As all training modalities, fasting training has its pros and cons. This is why it’s crucial to know all of the advantages and drawbacks of this training method before putting it into practice.
Before talking about fasting training for cyclism, we’ll be examining exactly what fasting is. Fasting is the result and process of not eating during the night and postponing or skipping breakfast. Thanks to a period such as this without taking in food, you can make your body to have low glycogen levels and the beneficial effects of fasting start appearing. One of the most outstanding ones is the loss of fat.
Liquids can be consumed. Water, coffee and infusions can be taken during the fast, as they won’t affect the fasting and will help reduce the urge to eat or the hunger feeling.
This training method is not recommended for beginner or inexperienced bikers.
How to fasting train on the bike?
The main goal of fasting training is to force our body and make it use stored fat as an energy source. Fasting cycling is not a piece of cake, and in order to achieve good results you must consider two main factors: the intensity you will apply to your training, and the duration of your training session(s).
Training must be low in intensity and last no longer than 90 minutes. The intensity factor is crucial, as your body’s glycogen stores will be at its lowest after fasting, and it will use stored fat in order to provide your organism with energy.
Glycogen is in charge of giving you energy on high-intensity training sessions. That’s why it’s important to keep intensity low, in order that fat, not glycogen, is used by your body as an energy source.
Taking these two factors into account, start looking for an easy route in order to train while fasting.
Benefits of fasting cycling
Fasting training has some beneficial effects on your body. Keep reading to learn about the main benefits of fasting training.
1. Using fat as an energy source
This is the main and greatest benefit of fasting training. Getting your body used and adapted to using fat as an energy source. It will make you more efficient, as you will save up as much stored glycogen as healthily possible.
2. An accelerated metabolism
Fasting training will give you a morning boost, accelerate your metabolism, make you more receptive and feel better in general.
3. A faster recovery
Thanks to this method, you’ll make your body more efficient and will recover faster and more effectively.
4. A reduced sensitivity to insulin
This is a very important perk for your daily life. Avoiding insulin peaks and high blood glucose levels. Having an optimal sensitivity to insulin will remarkably improve your performance.
Risks of fasting cycling
As many ofher training methods, fasting cycling also has its downsides and risks. We have compiled a list of the main risks associated with fasting cycling.
1. Muscle mass loss
It occurs in the case of training at high-intensity or very long-lasting sessions while fasting. Your glycogen and fat reserves are depleted and that is when your body begins to lose muscle mass.
2. Power and strength loss
This drawback is related to the one mentioned right above. During fasting training sessions, never go beyond your anaerobic threshold. Always train with low intensity, on affordable grounds and with a high cadence, in order to provent a power or strength loss.
Dehydration can easily occur and be associated with low blood sugar levels. It is important that you always check your blood sugar before you use this training method, and that you do not exceed the prescribed limits.
Intermittent fasting and cycling
Intermittent fasting isn’t about eating less, but about eating at specific times or time windows. In general, you are used to eating according to what time it is, and spacing different meals taking a breakfast, a lunch, a dinner and maybe a supper each day. Intermitent fasting makes you organise everything differently, leaving gaps of 12 hours between meals. This method, as normal fasting, lets your body use its energy more efficiently, and creating energy from fat.
This training method has to be extremely well-planed, especially if you’re a cyclist, planning all your training and fasting sessions in advance.
As we’ve mentioned before, your body uses glycogen as its main energy source. Thus, on high-intensity-training days, forget about fasting and get your glycogen stores full, in order that your performance is at its prime. On the other hand, on active-recovery days or training sessions on rollers are ideal for intermittent fasting, as they will be softer than every other day.