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Nancy, is it better to exercise fed or fasted? I exercise for fitness and weight reduction at 6:00 a.m.. (I do cardio at the gym for an hour.) When I train fasted, I lack energy -- but I’ve heard training fasted helps burn more fat and I want to be lean. I feel so confused…


Answer: As long as you can tolerate a pre-exercise snack, you should enjoy about 100 to 300 calories (as tolerated). You can even eat this fuel just a few minutes before you workout (no need to get up earlier)!


Your body can digest the food and use it to energize your exercise as long as you are exercising at a pace that you can maintain for more than 30 minutes. So, if you grab a banana as you head to the gym, you likely will have a far more enjoyable workout, be able to work harder, and be less hungry at the end of the exercise session. If you do not eat a snack, and if you did not have a hefty evening meal and/pr snack the night prior, you may become light-headed, dizzy, and wishing you were not exercising.


The food you eat at breakfast might deter “fat burning,” but that is irrelevant in terms of body fatness. That is, sleep is a fat-burning activity, as is watching TV. The issue is not "are you burning body fat" but "have your created a calorie deficit before bedtime." You need to be in calorie deficit by the time you go to bed in order to lose undesired body fat that day. This has little to do with burning fat during your morning workout.


I suggest the best time to diet (eat less) is at the end of the day, not during the active part of your day. If you “fuel by day and diet by night”, you’ll enjoy your workouts, be able to exercise harder (and burn more calories), curb your evening appetite, be able to eat a lighter dinner, and be more successful as an athlete and a dieter.


Enjoy that banana, granola bar, English muffin, or whatever is easy to grab-and-go! If early morning food fails to settle well, then have some sports drink during your workout if you start to feel draggy.


Fuel wisely and feel great!



PS. For more information, please refer to my Sports Nutrition Guidebook (www.nancyclarkrd/com)

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Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Member since: Jul 8, 2007

Hi! I specialize in nutrition for exercise, and help active people figure out how to manage food, weight, exercise, energy and enjoyment of eating. Let me know if you have any questions!

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