Intermittent fasting: Morning Workouts & Eating
I have been getting a TON of questions lately regarding Intermittent fasting and morning workouts. When practicing intermittent fasting, working out in the morning can be SUPER beneficial. Since it is near the end of your fast, your body’s insulin levels have hit their baseline, meaning that your body is no longer storing fat, but rather is burning it. Therefore when you workout, you are burning solely STORED BODY FAT! That being said, where the main confusion seems to lay is:
“When should I be eating? Or when should I break my fast?” after my morning workout. AND,
“Is there a specified time limit when I should be eating my meal?”
The answer is NO, and here’s why:
During a workout, you break down your muscle fibres and deplete your glycogen stores which can leave you feeling sore and fatigued. Because your feel tired and your muscles are sore, it would make sense to eat right away, right?
WRONG! There are actually NO BENEFITS of eating right after your workout!
WAIT, WHAT? WHY?
After a workout, our body goes through a process called protein synthesis which is the process of protein getting turned into muscle. A study done by McMaster University shows that contrary to what is commonly believed, this process goes on in our bodies for up to 24 hours after a workout! This means that as long as we refuel our bodies within a 24 hour period, we will burn fat, build muscle and recover properly. This also means that our overall diet throughout our day is super important, not just that one meal after a workout. It has also been proven that protein synthesis and fat metabolization actually INCREASES as time goes by after a workout. This means that you will get more out of your workout if you wait a few hours at least before eating or breaking your fast. Although this is the case, sometimes it may be hard to continue fasting after a workout because our metabolism is moving faster, we are FIRED UP and feeling hungry. If you feel this way after a workout THAT IS COMPLETELY NORMAL! It doesn’t mean that you have to eat right away, if you want to hit a full 16 hours for your fast, then holding off from eating a couple extra hours will actually benefit you!
The fact that you don’t HAVE to eat right after working out to see results is a HUGE help when planning your Intermittent fasting schedule. For those of you that do not workout in the morning, it is important to note that you DO NOT have to workout in the morning or in a fasted state to benefit from Intermittent fasting. Yes, you will burn more fat while working out if you are in a fasted state, but if you cannot fit a morning workout into your routine, don’t stress!
It is also important to consider the amount of time our bodies take to get into a fasted state. You cannot eat your last meal at 5pm and workout at 8pm in a ‘fasted state.’ This is because it actually takes our bodies between 6-12 hours to be in a fully fasted state. This means our insulin levels are at baseline and we are running off of pure body fat. Everyone is different, based on factors such as your gender, metabolism speed, and what you ate during the day, the exact time it takes to get into a fasted state will vary.
If you are able to workout in the morning, here is my advice on how to schedule your workout with you Intermittent fasting schedule:
Step 1: What is your fasting ratio?
The most common fasting window is 16:8 which means you fast for 16 hours and have an 8 hour eating window. Your fasting window can be anywhere between 12-18 hours, the more hours you fast the more beneficial the fast will be for you. I like to go with the common 16:8 ratio, this way, when I workout, I am sure my body is in a fasted state.
Step 2: What time do you Workout?
Next, take into consideration the time you usually workout at. Make sure your workout is at least an hour before you plan on breaking your fast to ensure you get the full benefits of your workout. Like I mentioned earlier, the longer you wait, the more benefits you will get. I typically try to wait 2 hours after my workout before breaking my fast.
Step 3: How about the rest of the day?
Now depending on your ratio, plan out the rest of your day and figure out what time your final meal will be at. For example, if you chose the 16:8 ratio and had your first meal at 10am, plan to have your last meal at 6pm.
This 3 step process will work no matter what time you choose to workout in the morning or what time you choose to break your fast, all you have to do is adjust your hours according to your schedule!
If you practice intermittent fasting and do not workout in the morning, just fit your workout in wherever you can within your day. As long as you are sticking to a specific intermittent fasting schedule, you will still get a ton of benefits that come along with intermittent fasting. If you are not currently doing intermittent fasting or if you need more information on where to start, check out my Blog post and YouTube video on intermittent fasting for beginners. You can also download my FREE Intermittent Fasting PDF so you can get started today!