Intermittent Fasting is an excellent tool to ramp up fat burning results and help you achieve your weight loss goals. But what about exercise? Can you workout in the morning with Intermittent Fasting? Is the best time to exercise before or after eating? Today, I'm breaking down everything you need to know about Intermittent Fasting and working out in the morning to achieve your weight loss goals!
Benefits of a Morning Workout With Intermittent Fasting
Some of the perks of Intermittent Fasting include a reduction in insulin secretion (our storing hormone) which helps to trigger fat burning mechanisms in the body.(1) But another amazing benefit of working out in a fasted state is that the fat burning process called lipolysis is already in full swing!
In fact, one study compared an 8 hour eating group (Intermittent Fasting) vs. a non-Intermittent Fasting group of resistance trained men. Both groups consumed the exact same number of calories, fat, protein and carbs. Both groups also followed the exact same resistance training program for 8 weeks. The only difference was when each of the two groups ate their meals.
The results found that the Intermittent Fasting group had GREATER fat loss while still MAINTAINING the same muscle mass and maximal strength as the non-fasted group!(2)
Another study concluded:(3)
IF, in the form of TRF (time restricted feeding), did not attenuate RT (resistance training) adaptations in resistance-trained females.
This means that you can achieve greater fat loss while still reaping the benefits of your strength training routine by adjusting the timing of your workout to your morning fasted state!
What Are The Best Morning Workouts With Intermittent Fasting?
If you are a beginner to Intermittent Fasting, especially if you're used to eating every few hours or eating a higher carbohydrate diet (45% carbohydrates or greater), then it's best to start off with lower intensity exercises for the first few weeks of Intermittent Fasting.
With Intermittent Fasting, your body starts to "re-learn" how to efficiently use fat as fuel rather than consistently rely on a steady stream of glucose from food. This switch to an efficient fat burning state can take a few days to a few weeks, depending on your previous meal history. During this time, it's important to focus on lower intensity exercises such as walking, cycling, hiking, light strength training and yoga. High intensity interval training (aka HIIT) relies on explosive power and can be slowly reincorporated back into your schedule once your body becomes better at using fat as fuel and you notice a significant increase in energy levels in the morning (usually around 3 days-2 weeks).
If you have been using Intermittent Fasting for a while and you're eating meals focusesd on enough high quality sources of protein, fat and fiber (like in the Complete Intermittent Fasting Program recipes and meal plan), then you can typically incorporate your usual strength training and cardio exercise routine.
When Should You Break Your Fast After Your Workout?
With the studies stated above, it appears that fasting has a protective effect on muscles post-workout. This is likely due to the naturally increased growth hormone levels that result from fasting.(1) Growth hormone helps to protect muscles while increasing fat burning mechanisms.
With this in mind, the next most important factor to consider with your eating window and breaking your fast may not be when you eat, but what you're eating. Ensuring that you get enough protein to repair your muscles from your break-fast meal is crucial. This is why I personally love using protein-packed smoothies, greek yogurt bowls or egg scrambles as a protein and high quality fat-rich meal.
You can check out one of my favorite post-workout smoothies that utilizes greek yogurt as the protein-base with my recipe HERE. This smoothie follows a similar structure to the meals in the Complete Intermittent Fasting Program and emphasizes protein, fat and fiber to help maximize fat burning.
Depending on your current meal structure, health history and how long you've been implementing Intermittent Fasting, you may be able to jump straight into your usual strength training and cardio routine or you may want to ease into the process as your body re-learns how to use fat as fuel. Adjusting your exercise routine to your meal, health and fitness history is crucial to achieving long term fat loss and muscle strength improvement results.
The key factor to remember is that you are eating ENOUGH when you break your fast and particularly eating enough protein for your body's needs. This will help provide the amino acids necessary for muscle repair while boosting your satiety and preventing cravings later in the day.
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Autumn Elle Nutrition