Protein, Fasting and Exercise

(Central Florida Bob ) #1

Here’s the setup.

Since mid-May, I’ve been fasting every other day (well, 3 days/week) and both lifting and bike riding on the fasted days. The time from my last meal runs about 36 or 38 hours before the ride, and usually around 26 or so hours when I lift. I’ve gone from lifting once a week to two and even three, but get better results with once a week, lifting to exhaustion. I ride all 3 fasted days/week.

I don’t seem to be getting as good results as I’d like, as measured by average speed on the bike or by recording the number of reps in the few exercises I do. I have to add that I’ve never in my life been as fast on the bike as I wanted, or lifted as much as I wanted. OTOH, like everyone, I’ve never been this old either.

Should I rearrange my schedule to try ensure I get protein closer to when I exercise, or is that just one of those myths? I’ve heard that after exercise we should get protein within a short period of time (20 minutes?) but I can’t see how it would be available to the muscles for another few hours. Still, perhaps the time after my last meal is too long and the protein not needed for repair is excreted?

I mostly want to ensure I’m not hurting myself doing this!

(Old Baconian) #2

I believe that has been debunked. Firstly, there is a labile pool of amino acids that the body can draw upon, so I don’t see there needing to be a time-limit for getting more protein in. Also, given the nature of life and feeding habits over the majority of the past two million years, I suspect that the body can cope just fine with erratic intakes.

I would guess that it’s probably more important to make sure you are getting adequate amounts of the essential branched-chain amino acids, leucine, iso-leucine, and valine, whenever you do eat. This, however, is just my guess, so don’t treat it as Gospel. I suspect that a lot of these bits of advice got started as someone’s best guess, and by the time they were repeated a few times, they were considered “science.”

(Central Florida Bob ) #3

That has been my take on it, but I’m not aware of how much the pool of amino acids varies with fasting.

I’m re-reading Body by Science again, and I looked around (not extensively) without finding anything. OTOH, fasting was even more of a fringe practice when that was published at the end of 2008.

I also have listened to a lot of the Carnivore Cast shows and I noticed that some of the guys interviewed don’t fast. My impression is that’s because of trying to bulk up and keeping high levels of amino acids available. Is that also a myth?

(KetoQ) #4

Bob –

I’ve read lots of conflicting info regarding protein timing and muscle growth.

I’ve been lifting on a regular basis for a little over a year. I’ve been getting great results in terms of HIIT as well as reps and higher weights. For example, I started my bench press at 95 pounds last Aug. Now I start my bench press day at 205. Take into account I hadn’t lifted in years, so some big increases were just from consistency.

With regards to protein intake, many times I workout at 10pm and do a protein shake when I come home. Sometimes not. If that’s the case I’ll do eggs and salmon the morning after.

My sense is eating protein either right after or during the next meal has had positive effect on muscle growth. I don’t think eating protein right after is necessary, but I do think it is optimum. You and I are 55+, so we’re not training for a sport, so its not a big deal when we eat protein, as long as we are getting enough protein over the course of a day, if muscle growth is a priority.

I also consume 30-40g of protein when I eat. Some claim the body is better at using and metabolizing protein in that amount.

That’s my experience. Good luck.


(Central Florida Bob ) #5

Thanks, Q, that’s an excellent reply.

I’ve also read that around 30-40g of protein is all we can metabolize, but I suspect that’s one of those numbers that has error bars or a “plus or minus” that nobody knows the limits to. It’s hard for me to accept that my wife, who’s over 14 inches shorter than I and close to half my weight, would metabolize the same amount as me, and the same amount as a 300 pound NFL lineman who’s a foot taller than me.

I just had an hour in the dentist’s chair, about 3/4 of that reading Body by Science and I can see a bunch of things I could be doing better. I’m trying to lift the heaviest weight I can do no more than 10 reps of, but my hardware doesn’t allow that kind of weight. We have a Bowflex and if I check the load on the bar, the actual resistance you’re getting is about 1/4 of what the power bands say. For every exercise I do, I’m using the entire set of the power bands (and power bands sounds better than rubber bands).

I’m trying to build some more strength, because additional strength is always good. Muscle mass is good, to help glucose and insulin metabolism for sure, but strength for life is really what I’m after. In the last week, I’ve had to put up shutters for Dorian and do a dozen other things where strength just makes big jobs less of a problem.

(Bob M) #6

I usually do three days of exercise. Day 1 (Tuesday) has about 28 minutes or so of lifting to failure for each set for legs, rotator cuff, romanian deadlifts, and abs, then Dreadmill for 14 minutes, 1:30 the high time, at about 6.7 miles/hour. Day 2 (Thursay) has about 35 minutes or so of lifting to failure for each set for back, chest, arms, and abs, then Dreadmill for 14 minutes, 1:30 the high time, at about 6.7 miles/hour. Saturday, I go jogging outside for about 30-40 minutes, plus some abs. I will be doing body weight exercises once my straps get here (Friday), then jogging.

