We answer the basics of how to safely exercise during an intermittent fasting program
In the wellness and fitness world, what seems strange one year is normal by the next. For instance, when going vegan seemed like the most bizarre thing to do, the industry rebranded it as 'plant-based' and it became a normal lifestyle. And yoga was portrayed as an exercise only for flexible bodies, before people realized that it’s one of the best exercises to keep our mind and body healthy. Now, it’s time for fasted workouts—a strategic training method where you exercise on an empty stomach to enhance performance—to become mainstream.
The science behind it
When food wasn’t as easily available as it is today, holding on to stored body fat was the only chance at survival. The world has changed but our bodies are still physiologically the same as they were centuries ago. If we continuously feed ourselves, we will never tap into our bodies’s natural ability to burn fat for energy. Fasted workouts are a way of maximizing this potential.
Research says that it is a proven, strategic way of forcing your body to find other sources of fuel for energy. Our reliance on carbohydrates as fuel during exercise subsequently reduces with this training method.
The workout plan
The most common, and practical, way is to train in the morning, before having breakfast. A light stretching routine followed by a bike ride or a walk or any moderate intensity workout for 30-60 minutes is recommended.
You should start with two fasted workouts a week and increase the frequency when your body gets comfortable with this routine.
Within an hour of completing the fasted workout, consume a protein-rich diet with good-quality carbohydrates and fats to help recovery. Think banana and oats, eggs on toasts, or an acai bowl with added protein.
- Increase in fat oxidation: Research suggests that during fasted workouts, glycogen stores are empty, which means the body starts to burn fat for fuel, instead of carbohydrates.
- Improves insulin sensitivity: Fasted training is more beneficial than fed training to help move sugar into the muscles for storage and promotes an immediate increase in insulin sensitivity.
- Helps with metabolic switching: Recent studies suggest that exercise and an intermittent fasting program can help regenerate newer, healthier cells and may also help slow down aging.
- Hydrate yourself: Always drink adequate water during exercise, even if you’re following a fasted workout. It's important to constantly replace fluids that are lost during a workout.
- Listen to your body: Whether it’s the duration or the kind of exercise, always pay attention to what your body is telling you. Don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion.
- Plan variations: Create modifications and alterations in your fasted workout routines. On days when you have more energy, focus on cardio, and when you’re feeling tired, skip an intensive session and try Pilates or yoga.
- Avoid fasted workouts in the evening: If you exercise post 4:00 PM, avoid fasted workouts because fasting all day is difficult and potentially dangerous for your health.
- Say no to HIIT: Never start a fasted workout with high-intensity exercises, because your body needs more fuel for such training.
- Know when to stop: If you feel dizzy or nauseous during a fasted workout, stop immediately. Remember that even a simple 10-15 minutes walk is good to break your fast.
Pregnant women, people with diabetes and low blood pressure and children should not practice fasted workouts. If you have any underlying health condition but want to try fasted workouts, it is recommended that you first check with your doctor.
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