Training fasted causes you to lose muscle... and 5 other myths you hear everyday!

Do you want to maximise your ability to lose fat and build muscle? There are two major contributors to this goal, which I will go into more detail later on! Firstly, let’s look at a few of the myths around training fasted:

  • It eats into muscle
  • It negatively effects performance.
  • It causes excessive hunger
  • It results in low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)
  • It improves fat burning
  • It requires BCAA’s

This is just a snapshot of the myths I have heard around fasted training. I will walk you through some of the reasons these points are myths in the next few paragraphs and discuss the potential benefits of fasted weight training!

Let’s set the scene, you have finished your office-based job around 5pm, had a chill out evening and eaten your last meal around 8-10pm. You included carbs in this meal because you have read my previous posts on why eating carbs before bed is the right thing to do if you want an awesome sleep and will not make you fat! You wake up around 6am to get to the gym for 6:30am (around 8-10 hours after your last meal).

When you get to the gym you are looking forward to a deadlift party and because your gym partner is there, you know it’s going to be PB day! You get the 200kg deadlift prepared and you go to lift…

What is the body doing at this moment? Is it prepared to train if you haven’t eaten? Is it frantically breaking down lean muscle tissue to supply you with the energy to perform this lift?

Well given the scenario, as an intermediate lifter, the body will have the stored energy to cope with your resistance training. It is an incredible machine, it does its very best to stay at a point of homeostasis (stable state), so in most cases you will not see a rapid drop in blood glucose levels, or impairment in performance, when the body is in a fasted state we will see an autonomic nervous system response, whereby adrenaline is released to prevent hypoglycaemia (Holz, 2016).

A study by Trabelsi et al. (2013), showed that training fasted versus fed had no significant effect on body composition! This evidence has been compounded by Phillips et al. (2015) who concluded that muscle protein synthesis (an indicator of muscle growth) was identical between both fasted and fed state trained and untrained individuals!

What are the two main drivers to increasing lean muscle tissue and dropping body fat?

In two words, TRAINING and NUTRITION!

In order to stimulate muscle growth you need to train! The simple way to understanding how to train is the three M’s:

  • Mechanical tension (how much force you put through a muscle)
  • Metabolic stress (maintaining tension in a muscle for a sustained period)
  • Muscle damage (the volume of training you perform with a muscle)

In essence you need to lift weights, aiming to maintain tension within a muscle with a little bit more weight each time you train!

To support your ability to gain muscle and drop fat, your nutritional intake also needs to be in line with your goals! Focus on creating a calorie deficit, factoring in your total daily energy expenditure alongside a given calorie target. This will enable you to start losing body fat! Whilst there is a lot of evidence suggesting the macronutrient ratio is not important, I would definitely aim for at least 1.2-1.5g of protein per lb bodyweight.

Recommendations for training fasted:

1.Find a time that works for you! A time you can adhere to, one that will not cause you stress and still allow you time to complete your work and spend time with the family!

2.Develop a structured training plan and continually assess progress using a log book!

3.Eat carbohydrates the night before, it will help you get a deeper sleep and theoretically will ensure you have the fuel to train with!

4.Drink plenty of water, pre and during training to avoid a loss of performance caused by a lack of hydration!

5.Supplement with caffeine, Reflex Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate, essential amino acids and cyclic dextrin during training! This will technically mean you are no longer in a fasted state, but it beats waking up an hour earlier to get a meal in!

Training fasted is a common strategy used in my clients transformations!  They are all tried and tested methods that have helped my clients achieve incredible results! See what they have to say here.

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