Help: Fasting and Lifting Question?


Cross posted at IDM/ please do not berate me or troll me if you disagree with fasting vehemently.

Hello everyone, I have practiced EF and IF for about the last year with a great deal of success. I have dropped down about 65 lbs from my top weight over the last few years and I am about to get a DXA scan to approximate the total body composition change after 1 year.

To make a longer story short, though I did a lot of EF in the past, I have had a rough time of doing EF in the last few months. It also previously became harder after shifting to a mostly carnivore WOE. It was never “easy” for me, but I was able to do it pretty regularly.

Starting in November I adopted a 4 to 5x per week workout regimen, which I really enjoy, including 3x per week of pretty intense weight lifting with 2x per week cardio. I didn’t scale it up to that level all at once but it sort of happened as a learned more about weight lifting routines and started to like it and feel benefits. I didn’t at all intend to get addicted to the weight lifting part, but here I am.

In terms of diet I am pretty much following Ted Naiman’s high protein, low carb, no restriction of fat in meats ad libitem WOE (with the caveat that I allow myself to drink dry red wine on the weekend). A species of “keto” where I avoid eating exogenous and unnecessary fats and I consume very few vegetables. I used to call myself a type of “dirty” carnivore, but I avoid upsetting those folks with their ownership of the nomenclature. I usually eat 2x per day, and I have been trying to fast like I used to but one of the consequences of my new MO is that I have a REALLY REALLY hard time fasting more than 22-24 hours. When I do eat I keep it clean and don’t “cheat”- but I can’t count the number of times I have planned a 36-48 hour fast and ended up caving under extraordinary hunger. To be clear, I am not anymore prediabetic, A1C 4.9, but I still have body fat to clear up. I do think my body composition is changing for the better, but I want to be able to utilize fasting to continue burning unnecessary fat-- i’m probably 70% to my goal body composition.

My question: Anyone else have experience with this issue with fasting being so much harder with workouts? It seems rather obvious that working out increases appetite, but I don’t eat tons more I just feel like it’s almost impossible to ride out the hunger waves as opposed to trying EF without exercise. Should I just embrace doing 3x 24 hours at this point? Am I the person who is going to be able to benefit from 24 hour fasting? I always felt like 24 hours didn’t really get results. As I’m lifting I can’t say how many lbs I am away from a goal weight anymore, but it seems to me if I keep this up it will all work out with better body composition ( I have gained “weight” and my clothes fit the same), though I am concerned that I will just pack on muscle still covered up with fat that needs to be taken off with fasting.

Maybe I should give up on trying to do EF and stick with frequent IF?

About me: about +/- 230lb male (lowest was 224), 35 years old, 6 feet 5 inches. Top weight +/- 290ish back in 2016.

Any ideas?

(Windmill Tilter) #2

Our story is a bit similar. I started 2019 at around 265lbs and dropped down to 220lbs by Mid-April while doing 3:3 fasting in conjunction with lifting weighting. My fasts were always about 84 hours, I’d lift heavy, break the fast and then feast like crazy. Rinse and repeat. My diet was Dirty Carnivore™ just like yours (I own the trademark so it’s cool for us to use it). Here is my chart of fasting and calories, it expands in size if you click it for clarity. Some of the feasting days were nuts (those 5000kcal days aren’t typos!) but I always ate to satiety on feasting days. After 4 months of that work got crazy and I more or less backed off from fasting and lifting because neither were sustainable with 100 hour work weeks. By the end, the fasts were still generally effortless, but I did have some days where my energy was crap which was atypical. I basically coasted for the rest of the year with some dirty keto.

I’m starting back up again doing more or less the same thing, except this time around I’m dropping down to 2Fast:2Feast. When I hit 200lbs I’m planning to drop to 2Fast:3Feast. I’m still lifting throughout and it’s been going well.

It’d be helpful to hear more about your lifting and your cardio. What kind of lifts are you doing on each weekday, with reps and sets and so forth. I think it’s very plausible to adjust your lifting schedule and approach so that you’re able to continue fasting more comfortably, still gain muscle, and drop fat at a respectable pace. The cardio sounds like it might be the first causality in finding a balance of workouts and EF (unless you like that the most).

As far as extended fasting, what was your past schedule? What is your current schedule? What days do you fast? How many hours are the fasts? Were you tracking calories for the feasts? Last but not least, have you had your resting metabolic rate tested? What was it relative to the Mifflin St Jeor predicted RMR?

I’m willing to bet you can get back on track with the fasting with some tweaks. Fasting should be pretty effortless, if it’s not, it’s probably smart to address in one way or another.

