Weight Loss

A Sports Nutritionist Take on Training Fasted

July 26, 2023

The myth that training fasted will lead to burning more fat is not entirely accurate.

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When it comes to achieving fitness goals, particularly burning fat, there are various opinions and practices that people adopt. One such notion is that training in a fasted state can enhance fat burning. As a sports nutritionist let’s dive into whether training fasted truly leads to burning more fat.

The Fasted Training Myth

The idea behind training fasted for improved fat burning stems from the belief that when there is no food in the system, the body will resort to burning stored fat for energy during exercise. While this notion has some merit, the reality is more complex than a simple yes or no.

Glycogen Stores

Our body’s primary source of energy during physical activity is glycogen, which is stored in the muscles and liver. When you train fasted, your glycogen stores are used first before fat becomes the primary fuel source. Depending on individual factors, these glycogen reserves can last for about 90 minutes to 2 hours during exercise. Therefore, the initial stages of your workout will predominantly rely on glycogen rather than stored fat.

Exercise Intensity Matters

The type of activity you engage in also plays a significant role in determining the fuel source. High-intensity exercises demand a quick and accessible energy source, leading to the increased utilisation of carbohydrates from glycogen stores. Conversely, lower-intensity exercises allow the body to tap into fat stores more efficiently for sustained energy.

Hormonal Impacts

Interestingly, training fasted can have different effects on men and women. For women, the hormonal response to fasting and high-intensity exercise can be more significant, leading to potential negative impacts. Light activities like pilates, yoga, or walking are generally safe when done in a fasted state. However, women should approach high-intensity exercises with caution to avoid potential stress and hormonal disturbances.

The Sports Nutritionist Perspective

Qualified sports nutritionists emphasise that the key to effective fat-burning lies not solely in training fasted but in adopting a comprehensive approach to nutrition and exercise. We advocate for individualised plans that cater to specific needs, goals, and preferences.

Optimal Pre-Workout Nutrition

While training fasted may not be the ultimate solution for fat loss, paying attention to pre-workout nutrition can be beneficial. Consuming a small carbohydrate-based snack before exercise can provide the body with readily available energy, leading to improved performance and endurance during the workout.

In conclusion, the myth that training fasted will lead to burning more fat is not entirely accurate. While the body may eventually tap into fat stores during exercise, the initial energy source is glycogen from muscles and the liver. Exercise intensity, individual factors, and hormonal responses further influence the body’s fuel utilisation.

Aspiring to burn fat and achieve fitness goals should be approached holistically. Seeking guidance from a sports nutritionist can provide valuable insights tailored to individual needs. Remember, balanced pre and post-workout nutrition, along with appropriate exercise, will pave the way to a healthier and more effective fat-burning journey.

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