There are a number of different types of fasts. With strict fasts, you may only drink water for several days, while others, like intermittent fasting, have you fast 16 hours and eat 8 hours, fast for a day or eat lighter a few days a week. The type you choose will determine whether you should workout while fasting. Your body needs energy to workout, so the type of fasting you do and the type of exercising you do makes a huge difference. If you’re doing a water fast for several days, don’t attempt to do intense exercise sessions if you haven’t prepared your body for the task. You can still do low intensity workouts, like walking.
When you’re fasting, your body uses glycogen stores first and then stores of energy from fat.
When you eat, your body uses some of that energy immediately, but the rest is stored. When you fast, the body first uses the glycogen stores. If you’ve trained the body to use fat stores, as in eating a keto diet or low carb diet, it then uses fat stores for energy. But, you must train your body to burn fat, it’s not natural if you constantly feed it quick energy in the form of carbs. That means you still can do your regular exercise program, but you need to prepare your body to do it. Most people don’t do that step first, which is why intense exercise isn’t recommended. You’ll hit the wall and run out of steam.
Intermittent fasting is a bit different.
Intermittent fasting on a regular basis trains your body to burn fat without shocking it. If you start eating later in the day, rather than having breakfast—which literally means breaking a fast—you’ll might have your first meal at 10:00 a.m. and your last meal at 6:00 p.m. You’re just extending your fasting time slightly, so little by little, your body will use glycogen reserves and then adjust to burning fat. Be aware, it could also start burning lean muscle tissue if you aren’t doing strength training. That can actually lower your metabolism.
Match your workout to your fast and plan ahead.
Before you do any type of fast, make sure you’re fit enough to fast. That means you need to check with your health care professional. If you’re doing intermittent fasting, plan to start your workout after you end the fast, so you can have a small preworkout snack and a post workout snack if you’re strength building.
- Pay attention to the signals your body sends. Do you feel light headed? Either break the fast, change your workout time if you’re doing intermittent fasting or focus on a less intense workout.
- Don’t eat a full meal immediately before a workout, instead opt for a small snack about a half hour before the workout. If you eat a full meal, don’t workout for anywhere from an hour to three hours, depending on the meal.
- Studies show that intermittent fasting, the least radical form, provides many health benefits. Some of these are similar to the benefits from exercise, such as reducing insulin resistance, improving digestive issues and improving the body’s ability to remove damaged cells to reduce the risk of cancer.
- Fasting isn’t for everyone. People on medication should always check to see if it’s safe. Anyone who has diabetes also should only fast under supervision of a health care professional. Pregnant and lactating women shouldn’t fast.
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