(Bunny) #3

Read this:


I am currently just lifting one day a week and it’s on the weekend and I usually eat full days then. I used to lift heavy and frequent back in the day and hunger was always different during times of lifting and times I didn’t lift. I think the stress of lifting signals the body to replenish nutrients and that’s one reason that many people lift fasted and then feed. It definitely plays a role in hunger and I could see a fast being more difficult doing that. Like the person said above, try working out and end the fast after the workout.

(KetoQ) #5

HI MTullius –

Love your approach to fasting and weight training. At the expense of writing a short novel here on my own experiences with fasting, exercise and weight training, here is a suggestion:

Lift as often as you want, I suggest 2-3x week, and on those days, eat ad libitum the way you want, whether that be carnivore, dirty carnivore, keto, low carb or clean eating. Eating 30-60g of protein right after weight training seems to help with muscle gains for me. I also feel that creatine has been a great benefit as well. I feel I can handle higher weights when using creatine.

On your fasting days, just walk. No weight training, no high intensity cardio. I used to fast beginning with dinner on Wed evening, then fast as far into Saturday as I could. I would lose 6-8 lbs of water weight, gain most of it back 24-48 hours after, but end up with a net loss of .25 to .33 lbs. The weight loss started to add up.

I used to get very hungry after weight training, and still do, so why fight it?. Not so hungry after walking. See how it works.

Good luck,


I was in very much the same point as yourself, 6’4", doing IF and eating 2x a day, and lifting heavy 2-3x / week and doing cardio on most off days. I would do a 24 hour fast once or twice a week.

When I increased lifting from 2x a week to 3x, I also had a hard time fasting for a full day. I started to incorporate more fats into my diet (I was eating a higher then normal portion of protein) and that did the trick for me. I feel that I have more energy, and I just did two 24 hour fasts in a row. Not sure if eating more fats will help you, but it did me.

(Windmill Tilter) #7

Time restricted eating like 16:8 or OMAD is definitely more comfortable for most people while doing heavy weight training. It definitely is for me. When you start doing extended fasting in conjunction with heavy lifting like @MTullius was talking about things get a little weirder, and the timing of the fasting vs lifting plays a big role.

Try doing OMAD for 5 days straight at 2500kcal, 150g protein a day lifting every other day for a total of 3 workouts. Next try water fasting for 5 straight days, lifting heavy every other day for a total of 3 workouts just as before. It’s a very different experience! In the former, you have 12500kcals and 750g of exogenous protein to work with; in the latter you get whatever your body can scavenge via lypolysis and autophagy.

Moreover, the relative contribution to total daily energy expenditure from lypolysis vs autophagy will be regulated by adiposity. If you attempt this at a BMI of 40, it will be a completely different experience than if you do it a a BMI of 20. Why? Because the body will begin to preserve fat reserves and prioritize lean mass catabolism as a function of adiposity. The experience of getting 30% of you calories from catabolizing your own lean mass is much less comfortable. Take a look at this handy chart of lean mass catabolism as a function of BMI and you’ll see what I mean.

Put succinctly, the skinnier you get, the more critical it is to manage the timing and duration of fasts in relation to your lifting schedule. That’s my 2 cents anyway.

(Windmill Tilter) #8

That’s not the whole story, nor even the most important consideration however.

Metabolic adaptation to fasting is an additional problem that is seldom discussed and poorly understood. In the literature we see subjects who are performing an extended fast for the first time. Dr. Fung has a great chart showing that not only does RMR not go down during 4 days of fasting, it actually goes up a tiny bit. That’s lovely, except for one thing: no study has ever been conducted with subjects performing extended fasting for a second time let alone a 20th time. I’ll write that again so it isn’t glossed over: no study has ever been conducted with subjects performing extended fasting for a second time.

What are the implications of this? In order to believe that our RMR will remain stable over the course of that same 4 day block time after time, it’s necessary for us to assume that the most dynamic, most adaptive system in our bodies (our metabolism) will not adapt to the single greatest possible metabolic stress we are capable of subjecting it to. Sound ridiculous? It is.

At the IDM clinic, they like to use the euphemism “fasting muscle” in the context of “don’t wear out your fasting muscle”. The term is meant to convey the idea that people who fast for too long or who fast too often, or who fast for too long and too often, quickly burn out and lose the capacity to fast. It happens quite a lot. Obviously, there is no physical “fasting muscle”, nor is it a psychological limitation of the human will. Such people have experienced physiological adaptations such that their ability to water fast for extended periods of time has become impaired. Put differently, people who fast for too long, or too often experience a metabolic adaptation to fasting.

