Fasted Exercise? or Fed Exercise?
Questions come across my desk frequently asking, “WHICH is better, fasted or fed exercise?”
Even though I personally lean towards fasted exercise sessions, there is strong research that supports both sides.
But ultimately, the approach YOU take should be one that fits your personal goals and caters to your metabolism.
You’ll discover exactly why I’m an advocate of fasted exercise training below, but first…
Why exercise in a fed state?
1: If your goal is to gain muscle or to gain “healthy” weight instead of burning stubborn fat.
2: You’re more concerned with stopping muscle loss than you are with burning fat.
3: Your body simply can’t handle fasted exercise — or you have some other type of limitation that prevents you from using fasted exercise.
How to exercise in a “fed”state:
Eating a light, easy to digest meal rich in protein and carbohydrates a few hours before exercise will elevate insulin (in a healthy way) to keep your body in an “anabolic”, muscle-building state.
For example, a low carb nutrition shake with fruit — or a piece of wild caught fish with some veggies and a slow-burning low glycemic starch like a sweet potato or quinoa.
This will provide your body with an easy-to-burn fuel for extra energy to increase performance of your workouts. It will also give you the extra calories needed to recover faster and help build muscle.
But remember, all this food brings insulin into the picture. And although insulin is desirable at certain times, especially when your goal is to gain muscle, it will put the brakes on fat loss and suppress certain “fat burning” hormones.
This brings us to option number two (my personal favorite)…
Why “fasted exercise?”
1: If your goal is to target and burn belly fat or slowly shrink away stubborn pockets of fat and cellulite.
2: You want to maximize the fat burning “hormonal” response from fasted exercise as much as possible.
3: You want to maintain your current level of leanness and/or stop your body from gaining any fat.
How to exercise in a “fasted” state:
You have a few options here, but I highly recommend you keep your workouts short and intense to maximize the hormonal effect and prevent muscle loss.
a. Wake up early, have some water and cup of black coffee if you want. Then break your fast with a short, high intensity workout.
b. Use an Intermittent Fasting protocol of 16 to 24 hours, and then break your fast with a short, strategic workout. Karen I use this approach at least 3 to 5 days of the week.
c. Wait three to four hours after a balanced, lower carb meal if you perform your workout later in the day.
The Hormonal Effect: This will kick your SNS (sympathetic nervous system) into HIGH gear, which will force the release of Growth Hormone, Adrenaline, and Free Fatty Acids….all while lowering insulin dramatically.
All of this sets up the “perfect storm” for creating an aggressive RAPID fat-loss environment inside your body – without losing muscle.
Fasted Exercise? or Fed Exercise?
So hopefully this gives you a clear picture of which approach you should be using based on your personal goals and current situation.
As I get leaner, I combine BOTH approaches above by using “fed” exercise sessions on my resistance training days with “fasted” sessions on my interval/bursting days.
My wife Karen is usually trying to burn as much fat as possible or maintain her “girlish” figure, so she’ll perform all her sessions in a fasted state.
The only reason you should NOT be using the fasted approach from above is if you’re a newbie, you’re a diabetic, you have pre-diabetes, or you simply can’t tolerate fasted training.
So how’s THAT for some awesome *free* fat-burning content?
Now if you’re anything like me, one of the biggest challenges you probably have with putting the strategies above to work on your body, is controlling cravings and hunger.
Well, believe or not, there are LOTS of specific foods that you can intentionally overeat to KILL cravings and take total control of you hunger and your hormones.
Just click the link below and you’ll learn exactly what these foods are.
It’s advice from my friend Chad – who is a top fat loss expert and online trainer who has been helping people lose weight online for over 16 years now.
Talk soon and have a great day,
Research reports and published studies supporting fasted exercise.
This study shows that fasting prior to exercise increases nutrient uptake and
absorption in post workout meals:
This one demonstrates that fasting increases the release of catecholamines
(precursors to adrenalin) and therefore naturally increases resting metabolic rate.
If you combine that with high intensity exercise, you get a powerful 1-2 punch:
This study (for the first time) shows that fasted exercise is more potent than fed
training to facilitate adaptations in muscle and to improve whole-body glucose
tolerance and insulin sensitivity during hyper-caloric fat-rich diet.