There are so many diets out there that aim to change a person’s eating habits for the better and, as a by-product, reduce their weight. One of the most popular types of dieting is fasting.
Once most common amongst religious groups like Christians in the run up to Easter and Muslims during Ramadan, fasting has now become a favorite amongst those looking to shed the pounds and improve their overall health.
That being said, fasting and eating healthily will only get you so far – to be truly healthy and in shape you need to exercise, but working out whilst fasting isn’t quite as simple as working out whilst not fasting.
If you’re fasting either for religious reasons or for health purposes and want to know the best ways to workout whilst doing so, keep reading.
Is it safe to workout whilst fasting?
It is completely safe to exercise whilst fasting.
What is the best time to exercise whilst fasting?
Whether or not you exercise on a full or empty stomach whilst fasting depends on your personal performance. Some people perform exceptionally well on an empty stomach, so doing a workout before breakfast or prior to the eating window will be most beneficial to these types of people.
Alternatively, some people either don’t like or don’t perform very well on an empty stomach and instead are better suited to working out after eating. If this applies to you, try working out immediately after your eating window.
There’s no right or wrong timing, but aside from personal preference and performance, there are important things to note when it comes to choosing the time you workout at.
Working out on an empty stomach burns more fat because your body will turn to fat and carbs it’s already stored in order to fuel the workout – resulting in increased fat loss. This is fine for cardio based workouts, but strength training on an empty stomach works differently.
If you’re looking to do a strength focused workout in a fasted state, you could actually lose muscle mass as your body creates more cortisol and muscle mass is burned. That’s not to mention the effects of low blood sugar levels which could lead to easy fatigue.
When you’re trying to lift weight, the last thing you want is low energy, and you certainly don’t want to burn muscle instead of building it. For strength workouts, it’s best to eat first and let your body burn the nutrition you’ve just absorbed and use it for muscle repair afterwards, too.
Can high intensity workouts be undertaken whilst fasting?
It’s entirely possible to undertake a high intensity workout whilst fasting – provided you exercise after eating. If you’re planning on exercising on an empty stomach, try and stick to low to medium impact workouts like cardio sessions of jogging or cycling rather than high intensity, long workout regimes.
If you want to do an intense, high-calorie burning workout, make sure you do it after you eat rather than before.
What are the best foods to eat whilst fasting to fuel a workout?
In addition to five fruits and vegetables a day and plenty of water, if you’re planning on working out whilst fasting, make sure you incorporate good carbs like brown right, wholegrain pasta and yoghurts.
You’ll want to get a good amount of sugar into your diet, but not too much. Try to stick to natural sugars in the form of fruit and avoid high sugar drinks like energy drinks and fizzy drinks.
Oats, egg whites and bananas are all hallmarks of good workout foods, and they’re easy to work into a healthy diet whilst fasting.
Hopefully you now feel more confident to undertake a workout whilst fasting, but remember, if you don’t feel up to it or if you feel dizzy or faint whilst working out, listen to your body and stop.