We are all aware that good nutrition, as well as regular meals, are an important part of improving your workouts and getting the most out of exercise, but recently there has been a rise in support for fasting instead. While this might seem counterintuitive, hear us out, because intermittent fasting might be just the thing to take your workouts to another level.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is when you limit your food intake to a specific time period during the day. Remember that this does not suggest that you don’t eat at all, or that you necessarily eat less. It is more about eating within a specific window of time during the day.
The idea is that by eating within that window, instead of spreading it out throughout the entire day, you can have a daily period of fasting while still meeting your nutritional goals. Fasting has long been known to have health benefits and intermittent fasting works to fit fasting around a modern schedule and allowing you to still eat properly.
How Long Should You Fast For?
Intermitting fasting works in a few different ways. One is known as the 5:2 fast, which allows for five days a week of normal calorie intake and two days of vastly reduced intake. Another way is to fast every other day while eating normally on the alternate days.
Possibly the most popular and, as some argue, the healthiest way is the 16:8 fast. This works on the principle of 16 hours of fasting a day with an eight-hour period in which you can eat. This sounds like a long time to not eat, but most people take advantage of sleep and fast overnight, only eating again at lunch time. In general, it is thought that by reducing the time in which you can eat you will eat less calories overall, though this is not always the case.
How Can This Help With Exercise and Endurance?
While fasting your body acts differently to when it is fed, and this can affect your workouts.
When in a fasted state, your body needs to use energy more efficiently as it does not have a large store of energy from food. Fasting will also activate your sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response), which increases your heart rate and slows digestion. By fasting you can also change your body’s insulin resistance as it learns to manage your blood sugar due to longer times spend without constant food intake. The combination of these bodily responses means that your body will breakdown fat for energy so that you can metabolise fat better instead of relying on recent food intake for energy.
Fasting is essentially slowly improving your bodily functions. By giving your digestive system time to repair and recover, improving your body’s ability to break down fat, and increasing your ability to use energy properly. You will be able to improve your endurance when it comes to exercise. You body’s responses are improved and it works better under stress, allowing you to workout for longer with more intensity than before.
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