I recently tried intermittent fasting- not eating for a 14 hour stretch (this can help sensitize your body's cells to insulin and may also provide more mental clarity. Also, I hear about bodybuilders doing this to stay lean so I had to see what was up). Jill Coleman warned me that it works for some people but not for others.
I stopped eating at 8pm and vowed not to eat again until 10am the next morning.
As soon as the clock struck 8, I suddenly had so many questions that I never considered until I was IN this thing. Does wine count? Can I have coffee in the morning? I mean, it’s not eating. Why am I even doing this?
I decided to just put myself to bed because it was the only way I could be trusted to stick to this nonsense. I wasn’t convinced that I could make it until 10 AM without eating so I told myself I would just wake up and see how it went.
I made it. Effortlessly. I was shocked. I’m always hungry.
So I took it a step further. Fasted cardio (working out when you haven't eaten since the night prior).
A friend at my gym eats nothing before our intense cardio workouts. If she does, she says it comes right back up. Not me. If I don't have at least a protein bar before my morning run, someone would have to come pick me up (off of the gravel) and drive me home.
And that's exactly what happened. I set out for a 4-mile run having no food in my system since 8pm the night prior. And it sucked. And I didn't make it.
I walked most of it, on the verge of vomiting.
Did I read that your body gets used to it and after awhile I wouldn't feel sick anymore? Sure did. Do I want to give it another try? Sure don't.
Fasted cardio is not for me.
So should you be working out first thing in the morning with nothing on your tummy? And why would you even want to?
Here's why. When there's no food in your system, your body has to turn to another source for energy to get you through your workout-fat. So the premise is that you'll burn more fat when working out in a fasted state vs. having food in your system. Sounds ideal. Burn my fat please.
But I couldn't get through my run. I felt sick and weak. I will probably never (ever) do it again, but here's what just trying intermittent fasting once did for me.
Setting the hard NO EATING after 8pm saved me from the half a box of Milk Duds that I mindlessly eat with my Netflix each night.
When you don’t set a hard "NO," it’s so easy to just snack because you’re just used to doing it. Intermittent fasting saved me some calories.
Bottom line, if fasting works for you, and you're not, as Jill put it, "white knuckling it"an hour before you're supposed to eat again, do it.
If it's really hard for you (like it is for me), don't fast. Personally, I don't feel like the evidence of its positive benefits is definitive enough for me to try it again. For example, yes, your body could start burning fat if there is no food in your system during a workout. But what if my body turns to muscle as an energy source? All my newly-found muscle that I've worked so hard to gain?! Losing that is something that I'm just not willing to risk. Give me a coffee and a protein bar thirty minutes prior to exercise.
If you’re looking for a change in your body, try it. Fasted cardio could work for you.
But if it ain't broke. . .