The ongoing debate of whether to train on a full stomach or in a fasted state has stirred discussions among fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and health-conscious individuals alike. It's a question that has divided opinions and fueled fitness folklore for decades. Some swear by the benefits of training in a fasted state, believing it can enhance fat burning and improve performance. Others opt for a pre-workout meal, convinced that adequate fuel is essential for achieving peak performance.
So which approach is truly superior, and does it really matter whether you hit the gym with a belly full of energy or an empty stomach? In this exploration, we will dive deep into the science and practical considerations behind training full or fasted, helping you uncover the approach that aligns best with your fitness goals and lifestyle. Whether you're a dedicated athlete or simply someone looking to optimise your workout routine, this journey into the world of fueling your exercise endeavors is sure to provide valuable insights.
Let’s cut this nice and short and say that there realistically is no right answer! We know that one shoe certainly does not fit all - especially when it comes down to health and fitness. There are many things to take into consideration when we think about which one is going to be the most beneficial for us as individuals. So let’s dive right into those!
Time of training
For the most part, there’s 3 different time slots where we fit our training in throughout the day. First, you have the morning trainers ranging anywhere from 3-10am. Afternoon trainers ranging from 10am-3pm and evening trainers from around 3pm basically until midnight 12am! There are many separate circumstances as to why we train at certain times. But to keep it general, your eating should be worked around your training. If you’re someone that has the ability to consume some sort of carb meal at least 1 hour before training, then certainly do that! We know that carbs are our main source of energy, and something that won’t sit in our stomach for too long or make us feel heavy is the best option! However, if you’re someone that is super tight for time in the morning, and there’s no way you can have a full meal, either you can train fasted or have something small like a banana to get something into your stomach.
Distance can be a big deterrent of whether you can consume a meal within a certain time frame. For example, if you live over half an hour away from your place of training and you have nothing cooked or prepared, it’s certainly time to change that! Imagine you are training fasted after 8 hours of sleep, driving to the gym, then training, driving back, and not consuming food for another couple of hours! At that point, you must get hangry… There certainly is some nuance as some individuals prefer to do intermittent fasting which may mean they don’t actually eat until 12-1pm which is completely personal preference, but we won’t get into that in this article.
Facilities refer to things like microwaves and ingredients. If you have the ability to cook up a storm that’s going to leave you salivating, satiated and satisfied then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to make a decision to eat before/after. However, if you’re someone that knows there is no microwave and there’s no food prepared, it may be best to eat beforehand in the comfort of your own home to ensure any buffer time in the case that you might not have access to the right facilities when you need them!
Digestion is an extremely important aspect when it comes down to training full or fasted. Someone that trains after eating can feel sick, sluggish and lethargic while another person may feel full of energy, light and filled with strength! No one person is the same. Experiment with yourself and see which one is going to work best for you.
Last but not least, personal preference! While all of these topics may spark a thought in your head about which one is going to be the most beneficial. The number 1 thing we should think about is “what do we actually WANT to do?”. Whether you want to do intermittent fasting, train on a full stomach or have a little snack before - at the end of the day, if your personal preference is the one that makes you stick to a routine and achieve the results you want to, then that is the main thing!
We hope this blog gives you a slightly better understanding about what things to consider when making your choice. Remember that your goals will always require effort and consistency so no matter which one you do, the foundation lies within those key factors!