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48 Hour Fast: Why Bodybuilders and Weightlifters Should Fast

June 21, 2017

48 hour fast why bodybuilders should fast

Upon writing this post, I had recently undergone a 48 hour fast and wanted to share my personal experience. As a disclaimer, I’m not recommending that you do or don’t do this.

This is just my take on it, and I’ll walk you through both the good and bad. Funny thing is I’m writing this while downing a peanut butter and banana sandwich! 

For starters, the intent was to do a 48 hour fast; however, I ended up only going about 40 hours without solid food.

I’ll explain the reason for this as we go further. First, I want to talk about why I did this 48 hour fast. Based on my experience, you can decide if this is something you’d like to try.

Why I Chose a 48 Hour Fast

fasting for bodybuilders

I’ve never done a true 48 hour fast before. Actually, I’ve never fasted longer than 12 hours (which is known as intermittent fasting). Here’s what triggered this idea.

A close friend was having a procedure that required a 48 hour fast prior. So I thought it would be a good idea for me to try this. I wanted to see how my body would react.

I’ve also been doing some research on fasting over the past couple of months. In reading Tools of Titans and 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferris and listening to his Podcasts, I learned that some experts believe fasting can kill dormant cancer cells and weaken active ones.

This pertains to both fasting and intermittent fasting. I’m no expert nor do I claim to be, but perhaps this makes sense, starving those cells.

None of this runs in my family but it’s good information to have in your back pocket. And there are other health-related benefits to fasting. I mainly wanted to do some type of cleansing, so that was my driver.

*I mentioned The 4 Hour Body; this is a phenomenal read on so many levels. Tim gives us some very interesting and unique outlooks on health and combating illnesses, which are from his extreme circumstances and experience. 

Lastly, since I’m a true foodie, I wanted to implement a little Stoicism and push my body through deprivation (this also ties in with cleansing). That may sound a little silly but I think it’s good to go without at times to remind us of how well we have it.

It makes you more appreciative and you also push yourself beyond those limits. This exercise and philosophy can carry over to other parts of your life.

My Fasting Experience

I started on a Saturday evening around 3 PM. I had eaten quite a bit already that day. Remember, I’m a foodie and my weekends are full of wholesome eats!

I make no apologies for that. We’re either eating at mom-and-pop restaurants, which we’re huge supporters of, or we’re grilling on the patio. We did both that particular day I started my 48-hour fast.

The remainder of Saturday wasn’t so bad. But I did wake up hungry Sunday morning. Now, the intent of the 48 hour fast was to stay away from whole foods. I did partake in some liquids, and I’ll cover those in detail below.

The rest of Sunday was a little strange. I wasn’t feeling well and I wasn’t sure if it was from the lack of food or if I were actually getting sick (I had been around several colleagues that had flu symptoms that prior week).

I woke up very early Monday morning with a slight fever and a runny nose. I took some medicine and went back to bed for a couple of hours. I decided at that point that my body needed some nutrients to fight this sickness.

Breaking Your 48-Hour Fast

So I broke my 48-hour fast with a protein shake, which consisted of 2 scoops of whey protein, almond milk, blueberries, a banana and a teaspoon of raw local honey (this is my typical post-workout shake recipe).

I had a couple of sandwiches throughout the day, and later that evening I had some Thai soup. I fought this stuff for the next day or so. Of course, I had to skip the gym both Monday and Tuesday.

I ended up getting back in the gym that next morning and had a great workout. You have to know when to rest and know when it’s time to get back in there.

Throughout the entire 48 hour fast (or 40 hours in my case), I wasn’t active at all. I sat a lot, watched some TV, did some reading and writing, and played a little music. I knew I needed to keep my activity low as there was nothing for my body to use as energy.

This is the part for me that really sucked! But despite getting sick, I would have easily made it to the 48-hour mark as I wasn’t feeling hungry Monday morning. Just sick.

Supplements to Take During Fasting

I had wondered about taking a supplement during my 48 hour fast. I’ll refer back to reading Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris. In the first section which is based on health, I recall reading about taking branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) during a fast. And this came from a couple of unique sources.

This is the BCAA supplement I take daily (get the 90 serving container; saves you a bit of $).

**Some do not recommend taking BCAAs while fasting; I suggest doing your own research and finding what’s right for you. The brand I take has zero calories.

Amino acids, specifically BCAAs, make perfect sense. Branched-chain amino acids keep your body in an anabolic state by increasing protein synthesis. So your muscles are receiving these benefits even though being deprived of nutrients that come from whole food.

I would take 1 serving of BCAAs about every 3-4 hours. I also had a little beef broth and jello 2-3 times on Sunday during my fast. And of course, I drank a lot of water and a few cups of coffee. I know people have different modifications to their fasting techniques. This was mine.

Again, I’m not suggesting that you fast or don’t fast. But if you do decide to do a 48 hour fast or any type of fast, I definitely recommend taking a BCAA supplement during this time.

Glutamine is also a supplement I recommend during fasting, 5-7 grams 2-3 times per day. This is another amino acid used for recovery and has several other related benefits. My Scivation Xtend BCAA formula has glutamine included, so I just stuck with that.

Will I Do a 48 Hour Fast Again?

After this experience, I don’t know that I will ever attempt a 48 hour fast again. I can certainly see myself going 24 hours without whole food. But 48 hours, in my opinion, is overkill. At least for me.

Your body needs nutrients, and if you’re working out on a regular basis and active, you need that much more nutrients. Lifting weights, cardiovascular workouts, any athletic training and so forth requires a period of recovery.

Vitamins, nutrients, and proteins are the culprits of recovery. I don’t think it’s wise to deprive your body of essential nutrients for a long period of time, such as 48 hours. Again, this is just my opinion based on my own experience.

I also feel that fasting could have triggered my sickness. If your body is fighting something yet doesn’t have the ammunition (food/nutrients) to fight back with, your immune system will take a hit. Now maybe the actual 48-hour fast didn’t make me sick.

But the fact that something could have been coming on in which the nutrients were not there to fight back with pushed it along. Thinking back, perhaps I should’ve doubled up on Glutamine.

Whereas I don’t plan to attempt a 48 hour fast again, I can see myself doing some intermittent fasting. In fact, I’ve been doing a little of that over the past several weeks.

My rule is to not eat past 6:30 PM 3-4 nights a week. On these days, I eat again about 12 hours later, which is my post-workout shake around 6:45 AM.

I’ve seen some benefits from that such as more energy, better sleep, and more muscle definition. All of those are a huge plus.

Here’s my video version of my 48-hour fast if you want to watch:

To Fast or Not to Fast

Fasting is certainly a personal decision. As I’ve stated, I’m not an expert nor am I saying you should or shouldn’t fast. I just wanted to give you a breakdown of my personal experience.

I can also see the benefits of cleansing your body by fasting from whole foods. I just don’t think that a whole 48 hours of fasting is for me.

However, I will continue to experiment with intermittent fasting as I’ve seen and felt measurable results from it.

Train with Passion,


About the author

Jason Stallworth

Hi, I'm Jason Stallworth and I created The Muscle Program in 2010 for the purpose of helping you build muscle. I know first-hand how weight training and being in the gym has shaped my life in more way than one. And here is where I share that experience with you so that you can continue pushing yourself and becoming the best version of yourself each day!