What does that look like with respect to resting metabolic rate? Well, since it has literally never been studied in the literature, the best source happens to be our forums very own @primal.peanut. He purchased an indirect calorimeter exactly like they use in a bariatricians office or weight loss clinic. He also fasted on 5:2 fasting schedule on a continuous basis with 120hr fasts and 48 feasts for several months. He measured his RMR daily. Basically the perfect test subject with the perfect measurement tool. You reckon his metabolism adapted to this incredible feeding schedule, or that it remained like Dr. Fung’s chart? Let’s take a look.

The first chart is from Dr. Fung’s book “The Obesity Code” and the “The Complete Guide to Fasting” it uses the abbreviation REE (resting energy expenditure which is the same thing as RMR aka resting metabolic rate). It shows the metabolism stays amazingly constant over 4 days. The subjects were fasting for the first time. The second chart shows Peanut’s actual daily RMR as measured on a KORR indirect calorimeter as a function of fasting or feeding. Spot the difference???

I purchased an indirect calorimeter last spring as well to see if my own RMR pattern was similar to @ peanuts. It was. Here is a chart of my RMR vs hours fasting that I took last year while I was fasting/feasting on a 3:3 schedule.

My point is, we adapt to frequent extended fasting. It appears that we down-regulate our metabolism as we exhaust exogenous calories and switch to lypolysis. The shift can be considerable, in Peanut’s case it was 450kcal/day like clockwork, which is positively massive. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Peanut for example is at his ideal weight and fit as a fiddle, but even so it’s poorly understood. The timing and duration of fasts is important, and the timing of fasts in relation to weightlifting is equally important. You can do both, but some ways of doing it make more sense than others.


Thanks very much for this information. Very helpful!

(Central Florida Bob ) #10

@Don_Q - thanks for this!

I’ve been struggling with both trying to get the most out of my sorta-BBS workouts and still trying to drop some weight. I’m doing the latter against observations and my experiences doing alternate day fasts, 3 fasts/week, from May until November - six months.

Empirically (N=1, natch) I seem to be in that nasty spot where I can’t really lose weight without fasting, but then that stalls out after a few months. I’ve concluded our bodies adapt and I haven’t figured a way around that. Both your data and @primal.peanut’s back that idea up. The only thing I don’t see is the semi-random fasting schedule some people do where they wake up and flip a coin or do some other type of random choice to decide if they fast that day.

Last October, I began to notice getting cold hands and feet around 25 hours into a fast. It was not cold here in October. I eventually mixed up my 3x/week bike rides, moving the ride from about 38 hours fasted ahead 24 hours to 14 hours fasted.

It really helped with the cold hands, but my weight was stalled that month, from mid-October until mid-November, when I decided to temporarily give it up and call myself in maintenance.

Now, I’m trying to do a weight session once a week and I haven’t tried fasting longer than 24 hours (OMAD) in the first three days after the weights. All I can say is nothing dramatic has happened but OMAD seems to help.

You mention indirect calorimeters, and a search on eBay shows two different price classes; one is around $400 and the others range from $1100 to $3200. I might be able to swing the lower priced one, but not the other. I don’t know what’s available and trustworthy.

Searching for directions to go. Not finding anything conclusive. It seems that in those last few pounds of loss this might be the answer to figuring out what to do, but I sure don’t see it.

(Windmill Tilter) #11

The better devices are made by Korr. I wouldn’t recommend buying used unless you really know what you’re doing. Pretty much all of the indirect calorimeters on ebay have an expired O2 sensor (they only last 18-24 months). Depending on the model, you’re looking at $800-$1000 to have the O2 sensor replaced and to have the device re-calibrated. You have no way of knowing if the machine even works, won’t be able to get a refund if it doesn’t, and will still owe Korr $1,000 if it’s a dud.

A less risky, less expensive option would be to just shell out the cash a-la-cart to have it tested locally in a weight loss clinic, or high end fitness studio. There are national chains that do this like DexaFit who will do it for $75-$100, but you can probably get a better deal with a small mom and pop outfit. A high end personal trainer that owns one of these is ideal. They may charge $75 to test ordinarily, but if your schedule is flexible, you can probably make a deal to commit to 5 tests, prepay it and pay half that. Here is a link to the Korr facility finder. It’s a list of all the folks with registered Korr devices in your neck of the woods. There will be more than you think.

My 2 cents is that you should stop trying to move the needle with ADF or OMAD for a while. It’s likely digging the whole deeper.

