Things To Look Out For
If you feel great working out on an empty stomachmore power to you! Keep doing what works for you. But be aware that if you feel weak or lightheaded during your workout, it might be time to rethink your routine.
“It is true that you may lose more fat working out fasted however, you may also lose more muscle,” says Jaime Schehr, N.D., R.D. “If the body’s glycogen stores are depleted, the body can break down protein for fuelthe opposite of what most people are looking for.”
Replenishing your body with carbohydrates and protein is essential for helping your muscles to grow stronger and to avoid injury.
Can You Build Muscle While Intermittent Fasting
As long as youre getting enough protein and nutrients as part of a healthy, balanced diet overall, then your muscles will be just fine, Poyourow says. Im a girl who lifts and likes to lift heavy so the thought that IF could be stunting my muscle growth was scary to me.
So over the past year I decided to start tracking my body fat percentage and lean muscle massand Ive actually dropped three percent body fat and put on nearly four pounds of muscle. Im just a study of one but for me, my muscles do just fine on IF.
Benefits Of Physical Activity While Fasting
Increased fat burning is arguably the most significant benefit of scheduling your workouts during your fast. A 2013 study from Northumbria University found if you exercise before breakfast, you can burn up to 20% more body fat.
More lean muscle is also a primary benefit of physical activity during your fast. More lean muscle will give you better performance. And youll burn more calories 24 hours a day, not only while you workout. Muscle needs more fuel than fat.
Read Also: How To Make Fasting Easier
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Intermittent Fasting And Morning Workout Tips
When you start, measuring your progress as described above, and following these tips, you should feel stronger and more athletic, not weaker.
Follow Rule #1: Eat enough
Many people on IF plans lose weight because its harder to overeat in a shorter time window. But, under-eating is just as problematic, especially if you are trying to maximize your results from a workout plan.
Track your calories and make sure youre eating enough. We share how to calculate and track your calories in our 30-Day Weight Loss Challenge.
Follow Rule #2: Hydrate like crazy
Just because youre not eating, doesnt mean youre not drinking water. Do not let fasting cause dehydration. Start your day with a big glass of water and carry a full water bottle with you as a reminder.
Drink at least one half of your body weight in ounces. For example, an individual who weighs 200 pounds should drink at least 100 ounces or three full Nalgene bottles.
If you want to keep it really simple and avoid math, just try drinking a gallon of water a day and see how you feel.
Ease into it and optimize
Be patient during your transition. Youll likely find that on moderate to high-intensity workout days you want to eat right after.
If you cant resist the hunger, have a banana and peanut butter. If it doesnt get easier, move your workouts closer to the start of your eating window.
You be the judge
Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Fasting Window
Fasted Training: Men Vs Women
I get this question all the time. People want to know if there are gender differences for fasted exercise.
Personally, I havent noticed many discrepancies in our Ketogains clients. But then again, I dont recommend a whole lot of fasted training.
The research seems to favor men, at least for certain fasting benefits. For instance, one study found that men, compared to women, had enhanced muscular adaptations after endurance exercise. Both genders had significant boosts in VO2 max.
Another study split twenty young women into two groups: fasting exercise and fed exercise. Both groups lost weight, but there were no significant differences in fat loss or weight loss between the groups. But when men train fasted, at least at low intensity, it seems to increase fat oxidation.
These were small studies, though, and they may not apply generally. So I wouldnt use gender as a major criterion for making training decisions.
That said, lets remember that hormonally wise, men and women are different and long fasted periods are not suggested for women. In all, we suggest a more conservative approach for women, like 12 hours of fasting, or the classic 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol, and breaking the fast before training with a protein shake.
Do You Even Need Cardio When Intermittent Fasting
IF is a great way to control your eating tendencies. Unfortunately, I have always been a binge eater, and, for me, having a small eating window is an effective way of helping me keep within my appropriate daily calorie intake.
At the same time, I enjoy knowing that I am benefiting in many other ways from the extended fast each day.
Fasting for 13 or more hours per day has a ton of benefits aside from weight loss. These include giving your digestive system a rest, cleansing virtually all your cells through autophagy, and possibly even extending life!
Although an active lifestyle will certainly help, you can still lose weight by intermittent fasting alone, without exercise. The point is, not only will doing some cardio speed up your results tremendously, the added benefits of the exercise for your heart and lungs, muscles and bones, as well as your brain and mood, add up to something that you really should do for yourself. So keep fasting, but get some cardio in there at the right time.
Also Check: How Should I Start Intermittent Fasting
How Long Should You Fast For Before Working Out
This would depend on your goal. A workout after a 24 hour fast may be quite effective for fat burning and muscle growth. Doing cardio will help burn off extra fat. At the same time, resistance training will increase the number of lean muscles in your body. This has been proven by research. Pre-workouts work better with shorter fasts, so its important to keep that in mind.
