Is It Safe To Work Out In A Fasted State? Here's What You Should Know

By Gina Florio··  3 min read
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Intermittent fasting has become one of the more popular health trends lately, and there are certainly many benefits to it. But many women wonder how to pair working out with fasting.

Whether you're about to go to the gym for strength training or outside for a run, there's always the question of whether you should eat before your workout. I've been a trainer and health coach for almost a decade, and although this isn't exactly what people want to hear, the answer is: it depends. Here's what you should know about working out in a fasted state.

Is It Safe To Work Out in a Fasted State?

If you're someone who has a base level of health—you're at a healthy weight, you have good gut health, and you exercise regularly—then it's perfectly fine if you want to work out in a fasted state. If you're new to working out and you're on a journey to improve your health, then going to the gym with nothing in your belly first thing in the morning may not be the best idea. It's not necessarily unsafe, but your body may not be able to perform at its best.

However, it sometimes comes down to a matter of personal preference. I've had a variety of clients over the years, some of whom can't even think about working out unless they have some food in their belly, while others absolutely love to work out in the morning while in a fasted state.

There are a few different factors that will determine whether you should consider working out while fasted, such as what time you're working out and what kind of workout you're doing.

What Kind of Workout Is Better To Do in a Fasted State?

Fasted cardio is something that many people love to do first thing in the morning. When you wake up after fasting for 12 or more hours (it's called breakfast for a reason), your body is depleted of glucose, the main source of energy. That means your body will end up using stored fat, and that's the attraction of fasted cardio. Supposedly you will burn more fat. Some studies suggest that doing fasted cardio leads to higher metabolic performance after the workout is over, but others suggest that eating something before your workout enhances performance.

There's no one right answer. For some people, fasted cardio works better because they don't have the time to wait to digest a meal in the morning before going to work out, or perhaps they feel like they have more energy in the morning before they eat. Others need at least a snack of some sort in order to generate enough energy before a workout.

As for doing strength training completely fasted, it's not something I usually recommend, especially if you're going to do a heavier lift. It's best to eat a little something, like a little protein and some complex carbohydrates before you head to the gym for a strength training session. But again, this can come down to personal preference. I know some women who like to go to the gym first thing in the morning for a resistance training session without eating anything, then eat a full breakfast after their workout is over.

There are many different ways to schedule meals and snacks with your workouts. Experiment with a few options and find the one that feels best for you. At the end of the day, you want to feel energetic and motivated for your workout, not sluggish and tired. If that means you fast before a workout, great, but if it means you need something to eat prior to your session, that's perfectly fine too.

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