All about intermittent fasting and fitness training

All about intermittent fasting and fitness training

Intermittent fasting is a big thing these days. Millions have already tried it. Many with success. But how does intermittent fasting actually get along with regular fitness training? What do I have to pay attention to? Nutrition experts all over the world have examined this. Here are the results:

The different variants of intermittent fasting

During intermittent fasting, phases of normal nutrition alternate with phases of renunciation. There are several approaches. Some alternate a day of fasting with a day of normal nutrition over and over again. This is the 1-to-1 method. Others usually eat from Monday to Friday and then fast on Saturday and Sunday. Whereby up to 600 calories are allowed, for example, yogurt with fruit. This is then the 5-to-2 method. The most popular and most accessible to implement is the 16-to-8 method. You may eat for eight hours and drink only water, broth, unsweetened tea, or coffee for 16 hours. Most people consume between 8am, and 4 pm or 9am and 5 pm.

How healthy is intermittent fasting?

Numerous studies have dealt with intermittent fasting, and the results are not always entirely clear. Animal experiments have shown that blood values improve, unhealthy fat deposits in the liver and muscles decrease, and the development of type 2 diabetes can be prevented. A study at the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg concludes that interval fasting can reduce the liver’s dangerous visceral fat and fat deposits. However, it is not superior to other forms of diet. A reduced diet also has these effects on the body and health.

Intermittent fasting can reduce dangerous visceral fat
Intermittent fasting can reduce dangerous visceral fat (©adpic)

The great advantage of this fasting method

The biggest problem with diets is perseverance. Millions of people fail here every day. Intermittent fasting has clear advantages because the 16-to-8 method is relatively easy for most of us to implement. In addition, we learn to do without the things that cause us the most problems on the scales: the mostly high-calorie snacks that we like to eat every now and then, especially in the evening.

Side effects are also possible

But what the studies have also shown. There may be side effects. Some people in the trials reported headaches, drowsiness, and increased thirst. Another piece of medical advice: very slim people should not do interval fasting because they risk losing valuable muscle mass. People with diabetes and other people with chronic illnesses should also consult their doctor before starting.

Intermittent fasting and fitness training

But how does the fasting method affect your fitness training? Initial research indicates that it affects muscle biochemistry and metabolism. The body will burn more fat during the workout because the carbohydrate stores are relatively depleted. This is good for those who carry a few pounds too many. However, it is essential to remember that a body in a state of fasting starts to break down muscles more quickly because it must rely on protein as fuel. In addition, you probably have less energy available. So you cannot train as hard as you might be used to.

Hard training and fasting are not compatible

The US nutritionist Dr. Priya Khorana from Columbia University even assumes that all forms of fasting with intensive training do not fit together. Their explanation is that the body desperately seeks energy during fasting and strenuous exercise, and there is simply not enough available. This slows down the metabolism and harms performance.

How to train during fasting

If you train regularly and still want to fast, you should consider a few things: If you are one of those who can train well on an empty stomach, you can complete your fitness program just before the eating phase. With a balanced diet, you can then replenish the open reserves. On the other hand, if you have problems with fasting, you should put your fitness program into the 8-hour window and eat something before and after. This is especially true for those who do weight training. In addition, you must consume an extra amount of protein after a workout. More tips:

  • To reduce body fat, you should eat a balanced meal one or two hours before an intensive workout.
  • Always make sure that you have sufficient fluid intake. Mineral water is undoubtedly best, but unsweetened tea is also recommended.
  • And very important: Listen to your body. If you feel flabby and dizzy, you may have hypoglycemia or dehydration. In this case, you should quickly drink a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink.
  • It may not be suitable for you if you feel unwell during interval fasting.
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