The benefits of fasting for runners
Combining fasting and exercise is a health trend that making a lot of headlines. The question is, does fasting confer any benefits to runners? There are many types of fasting protocols so there isn’t a clear yes or no answer yet. We can share what we do know about mixing fasting and exercise, running in particular.
Common fasting protocols
Intermittent fasting involves restricting calorie intake periodically. Some people eat normally on alternate days while restricting calories to 500-600 on the days in between. Others limit their eating window to 6 or 8 hours during the day and fast for the remaining time. A less common protocol involves abstaining from food completely once or twice a week (and continuing to eat normally on the other days). These intermitting fasting schedules only ever relate to food intake – it is not recommended to restrict water intake at any time.
Benefits of fasting for runners
As we’ve discussed previously, losing body fat can help you improve your run times. If you combine fasting and exercise you’re likely to see a new PB.
There is evidence to suggest that intermittent fasting may encourage autophagy (a natural process that involves the body’s ability to remove old cells and create new ones), thereby helping reduce recovery times and even prevent aging.
A recent study showed that athletes who undertook an alternate day program with 600 calorie intakes on the fasting days had decreased heart rates and increased metabolic efficiency. They also reported having more energy, had lower blood lactate levels (and indicator of fatigue) and dropped up to 15% body fat.
Does what you eat matter?
If you are seeking to reduce total body weight, then it doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as the fasting periods reduce your calories overall. If you want to preserve muscle mass while losing body fat, then you will need a balanced diet. Fasting reduces your opportunity to take in valuable nutrients, vitamins and minerals, so select your diet carefully on non-fasting days (if you want to try it for yourself).
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Whilst Enertor has over 18 years Orthotics experience, our blog content is provided for informational purposes only and it is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical advice. Enertor advises anyone with an injury to seek their own medical advice – and do not make any health or medical related decisions based solely on information found on this site.