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“Fasted training” refers to working out after you have stopped processing and breaking down food, forcing your body to use stored fat as a fuel source. People often do fasted training in the morning before breakfast or six to eight hours or more after a meal.

But working out on an empty stomach doesn’t suit everyone. “There is insufficient data proving that fasted training leads to better fat loss over time, which is one of its common claims,” says  Life Time master trainer and nutrition coach Joe Meier, CSCS, PN2. “Choosing between fasted versus fed training simply comes down to an individual’s preferences and goals.”

“There is insufficient data proving that fasted training leads to better fat loss over time, which is one of its common claims.”

Some data shows that longer-duration workouts benefit from fed training, but shorter-duration workout performance can be similar whether fed or fasted, experts say. However, during a shorter fasted workout, the type of fast and certain medical conditions could lead to side effects, like dizziness, low blood sugar, or lightheadedness.

Work with your coach and a trusted medical professional to determine if fasted workouts are right for you. Meier notes that if your energy is sustained throughout your planned workout, you’re on the right track.

Most individuals who choose to eat before training should consume easily digested foods that are high in carbs and protein and low in fat and fiber. (For preworkout snack ideas, visit “12 Quick Preworkout and Postworkout Snacks.“)

And remember: Whether you prefer fed or fasted training, staying hydrated is essential. (Learn more about what to drink and when at “Everything You Need to Know About Hydration.”)

As much as we try to pit activities or exercises against each other to find the ultimate fitness path, the real answer is that there isn’t one. To explore more exercises that are often pitted against each other, visit “Is There Really a “Best” Workout?,” from which this article was excerpted.

Sarah Tuff

Sarah Tuff Dunn is a Colorado-based outdoors, health, fitness, and nutrition writer.

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