Find out how snacking affects the effectiveness of different types of training, who needs cardio on an empty stomach, and who should not.
Many people wonder if it is okay to exercise on an empty stomach or if a pre-workout snack is critical. Fasting cardio is popular, and some people skip a snack before strength training. Let’s see how food intake affects the effectiveness of training and when you need to train on an empty stomach.
The traditional exercise meal plan is to consume carbohydrates before exercise, but in some cases this snack can and should be skipped. Some endurance athletes train with minimal glycogen stores. This is done in order to increase the efficiency of the metabolism and force the muscles to use fat for fuel.
Scientists have found that during aerobic exercise at low glycogen levels, a chain of hormonal and genetic mechanisms is triggered, allowing muscle cells to better adapt to exercise.
Because carbohydrates are limited and fat stores are much higher, this shift in metabolism increases the effectiveness of endurance training.
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Do not expect immediate results from fasting workouts. Their goal is to induce metabolic changes that will lead to improved performance in the future when the athlete is exercising on a carbohydrate load.
When to eat before exercise
If the goal of training is performance, then eating just before training has undeniable benefits. For example, don’t skip a pre-competition snack. In this case, you need to eat foods that are low in fat, high in carbohydrates and a moderate amount of protein. This combination will maintain a high energy level and ensure optimal energy consumption. Eating a pre-workout meal will allow you to train longer without fatigue, increase stamina, performance, clarity of thought, and prevent low blood sugar and hunger.
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If your goal is strength and muscle gain, then you shouldn’t skip a pre-workout snack either. By fueling your body with protein and carbohydrates, you will give it the energy and amino acids it needs to build muscle mass.
These nutritional guidelines apply to serious athletes with an intense training regimen. For moderate exercise, you don’t need to follow these guidelines to stay fit.
If you’re doing medium-intensity cardio just to burn calories or tighten your figure, a pre-workout snack is not a must, especially if you ate 2-3 hours before. If you are doing your morning warm-up without first having a snack, just make sure you have a full meal afterwards. This will help you recover faster and reduce muscle soreness.
Does fasting cardio help you lose weight?
It is important to understand that the decrease in subcutaneous fat does not directly depend on the degree of intensity of fat burning during training. Calorie deficit plays a critical role in losing weight.
Fasting cardio can be used to increase the rate of fat oxidation during low to medium intensity exercise. But this technique helps to control weight only if you get high-quality physical activity and control the intake of calories for the rest of the day. It is not suitable for everyone and may even have the opposite effect if you overeat.
Skipping meals can lead to overeating, frequent mood swings and stress eating. If you are prone to these conditions, then most likely fasting cardio is not for you.