Can you workout while intermittent fasting?

18 Mar 2022

Can you workout while intermittent fasting?

Nutrition is very important when we speak about bodybuilding. There are plenty of dietary strategies developed for athletes but they cannot guarantee that the result will be just as it is expected even if one precisely follows the instructions. You can try high fat diets or high protein diets, which efficiency is based on the scientific arguments and supported with personal experiences of other athletes. But we are afraid that you will find them not so positive as they say due to a range of side effects. Probably, the only neutral and simple method to get rid of the excess weight is a fast.

What is a fast?

The fast is intended to remove toxins from the body and help the natural processes work better which is not as easy as it should be when a human eats all the time. When we fast, we refuse to consume particular or any foods within a certain period of time or change the nutrition regimen and have meals only during the specified hours. There are different protocols. You can fast for 24 hours then eat for 24 hours and again fast for 24 hours. Or you can fast for 16 or 20 hours each day. Just find the most appropriate variant and practice it.

Anyway, when you are fasting, the body does not get glucose, an affordable source of energy, and takes it from the fat depots to produce energy. Fasting provides the body with a regular stress leaving it without carbohydrates and forcing it to use its fats. The researches prove that such an approach allows an athlete to achieve stunning results especially if intermittent fasting is practiced daily.

What happens if you work out while fasting?

Some experts are sure that when you have a meal before your workout, you achieve the best exercise performance. There are various pre-workout meal plans which are still about eating before the gym. You can consume smoothies or protein. But what if you decide to get involved in working out while fasting? You will gain! You’ll become sensitive to insulin and the human growth hormone will speed up the process of fat burning and help to build the muscles. But as to the latter, this benefit contains a serious downside. When you work out while fasting, your body may take energy from protein before it starts eating fat and that will break down muscles, of course. While being not too fueled, you will not be able to exercise very hard. So, the athletes will not benefit a lot from lasting intermittent fasting combined with working out.

Fasting and exercise performance

So, an answer to the question: Can you work out while fasting? is positive. Yes, this is a normal practice. But if we speak about performance, intermittent fasting will hardly help a lot. When the body uses all calories, the metabolism will slow. As a result, an athlete will perform worse. For optimal performance a lot of carbohydrates are needed. Though, the bodies of people, who are fasting intermittently, use their fats as metabolic fuel instead of carbohydrates. There is a fine line between two ways. Exercising becomes more complicated and challenging. As a result, you will burn more fat and maintain muscles but you will hardly build it and it will be cool if you do not lose muscle mass because of the above described processes. So, if you prefer fasting, you’d better practice it for a short period of time. Thus, you will not slow down your natural metabolism.

In order to make work out efficient, when you are fasting, you should:

·         Think of the right time to work out. For instance, the most popular IF protocol is 16:8 where you can eat any food during an 8-hour fueling window and you are expected to fast during the following 16 hours. So, to exercise at the end of the fueling window is not a good idea. It is better to choose time somewhere in the middle.

·         Eat the meal which supports your muscles to the utmost, in particular if you are involved in heavy lifting. You should deliver protein in sufficient amounts to your body.

Some other tips to benefit from fasting while working out

1.  As we have mentioned, there are several eating plans based on the restricted time. Choose the degree of hardcore meeting your needs. The mildest one is the 16:8 plan. You can fast overnight for 8 hours or vice versa, fast for 16 hours which is a larger challenge but it will bring the result. The athletes, who are interested in endurance, need more fuel that is why they’d better choose a 10-hour eating window. Another eating plan is to have mini meals every 3 to 4 hours – this is a very convenient scheme which is still less efficient compared with the others.

2.  If it is vital to create glycogen stores, you will not be able to do without carb loading. Only good carbohydrates will help to work out with the result and not lose glycogen supplies. The glycogen stores, created thanks to carbs you consume, will help you work out while fasting with the best results. 

3.  There is so called intuitive eating which is not really combined with intermittent fasting. It means you eat when you feel hungry and it allows you to keep your blood sugar at an optimal level.

4.  The point is that intermittent fasting while working out is perfect for removal of toxins and weight loss. It prevents overindulgence. At the same time, it is not recommended if the main goal is to gain muscle mass and strength. The professional athletes understand that they should get a lot of calories. While fasting reduces the calories vice versa. If you try to eat much more during a short period within the day, you will do harm to your digestion, probably.

5.  Time-restricted eating allows more time for the muscles to recover, restore during the sound sleep which gets better while you are fasting.

6.  It is easy to track your mealtimes and bedtime, regulating your circadian rhythms in such a way. It will help to keep your overall health under control.

Thus, whether you should work out during fasting is up to you. Though, if you do, you should be ready for the above difficulties and understand the processes related to this subject. You should try and understand what you feel. Does it require less or more effort? Anyway, you should drink a lot of water so that you are hydrated to a high extent when you are fasting.

It is clear that there are too many inputs to consider but you should not fail and continue until you’ll get what you want. At first, it can be difficult, but you’ll overcome the obstacles like hunger and meet the requirements. In a couple of weeks, the body will accept a new protocol which will become more tolerable. It is vital to listen to the body and understand your personal response to new conditions connected with your fasting. If the exercises become too complicated and you feel dizzy, weak, it may indicate that you have been dehydrated and the blood sugar level gets too low. If it happens, you should take a pause and have a well-balanced nutritious dinner following the standard rules of fasting. Though most people feel comfortable being involved in working out, you are recommended to visit your physician before you start a new feeding protocol. Only very durable and strong young athletes can answer positively to the question: Can you work out while fasting for 48 hours!