workout breakfast

Fasted or Fuelled?

Fasted or fuelled?  While some people swear by early morning fasted workouts for their fat burning benefits, others will perform better in intense or longer training sessions after fuelling up first. So, what really are the benefits of each approach? And, if you are going to eat, what will give you the energy you need to power through your session?  We’ll give you three fail-safe breakfast ideas…

Let’s talk fasted cardio first…

When you wake up in the morning after at least eight hours of fasting, your body’s glycogen stores are depleted.  Exercising on an empty stomach allows means you are likely to burn up to 20% more fat.  When your body is in a fasted state, it releases the hormone insulin less regularly which can result in an improvement in insulin sensitivity and so increases the opportunity to burn fat stores. Training in a fasted state can also increase Human Growth Hormone levels (HGH) which is in part responsible for building muscle tissue, improving bone quality and burning fat.  Testosterone levels also increase during a workout, which also helps build muscle tissue and increase energy levels. Therefore, the combined hormonal benefits of a fasted workout can result in more energy and increased burning of fat stores.  If you are looking for these benefits, or just feel more comfortable exercising on an empty stomach, then this is a great option.  Just don’t expect to perform well in an extended duration or high intensity session.

What are the benefits of eating before a workout? 

Working out in a fed state means you consume fuel such as carbohydrates, protein, fat or a combination of these. The benefit of this is being able to train harder and longer, with more available energy to burn calories for an extended period. If you eat before training, you are also likely to preserve more muscle and continue to burn calories for longer after training. Studies have also shown that athletes who eat prior to training will consume fewer calories later in the day, which can be important in overall body composition goals.

What should I eat before a workout?  These are our favourites from the Bindi Kitchen:

  1. Banana – This is a quick and easy option. A banana will provide around 25g carbohydrates and shouldn’t make you feel sluggish as you work out.
  2. Porridge – Oats are such a great slow burning fuel, especially before a long ride. Top with sliced banana and honey to really amp up the carbs.
  3. Toast with peanut butter – Sourdough toast with a generous spread of peanut butter will give a nice combination of protein, carbs and fat and will keep you feeling satisfied.


And the bottom line?  Overall, studies show no difference in fat loss simply based on whether you eat before exercise or not.  But, knowing how to utilise each approach to your advantage is key.  It’s probably not worth attempting longer or intense training sessions without some fuel on board.  But for shorter sessions, trying them in a fasted state may work well for you. Just be sure to not to overcompensate later in the day by eating more calories than you really need!

Happy training!

Belinda x