Intermittent fasting and morning workouts do not ordinarily go together. However, people who want the benefits of both practices have ways to ensure that fasting and exercise work together.
With intermittent fasting, people fast for 12 to 20 hours. Doing so limits the daily eating window to as little as four hours.
This type of fasting helps reduce weight, sharpens brain function, decreases inflammation levels, and improves gut health.
Intermittent fasting is a popular choice because it only restricts the time when a person may eat. Unlike diets or other forms of fasting, it doesn’t limit the type of food. Fasters get to enjoy their favorite meals as long as they eat at the right time.
Furthermore, veteran practitioners reported that the sense of starvation eventually diminished and disappeared. They attributed this improved ability to regain control of their hunger to intermittent fasting. (Related: Study: Intermittent fasting can BOOST heart health and improve your overall well-being.)
How to do intermittent fasting when you also work out in the morning
Meanwhile, morning workouts are not just limited to getting up early in the morning. They also involve consuming high-quality protein within 30 minutes of the end of the session.
Taking post-workout protein helps keep the muscles from getting sore the next day. It also provides the body with the nutrients it needs to repair and heal any injury sustained during physical exercises.
At first glance, intermittent fasting and morning workouts work at cross-purposes. The former forbids the practitioner from eating outside the allotted time, which goes against the latter’s need for protein to strengthen and heal the body.
Experts say that it is possible for people who exercise in the morning to also go on intermittent fasts. However, they need to prepare beforehand and be flexible.
The solution is simple, but also challenging. A person must adjust either his exercise period or his eating window so that he may eat after a workout session.
“I recommend that those who prefer to exercise in the morning and follow an intermittent fasting program adjust their fasting hours and eating window to allow for a post-workout meal,” explained integrative healthcare practitioner Dr. Jaime Schehr of Schehr Nutrition.
The body needs additional protein after the workout. If a person fails to meet this nutritional need, he may experience inflammation in the form of soreness and is more likely to get injured.
You can have your post-workout protein and your intermittent fast together
Anyone who wants to do intermittent fasting and morning workouts must consider the time of his exercise session, the length of the eating window, and the starting point of the window. Then, he may decide what practice he needs to move to accommodate the other.
For people who finish their morning workout at 8 a.m., they must move their eating window to start right after the exercise. This way, they may have their post-workout protein – preferably plant-based supplements – and eat it.
The drawback of this approach is timing. Starting an eight-hour eating window at 8 a.m. means that it ends at 4 p.m. An early dinner time may not be possible or acceptable for some people.
People who don’t want to eat dinner in the afternoon have options. They may extend their eating window from eight hours to 10 or 12 hours, pushing their dinnertime back into the evening. Or they may decide to move their workout period from early morning to later in the day.
Always remember that to make intermittent fasting work for you, you may have to adjust how to fit it into your healthy lifestyle.