the concept of training fasted has become increasingly popular, with many athletes and fitness enthusiasts swearing by its effectiveness for weight loss and muscle gain. however, is training fasted actually beneficial for your health and fitness goals? we’re diving into the idea of training fasted, and whether it's a good option for you.
let's define what we mean by "fasted training." this refers to exercising on an empty stomach in the morning before eating breakfast. the theory here is that, because your body has not consumed food, it'll use stored fat as its primary fuel source during exercise. this is thought to help increase fat burning and promote weight loss. aside from the theory of fat burning, some people genuinely enjoy training fasted because they like getting their workout done first thing in the morning, and don’t feel hungry enough to eat beforehand.
multiple research studies have shown that while training fasted may burn more calories in the moment, it doesn’t burn as many throughout the day as you would if you were to train after a meal. that said, the number of calories burned training fasted and training fed turns out to be relatively similar, which debunks the theory that fasted training burns more calories / fat.
we also need to explore the potential downsides of training fasted:
- reduced performance: exercising in a fasted state can lead to reduced performance, especially if you're doing high-intensity exercise. without sufficient fuel, your body may not be able to perform at its best.
- increased risk of injury: when you're hungry, your body may not have the same level of energy and coordination as it would if you had eaten. this could increase your risk of injury during training.
- negative impact on muscle mass: training fasted could potentially lead to muscle loss, as your body may start to break down muscle tissue for fuel.
- negative impact on hormones: if we’re not fueling our body prior to training, we’re placing extra stress on our system which can down-regulate essential hormones.
while these four points show caution for training fasted, it doesn’t mean you need to rule out training first thing in the morning! if you train fasted because you prefer working out first thing, here are some suggestions:
even if you’re not hungry, getting in a small amount of calories can go a long way to help you progress towards your goals and improve recovery. here are some fast digesting options that won’t be challenging to get in first thing:
- a scoop of beam’s whey or vegan protein mixed with almond milk and a piece of fruit like a banana or apple.
- low-fat cereal with a scoop of beam’s protein mixed into the milk.
- make a protein spread by slowly stirring water into beam’s vegan protein until it forms a paste-like texture, then spread on rice cakes.
- mix eaa’s into your water and sip on them while you’re training. this helps to preserve muscle tissue! beam’s recovery aminos are a great option here - not only do they taste amazing and provide a full serving of eaa’s, they also have electrolytes to keep you hydrated.
- make sure you’re fueling post-workout. since your pre-training meal isn’t as big, it’s even more important to make sure you’re getting in a meal with solid protein and higher carbs after your session to help with recovery. beam’s protein is a great option here because it quickly provides your body what it needs to repair those muscle fibers! mix a scoop into some oatmeal, cream of rice, or make protein pancakes with it for a tasty meal that helps you reach your goals
if you love training first thing in the morning: amazing! use these tips to set yourself up for success and maximize progress