Bear in mind that pretty much all ADF research was done on obese subjects, and their metabolisms still dropped. Most of these studies were 8-10 weeks; you did it for 6 months. Also, you’re only a few lbs from goal weight, so your body is going to react very differently then theirs to 48hrs without food. You will burn more lean mass, less fat, and in all likelihood you will down-regulate your metabolism more. Your body will automatically do the first two, and you’ve trained it to do the latter. Take a look at this chart of the % of lean mass lost as a function of BMI. You’re burning muscle:

I know Fung takes pains to distinguish between lean mass and muscle, but the leaner you get, more muscle is going to be targeted. Lifting weights is going to help, but if you’re operating at a net loss of muscle for months on end, it’s not good. You know as well as I do that replacing or building new lean muscle at your age is damn hard to do. I know you’ve read McGuff, and are savvy to how important skeletal muscle is for over-all health, the myokine signalling business and all that jazz so I won’t waste electrons on any of that. From my perspective, preserving muscle mass is priority #1 based on where you are, and ADF and OMAD are catabolizing it faster than you can replace it. Put differently, losing 5 more lbs of fat would be a minor victory, losing 5 more pounds of lean mass would be a disaster.

It’s a cliche to say that long term OMAD will reduce your metabolic rate. Nobody knows that because nobody has ever studied it. That said, Fung says it, and although he has never released any of his data from hundreds of test subjects, his recommendations are probably worth listening to. Everyone else in the world is just bullshitting: Fung has test results. From a logical perspective, if you do indeed have a metabolic adaptation to fasting, letting it think even for a moment that it might not get fed that day seems like a bad idea!

The RMR piece is a bit tricky. I’d guess that your RMR is running below where it should be. How much lower obviously depends on a lot of factors, not least is how aggressively you feasted on your eating days. If you are concerned about it, I’d suggest you get your RMR tested. Get it tested at least once once while eating at maintenance for a few days, and once while 30 hrs fasted. Compare your results to the predicted value based on the Mifflin St Jeor equation based on height/weight/age. The first test will tell you the how much your baseline RMR has been reduced over the last couple of years of weight loss, the latter will tell you size of your defensive metabolic adaptation to fasting.

If your RMR is normal. You’ll be out $100 and you’ll have one less thing to worry about. If you RMR is in the tank, you’ll want to fix that. The RMR is the best proxy we have for overall metabolic health including your whole endocrine system, which happens to be at the steering wheel when it comes to fat regain. I’ll bet $5 that when you go off-program you regain fat right at an astonishing rate. If so, that’s not so great. Best to bribe the driver, and get things back on course. It is possible to raise your RMR, but it won’t be quick fix, and it you probably won’t like it.

Again, all of this is just my two cents, and skimming back through it sounds like I think that I know what I’m talking about. I don’t. Editing it with more caveats would take a lot of time, so I’ll leave it in brain dump form. :yum:

(Windmill Tilter) #12

One thing that would be really helpful in devising an RMR boosting strategy would be if you have data on daily Kcals and daily weight. With that info, we can get a pretty good sense of how your metabolism is performing. People don’t like CICO, and neither do I. It’s too simplistic and fails to take hormones into account. The ironic thing is, the longer you’re on keto, the more accurate CICO becomes. This is because keto actually does bring your hormones back into balance and your metabolism becomes regulated properly. If your metabolism is being regulated properly hormonally, it logically follows that CICO should be predictive.

Following this line of reasoning, it follows that if you were to use a basic CICO equation of calories-in vs calories-out in conjunction with predicted fat loss/gain per day based on that energy balance, and plot it on a graph vs actual calories-in vs actual calories-out vs actual scale weight, and you did so over a long period of time, the divergence between the CICO predicted line and the actual weight will tell you how metabollically healthy you are. If the divergence is small, your metabolism is running well. If the divergence is large, you’re hormonally disregulated and your metabolism is not functionally properly.

I did this experiment myself over the course of around 4 months last year, while doing continuous feast:fast on a 84/60 schedule (fast 84hrs:feast 60hrs). I set the CICO equation once on day 0, and let it iterate forward without adjustments. It had no idea what actual weight was except day 0. To keep the model honest, I essentially ate the same 5-6 foods every day during those months, weighed all my food, and limited activity to a single BBS session every 6th day. The results were astonishing. Despite my insane fasting schedule, and my crazy swings in RMR during feast fast cycles due to metabolic adaptation, the CICO formula was unbelievably predictive.

Here is the chart of my actual weight in blue, my actual calories per day in red are measured on the right Y axis, and the predicted weight is in yellow. Click on the chart and it will increase in size for clarity. Even though I was eating 6000kcals on some of those days and 0 on half of them, the predictive model stayed right on the money.

