Can you get your sweat on while intermittent fasting?
Absolutely! In fact, I encourage it.
Any beneficial fasting relationship should include a little hard work and a lot of sweat to get the best results possible.
If you’re looking to optimize your workout results and achieve a banging body, then this article is for you.
There are good, better, and best approaches to training during an intermittent fast, and I’m spilling the tea on all of it.
The Best Time for Fasted Training
So, what is the best time to work out when intermittent fasting? While there are a lot of factors at play here, the optimal training time is first thing in the morning.
To understand why this is prime fat burning time, you need to nerd out and get a basic understanding of some sciency stuff.
The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)
Maybe you’ve never heard of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), but you have heard of “fight or flight”. It’s the same thing.
When you’re in a fasted state, your SNS is on alert, which means it’s getting you focused and ready for action. That means your body is mobilizing and burning fats at an accelerated rate (this is why we love the fasted state, right?).
So, if you train while in a fasted state, you’re getting all the benefits of the SNS firing on all cylinders.
The Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
The human growth hormone (HGH) is responsible for all sorts of things in your body, but for our purposes, you need to know that it boosts muscle growth and exercise performance.
For big results, you need to optimize your HGH levels and train when HGH levels are highest.
Now what does all this have to do with early a.m. workouts? Well, your HGH levels are typically highest first thing in the morning.
So, to optimize your results, you should get your workout in early.
All this science simply means one thing – rise, shine, and hit the gym!
But what about post-workout meals?
You may be worrying that your body won’t get enough macros to support muscle growth if you’re working out on empty. Isn’t protein the key to muscle growth?
Protein is essential for muscle growth. But if you’re getting in all your macros during your feeding window, you’ll be fine – especially if you stick to the best type of fasted training, coming up in the next section!
The Best Type of Fasted Training
Not only should you pay attention to when you work out, you should also focus on the optimal type of training to get the biggest impact.
It’s the age-old rivalry: cardio vs. weight training.
Is cardio a go or a no?
In a fasted state, cardio becomes very effective. Your insulin levels are super low, so your body is relying primarily on fat for energy.
Because of this, you should get your cardio on when you’re as deep in the fasted state as possible (this probably means right when you wake up if you started your fast from the afternoon before.)
After your workout wait several hours before breaking your fast so that the fat burning extends as long as possible, or what you can handle.
If you’re a beginner you may need to slowly work your way up to longer fasting schedules and plan your start and finish to your fast.
It’s extremely important to stick to your plan. If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!
As a bonus, fasted cardio allows for more blood flow to the abs and targets stubborn belly fat – score!
So fasted cardio is a GO – most experts agree that it’s the best type of fasted training for weight loss.
What about weight training?
Weight training for big time muscle growth is optimal just a couple of hours before you break your fast.
That way you can take advantage of those early morning HGH level bumps (grow, muscles, grow!), while also getting in protein relatively soon after.
Why pick just one?
You can combine high-intensity cardio with lighter weights in one powerful workout.
In my experience, a high-intensity interval training program is the absolute best type of fasted training when you’re deep in your fast.
Other Training Tips
What if I can’t work out first thing in the morning?
- I get it – you have a life. Not everyone can hit the gym in the wee hours before work. If your schedule doesn’t allow for an early morning workout, try to train immediately before breaking your fast.
- And if that’s not an option either, then you’re just being difficult. Just kidding. You can absolutely work out at the end of the day if that’s the only time that works with your schedule.
- In the end, the best time to workout is the time that works for you! If you choose a time that you can’t stick to and end up skipping training altogether, then you’re in for trouble. For optimal results, workout deep in your fast, first thing in the morning. For results PERIOD, train whenever your schedule allows for it.
What if my body is telling me no?
- It’s important to listen to your body when you’re combining fasting and working out. Do you feel tired and sluggish on that treadmill? Pull back and slow down. Do you feel weaker than normal when pumping out a few bench presses? Drop the weight until you get into the groove. Give your body time to adjust, and you’ll be powering through all your training sessions in no time.
- Hunger is also a big factor of training while fasted, so listen to that growling tummy as well. Is that early a.m. workout leaving you ravenous? You may need to adjust either your feeding schedule or your training schedule to accommodate, at least until your body gets used to your new habits. Otherwise, you may fall off the wagon.
- It’s best to monitor your personal results and keep an eye on how your body reacts. Everyone is different, so pay attention to your body and tweak your schedule as necessary to optimize your individual results.
A happy, healthy relationship is a sweaty one, and combining intermittent fasting with your workouts makes for a winning marriage.
So get your workout on, get the results you’re looking for, and live happily ever after.
Coming up next in this series – alternative schedules for intermittent fasting. No matter your lifestyle, there’s an intermittent fasting schedule for you.
Lilli a regular Contributor & Editor who is a weight training enthusiast with a background in both CrossFit and powerlifting. She lives on a ranch in Texas where she has built an amazing home gym right in her own backyard (err, garage). When she’s not working out, Lilli works as a freelance writer and travels as often as possible.