Contrary to popular belief, new studies are finding that eating several small meals a day does not speed up metabolism. They also suggest that skipping a meal (or two) will not make you over-eat at the next meal, and exercising while fasting will actually be good for you.
Could Fasted Workouts Actually Be Better?
A recent study published in the “British Journal of Nutrition” found that participants who did their morning cardio on an empty stomach actually burned 20% more fat than when they had a meal beforehand.
The truth is, when you exercise on an empty stomach, the cascade of hormonal changes occurring within the body can support both burning fat at a faster pace, as well as muscle building.
Highly Improved Insulin Sensitivity
When we eat small frequent meals, the body is prone to become resistant to the effects of insulin, and we face a higher risk of gaining fat.
When we eat a meal, the body produces insulin to absorb those nutrients, and then take the sugars to various organs, muscles as well as fat cells, to be used later, as and when needed. Also read: Are there special travel rules for diabetics?
Fasting more regularly, or eating less frequently, makes the body more attuned to these insulin fluctuations so that the body becomes more sensitive to it. The result – improved blood flow to muscle groups, reduced body fat levels, and curbed cravings.
Increased Growth Hormone
Fasting before a workout is also extremely beneficial for endurance athletes as it speeds up muscle glycogen storage efficiency three times! Growth hormone is responsible for both fat loss as well as muscle gain, as it helps the body make new muscle tissue, improve bone quality, burn fat and enhance longevity. Also read: 3 products every runner needs this summer.
Fasting coupled with adequate sleep and regular workouts is the best way to boost Growth Hormone (GH) levels, as proved by this study that reveals fasting for a day boosts GH levels by a huge margin in both men and women.
Enhanced Testosterone Function
While testosterone and fasting have no direct link, exercising when in a fasted state greatly boosts Testosterone function. A muscle friendly hormone, Testosterone helps to reduce body fat levels and gain muscle mass, while it’s also crucial for adequate energy levels, combating depression, improved heart health and healthy libido. Intense workouts that use large muscle groups (think weight lifting, squats and dead-lifts) cause a big surge in testosterone levels, which is why doing your weight training in the mornings in a fasted state makes so much sense.
When you exercise before your breakfast, the body is better dispositional to use carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the right way, storing only minimal amounts as body fat.
Whether you are a runner or a cyclist, doing it on an empty stomach will make better use of your energy stores, while it will also improve the lasting effects of workouts done post-meals in the long run.