You may or may not have heard of fasted workouts, or probably more likely, fasted cardio. Fasted workouts are just that: workouts that are done in the morning on an empty stomach.
The idea is, if you get your sweat on before you break the overnight fast with breakfast (yes, indeed, that’s where the name comes from) your body will go immediately to burning its fat stores instead of wasting time burning through the calories you ate for breakfast.
It sounds good in theory, but doesn’t this go against everything we know about the “most important meal of the day”?
Let us first look at how breakfast affects your morning workouts in general:
FOOD IS YOUR BODY’S FUEL.
Your body uses the food you eat to power it to do the things you love, and all nutrients in your food are used for different purposes. This food, however, must be digested and broken down for those nutrients to do their jobs, which can take hours. Leaving time for this can be nearly impossible if you prefer to workout first thing in the morning, but it’s always been encouraged to consume at least a little something, preferably quick burning carbohydrates which break down quickly for fast energy.
Your body slows down your metabolism overnight to conserve energy, rest, and repair itself. Breakfast is what signals your body to kick-start your metabolism again and studies show people who eat breakfast regularly weigh less than those who don’t. Breakfast sets the tone for your day: it stabilizes your hormones and blood sugar which control cravings, as well as your energy and your mood.
While fasted workouts may burn a tiny fraction more fat during your workout since it doesn’t have calories to burn through first, it’s nothing compared to the low energy, carb cravings, and mood swings you will experience all day, even after you consume a healthy meal.
Most people who use this technique are people who aren’t worried about anything but shedding pounds – fitness competitors or people who want the physique of one – but in terms of functioning, during your workout and beyond, EAT! Ask a prepping competitor and they will tell you they are hungry and tired every minute of the day.
Some people prefer fasted workouts because eating before a morning workout upsets their stomach or they just plain aren’t hungry. Try to get at least a little something in your system, like a small smoothie or protein shake, and eventually you will even out.
Everyone is different, so if you do decide to give fasted workouts a try, above all else, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If you feel weak or dizzy, fasted cardio may not be for you.
image via blenderbottle.com