If you have similar data (kcal/day,daily weight), it would be very helpful in devising a strategy to raise your RMR, increase lean mass, and slowly normalize your metabolism away from fat-gain/survival mode.


I used to do a ton of fasting, lots of 5 day and a couple 7 day ones. I wouldn’t do a week long one more than once a month but over time had issues with my weights progressing and I had to stop. With the heavy lifting we definitely have a harder time fasting. The metabolic load is pretty good on us when your lifting heavy. I also definitely lost a lot of strength thanks to it. I’ve seen/read lots saying that we don’t loose muscle doing them, but the plates on the bar don’t lie. When I stopped and up’d calories the weights starting going back up and I did a lot better. For the first couple days of each fast I felt awesome, and that was lifting 4-5x week and cardio on the off days. I now make sure I’m eating more on lifting days and make sure I hit my protein goal daily. Strength progress has been trending in the right direction since then.

(Central Florida Bob ) #14

Thanks for the tons of info.

I get a return for Korr affiliated fitness site within 3 miles, but don’t find them with any other search tools. I’ll have to see if I can find out if there is such a place. The address is mangled and doesn’t work out to be any place I know around here.

I’m going to bet that most of us have done the calorie shuffle before. Trying to “eat less and move more”, the universal answer from virtually every doctor. What I have against CICO is the fact that they’re not independent of each other. If we eat less our metabolism can slow down to make do with what’s coming in and if we eat more, our metabolism can go up so that we burn more rather than store all the excess. Then add to that the fact that you can be sure that no two identical-looking cuts of meat or no two identical-looking pieces of fruit have exactly the same number of calories and all you can hope for is to come within a “a few” percent of the calculated value. I think we’ve all seen these calculations enough to be blue in the face.

I’m going to try to emphasize “eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full” and most importantly try to allow at least 16 hours between dinner and breakfast. I usually do about 18/6 time restricted eating/IF/whatever you want to call it. On the days I’ve been doing OMAD, there’s really been no effort involved. I don’t have to do a bunch of stuff to suppress my hunger. Sometimes I get busy and forget to eat, but most of the time it’s more like not feeling like it. On the other hand, there are days when I’m hungry by 10AM.

My Renpho body composition scale, FWIW, says that since the middle of November, I gained 6.4 lbs. 2.0 lbs lean body mass and 4.4 pounds fat.

(Eric - The patient needs to be patient!) #15

Thanks for this data point. This is helpful.

(Eric - The patient needs to be patient!) #16

@CFLBob and @Don_Q

I do body by science training 1 day a week. Was 2 / week last year. My weight is stalled at 185 to 190 lbs for about 6 months. I’m okay with that for now. I can tell that my body is smaller in most places and that I have lost a lot of visceral fat. Literally I can feel improvements in my arms and legs weekly 2 to 3 days post workout.

And my blood pressure is dropping now even with removing 1 med and hopefully the 2nd med of 4 soon.

My belly, at it’s largest, is larger but that is because the subcutaneous fat has fallen from above and collected just above my belt line. I’m not into tracking like @Don_Q so I’m just letting my body recompose. I’ll have to decide, maybe by the end of 2020, what to do about my weight. But for now I’m enjoying the new me body.

This is another great thread on the forum that I enjoy reading. Thanks for the content. Now I’m off to my resistance training.

(Central Florida Bob ) #17

I’m doing my workouts 1 day/week and generally ride an hour or so 3x/week. My sorta-BBS workout is “sorta” because I don’t go to a gym, I use our old Bowflex. Those elastic bars are actually deceptively rated and for most of my workout, I use the entire set of bars. Those are marked as close to 200 lbs on each side (it’s possible to use one side for certain setups), but don’t measure (on a scale) anywhere near that. I can’t reach load failure on them, and I’m emphasizing TUL. It’s more like one of the slow movement workouts (ISTRC the name Super Slow).

I was stalled for a month and was trying to come up with things that might help and my wife started telling me she thought I was getting too obsessive about those last five pounds. Combined with my concerns about metabolic slowdowns during the fasts and possibly even shortage of some key nutrients, it convinced me to give it a rest. I figured I’d gain back 5 pounds pretty easily, and did that within the first couple of weeks. When it got to 10 pounds gained (from minimum), I started getting nervous again. Today, I’m at 202, and quit my ADFs when I was 193. I can’t say anything about recomposition or clothes fitting differently. About all I can tell is that adding a few minutes of bodyweight squats on top of 15 miles on the bike has made my thighs feel more solid and possibly bigger. Well, there might be some subtle changes to my arms.