Saturday, 26 March 2016

Eat & Move Series 2016 | How to successfully train and maintain a healthy muscle building diet while fasting

This is how I successfully continued training and maintained a healthy muscle building diet while fasting

Some would call what I've done over the last 6 weeks self sabotage.  I'll confess, I sometimes felt like it was, at some points s.  What else would you call consciously deciding to engage in a no meat for 6 weeks and liquid only on 2 days fast?!?!

My objective in deciding to fast was not to lose weight as it is commonly associated.  As a matter of fact, I do not subscribe to the idea of restricting the body of certain foods in order to affect ones weight.  I believe in a healthy and balanced diet, supported by exercise (workouts, training, yoga, etc) to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and body composition.  I have explicitly stated or alluded to this in a many a previous post.

That being the case, it may be difficult for you to grasp my decision to fast.  You may think it Hypocritical...  Counter productive...  Confusing...
Allow me to describe, explain and justify my actions over the last 6 weeks.


The USCCB's theme for Lent 2016 is
"...conscious of the need to turn the mind towards those realities which really counts..."

That's it... my whole description, explanation, and justification

The season on the Catholic Calendar beginning on Ash Wednesday and extending for the period of 40 days (Sundays not inclusive), ending on Holy Thursday, when the Easter Triduum commences.
"During Lent, the Church asks us to surrender ourselves to prayer and to the reading of Scripture, to fasting and to giving alms. The fasting that all do together on Fridays is but a sign of the daily Lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities.""In a particular way during this Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy that "remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbors in body and spirit." 
Understanding the purpose of a Lenten Fast, I carefully considered the effects of such a fast on my body and the goals I have set for 2016 which pertain to my body.  I did quite a bit of research before settling on my method: 
  • No meat (poultry, fish & seafood allowed) through entire Lenten season
  • Liquid Only 2days per week (consumption of only liquid meals/snacks for 8hrs)
I wanted to the best of my ability, prevent my fast from crippling my Feb & Mar goals specifically.
  • February - Snacking: Introduce and establish snacking to daily diet
  • March - Schedule: Determine and establish times to train throughout week

By removing meat from my diet, I eliminated a major source of iron and protein, which are considered building blocks of muscles.  However, I increased consumption of poultry and fish, which are also considered essential to muscle building.  My diet also contained other sources of protein such as eggs, beans and legumes.  These also provide other essential nutrients, support protein synthesis and maintain and supports healthy and normal organ functions, that contribute to muscle development and growth.  And of course, I maintained an overall balanced diet.  I was also able to substitute meat in snacks for poultry, fish or high protein vegan/vegetarian options (such as hummus).  So, my goal of Snacking was not affected.  Nor was there any negative impact on overall diet composition.

Moreover, I was able to expand my diet through the introduction of new foods, which support training and a muscle building program, as well as complement a Natural Journey towards a Healthy Lifestyle.

Consuming liquids only for 8 hours on 2 days was a bit more challenging.  I had to ensure that on these days I was still obtaining the required nutrients (and total calories) necessary to maintain what I have achieved thus far (in terms of muscle development), and also a healthy diet.  I relied very heavily on my not so new discovery and love Green Smoothies.

I accepted my first 30 day Green Smoothie Challenge to develop healthy habits and support my Natural Journey.  Little did I know, that these surprisingly delicious concoctions would not only support my Natural Journey, but my diet, goals, and now fasting through Lent.  Green Smoothies have so many healthy side effects.  I have experienced improvements in my skin and hair, when my objective was increasing nutritional sources in my diet.

These smoothies also support a muscle building diet as they normally include ingredients such as dark leafy greens, loads of fruits and even vegetables, almond and coconut milks, and of course water.  All of which you can find high on any list of top foods essential to muscle development and growth.  And they're all healthy and good for you! Additionally, I added other ingredients, including yogurt, peanut butter and oats, to further increase smoothie nutrition content, over the fasting period.
Carrying out this fast, even on 2 days, did not affect training.  In March my NTC Program ran for 3 days per week, and I was able to schedule them around fasting days.  Therefore my training schedule was not affected, nor was there any concern of obtaining required whole food and nutrition on those days.

In conclusion, there was no sabotage.
A healthy diet was maintained.
A balanced diet was maintained.
I would go as far as saying, even improved these by the addition of new healthy foods to my diet. Required level of training was maintained.
  • adjusting amounts of allowed food sources
  • introducing different sources of essential nutrients
  • adding 'superfoods' and 'boosters' (eg oats, coconut oil, chia seeds, yogurt)

You too can maintain a healthy balanced muscle building (or other goal oriented eg weight loss) diet 

~ Josie Jo ~

Have you fasted while training? 
How did you adjust to accomplish both goals?

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