The Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Your Workout Habits
Intermittent fasting is having a moment - it's everywhere, from the scientific literature to the latest diet trends.
But what are we doing about exercising? Is it possible to work out while intermittent fasting? And will you lose muscle mass or gain fat if you do so?
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and not eating.
There are many different types of intermittent fasts with various methods behind them but most will have you skipping breakfast and extending your overnight fast until later in the morning every day.
Other forms of intermittent fasting include alternate-day fasting where you eat regularly one day then dramatically reduce your calories on the next, or 5:2 which has days alternating between regular calorie consumption and consuming just 500/600 per day respectively.
How does it work?
Intermittent fasting has been around for a long time and, on the surface, appears to be no more than a reduction of food intake but this isn't what intermittent fasting is about at all.
In fact, intermittent fasting has been shown to activate fat-burning hormones that help you lose weight, reduce belly fat and regulate insulin levels.
It's also been shown to increase human growth hormone, which helps with muscle building as well as regeneration from injury or exercise.
Other benefits include improved mental focus, less stress and lowered inflammation which can lead to better skin health, healthier hair and nails as well as improved fertility.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Weight Loss – Intermittent fasting causes your body to burn fat for energy instead of glycogen, which gives you control over your appetite and cravings.
Less hunger – Most diets rely on willpower and most people don't have enough of it, especially when they're surrounded by sugary, fatty foods that are easily accessible.
Having periods where you're not eating helps to slow down the human metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity as well as allowing blood sugar levels to stabilise, thus allowing you the opportunity to be in charge of your appetite and food intake more successfully.
Muscle Gain – Men and women can build lean muscle even while fasting because their bodies use up stored glucose (glycogen) for fuel during workouts instead of using up precious muscle tissue.
When we eat, we replenish our glycogen stores which allows us to build muscle - if we keep the cycle going by fasting in between meals, our bodies will burn fat throughout the day and use up glycogen stores while we are resting.
Appetite Suppression – Intermittent fasting has been show to regulate ghrelin levels, otherwise known as "the hunger hormone" which helps you control your appetite for longer.
Longevity – It has been shown that calorie restriction extends lifespans of yeast, worms, flies, monkeys and even humans and, based on cell studies, it appears that there is a direct correlation between lifespan extension and lowered IGF-1 which can be achieved through intermittent fasting.
Mental Clarity – Mental clarity is often lost when blood sugar levels are constantly spiking and dropping.
Intermittent fasting helps to stabilise blood sugar levels and as a result, gives you increased focus, concentration and clarity of mind.
How to Exercise Safely While Intermittent Fasting
When you're intermittent fasting, your body is in a fasted state which means it's using up its stored glucose (glycogen) for energy.
As we know, glycogen is the storage form of glucose found in our muscles and liver so if we're going to be working out hard, we need to make sure that our glycogen stores are full, otherwise we'll end up pulling on muscle tissue for energy rather than fat.
This means that we need to eat a good meal with plenty of carbohydrates before we work out and another meal afterwards, this time with a mix of protein and carbs.
Below are a few things to keep in mind if you want to make sure that you're exercising safely during intermittent fasting:
- Make sure that you're well-fueled before your workout; if you're intermittent fasting, it's best to have a small snack or drink something like black coffee or plain water before your workout. This will help to ensure that you have enough energy to exercise at your best.
- Don't work out too intensely; when you're fasting, your body is using up its glycogen stores more quickly than usual. If you work out too intensely, you run the risk of depleting these stores too quickly, which can lead to fatigue and low energy levels.
- Drink plenty of fluids; fasting can sometimes lead to dehydration, so it's important to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your workout. This will help to ensure that you stay hydrated and don't experience any adverse effects from fasting.
- Take a break if you feel lightheaded or dizzy; If you start to feel lightheaded or dizzy while working out, stop immediately and take a break. This is a sign that you're not getting enough fuel and are pushing yourself too hard.
- Listen to your body; Remember that each person is different, and what works for one person may not work for you. If you're not comfortable working out during intermittent fasting, then don't do it. Listen to your body and do what feels best for you.
Intermittent fasting can be a great way to lose weight and improve your body composition, but it's important to exercise safely while doing so.
By following these tips, you can make sure that you have an enjoyable, safe, and effective workout while intermittent fasting.
What to Eat While Intermittent Fasting
When you're intermittent fasting, you want to be eating foods that will help to stabilise blood sugar levels, provide sustained energy throughout the day and help to burn fat.
Good food choices include whole fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources such as chicken and fish, healthy fats such as avocado and olive oil, nuts and seeds, low-GI carbs such as quinoa and oats and low-fat dairy products.
It's also important to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, when you're intermittent fasting to help flush toxins from your system.
What Not to Eat While Intermittent Fasting
There are a few foods that you should try to avoid when you're intermittent fasting as they can disrupt blood sugar levels and be counterproductive to your weight loss goals.
These foods include high-sugar foods and drinks, processed foods, unhealthy fats such as trans-fats, refined carbs such as white bread and pasta and alcohol.
Caffeine is also best avoided when intermittent fasting as it can spike blood sugar levels and can make you feel like you're bouncing off the walls.
How to Stick to Your Intermittent Fasting Plan
Sticking to your intermittent fasting plan can be tough in the beginning, but there are a few things that you can do to make it easier.
Firstly, find a good eating plan that works for you and stick to it.
Secondly, make sure you have plenty of healthy foods on hand so you're not tempted to reach for unhealthy junk food when you get hungry.
hirdly, drink plenty of fluids, especially water, throughout the day to help flush toxins from your system.
Finally, exercise regularly as this will help to keep your metabolism ticking over and make it easier to stick to your fasting plan.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
There are many benefits of intermittent fasting including weight loss, improved mental clarity, reduced inflammation, improved blood sugar control and increased lifespan.
Intermittent fasting is also a great way to detox your body and help to improve your overall health.
So if you're looking for a healthy way to lose weight and improve your health, intermittent fasting may be just what you need.
Intermittent fasting is a great way to detox your body and help improve your overall health.
If you're looking for a healthy way to lose weight, intermittent fasting may be just what you need.
To make it easier on yourself when starting an intermittent fast, find the right eating plan that works for you and stick with it; have plenty of healthy foods available so you won't be tempted by unhealthy snacks; drink enough water throughout the day (especially if exercising); exercise regularly as this will help keep metabolism ticking over & better chances of sticking to your plan.
If it's something you're interested in, give it a try - you may be surprised by how great it makes you feel.
Have any questions or have we missed anything?
Feel free to leave a comment!