Fasted Training

I’ve used fasted training with good results. I know this is a controversial topic, so I want to share some of my thoughts on it.

You may be convinced training in a fasted state will cause your muscles to shrink, shrivel and die. I think the supplement industry has some blame—they’ve convinced naïve trainees they need pre, post, and intra workout supplements.

We’ll get into some research later, but let me first share some less-than-scientific examples that are related to this topic—non-scientific in the sense that I’m sharing my experiences and general observations (not research).

Ketogenic Dieting and Glycogen Depletion: Some of my regular readers know I’ve used lowcarb/ketogenic dieting for fat loss. The goal of such diets is to go into ketosis, a state in which you are primarily using fat for fuel. In order to achieve ketosis you must first significantly reduce the glycogen stores in your muscles and liver (if you aren’t familiar with the term, glycogen refers to glucose that has been transported to the muscles/liver to be used as needed).

Glygocen depletion doesn’t happen in one workout or even one day. It usually took me a few days/workouts. Here’s my observation: the idea that your muscles are “starving” after a few sets of weight training is ridiculous. We’d be extinct as a species if our bodies were that inefficient and incapable of performing rigorous activity without a “feeding.”

Granted, there’s nothing wrong with using post-workout strategies to quickly replenish glycogen (especially for hardgainers who are focused on building mass), but I believe the importance of this has been over-analyzed and over-stated. Read my post workout article and you’ll see why I think using only “fast absorbing” protein sources may not be the best idea, but let’s get back to the subject at hand (and my next observation).

Sumo Wrestlers: The world’s largest athletes regularly use fasted training in their daily regimen. They train in the morning on an empty stomach and work up a ravenous appetite. Their diet is usually consists primarily of two gigantic meals, each one having around 10,000 calories. Here’s my observation: the primary concern most have with fasted training is catabolism (muscle loss). Losing mass doesn’t seem to be an issue with sumo wrestlers. In other words, it seems the body is perfectly capable of compensating for any catabolism issues.

Science/Research:

Having said all this, I was initially reluctant to train in a fasted state—I was still a little brainwashed by the before-mentioned supplement industry.

But some of the research in Eat Stop Eat set my mind at ease. Brad Pilon analyzed multiple studies and concluded, “fasting does not negatively affect anaerobic short-burst exercise such as lifting weights, nor does it have a negative effect on typical ‘cardio’ training” (Page 35). He goes on to establish the positive effects of fasted training, such as increased fat burning. You can read my Eat Stop Eat Review for more information, but I’d highly recommend this as a resource.

Another groundbreaking study came out about a year ago. 28 young, healthy male subjects were given a diet with half of their calories coming from fat and 30% more overall calories than they normally consumed—a recipe for poor health. The subjects were split into three groups: one group didn’t exercise; one group trained intensely 4x a week after a carbohydrate rich breakfast (and drank energy drinks during training); and one group did the exact same training routine in a fasted state (in the morning before breakfast).

Just as we’d expect, the sedentary group gained weight (an average of six pounds) and experienced a measurable decline in health (they began to develop insulin resistance, etc). The “fed training” group gained about half as much weight as their sedentary counterparts and also began to develop the same health problems.

Remarkably, the fasted training group gained virtually no weight and showed no signs of insulin resistance. The researchers came to the following conclusion:

This study for the first time shows that fasted training is more potent than fed training to facilitate adaptations in muscle and to improve whole-body glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity during hyper-caloric fat-rich diet.1

So it seems there are some hormonal advantages to fasted training. But I want to restate something I’ve said before: no training will overcome a crappy diet. The exercising subjects in this study underwent a vigorous cycling and running routine four times a week. But their diet was horrible, so the “best” outcome was no weight gain—not weight loss. In other words, no form of training will help if you aren’t achieving a negative calorie balance.

Fasted Training and Stubborn Fat 

I think the most exciting aspect of fasted training is the possibility of targeting “stubborn” fat deposits (lower abdomen and lower back for men, hip and thigh for women). It can happen in two ways:

1. Hormonal: something else I learned in Eat Stop Eat (and elsewhere) is that fasting increases the level of certain hormones: “Epinephrine and Norepinephrine are both fight or flight hormones, often called adrenalin and noradrenalin or collectively ‘catecholamines’” (Eat Stop Eat, page 72). Both fasting and intense exercise are known to increase catecholamines, and these hormones seem particularly helpful for oxidizing fat—especially stubborn fat.

