Previously, ‘fasted’ training what the hot topic for those wanting to burn fat and lose weight efficiently. However, this might not be the case!
Firstly, lets highlight the differences between ‘fasted’ and ‘fed’ training!
- Fasted Training: This is when you train on an empty stomach (no food 4-6 hours before working out)
- Fed Training: This is as it sounds, when you consume food within the 4 hour window of training. This can be a large meal, snack or shake.
The statement: ‘Fasted training burns more fat’, came from the idea that because you have not consumed food prior to the session, you have nothing but your own fat storage to break down and provide energy for that given session. The latter statement is true, in the sense that when you are in a fed state, your blood glucose will be high and therefore your body will prioritize glucose for fuel compared to when fasted, your body burns fat to preserve muscle and liver glycogen stores. However, this does not mean much for fat loss.
At the end of the day, calorie balance is your ultimate determinant for weight loss/gain. Therefore although your burn more fat in the workout, it does not mean you are automatically in a calorie deficit that will achieve fat loss.
This is support by a 2017 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology.
After analysing five studies that compared fasted to fed training, researchers concluded that “weight loss and fat loss from exercise is more likely enhanced through creating a meaningful calorie deficit over a period of time, rather than exercising in fasted or fed states.”
Training fasted is nor the better or worst way to train and is very individual in how a person feels and performs during a session when fasted vs fed. If you are someone who prefers to train in a fasted state for timing issues (early morning sessions) or digestive preference (feels sick when training in a fed state), then by all means train fasted.
However, if training in a fasted state leaves you with low energy and effects your cardio and/or strength training performance then you should consider consuming something pre-workout. This can be something as small as a protein shake, energy bar, handful of dried fruit or a banana. If the session is lasting longer than an hour then I would recommend trying to consume foods previously mentioned to keep your performance levels as high as possible in order to improve.
Fasted training doesn’t lead to better weight loss results. If anything, if you are so low in energy and you cannot perform optimally during your fasted session, then you will burn less calories in your fasted then fed, you wont lift as heavy and progress will be slower. Train Smart.
That said, fasted training doesn't appear to hurt neither exercise performance nor muscle growth.
Cutting too many calories from your diet can result in a restrictive diet that leads to bingeing and risk of muscle mass loss.
Hope this helped!
If you are planning to eat prior to your session then below are some tips on how you can do this!