Intermittent Fasting: Should You Exercise On Empty?

Food provides the fuel for the body to carry its day to day tasks and for exercise. Then the question that arises is- what happens to work out when food supply is cut? One way of reducing the supply of nutrients to the body is by intermittent fasting, which is anything from fasting for like 14 hours in a day to abstaining from eating for several days in a week. To do it, you take little or no calories while on fast and eat the usual portions while not fasting or during ‘feasting’. Intermittent fasting has some health benefits like weight loss, balancing blood sugar level, preventing diabetes, minimizing the risk of cardiac disease and reduce the rate of ageing.

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Effect of exercising on empty

When exercising, your body primarily uses glycogen (stored carbs) for fueling the exercise. However, glycogen is unavailable like when you are fasting, the body turns to other sources of energy like fats. This explains why those who exercise early morning before any meal lose more fat, about 20% more, than those who do it after meals. Also, your body may turn to burn proteins for fuel and remember proteins are your body’s building blocks. This may not only affect your weight loss but also your metabolism making shedding weight more difficult in the long run. Also, exercising on a growling stomach proves challenging with your glycogen and fat levels being low as you feel feeble to workout effectively, thereby negatively affecting your efforts to torch excess fat and build muscles.

Best ways to plan your workout while on intermittent feasting

Since consistent workouts are crucial for good mental and physical wellbeing, those doing intermittent feasting need not worry but can structure their workout in the following ways to get optimum results:

Maintain cardio at low intensity when fasting

To measure your working out intensity, use your breath –while exercising at low intensity, you can easily have a talk with someone. If you stick to low intensity, you will have no problem. Keep listening to your body so as to stop working out when you feel light headed and wobbly.

Workout at high intensity only after eating

You should schedule all moderate to high-intensity training as close to your last meals as possible so you have some glycogen (stored carbs) to power your exercise and to prevent the blood sugar levels going so low. Also, eat a snack rich in carbs after an intense workout.

Eat high protein foods while not fasting

A pre-workout snack is important for fueling but consistent protein consumption is vital to building your muscles all through and especially after a strength workout when the muscles are demanding amino acids for repair and for development.

Snacks are so crucial

With some intermittent fasting plans, you can eat snacks and food during feasting periods. Taking a meal or a snack three to four hours prior to a workout, and if you suffer from low blood sugar take food one to two hours, to ensure you have sufficient energy to fuel you through the workouts. Go for meals that comprise of a fast-acting 3carb and a blood-sugar stabilizing protein. Also take a post-workout snack containing about 20g carbs and 20g proteins within two hours of working out to facilitate stimulate muscle growth and to replenish your glycogen deposits so you remain energized.