’re going to be nice and recovered and you’re going to be able to do your bike ride regardless.

The whole idea of refueling your body directly after workouts for glycogen repletion is based on the concept for people who have to perform at a high level a very short period of time. However, again, if your goal isn’t fat loss in any way shape or form then just do whatever allows you to perform at your best. Keep your actions in line with your intentions.

Craig: Awesome. Tell us about a little bit more about the power lifting contest. You did it completely fasted, when did you start your fast, when did you end your fast, and how were your results in an absolute and relative term?

Brad: Okay. I’ll just walk you through the whole thing since it’s kind of fun. I remember I was working on that new program I designing. I needed some sort of metric at the end to figure out if I actually got stronger with other people judging my lifts.

So, I decided to do a push-pull, it was like in June. I thought I’d do a few things. I’m like, “I’m going to dial it down for the power lifting meet. I’m actually going to try to get lean for this meet.” One, so I could get into a lower weight class, and two, just to disprove that whole you’ve got eat massive and get fat to get strong.

So, exactly what I did. I think I dropped water to make that weight class. I think I weighed in to get into the 165 pound weight class and I was about 169-170 when I was actually doing my lifts. I did my lifts at the 22-23 hour mark of my fast. Lifts went almost exactly as planned, I had two snags.

One was there’s a very strict technique in just terms of how to go about a meet and I didn’t know this. So, you’ve got three chances to do your lifts, so you get three attempts at a dead lift and in this case three attempts at the bench no squat at the one I was doing. What I didn’t know was the very second you’re done with your lift you’ve got to go and tell the referees what your next lift is going to be.

This is embarrassing being Canadian, but all the lifting weights are done in kilograms and I’m a pounds kind of guy, so I always had to go back and find a calculator and figure out what my next lift was going to be. Yes, I know it’s times 2.2 and it should be easy math, but it just wasn’t. It has nothing to do with fasting, it just has to do with my being bad at math.

So, the dead lifts went really well. I pulled 365 on my last lift, which was obviously by the way I pulled it much less than I’d be capable of, but it was a lift I was easily happy with, so that went fine. The bench press I actually had a little bit of trouble with, and this was weird. This had nothing to do with fasting or feeling tired. The pause at the bottom of a bench press, you know how in a power lifting contest you have to unrack it, bring it down and pause on your chest, and then push it back up.

That pause, I swear to you, is less than a second, but it’s odd because when you’re training on your own you’re in control of how long that second is, so you bring it back down to your chest, and you’re fully aware of when they’re going to say “go” and you push it up, because you’re the one saying “go.” At a meet you don’t have control, someone else is saying it, so if it’s a split second longer than you think it should be a momentary moment of panic where you’re not sure did you miss it, what’s going on, what are they waiting for sort of thing.

So, on the bench press I only got 285 and that was a bit of a disappointing event for me. I really thought that I was going to get my last attempt, which was up in the low three’s, but I just sat there a split second too long. So, if there is for anybody who is thinking of doing their first meet is you’ve got to practice that pause, and it can’t be you practicing it, someone else has to be counting that pause for you, someone else has to say “go,” because otherwise you always know when it’s coming, you’re always anticipating it.

Then the other thing is if you’re even thinking about doing a meet, I highly suggest it, because it’s just a really cool experience. I’ve done power lifting meets. I’ve done bodybuilding competitions, and I can really say that the type you meet and just the experience of doing it is worthwhile.

All in all it went great. The strength was exactly where it was, where I expected it to be, especially considering that I proved again to myself that you can diet down, you can get lean while get stronger, and you can lift really well at a high level of concentration well into the 22-23 hour part of your fast. So, I think it was a great learning experience and it was sort of a fun experiment to do.

That’s all for today’s interview with Brad Pilon. Click on part 9 to find the goal of Eat Stop Eat.