Influence of a 3.5 day fast on physical performance

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1987;56(4):428-32. doi: 10.1007/BF00417770.


Eight young men were tested for strength, anaerobic capacity and aerobic endurance in a post absorptive state and after a 3.5 day fast. Strength was tested both isokinetically (elbow flexors, 0.52 rad x s-1 and 3.14 rad x s-1) and isometrically. Anaerobic capacity was evaluated by having subjects perform 50 rapidly repeated isokinetic contractions of the elbow flexors at 3.14 rad x s-1. Aerobic endurance was measured as time to volitional fatigue during a cycle ergometer exercise at 45% VO2max. Measures of VO2, VE, heart rate, and ratings of perceived exertion were obtained prior to and during the cycle exercise. The 3.5 day fast did not influence isometric strength, anaerobic capacity or aerobic endurance. Isokinetic strength was significantly reduced (approximately 10%) at both velocities. VO2, VE and perceived exertion were not affected by fasting. Fasting significantly increased heart rate during exercise but not at rest. It was concluded that there are minimal impairments in physical performance parameters measured here as a result of a 3.5 day fast.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aerobiosis
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Fasting*
  • Food
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Physical Exertion*