The conversation about intermittent fasting has become recurring. It talks about whether it is healthy or not, of all the modalities we find or if it helps us lose weight. But, although the conversation about this option is common, the fast continues shrouded in great ignorance. And within all these doubts that it generates, there is one that is repeated regularly: Is doing sports on an empty stomach, is it beneficial? Is it dangerous? Does it make us lose more weight?
Joel Torres, author of the book “Change your body, improve your life” makes it clear from the beginning: exercising on an empty stomach does not make us lose more body fat. Even so, he points out that it has been seen that, if we carry out physical activity in this way, “some mechanism of use of fat as energy” may be favored, although he adds that “it is not the same to lose fat than to use fat as energy”.
In this case, the expert recommends training on an empty stomach for people who exercise first thing in the morning, as soon as they get up. “If we are going to exercise, it is better not to eat breakfast, because we can feel bad,” he explains and continues: “If we had consumed carbohydrates the day before, we already have enough reserves in the body to carry out physical activity.”
What do I do if I want to train on an empty stomach?
“Training on an empty stomach does not mean that we are going to lack energy,” recalls Joel Torres, who advises that each person find the way in which they feel better. “If we want to start training on an empty stomach we can do it without problems, but it is important to do it gradually,” recalls the author. In case you want to start training on an empty stomach – or, in itself, intermittent fasting – what the expert recommends is to increase the consumption of carbohydrates at the beginning, in order to avoid dizziness. “Many times we eat out of inertia, not because we are hungry, and intermittent fasting can help us do this,” he recalls.
If we see that fasting sports is not for us, Joel Torres recommends taking foods rich in carbohydrates before exercise, so that they are our “main fuel”. Explains that we must eat two hours before playing sports, since if we cannot experience gastro-intestinal problems. “Skim milk with cereal, a banana, or a whole-grain toast with some protein may be good options,” he says.
Regarding post-workout foods, the author emphasizes eating foods rich in carbohydrates, as they help us “recover from sessions and perform better in the next”, as well as foods rich in protein, which “Repair muscle damage.”
How does intermittent fasting benefit us?
If, instead, we are seduced by the idea of training on an empty stomach or simply trying intermittent fasting, it is better to follow some guidelines and not jump into it suddenly. First of all, it is very important to determine why we want to fast. Miguel López Moreno, researcher at CIAL and dietitian-nutritionist at TrainingBoutique, explains that we can be encouraged because, with fasting, it is easy to identify if we sometimes eat only because we have the habit of making a certain number of meals going beyond a sensation. of real hunger. “Therefore, fasting can be very useful to simplify our diet and eat when we are really hungry,” says the researcher.
The dietitian-nutritionist makes two important caveats. In the first place, he comments that it is often reported that people can improve their health simply by fasting, but what is important is the type of food we eat. “For people who don’t have a good relationship with food, starting to fast is not the best idea. Also, athletes whose priority is performance should plan these fasting periods according to training, “explains the expert.
Likewise, he points out that one of the great myths is to think that just by fasting you can already lose weight, when the reality is that “the last factor for reducing body fat is eating fewer calories than the body needs” .
Types of intermittent fasting
Regarding the types of fasting, the professional gives us four options:
– 8/16: Consists of a fasting period of 16 hours, thus reducing the feeding window to the remaining eight hours.
– Fasting alternate days: fasting periods must be alternated one day yes and one day no.
– One Meal a Day (OMAD): It consists of making a single meal throughout the day.
– Time restricted eating (TRE): It is a new modality in which food intake should be restricted in periods of daylight and fasting in periods of darkness.
“Before considering fasting or not, think about whether your diet is healthy and if it is not, first focus on improving it,” says Miguel López Moreno.
The first step when we already have a healthy eating pattern, is to start with those less restrictive protocols such as the TRF or the 16/8 which consist, simply, of not having breakfast or not having dinner and skipping to the next meal of the day. “Depending on how you feel and how easily you can follow it, you could start to increase your fasting time,” concludes the researcher. .