I have a torn rotator cuff and one repaired torn rotator cuff. So, there are tons of exercises I cannot do (anything overhead, squats, bench presses with a barbell, side laterals, etc.).

What I do is eat higher protein when I’m hungry after my Tuesday or Thursday workouts. I also do that other times, though. For instance, today my lunch on a Wednesday was the following: “19 ounces top round, 1 can wild tuna 130 cals, 0 fat, 30 g protein, slice of blue cheese, olives, somewhere about 150g protein, 44g fat for the meat/fish.” As you can see, I’m not shy about eating protein, and I don’t try to hit some arbitrary “macro”. Yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) meal was similar, and was about 10am, after 37 hours of fasting with a workout.

Does it work? I have no idea. I would need two of me to determine whether this is good or bad, relative to trying something else. But it hasn’t seemed to hurt.

(Katie) #7

Yes, as far as I know (and I have been learning a lot about this stuff for a long time) this is a myth. There really is not a huge difference between 20 minutes after your work out and 2 hours. However, I do not recommend continuing your longer fast for very much longer after your workouts if you seeing gainz and speed is your priority.

Check out Ben Greenfield’s Q&A podcasts. He often talks about keto and exercising.

(Joey) #8

Love this comment. With two of you, it’d be possible to conduct n=2 tests for a change.

My view is that if one commits to a regular workout routine it’s essential to construct some reasonable form of rotation - both to permit recovery and to manage time to reach the whole body. Trying to do it all on any particular day is exhausting and, over time, too much to comfortably maintain.

Having settled into a comfy routine of daily stretching and Tai Chi, I also include daily cardio with a “rolling” 3-day schedule of strength training (bodyweight resistance) for (1) upper body, (2) lower body, and (3) core-oriented exercises. This provides for 2-days of recovery between each focus area, while keeping me engaged in a dose of strength training of some kind pretty much every day. Seems to be working out nicely.

(Central Florida Bob ) #9

Thanks, Katie. On my riding days, I typically will eat within 1-1/2 to 2 hours of the ride. This conversation is making me think of moving my lifting to an eating day when I can eat within that kind of time window. The gains I’m after are in strength rather than size.

(Eric - The patient needs to be patient!) #10

I wish I could remember the podcast but there was a PhD in muscle physiology that said lucene 30g source with 90 minutes helps build size but size is not necessary for strength and you can eat long after and strength will still build. I really should log my podcast listening. I don’t fast on my resistance to failure days but I do these in the early am and some days eat right away and somedays skip breakfast. My other resistance days are volumentric and I don’t push them. Just feels good to exercise. I have two days between these. M,T vol Th, Fr to failure. Lower first, next day Upper, rinse repeat.

(Katie) #11

I think that eating on a lifting day would be best.

For pursuing strength instead of size, make sure to be following a strength program instead of a hypertrophy program.

(KetoQ) #12

Bob –

Came across a video this morning that addresses some of the topics we’ve been talking about here: protein absorption, muscle protein synthesis and muscle building challenges as people age into their 40’s and 50’s, especially in the context of keto and fasting lifestyles. Hope you find it useful.

(Central Florida Bob ) #13

Thanks, Q!

I have to run to get a few things done, but I’ve opened it a new tab to watch when I get a chance.

Today is a fasting day. The forecast for riding weather in the morning is awful, so I’ll probably use the indoor trainer. I think Saturday morning is going to become my lifting day, because I’ll be able to eat a lunch within two hours of the workout.

(Anthony) #14

No doubt protein after exercise helps the muscle to heal, and make them ready for the next workout. Some people experience side effects too like bloating, gas, and stomach cramps. It means you should plan your diet after exercise according to your fitness and health conditions. Many side effects of protein intake are related to lactose intolerance.

(Old Baconian) #15

For muscle growth, you need the three essential branched-chain amino acids: leucine, iso-leucine, and valine. The other BCAA’s your body needs for muscle-building can be manufactured from other amino acids. The essential BCAA’s have to come from diet.

The list of ingredients on a protein supplement should be read with great care. Lots of stuff in a lot of supplements that might not be good.

(Kenny Croxdale) #16

Protein After Exericise

Research (Dr Brad Schoenfeld) determined that protein or eating something immediately after exercise isn’t necessary.

You can eat hours later and be fine.


As Paul noted in his post, what is important is making sure you consume the right quality and amount of protein, when you do have it.

Leucine is he anabolic amino acid. Older individual need to consume about 3.0 grams of protein to fee the muscles. (Research Drs Donald Layman and Layne Norton)

That means a meal of quality protein need to be around 40 grams.

If not consuming Branch Chain Amino Acids that contain 3.0 grams will work.

Kenny Croxdale