“Training in a fasted state leads to muscle loss.” – Quite a common belief. But how true is it really?
Let’s start with a simple question. The workers who construct buildings, who are very poor, who cannot even afford two full meals a day, who hardly have a breakfast protocol, how do they lift all those bricks and heavy construction materials? How? The answer is really simple – WILL POWER! (and stored energy of course. The human body is a good reserve.)
Now to go into some details that will help understand the concept of fasting better. What is fasting? What is a “fasted state?”
Say if you’re going for a workout session and you don’t consume any food prior to working out, that’s called “being in a fasted state.” There is a huge myth which says you can consume fruits when you’re fasting, or that you can eat this (or that) particular food while fasting, and it will still constitute fasting. But that’s not true at all. The moment you give your insulin a good reason to rise and stop the fat burning process, by giving the body food – be it protein or carbs or fat – fasting ends. Fasting means zero calorie intake. And that’s quite the gist of it.
That was myth#1 debunked. Now let us apply proper scientific reasoning to understanding other aspects of the fasting state.
Almost everyone who aspires to be fit aims at either fat loss, or muscle growth, or both. If you are a busy person and already devoting a portion of your time for workouts, you’re probably interested in making the most of that time, and getting the maximum possible benefit out of it. If so, working out in a fasted state can prove to be your best friend, provided it is done correctly.
Here are the main effects of training in a fasted state:
1. Improved Insulin sensitivity – The first significant effect of the fasted state is improved insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone which regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. Now we should be insulin sensitive rather than being insulin resistant, in order to avoid chronic diseases. Training in the fasted state boosts insulin sensitivity. Exercise in the fasted state markedly stimulates energy provision via fat oxidation. Therefore, it is conclusive that training in the fasted state is more useful than exercise in the fed state to positively impact whole-body glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.
2. High HGH levels burn more fat – HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is always high during sleep and fasted state. HGH is like a magical potion that helps the body in making new tissues as well as burning fats. Studies have also shown that fasting for 24 hours will increase the HGH production by 2000 percent in men and 1300 in women. It comes down when your fast ends so you can always balance out the fasting.
3. Activating the SNS which controls fat oxidation – When you workout during a fasted state, it forces your body to shed fat, because the process of fat burning is controlled by the SNS (Sympathetic Nervous System), which gets activated by fasting. So, essentially, working out in the fasted state again burns more fats via the SNS.
4. Increased oxygenation of body by burning fats – Some studies have also shown that training while fasting also improves the person’s capacity to take in and use oxygen during exercise. The more oxygen the body uses, the more the need to replenish oxygen, and the body achieves it by burning fats in the absence of sugar (glucose – comes from food, not available in the fasted state).
So, the bottom line is, you can always train in fasted state. Feel free to have water, black coffee, BCAA, creatine and anything which is calorie free, and break the fast whenever you like. Mostly everyone prefers to break their fast with a post-workout meal.
To know more about best practices in nutrition during (intra) and after (post) workout, read the Fitmag articles here:
In the end, first-hand experience is the best teacher. So why not give a try and experience the benefits of training in fasted state!
Author Credits – Harshal Kamthe