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In recent years, time-restricted eating, or intermittent fasting (IF), has become the way of life for millions. Even though fasting in its various shapes and forms has been around for thousands of years, it’s taken on a new dimension among people who are trying to lose weight and become healthier. And while there are some proven benefits that come from this trend, there’s still a lot of research to be done on the topic.

If you’re already doing intermittent fasting and plan to incorporate an exercise regime into your routine, there are some factors you should be aware of. To make the most out of your workout without feeling poorly afterward, it’s important to time them right and take into consideration any health conditions you might have. Here are some tips for finding the right balance for your body.

Fasting Schedules & Exercise

There are different fasting schedules that you can try out, depending on your preferences and overall well-being. A fasting schedule determines how many hours a day you’re free to eat and how many are dedicated to fasting and putting your body in the state of autophagy. Here are a few of the most common options, as well as how you should pair exercise with them.

The 16:8 Method

The most common way to do intermittent fasting is the 16:8 method. Following this type of fasting schedule means that you’ll be fasting for 16 hours a day, and for the remaining 8 hours, you can consume food. People usually opt for eating in the interval between noon and 8 PM, though some opt for a 10 AM to 6 PM timeslot. 

The choice of the timeline will depend on how you’re feeling, so you can play around to find what works for you. You can create a fasting and exercise schedule or use a free fasting app to help you figure out every stage of the IF journey.

Exercising with the 16:8 method is more than possible, as long as you keep an eye on how your energy levels. Generally, it’s a good idea to work out soon after waking up, but if that’s not your cup of tea, the next best thing is to exercise a couple of hours after a meal in the 8-hour span. You can go for both cardio and strength training, as long as you give your body enough time to rest and replenish afterward.

The 5:2 Method

This intermittent fasting regime functions differently from 16:8 and is somewhat more demanding. To follow the 5:2 method, you will eat normally for 5 days in a week, and fast for 2. The fasting days should have at least one eating day between them. When you’re fasting, you can consume some light food and limit your intake to 500–600 calories per day.

As you can see, the 5:2 method requires more focus and discipline than the 16:8, so it’s a good idea to ease into it and start with less restrictive options. To make sure your body is strong and supported during your exercise sessions, schedule more intensive workout sessions during the eating days. You can do some light cardio during fasting days (in fact, it’s recommended), but limit it to walking or light stretching so that you don’t over-exhaust your body.

Alternate Day Fasting

This intermittent fasting method is a step up from the 5:2 method and it takes some getting used to. The principle is simple – you eat normally one day, then fast the next. Some people choose not to ingest any calories during fasting days, while others might drink low-caloric drinks to keep their energy.

If you want to pair exercise with the alternate day fasting method, it’s recommended you do it on the days you do eat normally. A full day of fasting is already a lot for the body to handle and it’s best to avoid putting it through the additional stress of a workout. 

You can push your limits as you spend some time doing alternate time fasting – veterans can do full intensive workouts during fasting days and feel great after it. However, if you’re just starting out, give your metabolism time to adjust and then you can increase the intensity of the workouts over time.

There are other intermittent fasting methods you can try – 12-hour fasting, one meal a day (OMAD), weekly 24-hour fasts, and nightly fasts. If you’re not sure where to begin, it’s always a good idea to start slow and then build your strength and experience. If you’re new to fasting, starting off with 12-hour fasts will be much easier to handle than, say, alternate day fasting. Listen to your body to figure out what feels best and you can tweak your practice as you progress.


Working out and time-restricted eating definitely go together, as long as you do it mindfully. While you could experience fatigue, irritability, and other side effects when you start fasting, they will eventually wear off, especially if you eat healthy food that nurtures and replenishes you on eating days.

Soon after, you’ll notice how your body changes and becomes more energized, how you can push yourself further in your workouts and achieve some pretty impressive results. Be patient and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how far the combo and time-restricted eating can get you.

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