A lot of people on Instagram have been asking me if I work out on fast days.
Yes. I do.
“I’m fasting today” sounds like the perfect excuse to skip the gym, but I don’t fall into this trap (too often). Plenty of studies suggest working out on an empty stomach is not only safe, but can help you burn more fat than if you eat before a workout.
I had concerns about this when I started fasting: “am I going to get dehydrated and pass out? Where will I get the energy to work out if I don’t eat during the day?” Sound familiar to any of you starting to embrace the possibility of intermittent fasting in your lives?
I’ve been doing hot power yoga for about 7 years now. It helps me get a good sweat on, gives me some definition in my arms, and gets me moving so I don’t settle into old age at this point of my mid-30s. It may not be cross fit or running or weight lifting, but it’s the only workout I’ve been able to consistently tolerate for more than a few years at a time. And isn’t that what everyone needs: a form of physical activity they enjoy?
In the book, The FastDiet, the authors encourage working out on fasting days, so I gave it a try. Back then, I had a different work schedule and I was able to work out in the mornings. For early workouts, I always ate afterward anyway (fast day or not), so I thought this would be the easiest approach. My body wouldn’t even realize it was fasting yet. I got my exercise in, stayed hydrated throughout the day, and all was well. Once I realized working out while fasting wouldn’t kill me, I tried an evening workout on a fast day — when I was mid-hunger. That turned out to be fine too. So as long as I feel good (hunger aside) and I’m able to hydrate, I definitely work out on fast days. After all, it’s one more thing to keep me distracted from thoughts like “I really want fries right now”.
When I started fasting, I was getting to the yoga studio between 4 and 6 days per week. I moved less than a year ago and the studio I go to now isn’t as easy for me to get to, so I only work out 3-5 days per week…but more like 3…and sometimes 1. Fasting helps me control my weight enough that I don’t see working out as “urgent” anymore. Good for peace of mind, but probably not so good for the body. Exercise is still a priority for me, but I don’t freak out if I have a busy week and can’t make it to yoga.
Workout or not, I still keep it to 500 calories or less on fasting days. Burning calories gets me no reward of eating extra calories. Sorry to disappoint if that’s what you really came here to find out.