Can You Intermittent Fast And Lift Weights

Whether or not you can lift weights when eating one meal a day or doing any other type of intermittent fasting is an easy question to answer. Yes, you should lift weights. It’s something all of us should do, whether we eat once, every other, or even 6 times a day. 

Why is that? It can help you live better, longer. Research finds that regularly doing some type of resistance exercise decreases all cause mortality – the chance of you dying from heart disease, cancer, etc. – by 27% if you lift weights for just 60 minutes a week. 

Mortality aside. Let’s get to the reason so many of us lift weights. To build muscle and get stronger. Here’s the deal, you can 100% gain muscle and build strength when you’re skipping 1-2 meals a day. One study using active college age women as the test subjects found that the ladies gained up to 3 lbs of muscle while fasting 16 hours a day. In just 8 weeks. 

If they can do it, so can you. Following the tips in this article will help a ton.

How This Article Will Help You Lift Hard And Make Gains While Fasting

After reading you’ll have 5 powerfully effective tips for lifting while you’ve been fasting for 18-36 hours. They’re based on learning the latest information by reading dozens of studies and my own experiences. 

My Experience Eating OMAD And Lifting Weights Almost Every Day

I’ve eaten once daily, between 4-8 PM every day for 4 months now. I’ve also done at least 1 fasting lasting about 48 hours per week, every week. The most I’ve done in one week is 3. 

My daily meal is typically a dinner that focuses on quality protein and low carb vegetables and fruit. Plus healthy fats. I also have a protein shake with dinner or a few hours later to make sure I meet my daily requirement.

In this time I’ve lost more than 30 lbs of excess body fat and gained about 5 pounds of muscle. My strength is up a lot along with my endurance. I feel great, am healthy, and am not hungry between meals. 

Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes and is not meant to take the advice of your physician. Always speak to them before starting a new diet or workout. 

How To Intermittent Fast And Lift Weights

Be Patient And Give Yourself Time To Adapt

When you go from eating 3 or more times a day to 1 or 2 your body has to adapt to the change. Your body is going from relying on carbohydrates to fat for energy and this takes a minute to happen. Not just a minute actually, it’s more like 14-30 days. 

During the first 2 weeks that you’re fasting between meals you are likely to feel tired, weak, sluggish, and all around crappy at times. Don’t give up. It goes away as long as you stick to the plan. By the end of your first month of IF your energy levels will be up and you’ll be able to lift weights like you normally do. 

Research backs this up. A study with ladies doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) found that while their performance suffered at first it went back to normal after 14 days. 

Here’s a tip for you. If you’re feeling low energy, etc. your first few weeks of fasting, back off the intensity and maybe even do a few less sets. This way you still get your workout in, make some progress but don’t feel even worse afterward. 

My first month or two eating once a day often had me cutting back and instead doing 10-20 minute kettlebell workouts with lighter weights than normal. Plus extra rest between sets when I need it. There were days that wasn’t the case and I was able to really push myself and do 20-30 minutes of HIIT or a hard run in the hills like normal. 

Here’s a workout I do on days that I’m not so energized to train. It’s a total body workout that doesn’t stress the body too much but keeps you on track.

  • Standing KB windmills
  • Cossak squats
  • KB Halos 
  • 5 reps per exercise/set
  • 3-5 sets of each exercise
  • Total body workout w/o lots of stress to body

Stay Hydrated When You’re Fasting And Working Out

When you do any kind of intermittent fasting you’re going to lose water weight. Quickly. I think I dropped 5 pounds of it my first week. This is caused by the hormonal changes going on during a fast.

Losing lots of water and the electrolytes that go with all of the extra pee are one of things that makes you feel weak and tired and cause your workout to suffer. 

The best way to prevent this from being a problem is to drink more water and get more electrolytes into your diet to replace what you’re losing with all that water you’re losing. 

When your body is low in electrolytes – this includes sodium, potassium, and magnesium – your ability to workout hard diminishes significantly. It’ll also affect your sleep and how you feel in general. 

This is why intermittent fasting and low carb diet experts like Dr. Stephen Phinney and Robb Wolf recommend that you get more of these electrolytes from food and supplements. Foods like red meat, chicken, and fruits and vegetables are good choices. 

It’s also helpful to add a little extra salt to your meals. I even put a pinch of sea salt in my water and protein shakes. You can also get all the electrolytes you need from chicken or beef bouillon cubes and supplements like LMNT

Drink A Coffee Before Your Workout For An Energy Boost

Having a cup of black coffee before you train is often enough to give you energy for a great workout. 

Since it’s calorie free you don’t have to worry about it ruining your fast either. Drinking it 15-30 minutes before your workout gives the best results. 

You’ll also get a few other benefits from caffeine that’ll make your fasts easier to stick to work better. One is it suppresses your appetite. Not being hungry makes it much easier to go 16-20 hours between meals. The other is that caffeine can help you get into ketosis faster which is what we want from a fast. This not only means you’ll burn off excess body fat for energy but will also improve your focus, endurance, and strength. Things that are important for a good workout.

If you feel really jittery when you take caffeine, taking the amino acid l-theanine with it can help. I learned this from Stanford professor Andrew Huberman’s podcast and it works really well. 

One last thing. Be careful with pre-workout supplements and zero calorie drinks with caffeine. Many pre-workout supplements contain enough carbohydrates and calories to break your fast. Always check the Supplement Facts panel to make sure it has 0 calories.

When it comes to zero calorie drinks just be aware that sometimes the artificial sweeteners can make you feel hungry which is the last thing we want when the goal is to go 20 hours between meals. 

Eat Enough Protein Every Day

This is key to having a good workout, getting leaner and stronger, and recovering as fast as possible. As an added bonus, protein also helps you stay full longer between meals which I find makes fasting easier.

So, how much protein do you need to eat? Whether you’re a guy or girl you should always try to eat 1 gram per pound of body weight a day. I wouldn’t stress over being a little bit over or under this amount. Just aim to get as close as you can. 

If you find eating this much protein to be difficult, whey protein shakes make it easy to do. They’re easily digested and are the highest quality protein you can get. Even better than steak and eggs. I have one either with or within a few hours of my daily meal and it’s a huge help.  

Use Sports Supplements For Strength, Endurance, And Recovery

The last tip I have for you is to try supplements like creatine monohydrate and beta alanine if you want to get the most from lifting when you fast. Both will help you be able to push harder and get in the extra reps and sets your body needs to grow.

Both are safe and proven in the lab and real world to work really well. One of the ways creatine will help you is during workouts where your sets last 30 seconds or less and you’re pushing hard. It gives your muscles an extra source of energy for brief but intense exercise. Like a set of 10 heavy lunges or overhead presses. 

You’ll also recover faster between each set which also helps you have a great workout.

Beta alanine also helps you lift weights harder, longer. Instead of giving your muscles more energy during a set of 10 front squats it helps during sets that last 1-3 minutes. Especially the last few sets where your muscles are really getting tired. This comes in handy when you want to do a HIIT workout or are attempting the 10,000 kettlebell swing challenge and are doing sets of 100 swings at a time. 

Best of all, there’s research that shows when you take them together your overall results are even better. 


Lifting weights when you’re following an intermittent fasting style of eating isn’t always comfortable but it’s certainly possible. It’s even possible to have great workouts and make the same progress as when you’re not in a fasted state. You just need to: stay hydrated, take extra electrolytes, eat enough protein and even give supplements like caffeine and creatine a try for added energy, strength and endurance. 


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