When on a strict fat loss diet, a common error people make is skipping their pre workout meal. The thought process behind this stems from the logic that if you don’t eat before a workout session you will end up using Fat as your primary source of fuel for energy since there wont be stored carbs to use first leading to burning fat at a faster rate.
They think this will turn their body into a fat burning furnace and speed the process in their weight loss journey.
While it is true that an overall calorie deficit is needed to lose fat, getting that deficit from skipping your pre workout meal is flawed logic and lets discuss the reasons why.
Fuel For Workout
Your workout session will need energy. That comes from stored carbs (Glycogen in the muscle and liver) and stored fat (adipose tissue). For an intense workout, your body preferentially uses carbohydrates as they are a more efficient source of energy (ATP) . When you skip your pre workout meal, you rob your body the ability to perform a high quality workout. You might only be able to give half the effort your workout demands and feel fatigued throughout your exercise session.
This is even more significant for those who exercise early in the morning as their body has already been in a fasted state for 6-8 hours. If you skip your meal before sleeping or drastically reduce the calories , you are really asking the body to do too much in a deprived state.
The amount of muscle in your body plays a big role in your metabolism. The more muscle you carry the faster your body’s ability to burn calories. When you exercise while skipping your pre workout meal, the body breaks down muscle tissue for it’s energy demand. As you start losing muscle, you start losing the ability to burn calories fast and your metabolism starts to slow down making your fat loss goal harder to achieve in the long run.
Drop in Immunity
Physical activity that raises your heart rate up for a sustained period of time—like a run , bike or a sport for 40 minutes physiologically stresses the body resulting in increased number of (WBCs) immune cells to enter your blood circulation. They identify and destroy any pathogens that are harmful to your body.
Post workout, the number of these immune cells reduces in your blood stream and even goes lower than when at rest and thus your body has reduced immunity for some time after the workout, When these cells get energy again (which comes from food), the normal levels are restored.
When you skip your meal , these immune cells take longer to get back to baseline levels after the workout making you susceptible to a host of infections. The goal from any workout plan or a diet plan is to get healthy not sick.
Injury risk from Impaired Recovery
The ability to recover from your workouts is the thing that will keep you going and sustain the process of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The post workout meal is crucial to help that repair process from the breakdown of the workout. If you skip the pre workout meal, your post workout meal will lead to replenishing the empty fuel stores in your body instead of trying to repair and rebuild the muscle breakdown from workout. You become an injury risk when you attempt your next workout with partial recovery.
It’s important to remind yourself you cannot sprint a full marathon. Go slow, and become a champion of the process instead of trying to be the champion of results. The results will eventually come when you truly enjoy the process..
The most crucial time to get a meal in is the pre-workout period.
So, next time you think about skipping your pre-workout meal , slap yourself (gently) and eat some carbs!! 🙂