HOW I'M DOING INTERMITTENT FASTING WITH MORNING WORKOUTS
Flexibility has been my secret to sticking with intermittent fasting. That’s twice as true now that I’m back to hitting the gym early in the morning. While I enjoyed the benefits of 16:8 fasting over the summer, my return to strength training forced me to retool my strategy. Here’s what happened.
I was loving my daily yoga practice, but I missed the endorphin high of a heart-pounding, sweat-inducing spin class or strength training session. So early last month, I decided to mix things up and started Kelsey Wells PWR At Home program on the Sweat App. At that point, I had been doing 16:8 intermittent fasting for almost two months and was feeling great! That changed as soon as my workouts did.
If I worked out at from 5:30-6:30am, I was hungry by 7 and ravenous by 8. I tried to push through it for a couple weeks to see if my body would adjust. After all, these feelings weren’t all that different from what I experienced when I first tried intermittent fasting.
Then I began feeling foggy and tired in the afternoons. I was still sleeping great, so I assumed it was just what I was eating rather than when I was eating. I shifted my calorie intake to a larger breakfast and a lighter lunch, and avoided sugar like the plague. No change. Instead, I began feeling downright depleted. I even fell asleep in James’ bed one night around 7:45!
Then one morning I stood up after bending over and saw stars so badly that I had to sit down on the floor and put my head between my legs. That’s how I knew it was time to throw in the towel. This was beyond mere discomfort; it was straight up unhealthy! It was time to stop.
Intermittent Fasting IS Possible With Morning Workouts
Never one to give up easily, I began Googling ways to incorporate intermittent fasting into a morning workout routine. Every nutritional expert said the same thing: you need to have a protein-rich snack within 30 minutes of finishing a workout not only for muscle recovery, but also to avoid fatigue and brain fog.
Thus, if I want to do a 14-16 hour fast with a 5:30am workout, I need to start my fast at 4:45p to ensure at least a 14-hour fasted period. That would mean skipping family dinners. Not only is that a special time for bonding, but can you imagine how hard it would be to convince my 4-year-old to clean his plate when I hadn’t eaten anything?
No thank you.
12:12 Intermittent Fasting
This realization had me really bummed. I loved the lack of bloat and better sleep I experienced with intermittent fasting, but I knew a 16-hour fast wasn’t for me. However, I wondered if those positive results had less to do with the length of the fast and more to do with the gut-sleep connection.
I decided to test this theory by moving our dinner slightly earlier so that I could begin my fast at 7p, which gave my stomach at least 3 hours to digest before I went to bed at 10p. I then broke my fast just before 7a with a matcha collagen latte, followed by a light breakfast. This created a 12-hour fasted period, which still provides anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits.
A few weeks into my new routine, I’m sleeping great and am still feeling digestively on point! I also like that 12:12 enables me to be even more consistent with intermittent fasting, particularly on weekends since I don’t wake up for pre-dawn workouts. Rolling from a late dinner with friends on a Saturday to brunch with the family on Sunday feels natural, not scheduled!
While I do feel like I had a little more energy with the 16:8 plan, I’m happy to have found a solution that enables me to enjoy the health benefits of intermittent fasting without overtaxing my body.