Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Improve Balance & Flexibility, Feel Sharper, Be Quicker and Work Harder for Longer in 24 Hours!

This weekend brought the realisation that there have been more than 'Twelve Days of Christmas' in 2008. Indeed I reckon I have used up some of my Christmas allowance for 2009.

With regard to my diet, I tightened the 'Paleo screws' some time late on Sunday - munching down the last of the kids' cheese toasties! I have put some quality training together since the beginning of the month and decided to cut back slightly on the physical work.

By this morning (Wednesday), I felt ready for a fast. I have blogged previously about intuitive 24 hour fasting and this was simply another example of it. Then something pretty interesting happened!

Fasting Indicators
I was able to fast in comfort all day - aided by my usual few coffees and teas (so not a true paleo fast). There were no hunger pangs nor 'gnawing' or the dreaded 'shakes' - the classic carboholic fasting symptom. In fact I felt physically strong all day and mentally elated. (The picture of Captain Kid and I above reflects how I felt!)

I had to work late and during my drive back I realised I was grating my teeth quite hard. I didn't feel stressed or anxious. I would say I felt alert and keen - almost like an amphetamine high (so I have been told!). ;)

During a fast I find that my wedding band becomes very lose and has to be worn on the right hand (the band didn't actually fit on my right hand just after Christmas). Now whether this is due to water loss, reduced inflammation, fat loss or whatever I just don't know but I succeeded in the 'band test' today.

Now comes the really interesting bit.....

During this evening's kickboxing class I felt lightening-fast all night. During the warm up I was able to perform back kicks (Hou Tsarn) with much, much greater balance than I could last week - perhaps my most composed ever.

During stretching work (I don't normally do static stretches but the class demands it), I found I had much greater flexibility during my static stretching (dynamic stretching was unaffected).

During the sparring, I wouldn't say my maximal effort was any greater than normal, but I would say that I was able to operate at a greater intensity for longer.

I honestly felt six feet tall and bulletproof for the whole session and in generally top form. My sparring was more precise and whereas I was eating punches last week I felt sharper this week and my reactions seemed quicker.

This isn't the first time I have worked-out fasted, I have done so with a degree of regularity for a couple of years. (I should reiterate that the fasts are dictated by intuition rather than a prescribed periodicity and I may either fast before or after exercise).

What has stuck me on this occasion is how much better I felt performing a workout in a fasted state - something I have felt to some degree before, but never this acute. I don't know if these effects were more apparent because this is the first exercise-fasted training I have performed this year making the contrast is more apparent.

I have fasted at least once this year already, but not prior to a combat workout which arguably requires greater speed, agility and reaction time.

I cannot dispute that easing back on exercise for the past few days did not help, but my amphetamine like teeth grinding on the way home and general feelings of sharpness suggest something a little deeper was occurring.

This is something I intend to investigate further. Stay tuned. In the meantime, comments from fans of intermittent fasting and ex-nineties ravers are welcome!


Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later said...

Since I fall into both categories, I feel compelled to comment!

I am firstly amazed that your first post-non-Paleo fast went off so smoothly. If its true that your insulin resistance was not as elevated as mine by the non-Paleo period, it's possible that sheer meal size is a significant factor in that - something I vaguely remember reading.

Regarding the teeth grinding - I assume your coffeee consumption was not enough to elicit this?

Either way, I can identify with the teeth grinding because towards the end of fasts I do get a compulsive, twitchy feeling (not the same as hypoglycemia though) and as someone who typically grinds his teeth at times of stress even when not fasting, it would not surprise me if I do then as well.

As for 90s raving, don't get me started ;-)

Looking forward to hearing how this pans out especially re training. I never train in the evening so have not had a chance to see what it feels like after a proper fast.

Chris said...

I've fallen out of the habit of fasting recently, but might try again before next Tuesday's Krav Maga....

Good to hear your experience

Asclepius said...

Guys - I do have a tea and coffee habit and considered that this may have had an effect. But my last coffee was at lunchtime and the grinding came several hours later.

Also the amount of tea and coffee was no more than my normal daily consumption. Maybe caffeine on an empty stomach is the real secret here?

The improved back kicks (that I normally stunmble around with), gave me the "aha" moment, along with increased static flexibility. Then I remembered the teeth grinding and became aware that something different was happening.

The periodicity of my intense workouts may have boosted insulin sensitivity...I dunno.

Mr M - The 1990's - a good decade!

Chris - Eating by habit is easy to get in to!

Charles R. said...

I've had similar, though less dramatic experiences with fasted workouts. I've always thought that was a bad idea, and in the past, when my energy was based on a carbohydrate economy, so-to-speak, it may not have worked well. But after being on a Paleo diet for a good year or so now, I've started to experiment with intermittent fasting, and now with fasted workouts, and I have to say I noticed what seemed to me to be a significant increase in work capacity. That was not at all expected, so I trust the perception.

The other was similar to your experience in that I just felt more aggressive and more centered and focused. Again, not expected at all, so probably real.

Probably the most significant change I've noticed is the more even, sustained energy production during the day. I get hungry, but I don't "crash," like I used to pre-Paleo. Clearly my body really has adjusted, and is using stored fat for energy between meals. It's pretty amazing, something I have never felt before.

Asclepius said...

Charles - you are spot on about the classic carb crash. You just don't get them on a paleo diet and the ability to work out fasted is something that I could NEVER have done as a carboholic!

It is a great feeling to know that you are cycling fat. I described this in another post as a 'battery' effect, whereas most people see fat as 'baggage'. I know which model evolution prefers.

Fasting would prime us for hunting and any species that could not operate in a fasted state would be unable to take 'fight or flight' action under threat.

My carb gorging over Christmas has renewed my 'appetite' for fasting. Here's to recession in the carbohydrate economy!

Chris said...

Inspired by this post I just broke a 24 hour fast. Last meal last night finishing at about 8, just hot water, a herbal tea and an espresso then until 830.

I had a Krav Maga class at 630. I ran there, there was a tough warm up / conditioning session and then the training but I felt fine all day and in the Krav,

Asclepius said...

Chris - sounds good to me! Did you find yourself 'sharper'?

I am off to Kickboxing tonight and so am currently fasting. I aim to drink some strong coffee around lunchtime to replicate the conditions of last week and hopefully get to the same physical state. I want to walk in to that dojo 'in the zone'. ;)