Intermittent fasting and exercise is an amazing combination, but a few common questions that are often asked (I asked them myself when I first started intermittent fasting) are, “When is the best time to workout while intermittent fasting?”, “Do I really have to work out while fasted?”, and “Can I still take my pre-workout supplement or my post-workout shake?”
The answer is all depends on one thing. You.
I know that seems like a copout answer, but it’s the truth!
The bottom line (for me) is getting in a good workout WHILE intermittent fasting.
In this post I list what works for me, what’s worked for others, and what might very well work for you.
Fasted workout concerns.
When I started intermittent fasting, knowing when to get my workouts in was a major concern. I was convinced that I could not workout without properly fueling with either food or a pre-workout.
Crazy enough, it turns out, I didn’t need that pre-workout to fuel my workout after-all, but that doesn’t mean that ALL people fall into that category.
What works for one may not work for others! Read on to see what works for you!
Early morning workouts in a completely fasted state.
This is the approach that I take. Since I have little time during the day or when I get home from work, early morning workouts are my go-to time to get it done. However, this means that I DO have to wait several hours after my workout before I get to fuel my body with food.
Right now, I get up, make my black coffee, wait a few minutes, and workout. There is about 30 minutes from the time I wake up and drink my black coffee until I can really start to move, but it’s been working! The crazy part is I’ve been trying to be a morning workout person for years, but could never figure it out. With a little practice, it’s now my preferred time to workout!
As far as intensity is concerned, I do it all! I participate in Power Zone Challenges with the Power Zone Pack on my Peloton. These challenges have a healthy mix of endurance, power zone, and MAX rides in their 8-week challenges. Lately, I’ve been including core, meditation, and yoga to the mix, all after my 45, 60, or 90-minute rides!
To be honest, for me, in the beginning, this was a little tough. Not fueling after those tough early morning workouts was not easy, but after I was at it for a while and after my body adapted, I’ve had little issues. I can now easily fast until my eating window opens.
Full disclosure here, I’m not looking to be any kind of super toned, totally fit, bounce a quarter off my ass kind of 45 year old. Yes, I’d love to get some sort of tone back to my belly, back, arms, and, well, my body, but I am no longer what I would consider a “hard core” exerciser. I absolutely participate in some very intense workouts, but my end goal at 45 is very different than what my end goal at 25, or even 35, might have looked like.
I’m not telling you this to dis-way you, I’m just at a point in my life where I have 20 more pounds of a 50-pound weight gain to lose and I’m taking my time to get there. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be hardcore, I’m just letting you now that those “hardcore” days are behind me…for now.
Early afternoon workouts: Right before your eating window opens.
Many IFers like to complete their workouts right before their eating window opens. This allows them to open their window and fuel their body with food right after their workout is complete. This might be a good balance for you if you have issues fasting for hours after post-workout.
This was my preferred method before making the switch to morning workouts, and a method I might utilize if I know I have a challenging set of workouts ahead of me, but for the most part, I’m a morning girl. I just found that I did not work out as consistently during the day, because I had to do these workouts at work (which presented its own set of challenges), and found more consistency with a morning workout.
After your eating window has opened.
If you like to workout in the evening or after work, this is perfect! You can get your snack or pre-workout in before you even head to the gym!
The best part about this method is that, as an IFer, once your eating window opens you can eat what you want! Those pre and post-workout supplements are 100% completely allowed because…YOUR WINDOW IS OPEN! YAY! By waiting until your eating window opens, you allow yourself to continue on as you had before you started IF.
I tried this method while I was experimenting with workout options and my IF plan. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fall asleep when I worked out later in the evening. My body gets too pumped after a good workout and just would not settle by bedtime. I tossed and turned all night long.
If you’re a night owl, then getting that late-night workout in after dinner seems to be a great option, especially for those of you who want to bulk up or participate in some really serious workouts and rely on those supplements.
I know I said I’m not concerned about bulking up, but that doesn’t mean that other people aren’t!
I really need that SUPPLEMENT!
What happens if you can only workout in the morning and really really need that pre-workout?
Dirty your fast.
Before I went clean, I would drink a pre-workout supplement before my workouts to help fuel my Peloton rides. While I didn’t see much of a difference after I dropped the pre-workout drink for black coffee, that doesn’t mean that you won’t do better with having a little something to help get you through your workouts, especially if you work out really early in the morning.
In all honesty, I still lost weight when I took the pre-workout. I decided to drop it when my weight plateaued. It was one of the adjustments I made to get my weight going in the down direction again.
Be a Weekend Warrior!
Take advantage of the free time that you have on the weekends to get in a good workout. My workout schedule has me working out 3-5 times a week. If I can get two workouts in during the week, and two really good workouts in over the weekend, I consider that a HUGE success.
Even if I only get one workout in during the week, I know that I have more time to commit to my workouts over the weekend and commit a little more time to those workouts than I do during the week.
This is also a great option for those who absolutely need to eat something before or after their workouts. Take a look at your schedule for the weekend, see if there are adjustments to be made to that schedule, and make those changes! IF is a lifestyle, and if you want to make this work, make adjustments that will work for you!
Honestly, there are some people who don’t adhere to their fasting schedule over the weekend. I personally have to fast on the weekends or they turn into a free for all, but if you have the willpower to get you through without wrecking all your hard work during the week, go for it!
What protocol should I do?
Experiment! Only you will know what works for you!
I was really nervous to workout in a fasted state, and honestly, I HATED working out at 6:00 am every morning. I really did everything that I could to try to rearrange my schedule to workout later in my day, but the reality was it just didn’t work, and since I really wanted to make this work, I started to experiment.
Eventually, after an adjustment period, I am now able to get up for my 6:00 am workout. Don’t get me wrong, I hit the snooze button and try to talk myself out of just about every workout every morning, but getting the workout in is better than not, right? So I roll out of bed, make my black coffee, and just get it done.
If necessary, switch up your fasting times to accommodate your workouts! You don’t HAVE to fast in the morning. You can start your fast late in the morning or early in the afternoon. This will allow you to eat in the morning and complete your workout as you normally would! But, seriously, experiment and see what works best for YOU!
So, when is the best time to workout while intermittent fasting?
Personally, I think anytime you can get in a workout is the best time to workout! Sure, there may be more benefit to working out in the morning or in a completely fasted state, but the reality is that “difference” probably won’t make THAT much of a difference anyway. Just getting any workout in has way more benefit than not working out at all.
You do you.
In all cases, you do you. Don’t beat yourself up about this. Finding what works for you will take time, and guess what, it will most likely change! Life changes. What works today may not be what works for you a year from now. Be flexible, experiment and you will find what works best for you sooner than you think.
Disclaimer: The information in this email is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the stuckassdown blog.
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