Fitness Column - Forget fasting before a workout

Health tips from Xercise4Less fitness guru, The Colonel

Health tips from Xercise4Less fitness guru, The Colonel

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ALICE, 28, asks: I’m trying to lose weight and I’ve been told that working out on an empty stomach helps you burn more calories. Is this true?

The Colonel says: No, no no! The idea that you should fast before exercise to maximise weight loss is not only a myth but it’s also dangerous.

You need energy to train, which comes from sugar; if you don’t supply your body with sufficient fuel before you exercise your body will begin converting your own muscle tissue into energy.

Imagine driving a car with no petrol … you can’t, exactly, and fasting before exercise has this same effect. Not eating will mean your blood sugar levels are low, which in turn will mean your workout will be much less intense.

So, in fact, fasting may actually have the opposite effect; you’ll have less energy and in turn may burn fewer calories.

I would always recommend eating before you hit the gym, but I can’t stress enough the importance of the timing and moderating the food that you eat.

When it comes to eating before a workout, the closer you eat to exercise the simpler and smaller the food should be. Eating two to three hours before a workout will enable you to digest a proper meal containing protein, fat and fibre.

So consider taking your dinner to work if you’re pushed for time. However, eating one hour before means you should eat smaller portions of food that digest quicker, such as cereal or fruit.

Undigested food can’t be used as fuel and will feel heavy in your stomach, making you feel sluggish and lacking in energy. In a nutshell, preparation is key here; ensure you leave yourself enough time for your food to digest.

This will provide you with bags of energy and endurance to ensure you can push yourself, work harder and ultimately burn more calories.