To fuel or not to fuel?

Bonjour readers!
It was one of those mornings where I just felt a little sluggish, cranky, and generally out of it. Not to the extreme, but I’ve been perkier. It could have been the thick blanket of mist that had settled in over the mountains, the few drinks I had last night, the fact that no one had made coffee by the time I woke up (ahem)…That sounds bratty but I’m going with it.

I previously touched on the different ideas circulating around in the fitness world about the benefits of eating Vs. not eating before a workout. I have always had the mindset that you should fuel your body as you feel is appropriate throughout the day. However, it has been a topic of conversation in the house for the past couple of weeks that not eating in the morning prior to a workout (particularly cardiovascular) burns more fat.

Ok great.

So here are my questions;

  1. Does this only matter if you are working out first thing in the morning?
  2. Is the same true for strength training if you are skipping cardio (gasp) for the day?
  3. What if I don’t care about burning fat, are there any other benefits?

So first I will share what the professionals have to offer.

A study done by the American Journal of Physiology does indeed state that not eating before the workout burns more fat. The reasoning is something along the lines of; the body is too busy burning off/digesting what you just consumed to focus on the expenditure your workout creates.

Literally in DIRECT opposition, Jillian Michaels (a true professional), states that not eating is the worst thing that one can do before a workout because your body will burn its own muscle tissue for energy. The article goes on to add that a study done with a group of cyclists, both fed and unfed, reported an equal amount of fat burned in both groups.

 

So far inconclusive.

 

I am not the only one to have these questions, a fact that is becoming blatantly clear to me as I research these ponderings.

 

I actually stumbled upon a website that lays out exactly what to eat or not to eat depending on the time of day and/or the food already consumed. I will not list all of these things because someone already did it for me, however if you are curious the link is below.

The purpose of this blog post is not to lay out a bunch of research and call it a day. I choose instead to give my own personal feedback on the subject and how my own body works. So back to this morning.

 

Like I said I have been trying this fasting in the morning prior to my workout for about two weeks. This goes great if I stick to two rules:

  1. I can’t wait too long before I wake up to workout or I get hungry and cranky and risk sacrificing the workout completely,
  2. I can’t workout for more than 30-45 minutes or I, again, get hungry and cranky.

 

So that’s really constricting, right? My workout this morning was a 60 minute mat pilates and Barre routine, which broke my second rule, and about half way through I was extremely irritable. However yesterday I woke up and went for a 3 mile run, came home, no problem.

 

So here is my conclusion; different day, different workout, different caloric needs.

 

I believe that instead of paying attention to these fads and professional pieces of advice (which are so controversial in the first place) I need to just listen to my body. A lot of this is intuitive anyways, no I’m not going to go for a run after eating half a pizza (as if, gluten-free!), that would just feel terrible. I would much prefer feeling energized and getting a great workout than thinking about how much fat I’m burning. A little fat never hurt anyone.

 

Answers to my own questions as follows:

  1. Does this only matter if you are working out first thing in the morning?
    1. Who cares, if you’re hungry eat something small and then again after.
  2. Is the same true for strength training if you are skipping cardio (gasp) for the day?
    1. Cardio tends to take my mind off hunger more so than strength training. Plus the goal of strength training is to GAIN MUSCLE, yeah? I would imagine it’s probably more important to eat before a strength workout (shall we re-visit Jillian Michael’s burning muscle tissue scare?), particularly since the goal of strength training is generally not to burn fat.
  3. What if I don’t care about burning fat, are there any other benefits?
    1. Yes! If I don’t eat before, then I don’t have to eat before AND after=less cooking! Win. 

 

There is always a balance, we just need to listen to our bodies and find it, and it takes a lot of time, patience, and practice. I’m definitely still practicing listening to my own.

 

 

Sources;

Blair, Olivia. “Why not eating before a workout could be better for your health.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 26 Apr. 2017. Web. 03 Aug. 2017.

“MYTH: Never Eat Before a Workout | Jillian Michaels.” Jillianmichaels.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2017.

“When is the best time for eating and exercising?” ChicagoNow is full of win. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2017. http://www.chicagonow.com/get-fit-chicago/2013/10/when-is-the-best-time-for-eating-and-exercising/

 

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