Fasting is a practice that dates back centuries and plays a vital role in many cultures and religions.
However, the most common question I am usually asked is “Is it possible to train while fasting?” or “Would exercising be a feasible thing to do while fasting?” Well, the answer is YES. And not only is it completely okay to work out while fasting, but it also is the optimal way to boost your health and body composition.
Studies demonstrate that combining fasting with training takes the benefits of each to a whole new level. The reason being, these two together raise growth hormones and make you more insulin sensitive, which is the key to staying lean and youthful. But having said that, let’s also keep in our minds that fasting has nothing to do with starving. Rather, it’s all about giving your body what it needs when it needs it.
Before digging deep into knowing the benefits of fasted workouts, let’s first try to understand what exactly the hype revolving around fasting is all about and how does it work.
Fasting is basically a wilful refrainment from consuming food for a certain period of time. Factually, this restrains your body from being fat adapted. Well, let me break it down for you.
Over the course of the day, one goes in and out of the fed and fasted state. The fed state lasts for about 4-6 hours after you finish your last meal. During these hours, the insulin goes up which makes the body utilize some of the food energy immediately post-meal. The remainder proteins and fats are absorbed by the digestive system and glucose is transported to muscles and stored there by the body to be used as energy.
So, one might ask, what exactly happens in the fasted state then? Well, it’s the same process in reverse. During this process, your body starts to break down the fat tissues into fatty acids which are converted into a form of usable energy that can be effectively utilized by your body when needed and eventually burns the fat deposits.
You see, this makes perfect evolutionary sense. In ancient times, when food wasn’t as easily available as it is today, holding on to stored body fat was crucial for our ancestors' survival. But now that food is in almost constant supply, we often tend to forget that our body is still physiologically the same as our ancestors’. This means that we never actually tap into our bodies’ natural ability to burn stored body fat for energy if we do not resort to fasting.
Hence, there are various ways of practicing it which helps your body in burning the fats and utilizing the stored energy. One of these ways is Intermittent Fasting – the kind which involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. I will talk about it in detail towards the end of this blog and give you a better insight into how it works wonders for the body.
If you think you need food in order to gather some necessary energy before working out, let me break this myth for you once and for all. Now more than ever, people have started questioning the fact that one needs to load up on carbohydrates before training. Well, the truth is – being less dependant on carbohydrates for energy is the way to go, as it will start making you feel less hungry time and again.
Fasting will help your body adapt to tap into fat reserves for energy and in turn, you’ll stop craving high energy foods all day long, resulting in losing weight in a healthier manner. By training fasted, you burn through stored muscle glycogen instead of food for energy. This is more efficient for training and it will teach your body to store more glycogen which is a key energy source for heavy lifting. This is why many people notice they are leaner and fuller after fasting and eating big feasts after their workouts.
Fasting naturally increases Human growth hormones (HGH) which is a type of protein hormone that is central to many aspects of your health like metabolism, growth, weight loss, and muscle strength. In addition to that, it helps the body maintain insulin and blood sugar levels throughout the day, which in turn again increases the levels of HGH.
Several other studies also dictate that practicing fasts results in potential delay in aging and extend longevity. We also discussed this beforehand wherein it is logically proven that an increase in HGH can help your body stay more youthful. However, FYI, these researches are mainly limited to animal studies and have not scientifically confirmed the effects of the same on humans.
Some people feel amazing right off the bat while some need time to adjust. The adjustment period lasts approximately 2 weeks. As you deplete the body of sugar, your muscles need time to adapt to using fat for energy. My best advice for you would be to continue doing everything normally while fasting.
Is “eating window” and “fasting hours” the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear Intermittent fasting? While that’s almost true, here’s a little misconception around the “eating window” that I’d like to clear up in order to not let you fall into a trap where you might rather find yourself gaining weight than losing because of Intermittent fasting. Let’s consider you are keeping an 8-hour eating window in a day. But, if you do not count your calories, keep having wholesome meals with all the proteins, carbs, etc. and in the process, intake calories even more than what’s actually needed for your body – you might just end up gaining weight. What I mean to say by this is that you need to have a calorie target fixed in your mind for a day, in order to attain that lean body you’ve always dreamt of.
Here are my best practices when it comes to intermittent fasting:
This is how I hit my calorie and protein goals while practicing intermittent fasting.
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If you are determined to attain that lean body and the best physique that you’ve always dreamed of, there can be nothing better than resorting to intermittent fasting.
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