Fasting: hydration and exercise performance

hydration1Despite the commonly known importance of water in the body for optimal performance, many athletes and weekend warriors alike do not seriously consider the effects of hydration before, during and / or after athletic performance.

Water maintains blood volume, regulates body temperature and is involved in muscle contractions along with a variety of other processes within the body.

So… is it safe to exercise whilst fasting? Yes. To a point. Although it has been done previously, it’s generally not a smart thing to complete a marathon or multiple high intensity metabolic conditioning workouts in the middle of a fast. These activities can be highly taxing on on the body and if not fuelled correctly, injury or illness could be the result.

That being said, exercise is a great way to complete a fast as it can prime the body for the uptake of nutrients.

In fact, the body has been conditioned throughout our history to be able to produce both mental and physical feats under the fasting conditions.

Humans wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t the case. 

Some of the benefits of fasted exercise

  • May provide an energy boost post workout
  • May raise blood sugar levels whilst in a fasted state
  • Improved cognitive function which can help focus during exercise
  • Increased adrenaline levels whilst fasting can help to push through extra repetitions or efforts
  • Increase in production of human growth hormone
  • Increase in testosterone production
  • May help with stress and anxiety
  • May improve body composition

Hydration and exercise

Whenever you workout, in order to achieve optimal performance you need to be properly hydrated. It doesn’t matter if you’re training in a fasted or a fed state.

When in a fasted state, the body is not getting any hydration from foods so it is important to remember to hydrate before, during and after your workouts.

Now it takes a bit of time for the water in the cup to effectively be transported around the body and into your muscles. Proper Hydration needs to occur prior to the workout, but not immediately before. Aim for somewhere around 30 to 45 minutes prior to the planned starting time.

The hydration protocol for fasted activity

To achieve proper hydration prior to exercise consume one of the following fluids 30-45 minutes prior to working out:

  • A glass of water with a pinch of real salt (such as Celtic or Himalayan)
  • A glass of low sugar electrolyte drink
  • A cup of bone broth with salt (to taste)

These drinks contain electrolytes critical to health function and performance.

Consume another serve once in the post workout window.

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