Intermittent fasting and sports do not have to be mutually exclusive. On the contrary, fasting can even lead to better training results. The prerequisite for this is the right training.
Intermittent fasting is still a huge thing.
Of course, the method helps you lose weight, stay slim and feel fitter. The most popular variant is the 16:8 method: fasting for 16 hours and eating in a time window of 8 hours.
In combination with exercise, interval fasting is even more effective in losing weight. The key to success, however, is how you exercise – and when.
Health & Performance coach Ozan Tas is an expert when it comes to fasting. His specialties are hormone management, gut health, and functional strength training.
In his studio Super Saya Gym in Cologne, he developed the ideal training for all fasting followers to achieve the best weight loss results. Spoke with the expert about the appropriate training concept for interval fasting.
Cardio vs. strength training: The right training for fasting
Whether cardio or strength training plays a crucial role in fasting. When you fast, reserve fat is attacked and burned because the body has no other energy source available. This means: The glucose stores are almost empty when fasting shortly before breaking the fast – for example after 16 hours of the fasting phase.
If intensive endurance training is performed in this state, the body begins to draw energy not only from fat but also from the muscles. Basically, cardio training triggers more stress. As a result, muscle mass is lost and performance decreases.
There is a risk of losing weight but still have a high body fat percentage: “If you practice intensive cardio training during intermittent fasting, you quickly get what’s known as skinny fat.”
Stress can exacerbate this effect. “The body stores more water. This means weight gain or stagnation,” says expert Ozan Tas.
So the biggest mistake in fasting is to focus only on cardiovascular training and not strength training.
Fasting and strength training: the role of hormones
Intermittent fasting is not just a healthy way to lose weight. It’s a real workout booster and even helps build muscle. The reason for this is our hormones. In a state of starvation, the body produces more growth hormones than when it receives regular nutrients.
In interaction with testosterone, these promote muscle growth. “The human organism works economically and always tries to save or even compensate for energy on occasion. It approximately shuts down various functions as soon as they are not called upon, such as when taking hormones like the pill,” he adds.
Growth hormones are also released during high-intensity strength training – even more so in the low repetition range than in the high repetition range.
Coach Oz explains, “For more strength gains, intense training with few repetitions is optimal to avoid producing too much stress. It also boosts growth hormone production – which largely enables muscle mass preservation.”
Interval Fasting: Here’s what the perfect workout looks like
Targeted workouts are key: “Short and intense,” says Ozan Tas. “A split workout is strategically better than a full-body workout.”
The right workout when fasting lasts an average of 45 minutes to a maximum of one hour, including breaks. The formula for success is many sets and lots of weight – but few repetitions. “Of course, always in conjunction with the right technique and quality,” adds Tas.
How many different exercises a workout contains depends on the level of the trainee: There should be a maximum of five different exercises per workout. For beginners, even just four.
What exercises make up a workout?
A workout always consists of at least one basic exercise or multi-joint exercise – i.e. movements in which several components are trained. In contrast to isolated exercises, they have the advantage that they support muscle development and also have a greater hormonal benefit.
What equipment do I need?
The workout should be heavy, just like the weights.
Success can be achieved without heavy weights, but it is more strenuous in terms of training volume than training with weights. “You have to do much more strenuous exercises to get the same effect,” says Tas. So for those who have limited time and want to get the most out of it, training with weights is more efficient.
Very importantly, “You want to burn fat and maintain muscle when you’re fasting in terms of fitness. If you go into higher reps and use little weight, you’ll burn out your muscles and get into catabolic metabolism. That means you’ll break down muscle. That’s why I recommend heavy weights.”
Don’t be afraid of heavy weights!
So that’s why strength training. Women, by the way, need not be inhibited and need not fear that weight lifting will give them muscles à la Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Because strength training is not the same as bodybuilding: “You don’t get wide from strength training, you get strong,” says Ozan Tas. “Bodybuilding is training for shape and aesthetics. You can only get wider by eating more than you need to eat.”
Who feels by chamfering in addition is “permanently tired” and torments itself formally by the day, which should reconsider whether the chamfering method is the correct for it?
To avoid injuries during training, expert Tas has the following tips:
- Warm-up: Before going into the training sets, warm up well. “It’s important that the work sets are really hard,” explains the expert. Without a warm-up, it can quickly lead to injury – regardless of fasting.
- Promote mobility: Yoga, for example, gently stretches muscle areas and helps make strength training more manageable. Coach Oz’s mantra: “Mobility brings more strength.”
- Increase workout intensity slowly: Increase weights one step at a time and don’t go straight from 50 kilograms to 100 kilograms.
- Always log workouts: Whether you’re a beginner or advanced exerciser, make a note of your workout exercises, the number of reps, and weight, for example. Then you know where you stand and can slowly increase.
- For maximum success: proper nutrition after the workout
During the workout shortly before breaking the fast, the glycogen stores are additionally tapped.
After the workout, the almost empty stores should therefore be replenished quickly.
Which carbohydrates after training?
Simple carbohydrates are important so that muscle building becomes more effective due to the insulin effect. That’s why Coach Oz recommends a Whey protein shake, as it has the highest insulin release of all the shakes.
For vegans and those who want to avoid it, maltodextrin is suitable as a carbohydrate source directly after training. “The carbohydrate mixture cannot be converted into fat after the workout because it goes directly into the glycogen stores,” Tas explains.
What’s important here is the amount. How big the serving of your shake should depend on your body fat percentage. Meaning, “A woman who has under 16 percent body fat can drink up to 70 or 80 grams of protein powder and up to 60 grams of maltodextrin.”
For those just starting fasting, don’t overdo it with the shakes and start with 30 grams of protein powder in the shake.
In general, the following applies: rely more on protein-containing foods, as they saturate well and for a long time.
Do not demonize fat, as fats are the main source of energy and are also key for sex hormones.
And lastly, good news for all carb lovers: carbohydrates in the evening are perfectly okay. “If you eat carbohydrates in the evening, you sleep better and deeper,” says the expert.
And that means The next morning we are top fit for the next interval workout!