Fasting During Exercise?
Performance in High Gear
As I lace up my boots, in my head I’m going through a list of pros and cons on whether or not I should eat before my soccer game or wait until after. If I eat before the game, I feel sluggish, less focused, hungry, and my reaction speed is half the speed that I know it should be. However, if I solely drink water mixed with electrolytes before the game, I feel like the next Abby Wambach. Ok, maybe not to that extent, but I feel amazing! My reaction speed is amazing, my energy is high, and I have the focus of a border collie herding sheep! So why do I feel amazing when I exercise in a fasted state versus a fed state?
Let’s begin by getting some science terminology under our belt before we tackle my pre-game dilemma. When we are in a healthy, fasting state, our bodies do some pretty amazing things! First, we switch our fuel source to burn fat versus sugar. Second, our body experiences the rejuvenating effects of autophagy. Third, our bodies shift into a sympathetic nervous system state. And finally, we can shed excess adipose tissue (fat), an amazing benefit if we’re wanting to lean out a bit!
Why would I care about what energy system I use when I’m exercising? When we burn fat for fuel, our body provides us with a clean and long lasting energy source. With fat as my primary fuel source for energy, I’m able to exercise for long periods of time and experience no hunger or lags in energy! This makes playing a 90 minute game of soccer much easier when I’m burning sugar for fuel
Autophage is the next benefit of fasting. The National Institute of Health defines autophage as “a self-degradative process that is important for balancing sources of energy at critical times in development and in response to nutrient stress.” In non-technical terms, autophage is the body’s recycling system which is important for maintaining cellular health. Autophage is very exciting in cancer research as new studies are discussing it’s tumor-suppressing effects.
Now, the area that I am most interested in, when it comes to fasting, is my ability to maintain high levels of mental clarity and decision making. When our bodies shift into a fasting state, our nervous system switches from parasympathetic to sympathetic, which is responsible for my border-collie like focus. When our bodies are in a sympathetic state, we shift into our fight-or-flight state. Thus, our senses are heightened and we have quicker response times, which makes this my most important skill being a decision maker on the field
Finally, if you one of your goals is to decrease your fat mass fasting exercise is a very efficient and effective tool. When we fast our body utilizes its own resources (fat) to create energy. This is a great pre-season strategy to help ensure your body at its highest peak during competition time.
Now that we all understand what happens when our body is in a fasted state let’s jump back to the conundrum of- to eat or not to eat. For me personally, based on my goals, I will continue to exercise fasted.
For tips on how to get into a healthy fasted state, check out our Fasting for Health blog!
Fact: Fasting increasing your HGH (human growth hormone) production which helps you build muscle.
Awareness Challenge this week: Try a short fast by skipping your breakfast and going into your morning workout. Recommended to try fasting once you are already in a healthy lifestyle eating habits and will definitely help if you are already a fat burner. Take tips from these meal suggestions.
Tune in next time; we’ll teach you the best tips for keeping Mother Earth happy!
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Blog Photo Credit: Thomas Delauer
Cover Photo Credit: Daily Burn