The perpetuation of myths and failed theories in the fitness and health industry exists today, for reasons that people theorize endlessly, and one example of this surrounds the demonization of intermittent fasting and fasted workouts.
Thankfully, it’s those endless theories that tend to reinforce each other and only produce research in a certain way on certain methods with certain results, that galvanize motivated researchers [who tend to adhere to a Paleo Diet] to extensively cover niche areas, like intermittent fasted training.
Fasting, or abstaining from food and/or caloric intake for a specified amount of time, stimulates the fight or flight system in the human body, allowing for the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline, increasing energy and focus. Activating the Sympathetic (fight or flight) Nervous System is a road to special type of focus and useful drive, as long as it’s not done in excess artificially.
[Dr. Mercola , explains intermittent fasting in a unique way that really reaches through to all audiences,
nutritional knowledge or not]
Moving on from abstaining from food, eating results in an insulin surge (the bodies storage hormone) that activates the Parasympathetic Nervous system, which stimulates digestion and generally relaxes the body. The parasympathetic nervous system is “cooperatively contrary” with the sympathetic, or fight or flight, nervous system. Both systems have important and necessary roles, and aren’t “bad” or “good”, and carry out their jobs efficiently with the right environment.
Now, I can just say that everything explained above about fasting and the resulting internal environmental effects work and makes fasted workouts superior, but research can give us a better explanation, and I have to give credit where credit is due for highlighting and popularizing these studies, to Martin Berkhan of Lean Gains, Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple, Robb Wolf of the new Paleo Diet Budget and The Paleo Transformation, and Brad Pilon of Eat Stop Eat. They each also have amazingly informative and entertaining blogs that I recommend you read when you have and make time.
The research exists and much of it completely destroys the myths that fasting leads to muscle wasting, that fasted training is inferior or illogical, that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that conventional wisdom is the only answer.
In-fact, much of the research explains that fasted research groups experienced higher glucose tolerance, increased protein synthesis and protection from muscle wasting, lower levels of body fat, and higher levels of lean muscle mass. Performance results showed that with sprinters, fed and un-fed, values were similar.
The How to Fasted Workouts:
Now, despite all the past and new research stating that fasted training has its benefits, there exists research that states BCAAs or the BCAAs in supplements can encourage protein synthesis and prevent muscle wasting.
Some of the aforementioned experts don’t follow the model below, and simply train fasted, and eat when the fast is over, without any type of supplements. It’s a method I use and many others use, and I’ve personally found no downsides. Some prefer to make use of the research on BCAAs and apply that to the research on fasted training, which is also another great method that I support.
That is why a portion of Martin Berkahn’s Leangains approach, which includes BCAAs, is outlined below, I definitely advise you read and research his entire method, which is free on his website, HERE.
Martin Berkhan, fasting aficionado, has a very interesting solution in which BCAAs (10 grams) are taken prior to a workout, and after a workout until you consume some sort of solid food. Additionally, if you train early in the morning, and the fast is going into the afternoon, then take BCAAs every two hours of not eating.
So If I was doing a fasted workout at 8am, and not eating a full meal until 12pm, my day would be something like this:
10 Grams BCAA prior to 8am Workout
10 Grams BCAA 845 am (post-workout)
10 Grams BCAA 1045 am (two hour mark)
Full Meal at 12pm
The best way to find out if this works, is to of course consult the proper medical professionals, do your research, and see if it works for YOU. Everyone will get different results based on work-ethic and other variables, but from all the feedback I’ve seen and read, fasted training delivers the results hard work is supposed to achieve.
You’ve got the research above, articles and information listed, and my opinion, the only step left is taking action.