If you have wondered whether it’s best to exercise in a fasted state, before eating breakfast, or to eat breakfast and then have your workout session, I will weigh in here.
For years we have been told breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you must eat a good, nutritious breakfast in order to have the best exercise session. But is that really true? Here are a few benefits of exercising in a fasted state which just means, before you eat your breakfast or whatever your first meal of the day ends up being if you intermittently fast.
Fasted exercise improves levels of glucose and insulin, lowering risk of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes;
As I explain in Today is Still the Day, exercising in a fasted state is particularly effective for fat loss as it lowers both total body weight and body fat percentage. Exercising after eating only reduces body weight;
It curbs food intake for the remainder of the day, resulting in an overall energy deficit of about 400 calories;
It may boost growth hormone and production of testosterone, which prevents depression and optimizes tissue regeneration;
People who skipped breakfast and worked out on an empty stomach had better working memory in the mid-afternoon and reported less mental fatigue and tension later in the day than those who ate cereal before exercising.
It helps prevent depression.
Exercise and fasting together cause oxidative stress, which helps counteract muscle aging.
So I think it is safe to say if fat loss and improving muscle health is your primary goal, working out fasted would be the way to go.
Another huge bonus is that exercising while fasting for more than 14 to 18 hours (which you might do if you practice intermittent fasting) likely activates as much autophagy as if you were fasting for two to three days by increasing AMPK, NAD+ and inhibiting mTOR. Autophagy is the process whereby the body cleans out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells. It occurs during prolonged fasting.
So should you never eat before exercising? It is not appropriate for everyone. It depends on your age, when you last ate, whether or not you’re pregnant, medication use, medical history, fitness level, whether or not you are metabolically flexible and the type of workout you engage in. If you feel weak, dizzy, nauseous or lightheaded, you probably should have something before working out. I certainly wouldn’t recommend a bowl of cereal, by the way. A light protein like a small whey protein shake is a good choice.
As with all things, it is always best to listen to your body and use wisdom to find what works best for you.
Do you eat before you exercise or do you routinely exercise in a fasted state?
Want to see more articles like this? Subscribe to this blog (just click on “Follow”) and get each new post delivered to your email or feed reader. To follow me and get even more tips on how to live your life in 3-D, including improving your diet, choosing cutting edge nutritional products and effective weight loss strategies be sure to like me on Facebook here and here, sign up for my FREE weekly No-Nonsense Nutrition Report (and get a free gift!), follow me on Pinterest and Twitter!
**There are many more strategies, tips and tweaks I share in the Today is Still the Day coaching plan plus you get personal support and encouragement every step of the way.**
Make gradual changes. Boost health, vitality and energy. Become your best YOU.
I just love how I am always learning from you Ms. Ann. Thank you also for confirmation that it’s best that I make it a practice to feed all the livestock and animals first before I feed myself each morning. That gives me some exercise (farming is exercise [LOL]) before I come in and make myself breakfast. Something I’ve noticed, and I think you explain it here, is that when I exercise (feed) before I eat, my Type II diabetic blood sugar shows greater control and stability then it does if I am active/exercise after I’ve eaten. Thanks for your always wonderful tips maa’m.
J.D. I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. It’s wonderful that you can see from personal experience the difference exercising in a fasted state makes in your blood sugar numbers. And oh, yes, farming is definitely exercise!!!
Ann, this is new information to me. I tend to walk in the afternoon, so I’m not sure how to apply it. But I have started trying not to eat after 7 p.m.
Not eating after 7 is hugely important so that is great Debbie. I often hike the trails in the spring and summer with my friend and I am in my eating window then so it isn’t a hard and fast rule. When I exercise in the morning I do it fasted. You do what you can and what works with your routine. Walking later in the day is a great idea.