Working Out on a 3 Day Water Fast during Caroline Girvan’s EPIC II Program

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Here is my experience working out on my recent three-day water fast. Strength training on a water fast is critical to maintaining muscle mass. Since I'm currently doing Caroline Girvan's EPIC II Program I decided to do her strength training sessions during my fast.

Water Fast #3

I did a 72-hour (3-day) water fast and decided to do strength training throughout the entire fast this time. 

I attribute the smooth sailing during this fast to the daily strength training. 

After reading the research and listening to Dr. Peter Attia discuss the importance of strength training during a water fast, I was convinced I needed to do it.

The other two water fasts were successful, this one was just less difficult for me physically and psychologically. I attribute that success this time around to exercising every day as I did strength training for about an hour each day of my fast (also the day before my fast) so that my body would keep its muscles and not become catabolic. I continued my EPIC II program with Caroline Girvan. And, I also walked for an hour or so each day. After exercising I had way more energy and felt amazing. It was remarkable.   

There are many benefits to water fasting. Some include: autophagy (cleaning the cells), apoptosis (preferentially getting rid of damaged cells), gut reset, and also the process of fasting dramatically boosts NAD+  levels. Your immune system does go down temporarily during the fast, but after refeeding and resting properly it comes back stronger. These are the reasons why I fast. There are clinical studies supporting all of these benefits, including some I didn't mention. 

Refeeding is very important. Here's what I do each time and seems to work for me: (1) bone broth (2) fermented foods (pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi), and (3) eggs and avocado. I wait a bit then eat a lean protein. And water. 

Refeeding is arguably the most important part of the fast because that's when all the cellular regrowth takes place. This is why you want to manage the process very carefully.

In terms of hunger levels. The exercise helped managed my hunger and during the workout, I completely forgot I was even on a water fast! 

You're likely to feel hungry around mealtime but outside of that hunger fades into the background and you don't notice it. 

Felt no hungrier than I would with my daily time-restricted feeding (TRF) or OMAD or 24-hour fasts I do regularly. Strength training (slow tempo, using heavy weights)  during the entire water fast helped curb any hunger and I'd feel it here and there but very faintly, and usually only around mealtimes. The exercise is what helped me this time around, as I didn't feel that hungry or get any headaches because I did it every day. Felt super energized afterward and even during the workout. 

I completed the following workouts with Caroline Girvan's EPIC Program and separate session:

  • Caroline Girvan EPIC II Day 37 (posterior chain) → last workout before water only (medium weights)
  • Caroline Girvan EPIC II Day 38 (leg session) heavyweights (First full day of water fasting)
  • Caroline Girvan EPIC II Day 39 (arms) and I used medium weights (Second full day of water fasting)
  • Caroline Girvan Isometric Leg Session (Thursday's a rest day in EPIC, so I hand-picked this workout)

The data according to my health trackers (Oura Ring and Garmin watch) showed that I got good sleep. My readiness score was high, my HRV levels were high, and my resting heart rate was low. Personally, it doesn't affect my sleep. Something that helps with the water fasts is to be fat-adapted, so if this is something you're considering, I strongly encourage becoming fat-adapted first. 

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Resources for fasting:

Disclaimer -- please know that fasting might not be for everyone. Talk to your medical practitioner or doctor before embarking on a prolonged fast (3 or more days). Extended water fasts should be medically supervised so please consult with your doctor if it's right for you.