The 5:2 Diet – Shiv’s Journey: Hunger and Handstands


Should you be exercising on the days that you fast?

SOON after my colleagues at work discovered that I was doing a “fast” (eyes rolled every time the word was mentioned), there was an office  sweepstake to guess how long before I fell off the wagon. This was followed by even more incredulity when I said that I actually worked out at the gym for about an hour on both of my fast days (technically referred to as training in a fasted state), in addition to a couple of other days in the week.

Logic dictates that on the days you are fasting, with as little as 500/600 calories consumed, the last thing you want to be doing – or more to the point ought to be doing, is working out at the gym, or going for a run or any other form of exercise. Well, the great thing about intermittent fasting is you do what feels right for you, and if doesn’t feel right for you – you don’t. Admittedly, I too was slightly sceptical about the idea about working out on a day when I was mostly going to be hungry, but like with other things related to IF and the 5:2 programme I thought I would try it, and see how I felt.

For the first couple of weeks I worked out at the gym near my office at lunch-time. The  thinking here was that I would keep myself busy at lunch, and therefore not feel too wretched watching my colleagues eat, or make plans about what they were going to eat, and then after lunch discuss what they did eat! When the lunch-time workout proved more time consuming than I thought, I switched going to the gym to the end of the day, and knew I had hit on a winner.

My little secret, even after all these months of intermittent fasting is that I still sometimes struggle with the last couple of hours in the day with a combination of hunger and boredom before I sit down to eat dinner at 7.30 pm. I found that going to the gym at the end of the day and before dinner did a couple of things for me: one, it gave me something to do; second, and rather miraculously, instead of feeling hungry as I would otherwise at about 5 in the evening, the work out gave me a renewed burst of energy and I felt a lot less hungry even as I sat down to dinner. Result!

On the more general point of exercising, the motivation I got from losing a few lbs. from IF spurred me on to the gym, and I am currently working out between three and four times a week. I could probably do more, but that would be really dull!

Finally, and on an unrelated point, I invested in a rather clever piece of kit, which is a weighing scale that also measures BMI, fat, water and other stuff. Rather unhelpfully, the scales came with the wrong set of instructions, and I am still trying to figure up how to set it up. That said, I would be very pleased to hear from anyone who has recently switched from the scales that only measured weight, to one of these new-fangled scales. Is all this additional information helpful? Has it spurred you on to lose even more weight, or like with lots of other things are you staring down at more information than you know what to do with. Let me know.

Till next time.

Cheers, Shiv

P.S. Did any of you catch the Horizon programme, produced and presented by Michael Moseley (of 5:2 fame) on exercising on Wednesday night on BBC2? Fascinating, as we have come to expect from him. I am very new to the ideas of high intensity training, but if any of you have any thoughts, do send them my way.

© Shiv Taneja 2013



One response »

  1. Hi Shiv, I can understand you struggling to get as far as 7:30pm. On my fast days I’m buzzing round the kitchen, cooking like I’m on fire, desperately trying to put a meal together as fast as possible from as early as 5pm!

    I saw Michael Mosley’s HIT Horizon programme too. Wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. It’s a shame they hadn’t also got medium and high responders in to do the same experiment as Michael to see if their VO2 max improved as it should. Other than that it was very interesting. Personally, I feel too self conscious to workout in that fashion in the gym, which is probably me being silly. If I had an exercise bike at home I might try it though.

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