In a new study 28 healthy young men were subjected to a very high-caloric, high-fat breakfast for six weeks. The men were divided into three groups. Group A did not exercise at all during the six week period, group B was exposed to a very high intensity workout four times per week after their breakfast, and group C performed the same workout before their breakfast. Group B drank a sports drink during their workouts where group C only drank water.
Study outcomes showed that subjects in group A gained an average of 6 lbs within six weeks, group B 3 lbs, and group C did not experience weight gain at all. Where group A and B both developed insulin resistance, a precursor of Diabetes II, group C did not show any sign of it. Subjects in group C also seemed to burn ingested fat far more efficiently.
The authors concluded that:
“This study for the first time shows that fasted training is more potent than fed training to facilitate adaptations in muscle and to improve whole-body glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity during hyper-caloric fat-rich diet.”
Although many people feel very light, energetic, and efficient exercising this way some might experience dizziness or discomfort. In this case one should certainly eat before exercising. But not to loose the fat burning efficacy of the exercise, one should ingest about 20g of whey protein before and after. It is very important to only drink water during exercise and to avoid sugary beverages and meals for up to two hours after the workout to not ruin the fruits of your effort.
The researchers don’t know whether exercise at a more leisurely pace and for less time will have the same benefits. Therefore I personally suggest interval cardio exercises two to three times per week plus one long regular cardio workout (e.g. a long run), and an additional one or two workouts of high intensity resistance exercises to build muscle and strength. Interval cardio exercises are a quick and very efficient way to strengthen your endurance, loose excess weight, and gain maximum health benefits. If you want to build more muscle mass to refine your physique you should increase the number of high intensity resistance exercises to three times per week. But for an overall health program with additional weight loss this is not necessary.
Research shows that repetitive, traditional aerobic cardio workouts show very little long-term benefits as the body adapts to the same type of exercise very rapidly. So you have to mix it up. Henceforth the intervals. But also within the interval training I suggest to alternate between running, cycling, and the elliptical trainer, for example, so your body has no chance to adapt and you reap the most possible benefits. You can also switch the type of intervals you are using. Although I personally like 30 second high intensity followed by 90 seconds moderate intensity with 8-10 repetitions and a 4 minute warm-up there are different sequences of interval workouts.
Whatever type of exercise you are performing, never forget stretching. Not stretching will minimize your benefits significantly and will set you up for injuries.
In case you took a break from exercising you should consult with a health care practitioner who is familiar with sports medicine and exercise therapy before you start in order to avoid injuries.
The type of diet and time you ingest it is also very important after your workouts. For more information please read here.