Whether it’s the gym, a competition, studying for your finals, or getting ready for that job interview, people look for all kinds of ways to give themselves an edge or an advantage. These ways, unfortunately, can be at times unethical. For example, we’ve seen people who believe that the only way to get ahead is to sabotage others, or the more commonly know professional athlete who takes steroids and enhancements to improve their game. I guess to them, it’s just a means to an end.
Don’t worry, this is not a post about how to “screw the competition”, but I do want to talk today about a method you can use to give yourself an edge in your fat loss journey, fasted workouts. Basically fasted workouts are combining intermittent fasting and training. Growing up, I’ve always heard the phrase “every little bit helps”. So today, allow me to give you a little more so you can turn that staircase into an escalator. Let’s talk about fasted training…
Intermittent Fasting And Training
When I first heard about fasted training, I thought it was just working out on an empty stomach. That would explain the morning joggers and the early gym birds, right? Well, there’s a little more to it than that. Fasted training is working out in a “fasted state”, which means that your body has finished digesting and breaking down food and your insulin levels are low. When we eat food, especially carbs, the body breaks it down into glucose and enters the blood stream. Also, insulin is created and enters the bloodstream.
This prompts our bodies to use for energy or store the glucose from the food we have just eaten. This is known as being in a “fed state”. When in a fed state, lipolysis and fat oxidation are hindered as well. Lipolysis is the process of breaking down large fat molecules into smaller fat molecules. Fat oxidation (also known as beta oxidation) also has a similar process of breaking down fat molecules, but it also has the process of using those fat molecules for energy. This something to think about before deciding to continue down the road with pre – workout meals.
During my previous routine, I would get out of bed, load up on carbs and protein with a banana and whey protein shake, head to the gym then go to work. Afterwards, I would come home and have another pre – workout meal before my cardio session. I figured having my pre-workout meals would give me the energy to push harder in the gym (which it did), but I always strive to find the path of least resistance. Having your pre-workout meals can give you what you the energy that you need to crush it in the gym, but they also impede the efficiency of burning fat.
Research shows that eating carbs reduces fat oxidation rates. That is because when we eat, the body uses what we have just eaten for energy instead of our fat stores. Research also shows that when lipolysis is elevated (when more smaller molecules of fatty acids are created) fat oxidation levels are increased as well. This is where training fasted comes into play. When we train in a fasted state, our bodies are using our fat stores for energy instead of the food we eat when we train in a fed state.
This, in turn, helps you burn fat at a much higher rate. While fasted training can be a great way to work out, there is also the potential pitfall of muscle breakdown, which is something we want to avoid at all cost
Muscle Breakdown And How To Prevent It
During intense workouts, our bodies secrete cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone that causes tissue breakdown. Because of this, there are people who tell you to avoid fasted training. Now if the prospect of fasted training interests you, then don’t fret my friends. Here are a couple of ways that you can give fasted training a try, and avoid the dreaded tissue (muscle) breakdown
HMB (short for beta – hydroxy beta – methylbutyrate and short for ß – hydroxy ß – methyl butyrate) is a metabolite of leucine (an amino acid). Most labels on bottles of HMB promote muscle growth, strength, and recovery and there’s some research that backs it up. However, what remains constant is that HMB has powerful anti-catabolic properties that prevent muscle breakdown. It is recommended that you take 1 to 3 grams of HMB daily to reap the full benefits.
Branched Chain Amino Acids
Branched Chain Amino Acids (more commonly referred to as BCAA) is another viable option for preventing muscle breakdown. BCAA has been shown to induce muscle protein synthesis and deter muscle breakdown when ingested pre and post workout. BCAA also contains the amino acid leucine, which explains why it helps to prevent tissue damage as well. I’ve read about other people’s dosaging of BCAA. The majority seem to prefer taking 10 grams of BCAA before and after a workout. There are those who take 10 grams during the workout as well. Since most of us like to play “majority rules” as kids, I suggest following the 10 grams of BCAA.
I decided to give fasted training a try. Sometimes, it’s not easy to go the full 12 hours or more of fasting after my last meal. But thankfully, I’ve done a pretty good job so far. I take HMB in the morning, go to the gym, then have my banana and protein shake. At lunch, I have a small meal and then do my fasted cardio session as soon as I get home 5 to 6 hours later. At first, my lifts at the gym suffered a bit, but I was able to bounce back quickly. The most shocking was me being able to last longer during my cardio sessions in a fasted state. After seeing my results so far, it’s safe to say I will continue fasted training.
Have you tried fasted training before? What was your experience like? Did use HMB, BCAA or any other supplements? Tell me by dropping a comment below.