Exercising on empty stomach & Post workout recovery

robby denning

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Got a PM, I'll just answer it here to benefit the most people. I'll let you all argue this one out, as this subject can attract all kinds of hard-to-prove opinions. I'll just share the consensus of my staff:

PM said:

Robby,

I have a two and a half part question for you regarding after workout replenishment.

(1) Do you believe it better to go to the gym for weight training in a fasting state?

(1.5) do you subscribe to the waiting for 60 minutes after a work out to eat as fat/calorie burn continue at a higher rate for this period?

(2) if you do would it be good to have a recovery drink right after the workout?

Just some quick back ground:

Cardio - run in the mornings 5-6 days a week. Four days long slow runs, one day with wind sprints and one day doing bleacher climbs. Do not have mountains to climb here so have to do what I call the "metal mountain" Bleachers.

weights - High reps with moderate weights at lunch time.

Might start doing some crossfit in the near future 3 days a week and using this to replace 3 running days. Thanks in advance.


My answer:

Not knowing your goals, (weight loss or muscle gain, performance),


1) Fasting and exercise. We don't recommend exercise on an empty stomach for three reasons. First, there's no proof you burn any more fat (some research was released just last month on that and made national news). Second, I pick up at least one person a month off the floor passed out. The most common response is "I hadn't eaten anything yet". Third, you can't push yourself very hard if you are hungry as glucose and glycogen are depleted. Now I'm not talking a big meal here. Just a few hundred calories, probably good carbs.

1.5) Talking to my trainers, on that one, they say although there may be a little data supoorting that time frame, the end result is almost negligible. Keep in mind that 80% of our business is fat loss, so we're always going to be careful about encouraging clients to eat more than they already do! One of my senior trainers, said a 30-90 minute window after workout is just right and sticks to it for his athletic cleints. Weight managment clients, trying to keep them at around 3 meals, 2 snacks per day, so timing less of an issue.

2) This will suprise you, but with the accepted recommended post recovery as 3:1 carb protien ratio, good ol' chocolate milk (see acefitness.org, they just had an article on it) is pretty good for the money. You can spend a lot more, but might not get a lot more in return. For a weight management client, plain milk.

I want to frame that last answer. We are not a big proponent of supplements. Not against them at all, either and they have their place. Honestly, we've learned we can get a client further along if they spend the money on training (which not coincidentally pays our bills) and eating well. If they can afford supplements, great, we refer them to a local expert on them.


For me personally, if I can workout early, say 60 minutes after getting up, I eat breakfast after workout. If have to wait longer than 60 minutes, I eat a light breakfast (like banana and 1 cup mini wheats, 3/4 cup milk) and my workouts are always better. I did the empty stomach thing for years and it made zero difference for me except I felt drained after the workout. Sometimes I pigged out later as I was so hungry and drained.
 
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Matt Cashell

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Robby,

Thank you for the great info. I work out in the mornings before work, and have often pondered these very questions. I have also noticed that my workouts go much better if I have an apple or banana beforehand.
 

Dixie07

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I almost always try to take a 20g protein shake 30-45 minutes prior to working out, and I seem to have a much more efficient work out, than just going in fasting.
 

Brock A

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I, like BB workout before work each morning (6:00 am), my second morning at the gym...mid workout and down I go. The first question my trainer asked was "Have you had anything to eat today?" Since then, I eat a granola bar or banana each morning on the way to the gym. Thats my advice for question #1
 

Above Timber

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I run on an empty stomach I do not want to lose my breakfast. However eating when I get back is my top priority. I will usually have a fruit smoothie (1 cup of frozen mixed berries, 1 frozen banana, 1 scoop of protein powder, and 6 oz. oj). After I get cleaned up I will eat a couple of eggs or some other clean protein for breakfast.
 

Kevin Root

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I drink a multiple protein blend shake from Honey Badger Nutrition, Predator Protein Matrix. 24 grams of protein, 5 grams of branched chain amino acids. It's light enough for me to drink shortly before I workout or afterwards but I feel more energy and less of a drain for my workout if I drink it 30-45 minutes before.
 

ohhiitznik

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I drink a multiple protein blend shake from Honey Badger Nutrition, Predator Protein Matrix. 24 grams of protein, 5 grams of branched chain amino acids. It's light enough for me to drink shortly before I workout or afterwards but I feel more energy and less of a drain for my workout if I drink it 30-45 minutes before.

