Intermittent Fasting can be a valuable tool to improve your overall health and performance. But how do you fit in intense training while fasting?
Firstly, I wouldn’t recommend that most people just too many changes, too fast. Sometimes that can be too much of a shock to the system, which may lead to a decline in health and performance.
If you’re eating a mostly whole food diet you’re already almost there. Some small changes to your eating patterns and slowly extending your fasting period every couple of days will get you out to a pretty decent daily fast in no time at all.
Training in a fasted state
Training should be completed on an empty stomach and/or after the consumption of 10 g BCAA. Technically, the training is not completely fasted – as over time this could become detrimental to health and performance.
The pre-workout amino acid intake has a stimulatory effect on protein synthesis and the metabolism, is a crucial compromise to optimize results. The 8-hour feeding window commences with the first post workout meal.
- 1130-1200: 10g BCAA;
- 1200-1300: Workout;
- 1300: Post workout meal;
- 1600: Second meal;
- 2030: Final meal before overnight fast.
The largest meal of the day is consumed post workout, then calories and carbohydrates are reduced as the day progresses.
Early morning fasted training
This is a common example as a majority of the early morning athlete will usually train fasted before starting their day. This example shows how you can train early morning and begin the feeding phase at noon or later.
- 0600-0630: 10g BCAA;
- 0630-0730: Workout;
- 0830: 10g BCAA;
- 1030:10g BCAA;
- 1200-1300: Post workout meal (largest meal of day);
- 2000-2030: Final meal before overnight fast.
This is my preferred method as I like to train early in the day. I also have a cup of black coffee with some MCT Oil pre-workout.
One pre-workout meal
A common methodology for athletes wishing to train late afternoon or directly after work.
- 1200-1300: Pre-workout meal. Approximately 20-25% of daily caloric intake;
- 1500-1700: Workout during this window;
- 1700: Post workout meal (largest meal of day);
- 200-2100: Final meal before overnight fast.
Two pre-workout meals
The standard protocol for athletes who work normal business hours.
- 1200-1300: First meal to break the fast. Approximately 20-25% of daily caloric intake;
- 1600-1700: Pre-workout meal. Similar caloric intake to first meal.
- 1830-2000: Workout during this window;
- 2000-2100: Post workout meal (largest meal of day).
The take away
No calories should be consumed during the fasting phase. Exceptions to this are black coffee, tea, BCAA and a cup of bone broth.
The fasting window is the perfect time to be productive. Try not to sit around, get bored and think about food.
Once in the feeding phase, meal frequency is fairly irrelevant. Most people prefer three meals out of habit.
The majority of your daily caloric intake should be consumed during the post workout period, with the largest meal being the first meal post workout.
The exception to this is on non-training days where your largest meal should typically be the first meal of the day, with the emphasis being on quality protein intake.
Remember, there is no one size fits all. If your preference is to eat your largest meal in the evening, then do it. Some people like to like to consume their largest meal on rest days later in the day with family or friends. If this helps you to enjoy your food and stick to your eating pattern long-term then it’s a win.
If training fasted, BCAA or an essential amino acid mixture is highly recommended. If you’re not into having a large supplement program, that’s fine. A whey protein concentrate will suffice and can be consumed during the pre-workout window.
Which method is best?
Depending on what your daily routine and training preferences are, a different protocol will be preferable. If your preference is to train early morning then the fasted training option is likely to be best for you.
Conversely, if you work the standard 0900-1700 business hours and your only option is to train in the evenings, then the one or two pre-workout meals pre-workout protocols will work better.