Oh boy. I joke to avoid the topic. I won’t even bother trying to tell them that I not only fast for 16 hours, but I also do an intense weight-lifting session on top of it prior to breaking the fast. That’s right, I deprive myself of food, and then I force my body to lift weights. I must be killing myself, right?
Well… I don’t know. I feel pretty darn good. But let’s not take my word for it.
Evidence that Fasted Training is Beneficial
There was a study published back in 2010 in support of fasted training.
The study focused on three groups of young 20-something year old men who were already lean and active.
The three groups were broken up as follows: the first was to be a fasted training group (F), the other a fed training group (CHO), and the third a non-training control group (CON).
Each group were supplied the foods they needed to eat, with their total macros coming out to 50% fats, 40% carbs, 10% protein (the ratio of macros typical of a “regular” diet) and calories totalling 20-30% higher than maintenance (i.e. they were eating to gain weight).
The training they had to perform was high endurance training (read: cardio) 4 times a week.
When it came to eating, group F were to eat their foods after training (i.e. they trained fasted). CHO ate foods with high carbs before and after training. CON just ate their foods whenever and did not need to train.
This experiment lasted for 6 weeks.
I think it should be obvious what happened to CON. They ate 20-30% calories above maintenance and did not exercise. They got fat and weren’t the healthiest of individuals.
The fasted training group on the other hand were able to increase their glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity much higher than both the fed training group and CON. What this means is they were able to build up a higher resistance to fat gain since their body can regulate fats and carbs better.
They were also at a higher fat oxidation rate, as it is likely that the glycogen depleted fasted group were able to feed off of their fat storage when training.
Therefore, out of all groups the fasted group gained the least amount of weight and body fat.
My Own Personal Experience with Fasted Training
Okay, so the results in the study seem good. But how did the fasted group feel when working out? Were they lethargic and akin to zombies? Did they suffer through intense emotional trauma and psychological pain as they went through a brutal 6 weeks?
My guess is, probably not.
Me personally, I find that (weight) training fasted feels a lot better since the feeling of having food contents in my stomach is not there. I don’t feel like I have to hold my food down after an intense set of heavy squats or deadlifts since my stomach is empty.
I also don’t feel energy deprived – hell, I probably feel even more energized than before. Eating food prior to training, on the other hand, makes me extremely lethargic and lazy.
In terms of gym progress, it’s never been better. I am able to follow the principle of progressive overloadevery single workout. I don’t feel like I’m missing that “oomph” to get the last rep up. I’ve been able to set PRs (personal records) and increase the poundage on all my lifts just fine.
And now, on top of that, I find out there is evidence that my body is burning up fat for fuel and becoming resistant to gaining fat in general.
How do I feel? I feel freakin’ great.