Food is fuel. What could happen to your workout regimen if you were not eating your standard three meals (and snacks) daily?
Intermittent fasting, which can involve anything from fasting for 14 hours at a time to food that is forgoing a couple days per week, is all about restricting food consumption during periods of time. You consume little to no calories during “fasting” periods, and eat quite normally during “feasting” times. The outcome is impressive weight loss, according to devotees of this trendy diet. Some intermittent fasting techniques even claim that this on-and-off eating plan can help stop diabetes, regulate blood sugar, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and slow down the aging process.
Here’s the catch: The timing of when you do (or do not) eat can have a significant impact on your workout. Is it risky to exercise on an empty stomach? Read on to learn.
Intermittent Fasting and Exercise
Whether you are pounding the pavement or cranking out squats, your body primarily uses nourishment, or stored carbohydrates, to fuel exercise. The exception happens when your glycogen reserves are depleted — which may occur if you have not eaten in a while, says Kelly Pritchett, Ph.D., R.D., a naturopathic pro in sports dietetics and also an assistant professor in nutrition and exercise science at Central Washington University. When that’s true, your system is made to find (and burn) additional energy sources, such as fat. That is why, in one British Journal of Nutrition, before eating breakfast men who exercised burned around 20 percent more fat than people who fueled up until their exercise.
Before you get too excited, think about this: “When glycogen is in short supply, your body also reverts to breaking down protein, your muscles’ building blocks, for fuel,” Pritchett says. So, while you may shed more fat when exercising in a intermittent fasting (or IF) diet, you might lose more muscle, too. If you are heading out for a long run, but have not eaten any carbs, your body may start burning protein.
That will not just thwart how much weight you can bench press or how toned your body looks, it will also slow your metabolism, that will make losing weight more challenging in the long term. In an effort, your body adjusts to the amount of calories it is given by you. So if you’re making drastic cuts, your body will eventually adjust, burning calories per day to ensure you have sufficient energy left to remain healthy, Pritchett says.
In a small study from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, following a group of people which fasted every other day for 22 days, their resting metabolic rates (how many calories they burned each day simply by alive), had fallen by five per cent, or 83 calories. Not great for any exercise program that’s supposed to end in weight reduction.
Plus, if you’ve ever tried to circuit through a difficult workout using a growling tummy, you are aware that working out on an empty stomach is just plain tough. You’ll feel weak, if your glycogen or blood sugar levels are low. And should you not have enough energy to actually go through workouts, your own fat-burning and muscle-building results will suffer, says Jim White, R.D., proprietor of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios at Virginia.
Intermittent fasting enthusiasts do not need to throw in the towel on tough workouts just yet, though. Keeping a consistent exercise regimen is important for your health, both psychological and physical. So if you are after a strategy, here are the best ways to structure your workouts while fasting, so you can get great results:
1. If you have been fasting, keep cardio low-intensity.
A good indicator of intensity is your breathing: You ought to have the ability to carry on a dialogue relatively easily if you’re exercising mid-fast. “If you are going out to get a gentle jog or stint on the elliptical, then you probably aren’t likely to have a problem,” says White. But it’s important to follow your own body, and quit exercising, should you truly feel dizzy. Your workout will grow to be a struggle if you push your exercise intensity or duration too high.
2. Go after you have eaten.
Occasional fasting applications like LeanGains have strict rules about scheduling foods around workouts to maximize fat loss while still staying fueled. Generally, the nearer you schedule any moderate to extreme sessions to your meal, the better. This way you’ll still have some glycogen (aka remaining carbs) accessible to fuel your workout, and you’ll reduce your risk of low glucose levels, ” he says. Attempt to follow workouts as your muscles that are glycogen-tapped will probably be hungry for more.
3. “Feast” on low-carb foods.
If you’re looking to build serious muscle, then you’ll need to eat, both before and after lifting. Routine protein intake is critical to muscle synthesis equally throughout the day and right after your strength exercise, when your muscles are craving acids to repair themselves and grow, Pritchett says. To maximize muscle growth, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends consuming 20 to 30 grams of high quality protein every four hours while you’re awake, including after instruction. On an IF plan, timing is key: Organize between 2 meals, your strength training workouts, or at least 2 snacks. And be certain to use your own “feast” meals to meet your protein requirements.
4. Remember: Snacks will be your friend.
Some IF plans allow dieters to consume both snacks and meals throughout their feast periods, so take advantage of that flexibility. A meal or snack consumed a few hours before your workout (or one to two weeks before, if you’re prone to low blood glucose) will help make sure you have the energy to electricity through these reps. Aim for a meal which unites fast-acting carbohydrates using a blood sugar-stabilizing protein (such as toast topped with peanut butter and banana pieces). Within two hours of your last rep, then chow down on a snack comprising 20 grams of carbohydrates and about 20 grams of protein to encourage muscle growth and help bettering your stores so that you stay energized.
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By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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