Now, you must know what ingredients can be of concern when fasting:
The Best Time To Work Out While Intermittent Fasting
To promote the bodys natural circadian rhythm, the optimal time to exercise while intermittent fasting is usually right after waking up or shortly after. Working out too soon to bedtime has been shown to disrupt levels of deep and REM sleep, so leave your exercise for the next day.
To ensure your safety when working out during intermittent fasting, you might need to consider the following:
- Time your exercises properly
- Fuel your workouts with the right meal
- Listen to your body
Intermittent fasting is popular not only for losing weight but its health benefits. Fasting could promote the destruction of old cells. It could also have anti-aging benefits through its effects on your metabolism.
Exercising in a fasted state might be an option for you if you want to maximize fat loss. In your fasting state, your bodys glycogen stores are depleted and your body reaches into your fat stores to fuel your exercises.
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Which Intermittent Fasting Plan Is Right For You
If youre brand new to IF, youll likely want to try out a few different methods to determine which one works best for you. Start slowly and ease yourself into a modified time restricted eating regimen, as recommended by Cleveland Clinic. So, for example, rather than jumping into a 16:8 method, try adopting a limited eating window, such as only eating from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
If youre looking for flexibility, try 16:8 or 14:10 fasting
This method is a safer and more flexible option, especially if youre just starting IF, according to Cleveland Clinic. With this method, you can set your fasting and eating windows and repeat throughout the week according to your personal preference.
If youre trying to lose weight, try alternate day fasting
In one study, ADF participants saw significant reductions in weight and body mass index: over the course of two to three months, trial participants lost 3% to 7% of body weight. The participants total cholesterol, fat mass, systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure were also altered. Overall, the study indicates that ADF is a feasible method for weight loss.
Additionally, a four-week ADF study found that body weight decreased by 4.5% while improving the fat-to-lean ratio, and concluded that ADF is a safe IF method for healthy, non-obese individuals.
If you are concerned about getting enough micro and macronutrients, try 5:2 fasting
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Should You Train Fasted
Some people say you should never train fasted. Others say you should never train fed.
A more reasonable approach lies somewhere in the middle. If you want to do low-intensity exercise before breakfast, go for it. A 20 minute walk, some light yoga, an easy bike ride. Theres a chance youll burn more fat than you otherwise would.
But once the exercise intensity starts to ramp up, eat something first. Training fed, especially when talking about strength training, gives you more energy, prevents muscle breakdown, and reduces your overall stress burden.
We at Ketogains suggest the Ketogains Coffee Pre-Workout before strength training sessions: Strong Coffee mixed with 25g of a good quality whey protein, 10g MCTs for energy, some sodium and in some particular cases, 5-10g rapid absorbable carbs like glucose. This is a true and tried formula that will help you maximize muscle gains.
Recommended Reading: How Much Weight Can You Lose When Fasting
The Right Types Of Exercise
What are your fitness goals, to build muscle or burn fat?
Your energy level when you are well-fed will probably be higher than while you are fasting. Therefore, your workout schedule is going to undergo some changes if you are interested in burning fat or weight training.
Light workouts like yoga or a light cardio session can typically fit into your schedule without trouble. Even if you are hours away from breaking your fast, you could still engage in such activities.
High-intensity interval training workouts, lifting weights, and intense aerobic exercise might not work so well for you if you are new to intermittent fasting or exercising on an empty stomach. The fast pace and high energy requirements of such exercises might take a toll on you if you have an empty stomach, affecting your productivity and increasing your chances of getting injured.
If you want to include high-intensity exercises in your workout schedule, consider moving them to your well-fed days or right before your fasting period.
Muscle training exercises like weight lifting will not pack as much force as they would in your well-fed state. Therefore, fasting might affect the pace at which you build muscle.
You can also consult wellness professionals on the best type of exercise for your fitness needs.
For Coaches: Find The Best Intermittent Fasting Schedule For Your Clients
The topic of IF poses quite a few challenges for nutrition coaches. First, some clients really shouldnt be fasting at all. Others might do okay with some fasting approaches, but miserably on others.
And still other clients might come to you convinced that the most extreme fasting method is right for them, even though theyve never fasted before.
How do you navigate these turbulent waters? In this section, youll find advice from Robin Beier, PN2, a German nutrition coach we mentioned earlier in this chapter.
To match clients with an intermittent fasting schedule, consider these questions.
Factor #1: Have they practiced the fundamentals?
