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What is Fasted Training and Who Should Use It?

Last updated: June 24, 2022

There are as many debunked myths as there is surprisingly good advice within the fitness community. Certain claims are baseless, such as the notion that working on a particular muscle group will focus on your body's ability to lose weight in that targeted area. This is simply not true, as working on a particular group of muscles DOES increase the repetitive strain on the muscle - recovering back better than ever, but does not actively affect the direct body fat composition of that specific area. Another myth that we will be looking at today is "Fasted Training" or the deliberate act of not eating many hours prior to a workout.

In this article, we will explore the validity of fasted training by first looking to define what it actually is and how it affects our bodies. Finally, using this information we will explain the benefits (or lack thereof) and who should be looking at using this method in their next routine.

What is Fasted Training?

As mentioned above, fasted training is simply exercising without eating or ingesting any form of supplement that can produce calories beforehand. It has been around for quite some time, but few know if it actually is a valid method of working out. In order to take a look at the benefits, we will first need to understand why this would even become a questioned form of exercise in the first place.

Firstly, fasting training does mean "fasting" before the workout, but ideally, it actually means "no carbs" before a workout. This is contrary to the popular belief that a pre-workout snack or supplement should have available complex or even simple carbohydrates in order to provide enough energy for the routine. In essence, this is like taking the ketogenic diet and skipping a few chapters. Placing your body in a state of "ketosis" happens when there are no available sources of carbs within the body, and the natural next-in-line source of fuel for the body would not be protein, but to tackle your lipids and fat reserves within the cells.

The ketogenic diet aims to do this naturally, but this can be used in conjunction with a workout to speed up the metabolic burning process. Below, we will take a look at the benefits this will have on the body when working out without any available quick-release form of fuel stored within the body.

Fasting Before a Workout Benefits

Working out in a fasted state is extremely dangerous if you do not prepare for the day. Before speaking about benefits, it is important to first outline what the training routine would actually look like. For example, fasted training is really not a good idea for power lifts, compound lifts, or any kind of heavy routine that will primarily target the muscles. The body does not have enough fuel or energy to lift beyond your abilities, so it will be much weaker. If you are weaker during a compound lift, this may lead to failed reps, improper form, and even injury.

This is why the best way to achieve the benefits is through cardio or extremely light-strength bodyweight exercises that focus on multiple repetitions. To get the most out of your workout, it is recommended to perform an intense HIIT training regimen incorporated with your aerobic exercise of choice. This can usually mean using the treadmill, rowing, cycling, running, sprinting, or even the elliptical. Here are the top three things that happen inside your body:

Increases metabolic burn

HIIT training is known for its extremely intensive exercise routine but is also one of the miraculous ways to boost your metabolism for up to 24 hours after a workout. HIIT is like magic for the body, as someone eating the exact same amount of calories, with all else being equal, will not gain as much weight as the person who has not exercised in the last day or so.  This is especially true when fasting, as it will increase access to more of your body's energy, as fats have more than double the number of calories that carbs do gram for gram.

Speeds up the ketogenic process

Placing your body in a state of ketosis means limiting the number of carbs so that it can directly access your fat reserves. This is extremely beneficial for weight loss and freeing up the glucose levels within the body, increasing the overall energy and reducing the risk of obesity from a sedentary lifestyle.

Increases your cardiovascular health and lowers cravings

Intense cardio while fasting can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, weight, amount of plaque within the arteries, and blood sugar and limit the risk of developing certain heart and stroke diseases as well as other somatic issues.

Who is Fasted training for?

Fasted training is for those that are having issues with a slow metabolic burn, who cannot find any diets that they are able to follow, and for those that can be disciplined with the food choices that they make. It is advisable not to try fasted training if you have a history of fatigue, loss of energy, and dizziness because fasted training will deplete your body of its essential ATP (muscular energy) and can cause an elevated risk of injury. Make sure to drink a lot of water if attempting.


Are fasted workouts better?

They are not better per se, but they have additional benefits for those that are looking at rapid weight loss or those that have hit a plateau that seems immovable.

Does fasting before a workout really work?

Carbohydrate fasting before a workout accesses your body's fat storage more efficiently, which breaks down the lipids within the cells and provides it with the necessary energy. This will initially cause a huge spike in appetite, but if it is resisted for a few days, you will gradually feel the need to eat more and will also reduce your cravings.

Are fasted workouts dangerous?

Fasted workouts can cause fatigue and fainting due to energy loss and overheating. It is not recommended for those with vulnerabilities or other health conditions.

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