Are you wondering if you’re going to be forced to stop working out because you’re starting an Intermittent Fasting protocol? Don’t worry, you don’t have to. In fact, you should work out! Keep reading to see Why You Should Do Both, Intermittent Fasting and Exercise.
For years we’ve been told that we shouldn’t work out on an empty stomach. They say we need the energy from food to workout effectively and nourish our muscles.
But, they’ve also told us that we should eat every 2-4 hours to speed up our metabolism. Recent studies on intermittent fasting show us that fasting for extended periods of time actually allows our bodies to burn fat for fuel and even go into a process of self-healing.
My experience was always that I preferred to workout on an empty stomach if my workout was in the morning. I always felt like I was going to throw up if I ate even an hour before working out.
But the truth is that there are others who have the opposite experience. They feel weak and queasy if they don’t eat something before working out.
So, what does this mean for intermittent fasting?
Should you work out when you’re practicing this protocol?
The answer is yes….
WHY YOU SHOULD DO BOTH INTERMITTENT FASTING AND EXERCISE
The benefits of working out are not diminished because you’re practicing Intermittent Fasting. Working out strengthens your muscles and bones. The benefits extend beyond physical health too.
Studies show that working out releases endorphins, which in turn make you feel less stressed and happier. You also sleep better with regular exercise. Altogether, these can lead to reduced cortisol (the stress hormone) production.
When it comes to muscle building, there’s a myth that Intermittent Fasting leads to muscle loss. This is not true. The belief is that after too many hours of not eating, glycogen stores (blood sugar), which fuel muscle tissue, are depleted. According to this belief, the body will then get it’s energy from muscle tissue, leading to. muscle loss.
In reality, the body is a better-designed machine than that. It goes into stored fat for energy and the liver also has a mechanism called glycogenesis, which produces its own glycogen to fuel muscles and the brain.
So, my point is, that working out will help you maintain and/or develop more muscle. Of course, heart health is another benefit of exercise that we cannot pass up.
Looking toned and slimmer is also a plus! Lol.
WHEN SHOULD YOU EXERCISE WHEN PRACTICING INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Ideally, work out right before you break your fast. You’ll be dipping a little more into fat stores and then nourishing your body immediately after.
That being said, due to life and schedules, not everybody is able to exercise right before breaking a fast.
It may be that your fast is scheduled to end at lunch, but you’re too busy working and can’t fit a workout in during that time. Or perhaps, you’ve been working out in the morning for years, want to keep it that way, but your fast is supposed to end during lunch.
You have a few options…
The first one is that you can schedule your fast to end right after your workout. Let’s say you wake up at 5 a.m. every morning to workout. If your workout ends close to 6 a.m., your fast can be from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
Basically, this assumes that you’re fasting for 16 hours and eating during an 8-hour period. Keep in mind, though, that your fasting protocol can vary greatly from 16:8.
Another option is to exercise during your usual schedule and eat (if you can) when your fast ends, even if that’s hours later.
Some people complete extended fasts. These can range from 36 hours to 21 days (I do not recommend this unless done under medical supervision). Some of them still exercise during their extended fasting period. They often report feeling more energy after fasting for a couple of days straight.
In this post I’m talking about 12 – 24-hour fasts, I have not experienced any of the extended fasts and therefore, have not done enough research on it to weigh in.
The last option I’ll mention is to exercise during your feasting period. You will still get all the benefits of working out, regardless of the time.
For a guide to help determine your best intermittent fasting schedule, download the Free Intermittent Fasting Schedule Workbook below.
WHAT TYPE OF EXERCISE SHOULD YOU BE DOING DURING INTERMITTENT FASTING?
The type of exercise you do during Intermittent Fasting depends on a couple of factors:
- Have you been exercising intensely prior to starting Intermittent Fasting?
- Are you exercising during your fast, or during your feast?
- Do you feel light-headed when working out?
Let me start by saying that there are benefits to high intensity and low-intensity workouts.
If you’ve been doing high-intensity exercises consistently prior to starting Intermittent Fasting, then you should be able to continue. However, I would break the fast immediately after the workout, or exercise during the feasting period.
If you haven’t been working out or completing light exercises, then low-intensity workouts are recommended. These are also best for working out during the fasted state.
INTERMITTENT FASTING AND EXERCISE TIPS
Ultimately, successfully completing your fast and exercising consistently are both important. The following tips will assist with combining both successfully.
SAFETY TIP: If you feel light-headed at any moment when working out. Stop. This may happen when you first start Intermittent Fasting because your body needs to adjust to the change. It’s more likely to occur if you’re used to eating prior to working out and you complete high-intensity workouts.
To prevent feeling light-headed, start with low-intensity workouts and work your way up to high-intensity workouts as you get used to fasting.
NUTRITION TIP: Eat enough protein when you exercise. If you work out during your fasting period and still have a couple of hours to go before you break the fast, have some bone broth. It’s high in protein and, depending on the fasting protocol you follow, you’re not considered to be breaking the fast.
MEAL TIP: If you feel ravenous on the days you exercise, feel free to add a meal. Let’s say you’re only eating twice a day. It’s okay to add a third meal until you get used to the workout/IF combination. You will still get the benefits of both.
Working out when you follow an Intermittent Fasting protocol maximizes health benefits.
There’s no need to refrain from exercising because you’re fasting. However, it’s important to coordinate the two schedules to ensure that you can complete both successfully.
Comment below and tell me how many days you’re scheduled to work out every week.