A number of fundamental nutrition strategies form the underpinning of all successful IF schedules. Your client will want to have these down before trying any fasting style. Is your client usually
- eating only when physically hungry?
- eating slowly until satisfied?
- consuming minimally-processed whole foods?
- eating balanced meals that include lean protein, healthy fats, smart carbs and colorful veggies?
If possible, try to spend some time on these practices before diving into any of the fasting schedules mentioned in this chapter.
Factor #2: Have they fasted before? If so, how did it go?
Consider asking: What experiences have you had with fasting schedules or meal skipping?
Factor #3: What kind of exercise are they doing? And how often are they doing it?
Factor #4: Whats their lifestyle like?
Two words that can reign in overzealous clients
Also Check: Is Intermittent Fasting For Me
Is It Safe To Work Out While Fasting
First note that there are many different methods for IF, including the 5:2 program, which involves restricting your calorie consumption to 25% of your calorie needs two days a week and eating normally the rest of the days. On the 16:8 diet, you eat during an eight-hour window and fast for the remaining 16 hours. While you’re fasting, you can drink water, black coffee, and tea, but everything else is off limits.
“It is safe to follow IF and be physically active, but some things are more important to be aware of, especially at the beginning when you are becoming keto adaptivemeaning your body is learning how to burn fat for fuel instead of carbs,” says Wendy Scinta, M.D., president of the Obesity Medicine Association and member of Prevention’s medical review board. “Hypoglycemia initially can lead to increased heart rate, dizziness, nausea, and poor athletic performance, but this improves as your body learns how to run on ketones instead of glucose,” she says.
“Some people don’t do well when they eat and work out, but it’s important to have energy,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., creator of BetterThanDieting.com, and author of Read It Before You Eat It – Taking You from Label to Table. “If you’re on the 5:2 program, you’re consuming only 25% of your calorie needs two days a week, so I would reserve exercise for the other days of the week when you’re eating normally,” she advises.
S Of Intermittent Fasting
There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting. Most people find that some methods may work better for their lifestyle and body than others. It’s important to listen to your body during intermittent fasting, and approach it in a manner that feels best for you!
The three most common types of intermittent fasting are:
- The 16/8 Method: This method involves restricting your daily eating window to 8 hours per 24-hour cycle, such as noon to 8 pm, and fasting for the other 16 hours of the cycle. This is one of the most popular methods, since many people naturally skip breakfast in the morning, so transitioning to this type of IF is fairly easy and effective for many people.
- The 5:2 Method: With this method, you eat normally for 5 days of the week, and then consume a limited amount of food, only 500-600 calories, on two non-consecutive days of your choice. For example, you might eat less on Monday and Thursday, but eat normally every other day.
- The Eat-Stop-Eat Method: This method involves fasting for a full 24 hours 1 to 2 times per week. While this method works well for some people, others find that eating nothing for a full 24 hours can be difficult and uncomfortable.
It May Improve Endurance
When you practice cardio exercise, your endurance is only as good as your bodys ability to deliver necessary oxygen to the right cells.
Endurance training can help increase this process of oxygen delivery. The measure of this is the maximal oxygen uptake, often referred to as VO2-Max.
VO2-Max measures the maximum amount of oxygen your body uses per minute during an endurance workout when youre pushing yourself hard.
Increasing this value allows your body to take in more oxygen and deliver it to your muscles. This way, you can improve your performance during cardio workouts.
One study compared the VO2-Max values of people in a fasted and fed state. The group that had cereal for breakfast performed significantly worse than those who ate nothing after getting up.
At the start of the study, all participants had average VO2-Max values of about 3.5 liters per minute . After ergometer training, VO2 max increased by about 10 percent in the fasted group.
In contrast, the fed group saw only a 2.5 percent improvement in VO2 max .
In short, intermittent fasting allows people to increase their maximal oxygen uptake through exercise significantly better than those who eat breakfast or eat before a workout.
How Will It Affect My Training How To Time If Around Workouts
If youre considering IF and like to work out or train, there are some things to consider. Theres some research that shows exercising during a fasted state can help muscle biochemistry linked to insulin sensitivity. In laymans terms: It can help regulate blood sugar levels. On the other hand, theres research to show the benefit of eating, especially carbs, before exercising.
If youve never tried it before, heres what you could experience if you fast before you train:
No matter what type of IF you decide to try, make sure to listen to your body. If you feel weak or dizzy, you might need to switch it up. Your blood sugar may be too low, or you may be dehydrated. Make sure you eat well-balanced, high-quality foods during your feeding window, and always remember to stay hydrated and include electrolytes to achieve optimal performance.
Recommended Reading: What Is Normal Fasting Blood Sugar Level For Adults