We have all heard the age-old debate as to whether fasted training (cardio) is better than doing cardio after a meal. But have you ever considered the debate as to whether weight training is better fasted or fed? In this article we are going to investigate the implications of fasted training with weights on an empty stomach and training in a fed state in order to determine which one is better.

Fasted Training With Weights

One of the greatest benefits of fasted training is that the release of HGH (human growth hormone) is increased. If this is combined with a regular workout schedule, good nutrition and adequate sleep, this anabolic hormone will help to build new muscle tissue. It can also help to burn fat and improve physical functions.

More Growth Hormone with Fasted Training

Research has shown that growth hormone can be increased by up to 1300% in women and 2000% in men by fasting. The combination of HGH with the concurrent release of testosterone from intense resistance training can further enhance both muscle building and fat loss.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity with Fasted Training

Another positive benefit of fasted training is the improvement in insulin sensitivity (2). When we eat, insulin is released. Therefore, the more often we eat, obviously the more often insulin is released. Because of this, insulin sensitivity is reduced due to our blood sugar levels going on a constant up and down roller coaster ride.

This then makes it harder to lose fat weight. The opposite is then true for a fasted state. Insulin is released less regularly which then makes us less sensitive to insulin and increases our ability to burn fat.

Fasted Training enhance the efficiency of muscle glycogen

Resistance fasted training also helps to enhance the efficiency of muscle glycogen. By working out in a fasted state from time to time, your body will start to adapt to using the available fuel in the body. This means that when you perform a high-intense workout in a fed state, you will be able to give a better performance.

Fasted Training and VO2Max

The most prominent improvements have been seen in athlete’s maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 Max). Improving your VO2 Max is extremely important for endurance athletes.

Fasted Training and Catabolism

The one downside to fasted training is that it increases the amount of protein tissues (muscle) which are burned for energy. This can exceed 10% of calories burned. To combat this, using a good quality BCAA product will help maintain muscle mass and provide energy for muscle tissue.

Resistance training in a fed state will allow you to perform at a higher intensity and for a longer duration as it supplies the body with the energy it requires. This can then result in greater muscle gains. Also, because of this increased intensity during your workout, chances are that you will burn more calories post workout due to a phenomenon known as post-exercise energy consumption.

Weight Training In A Fed State

A large percentage of the calories burned because of EPOC come from fat, meaning the greater your EPOC the more fat you will burn.

Another benefit of eating prior to your workout is that it results in the consumption of fewer calories later in the day. This may be a result of the body’s efficiency in utilizing the absorbed nutrients from carbohydrates. It has also been found that individuals who consume complex carbs prior to a morning workout tend to eat fewer calories for the rest of the day.

So Which Is Better?

Like pretty much all things in fitness, this is a grey area, meaning there is no right or wrong way to do it. This is because different individuals have different needs. It all depends on how your body responds to the various method, whether it fasted or fed. Because of the innumerable factors which contribute to how the body works and processes foods, each person may respond differently to the exact same diet and training regimen.

My closing advice, try fasted for a few days, if you don’t feel comfortable or energetic enough to push through a heavy workout, then rather change it up and go back to fed resistance training.

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