A Case for Working Out in a Fasted State

This week's #WorkoutWednesday topic is controversial one. Why I do not eat before I workout and that is A-O-K. 

Grab a cup of coffee and let's talk. Let's talk about something that causes a lot of controversy in the world of athletics and sports nutrition. Recently, I was in a group of dietitians and they brought up, "what do you eat in the morning before your workout?"  So many chimed in with yogurt and fruit, an egg and some milk, etc. I quickly thought about it and came up with one answer, nothing. I don't really eat anything before my workout in the morning and I do not think that is a bad thing. Mind you, I wake up at 4:40/4:45 and my workouts typically run between 5:00 am to 7:00 am. I do not find that I need to eat because I ate sufficient calories the day before and I will eat my breakfast post-workout. It works for me, and I am sticking with it but I wondered if there was any benefit or negatives to exercising while fasted. Here are some ideas and these tend to only relate to those who workout first thing in the morning. 

benefits of working out in a fasted state

improved hormone optimization

  • An empty stomach can cause some hormonal changes in the body that are beneficial to building muscle and losing fat. These changes have to do with insulin sensitivity and human growth hormone production. Insulin is the hormone that is released to help us absorb the nutrition we eat from food, but eating too frequently can impair that mechanism by making you more insulin resistant and in turn make it harder to lose weight. Eating less frequently and sometimes even fasting is a way to help insulin sensitivity and in return have a better impact on fat loss and can maybe ease the impact of an unhealthy diet. Growth hormone is the hormone in our body that can help with increasing muscle mass and not only weight training and proper sleep can increase this but also can be increased by a fast. This is seen more in true intermittent fasting, so I am not sure if my method of eating gets this impact. Some food for thought, though. 

Improved performance 

  • Not only does fasting improve insulin sensitivity, but it has also been seen to help keep you trim by maximizing the absorption of your post-workout meal. Working out in a fasted state make sure your body is in need of carbs, protein, and fat and ensure they go to the right spots in the body while minimally storing them as fat. There is also some research to show that fat-oxidizing enzymes are higher in your first meal post a workout and would be best in your first meal post-workout. 

Disadvantages?

Lack of energy 

  • For those who tend to workout before lunch, late morning, or late afternoon would most likely not be able to workout fasted. The fasting period would be too long and as the day goes on energy levels would drop. 

Lessons learned

Common sense is key. 

  • Take note of how you feel and if you should have a snack. Do not try anything too extreme at first and do not skip many meals. 

Working out first thing in the morning is key. 

  • Working out while fasted tends to be the easiest for people to stick to if their exercise routine is first thing in the morning. To all my 5-7 am work people, this is out to you. 

Fuel right after workout especially if weight lifting. 

  • Make sure you are able to get in nutrition first thing when you get home or work. This is specifically important for those who have weight trained and need to mend and repair muscles with protein. 

When do you workout? What do you eat? Do you even eat at all? 

Let me know in the comments below.