With this article we will try to clarify a very important and controversial issue: training without eating.
We would like to point out from the outset that future considerations may not be welcome, but they are supported from a technical-scientific point of view.
We will analyse below 3 crucial aspects of fasting training in the morning: the timetable, the possible increase in fat consumption and fasting motor practice.
Training Without Eating
Better to practise in the morning, afternoon or evening?
No point in dwelling too long. The best time is, first, to maintain a certain consistency between sessions.
But then, why do many people claim that there are more recommended time slots than others? Because now and then the concepts of “chrono -type” and “circadian rhythm” come back into the limelight.
In chronobiology, it defines a circadian rhythm as any cycle that begins and ends in 24 hours.
The human organism is totally governed by the circadian rhythms which affect many functions such as brain activity, sleep-wake, hormonal axes, thermoregulation, pressure regulation etc.
The human being has a uniform circadian rhythmic tendency among individuals; who more or less, all people have daytime aptitudes (being able to study or work until 11:00 p.m., or return from the disco at 6:00 a.m. does not mean being creatures of the night).
Each of us seems to have different time preferences, so to understand something, we must first refer to the statistics on large numbers. In sport, old studies observed, for example, that most athletes can develop more strength in the late afternoon.
Speaking of nutrition and metabolism, however, some note that in the morning you have a greater sensitivity to insulin and tolerance to carbohydrates. Then, that these trends have the least importance is another matter.
The attitude and predisposition towards one time rather than another, in the strictest sense, however, changes from person to person.
So some specialists have identified the concept of chronotype, which would distinguish the profiles of lark and owl, referring to those who show more energy at the beginning of the day in the first case, or at the end in the second.
Here things get complicated, because any bodily function can be modified on the basis of environmental-behavioural input (such as eye exposure to light, introduction of nutrients) and lifestyle modification.
Just think of those who regularly make intercontinental airplane trips and resolving jet lag (bad spindle), or simple shift workers; if they do not adapt, they will die.
The circadian rhythms are measurable, not only through individual sensations but also through aim examinations. Hormones and neurotransmitters, between various people, have different concentrations at different times.
However, as we have said, by actively changing certain habits, those who more and those who less have the possibility to adapt to opposite rhythms.
So why people who train fasting tend to do it in the morning? Because it is much easier to fast while sleeping than during the day. You don’t feel hungry while sleeping, while during the day you also need to have more energy to spend on work and domestic activities.
All that training in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening is exactly the same thing, as long as you try to create a continuity and a systematics of habits. Why is this essential? Because training in full form reduces fatigue and increases pleasantness, which is the most important factor in the success of a protocol (compliance).
It is curious to think, to have some chance to keep your motivation high, it is necessary first to strive, making minor sacrifices – for example, setting the alarm clock every day to train in the morning if necessary.
Burn More Fats
What does it really mean?
Those who try to burn more fat would like to do it to lose weight, that is to reduce the amount of adipose tissue.
But what does burning more fat really mean? Nothing.
As we will see below, the concept of “increased lipid consumption” is actually outdated, because it is of relative magnitude. However, web sources often take an opposite position in this respect. We will make our contribution by making logical sense of the next considerations.
Let’s start the most important paragraph of the article by defining 6 essential concepts:
- Fats or lipids (L) do not burn, but oxidise in the presence of oxygen.
- The metabolic use of fats is governed by that of carbohydrates (G), so it is inevitably linked to it.
- It is not possible to consume only fatty acids at muscle level, under any circumstances, and indeed the total energy production is in favour of carbohydrates.
- What counts in slimming is the calorie balance over the medium and long term
- The organism always balances
To lose weight, it is essential to create a negative calorie balance, i.e. to consume more energy than is obtained from dietary foods.
Most energy production takes place in the presence of oxygen – that is why we are forced to breathe. Carbs and caloric lipids are used to recharge ATP (energy) thanks to aerobic metabolism.
So, to increase overall calorie consumption, especially of lipid origin, is aerobic activity indispensable? No, or rather not necessarily.
However, it has been shown that, since it can be prolonged for longer, it offers greater advantages in terms of absolute energy cost.
On the other hand, fats and carbohydrates are not oxidised in the same way. Lipids require more time, so they are ideal for a constant but not urgent energy demand; the so-called low or medium intensity of exercise.
Hence the concept of “lipolytic range”, which would be that “range” of intensity in which the metabolism would use the highest percentage of lipids. Very true, but useless. First of all because “as much as possible” does not mean “big quantity” in absolute terms; just think that a very heavy man who runs for about an hour does not even consume 35 g of fatty acids.
Second, the total energy used increases not only with time, but also with the intensity of exercise. However, the high intensity cannot be prolonged too long, because: it soon runs out of energy stocks, determines the production of lactic acid and strains the organism at a systemic level.