Any protein shake isn't going to do what a good clean meal will do for you before a workout. Don't use them as a crutch use the protein powders as a supplement. I've been a big user of such supplements and found that I gain more when eating good clean food than sucking down preworkouts, workouts and postworkouts. I feel its more of the "mindset" you get in because in your mind after your preworkout you feel like you're in beastmode. I'm saving a ton of money not buying those porducts anymore and I can use it buy high quality food to fuel the body. This is coming from a powerlifting/olympic lifting background from college football. I now teach crossfit and I can personally attest to my athletes performing better when eating real food vs the powder pushing crowd. I even had one client test it for a week each way. He felt better actually eating real food and he had a definite increase in his performance times of the workouts we had done each week.
 

Kevin Root

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Any protein shake isn't going to do what a good clean meal will do for you before a workout. Don't use them as a crutch use the protein powders as a supplement. I've been a big user of such supplements and found that I gain more when eating good clean food than sucking down preworkouts, workouts and postworkouts. I feel its more of the "mindset" you get in because in your mind after your preworkout you feel like you're in beastmode. I'm saving a ton of money not buying those porducts anymore and I can use it buy high quality food to fuel the body. This is coming from a powerlifting/olympic lifting background from college football. I now teach crossfit and I can personally attest to my athletes performing better when eating real food vs the powder pushing crowd. I even had one client test it for a week each way. He felt better actually eating real food and he had a definite increase in his performance times of the workouts we had done each week.
I've been trying it for a month once and sometimes twice a day. So far I like them, as a suplement for real food not a replacement. So far with several small meals of real food throughout the day, my couple mile hike at lunch with a 50 pound pack and doing P90X with my wife at home in the evening, I've trimmed down 20 pounds in a couple months from my slacking in the winter. That's been my workout plan for the last couple years and it has been a good plan that has worked for me. I'm not a nutrition expert or a fitness expert but the drink seems to help curb my appetite and I kind of needed that this year. That may be just in my head as a placebo but It has helped me get a jump start to trim up for summer's backcountry backpacking. I follow Cameron Haynes blog and heard about them from him and thought I would try it. I'm a 51 year old guy. My interest is not really getting big, winning marathons or even looking better. I just want to be able to and continue to backpack and hunt and fish in backcountry as long as humanly possible.
 

G Posik

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Since the PM was mine I really do appreciate you posting this for all. I think like you it is a very debated question. The reason I asked you was there were two trainers at the gym I go to discussing this. They were on opposite sides of the fence on this one.

I tend to be a bit old school in my training and wake up at 0500 and do my runs. I tend to not eat any thing before my runs. I am now back to 30 minute runs after have the knee scoped about 8 weeks ago. The reason I had to have the scope was I was running and stepped in a hole. I run (Will build up time and distance again) 2 days with longer runs(Those will get back in the 6-8 miles soon). Then two days with runs being real easy pace for 2-3 miles. Then there is one day where I do wind spirints with 20-30 rests between. Then one day a week I go do the "Metal Mountain" I call it. Once I finish my run I tend to drink a gatoraid and then take a shower. After the shower then I have some oatmeal and fruit. When lunch time rolls around I head to the gym for strength training. I usually eat some thing 30-45 minutes before, either some trail mix or granola bar. I am doing 3-5 sets of 15 or 20 reps on all exercises for 6-8 weeks cycles. Then I will mix in about 4 weeks of heavy weights with 3 sets of 3. Then back to the high reps. Then I tend to eat my lunch about 30 minutes after my workout.

I do have Sunday as "MY DAY OF REST". I also use one of my easy run days as a walk some times depending on how I am feeling.

My primary goal is to gain (1) endurance (2) strength and (3) drop a few pounds. I want to be able to go all day in the mountains and not hit the wall. Also want to be able to pack the weight of my trophy out with out issue. Would still like to drop about 10 lbs to be back in my "Fighting weight". I am not looking to get back to the weight I was when I was doing Half Ironman Triathlons. That was when I was in my 20's and now in my early 40's just looking to stay on the mountain as long as possible. Once again THANKS Robby for your answers. I tend to read every thing you post in this section and try to pay attention.

Glenn

Train Hard, Hunt Harder!
 
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