Q: What is “fasted” training? What are the benefits?
A: “Fasted” training refers to exercising on an empty stomach. It is best to do this type of training in the morning, after you have fasted throughout the night. Surprisingly, there are a lot of impressive benefits that are unique to “fasted” training.
Scientifically speaking, your body enters a “fasted” state anywhere from 3-6 hours after your last meal. During a “fasted” state your insulin levels are at a low baseline level. When your body is in a “fed” state insulin levels are elevated. In this state your body will use the food you are digesting for energy and store fat for later. In a “fasted” state your body burns fat for energy. “Fasted” training also attacks stubborn fat regions on the body more aggressively than “fed” training. Your body uses something called catecholamines that attach to fat cells and burn them for energy. Catecholamines travel through your blood stream. Your body also has improved blood circulation during a “fasted” state, which leads to a higher rate of fat burn in all areas of your body.
Your body increases its production of Growth Hormone or GH during a “fasted” state. This increase in GH leads to an increase in muscle tissue, improved bone quality, and increase in fat burning. If you pair a “fasted” state with compound lifts (deadlifts, squats, cleans), which increase testosterone, you have a powerful hormonal elixir of GH and testosterone that has been increased by fasting.
In terms of endurance sports, training “fasted” is beneficial. Fasted training increases the efficiency of the body’s muscle glycogen system. Basically your body gets better at using energy stores in a “fed” state after being trained in a “fasted” state.
There are athletic endeavors which prevent you from being able to train fasted. If you are running a marathon you will need to tap into glycogen stores to finish the race, but including “fasted” training sessions in your protocol will increase your efficiency.
I do not recommend this type of training for a beginner who is new to working out. Consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified trainer if you are unsure whether or not “fasted” training is for you. When used properly under the right protocol, you cannot argue with the awesome benefits of training “fasted”!