Why bother with fasted training?
Fasted training is generally popular for weight loss and improving endurance, because it adapts your body to a fat burning metabolism. Whilst actual research is limited, anecdotal evidence from many of the world's top riders is strong, and one study from the US National Library of Medicine shows for the first time that fasted training is more potent than fed training to facilitate adaptations in muscle.
Fasted training also helps make sure that carbs, protein, and fats are used correctly by our bodies and are only stored minimally as body fat.
What is fasted training?
Think of it as one of two types of training (definitions courtesy of Muscle for Life):
- Fed training: exercise done during periods where insulin levels are elevated and food is still being processed and absorbed, so your body runs off these nutrients for energy (you remain in this "fed" state for 3-6+ hours after eating).
- Fasted training: exercise done during periods where insulin is at a low, baseline level and food is no longer being processed and absorbed, so your body runs off fat stores for energy (usually in the morning, which is why fasted morning training is so popular).
How do I get started with fasted training?
The easiest way to get started is by training in the morning, before breakfast. Whether it's the gym or a bike ride (a great way to get more out of your commute!), have a black TrueStart Coffee with no sugar for a boost and to kick start your fasted training session. Caffeine is widely used and often suggested with fasted training, and one study from Chonbuk National University (Korea) showed that caffeine taken before a cycling workout increased fat-burning and endurance.
Some people suggest sipping on a protein drink throughout to improve recovery which your body can find more difficult with fasted training.
Start with a low intensity session and if you really get on with fasted training, try upping the intensity or even a HIIT session which has great weight loss benefits.
Fasted training isn't for everyone. Be sure to expect to feel less energetic initially, and if you really don't get on with it then just stop.