How to Fast Without Slowing Down
Many people use fasting as a tool for optimizing their performance in athletics as well as for mental and spiritual balance. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast for up to 30 days during the daylight hours. Some people use intermittent fasting as a means to lose weight. Many athletes who need to cut weight go through a modified fast in order to be at a certain bodyweight for their competition.
No matter what your reason for fasting, if you wish to remain at your optimal rate of performance, several alterations will have to be made to your regular training regimen.
Watered down – First and foremost is hydration. For those doing fasting for Ramadan or total fasting, this can be very challenging. Adding a bit of sea salt or Himalayan salt to your water when you are able to drink it can help your body retain the necessary water for when you are abstaining. Those who are able to drink during their fast can just be sure to be adequately hydrated.
Timing is everything – The optimal time for training during fasting is largely dependent on when the fast begins and ends. Most athletes will perform at their best either shortly after beginning, or a couple hours after breaking their fast. The worst timing is usually a couple of hours before the fast is scheduled to break. This will be when your gas tank is lowest and your performance will suffer.
Be Mindful – Remember why you are doing this. When it comes time to break the fast, don’t go crazy and gorge on everything in sight. Your reasons may vary, but in the end it’s all about resetting your body and eating an entire bag of cookies is not good for anyone’s body. Make healthy choices based on your own proper diet. The closer you are to the beginning of the fast, make food choices that are going to increase your satiety to keep you feeling full longer, and provide your body with enough fuel for the duration of the fast.
Nap Time – Those fasting for Ramadan may also find their sleep schedule disrupted by the fact that they need break their fast in the late evening and have their final meal before beginning their fast in the very early morning. Since sleeping is a huge factor in recovery, those who can schedule a 45 minute nap during the day can find it reinvigorating and helpful. Those who can’t nap will have to alter their regular schedule to account for the loss in rest times.
Less is more – A very important lesson to learn before embarking on any type of fast is to realize that some things are best left to another time. All the life hacks and optimal performance cheat codes can only do so much. You probably shouldn’t run a marathon. Deadlift 500lbs. Swim the English Channel. Plan your training accordingly. Select a training program with the most effective dose of results, with the level of intensity that you will be able to do consistently.
Don’t Be A Hero – Whether you are fasting for religious purposes, weight loss, general health and well being, or any other reason, please make sure to listen to your body. Hydration and caloric intake are essential to keep your vital organs functioning properly. It’s ok to push the limits, but don’t go beyond them. Protect yourself before you wreck yourself. Ensure adequate protein intake to keep your body from catabolizing your muscles. Especially those fasting for fitness, it’s counterproductive. Be safe.
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