The protocol chosen to lose weight should have “at least” one aerobic component, but with a sufficient volume of work.
“Fat is burned at the fire of sugar.”
Everyone says that, but few know what it really means. Basically, without glucose you can’t consume fatty acids, which means you can’t train effectively… or even survive.
This is because the energy production system that exploits fatty acids is imperfect;As the carbohydrates in the diet gradually and continuously decrease, the body accumulates ketone bodies (see ketogenic diet).
This happens because cells have evolved to completely oxidised only glucose which, even in modest quantities, is indispensable to “complete” the oxidation of fatty acids.
Attention, however, what has been said does not mean that without carbs it is not possible to consume lipids, but rather that the mechanism of energy production, besides being less effective (you do not have the same energy that instead offers a balanced distribution), tends to “jam” easily (see metabolic ketoacidosis).
We will avoid discussing the distribution of energy macronutrients in the diet, so we will just say that, for a slimming purpose, both low-carb diets chosen to maintain insulin calm and train the body to consume more fatty acids, and low-fat diets, usually chosen to optimise the oxidation of adipose lipids, should be considered as potentially wrong.
The most effective slimming diet is the balanced one.
This is because, in all circumstances, the organism tends towards balance.
Removing carbohydrates (if it is possible, especially in the long term) would worsen the carbohydrate metabolism and indirectly also the lipid metabolism, to the detriment of slimming (we will not go into the reasons why this happens, because a whole article would be necessary).
Not to mention the moment in which carbohydrates will be reintroduced into the diet; with a compromised carbohydrate metabolism, even small quantities will have a “complicated” impact, to say the least. By removing fat instead, the cells would become unused to consuming it, again to the detriment of slimming.
From these few considerations it should already be clear that, even by forcing the body to consume more lipids, sooner or later it will react accordingly by adapting.
That is why what really counts is total calorie balance in the medium and long term; then, of course, there is the way and way to lose weight. In order to lose weight well, in addition to a good distribution, the calorie depletion should not be too rigid, or the continuity of work will be compromised.
We finally reach the condition of fasting: does it make you lose weight without eating or not?
Fasting, Training and Fats
Does fasting burn more fat?
Yes, or rather not; it depends.
Yes, fasting, if it is tolerable for the person, increases the percentage and absolute consumption of fat. Why is that?
Because the body, which has limited hepatic and muscular glycogen reserves, perceives a situation of precariousness and reacts and adapts by increasing lipid oxidation at the expense of glucidic oxidation.
After that? The reverse happens. Once the training is over, compensating for the oxygen debt and introducing the first meal, to restore the balance, the percentage of fat in the basic mixture is reduced in favour of that of sugars.
As we have already said what counts is the general caloric balance, not the oxidised mixture, because the body always balances; it is therefore not possible to “force” it to consume more fat than sugars and, even if it were, at the first opportunity it will try to compensate for everything.
There are also considerations to be made regarding fasting training. First of all, not everyone can tolerate it.
In particular, there are people with poor metabolic flexibility, who particularly suffer from a lack of meals – especially the carbohydrate component.
For such a person, fasting in the morning would not only be uncomfortable, but potentially risky.
It cannot be ruled out that hypoglycaemia may occur, resulting in general weakness, sometimes aggravated by low hydration, lack of magnesium and potassium, and low blood pressure – because, remember, food is the main source of fluids and minerals for the body.
Then, even if it succeeds, fasting training has a big drawback; if on the one hand it promotes lipolysis and fat oxidation, we reiterate that it still needs a certain amount of carbohydrates.
Where does he get them from if we are fasting? The muscles draw on the glycogen supply and the brain from the liver (for glycaemia).
And once exhausted? The muscles begin to oxidise the structural branched amino acids and the liver begins neo-glucogenesis by drawing on the circulating amino acids.
This is not good, because amino acids are necessary for the plastic and structural function of muscles; training in the low presence of energy nutrients, especially food carbohydrate proteins, will affect muscle mass.
It should also be said that if you eat a good meal immediately afterwards, this depletion is quickly filled by the anabolic system. But, as we have said, there is also a “rebound” saving in fat; therefore, you train fasting for nothing.
Yet many people claim to do more exercise on an empty stomach than after a meal. It’s actually quite understandable.
A so-called “lean carburation” of the body offers both advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is the total absence of other activities that require blood and energy.
The disadvantage, however, is a reduction in total autonomy (50-60′ on average) – from this we could deduce that it is mainly endurance athletes who need to eat before and during training.
What’s more, training on an empty stomach and fasting are two very different things. On an empty stomach means without having eaten for about 3, 4 or at most 5 hours.
Fasting, on the other hand, means refraining from eating for at least 12 hours, preferably 15 or 18 hours (to exaggerate). The difference is abysmal.