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How one should modify their exercise regime and diet while fasting  

Updated on: 12 October,2022 12:07 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Maitrai Agarwal |

Fitness expert answers key questions about how our diet impacts energy levels and give tips on modifying our fitness routine accordingly

How one should modify their exercise regime and diet while fasting   

Representative Image.

Navratri is being celebrated from October 7 to October 15 this year. While many Hindus fast during the nine-day festival, people fast around the year to detoxify their bodies and cut back on unwanted calories. Diet is an integral part of our fitness regime, and a drastic change in diet impacts our body holistically. “Fasting affects your energy levels during exercise or workout,” says Sagar Pednekar, senior product manager-fitness at Gold’s Gym India.

Below, he answers some important questions about modifying one’s fitness routine, and shares tips on incorporating adequate nutrition in the diet while fasting.

Can we exercise while fasting? 

Yes, of course you can exercise while fasting. If you are feeling low on energy, you can opt for some simple movements or exercises. You can select basic body weight movements like squats, lunges, push-ups, jumping jacks, abdomen crunches, and mountain climbers to keep the metabolism active. This would be a low to moderate level workout which will restrict fat deposition. You can complement it with yoga if you want a balanced slow pace workout to improve blood circulation and flexibility. 

Do we have to change our exercise routine during fasting?

I would suggest that people modify their exercise routine, especially those who do intense workouts regularly. The main reason behind this is the reduced amount of food that one consumes, leading to poor energy production for exercise especially for strength training. There are high chances of muscle loss (atrophy) in such cases. Hence people must reduce the intensity and frequency of strength training to roughly two times a week.

Whereas, if someone wants to lose fat, early morning cardio three times a week would be the best option. This is possible as no meals are consumed by then and the body will use stored fat as a source of energy.

How does change in the diet impact energy levels?

Diet plays an integral role in everyone’s fitness regime, hence change in diet will surely impact energy levels. Considering you are fasting, it is likely that you will have less food entering your body, which means poor energy production, but there are certain superfoods that will make you feel more energetic despite eating less. A few super foods that can be consumed during Navratri fasting include:

a) Buckwheat 
b) Water chestnut
c) Sweet Potato
d) Sabudana (Sago)
e) Amaranth grains

Does timing of exercise also matter?

Timing of exercise will matter for people with different fitness goals. Someone aiming for fat loss or weight loss should preferably exercise during early mornings when there is no or less food in the body. This allows your body to use the stored fat as a source of fuel, thus resulting in a greater amount of fat loss. 

Someone aiming for toning muscle or lean gains should preferably exercise post noon as there will be more than one meal entering in the body leading to better energy production due to which you can push more weights.


How can we incorporate protein in our diet while fasting?

To incorporate protein in diet during fasting is a bit challenging during Navratri fasting as most people avoid meat, fish, lentils, and food made with wheat flour. Make sure to consume nuts everyday—almonds and walnuts are a good source of protein. You can munch a handful of mixed nuts as and when the cravings hit. You can also try eating some seeds like pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds.

The other option is to consume milk and milk-alternatives as it is an excellent source of dietary protein. If you happen to be vegan, you can opt for soy milk, cashew milk, or almond milk, as per your preference. Dairy products like yogurt and paneer could also be considered as a part of your diet at this point.


What are some strategic choices that can be made during fasting?

Staying hydrated when you fast is extremely important. Water, low-fat milk, and vegetable and fruit juices are some of the ways to stay hydrated and maintain an adequate level of body fluids and salt. 

Including fibre rich foods in your diet will keep you fuller for longer. Green vegetables such as sweet potato, raw banana, bottle gourd, and pumpkin are high in satiety levels. The reason behind this is that fibre takes a lot of time to digest, thereby keeping you full for a longer period of time. Fibrous foods also keep your blood sugar level in normal state.


Can too much fasting be harmful?

While some people binge on snacks and fruits even when they are fasting, there are many people who starve themselves. The thumb rule is to avoid fasting for too long. If you want to detoxify, eat fresh fruits or nuts at intervals. Prolonged fasting can lead to a number of problems such as weakness, anaemia, fatigue and headaches

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