This is a highly controversial topic. Many people swear by fasting before they exercise, while others rely on eating a hearty filling meal to fuel their workout. There are pros and cons to both. While eating on an empty stomach may deplete our store of glycogen (the sugar it uses for energy) and stimulate fat burning, the body may respond by utilizing muscle mass for energy. As a result, you may sacrifice all your hard earned gains! No fun! To make matters worse, most people exercise in a fasted state to try to boost their metabolism. Fun fact, greater muscle mass increases overall metabolism, so no food in your system could essentially slow the rate of your metabolism, the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do.
Pre-workout fasting has also been shown to reduce risk of disease, diabetes, and other health complications. This is because the sensitivity of insulin is improved, meaning that the body doesn’t experience highs and lows in blood sugar. Fasting also tend to produce more fat-burning enzymes and growth hormones, which promote growth and development of bones and muscles.
So what is the best plan? Well the body will find ways to adapt to stressors or changes. Lighter, more moderate workouts may not need a plentiful source of fuel. However, if you plan on doing a killer workout, it’s best to eat enough beforehand to last you through your exercise session. It may also be a good idea to change up your exercise routine throughout the week. Each person’s body reacts differently so you might need to experiment and try out different methods to find which one works best for you. Have some days where you have a pre-workout meal and other days where you wait to eat until after exercising.