PrimaForce Yohimbine HCl - 90 Capsules2. Yohimbine HCL: I’ve written about yohimbine before, but I’ll re-state it in a summarized form. Stubborn fat deposits tend to have a significantly higher number of alpha 2 receptor sites (compared with “non-stubborn” areas). These sites basically “tell” the fat cells not to release their contents (lipids). Yohimbine supplementation, if done properly, can temporarily “disable” alpha 2 receptor sites. But yohimbine must be taken in a fasted state (or a state of low blood glucose) to be effective–insulin competes for these same receptor sites, rendering the supplement useless (the proper dose is .2mg/kg example: 20mg for a 220lb person 0.09 mg/lb of body weight).2   I’d highly recommend you check out Lyle McDonald’s Stubborn Fat Solution for a more detailed explanation of using Yohimbine.

As a side note, I’ve also notice that supplementing 2-3 grams of L-Tyrosine pre-workout in a fasted state seems to be more effective than a fed state.

But keep something in mind: this strategy also only works with an overall negative calorie balance. Otherwise the fatty acids released during training can get re-deposited (possibly right back to those stubborn areas).

The BCAA Debate

One of the most controversial topics out there is the importance of   Branch Chain Amino Acids before and after you train.  I’ve studied this a good bit but I haven’t been able to get a definitive answer.

Here are the most relevant arguments for using BCAA’s:

1.  Using them will prevent or at least minimize any muscle catabolism that could occur during fasted training.

2.  I’ve seen some claim that branched-chain amino acids increase/facilitate fat burning (though I’m unaware of any definite proof of this).

3. There’s some evidence that taking branched-chain amino acids help fight fatigue, which would help with training intensity.3

Here are the arguments I’ve seen against using BCAA’s:

1.  BCAA’s cause an insulin response, which may partially interfere with the before-mentioned benefits of fasted training.

2. The amount of protein oxidized during training is minimal and can easily be replaced after you train (with no harm to muscle strength/size).

Where does this leave us?  I usually take them because it seems to help me train more intensely.  But I think it’s a matter of individual preferences and priorities, and I doubt it makes that much difference if your overall nutrition is in order.  My theory is the leaner you are the more important BCAA supplementation would be.

Just keep in this mind: BCAA’s are probably going to cancel out Yohimbine (because of the insulin response), so taking both of these supplements together is pointless.

Fasted Cardio

Here’s another suggestion you may want to consider–do some light cardiovascular training first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.  Have a cup of coffee then do about thirty minutes of brisk walking or riding a bike a few times a week.

Summary:

I believe fasted training is a viable option for those who want to lose fat. It must be part of an overall strategy involving a negative calorie balance. It may be especially helpful for trainees who are already fairly lean and trying to target stubborn fat deposits.

Check out my article on intermittent fasting if you want a comparison of different programs that incorporate the fasted training strategy.

References:

1. J Physiol. 2010 Nov 1;588(Pt 21):4289-302. Training in the fasted state improves glucose tolerance during fat-rich diet.

2.  See also: Yombine HCL

3. Amino acids and central fatigue.

Fat Loss Forever Diet Review

John “Roman” Romaniello newest program is called Fat Loss Forever.

John Romaniello

I think this is going to be popular because John has combined an effective diet strategy (intermittent fasting) with some intense workouts.  This is a very effective way to lose fat (based on my own personal experience).  I’ll explain it in a little further detail:

Intermittent Fasting:

The Fat Loss Forever diet manual explains the research behind this dietary strategy.  Roman exposes some of the common myths about fasting and teaches why it is actually good for fat burning if done the right way.

He also compares some of the more well-known approaches to it (the Warrior Diet, for example).  Romaniello discusses the advantages and these approaches and lays out a “best of” approach–making the most of what other  authors and practitioners have learned to form the ideal method of intermittent strategy.

Training:

This program also combines different styles of training in order to maximize calorie burning and create the optimal hormonal environment for losing fat.  He includes dynamic, complex, “GH surge” and density training workouts in the program.

Review:

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve personally used intermittent fasting with great success–it is now my strategy of choice for fat loss (after trying sever other ways, like low carb, etc).  It takes some getting used to at first, but I think you’ll find you can comply with this long-term (especially since you can do a cheat meal once a week).

The training will be effective, but keep in mind it isn’t easy–I’ve tried some of John’s workouts before and they really get your heart pumping.  You’ll have to put in the hard work if you want to transform your physique.  One more important note: be sure to read the training manual before you try to do the workouts.

Conclusion:

I think you’ll find Fat Loss Forever to be very effective if you are willing to follow the strategies Romaniello has outlined in the program.  But I have received quite a number of refund requests on this program.  I would suggest you consider Roman’s newest program called Omega Body Blueprint if you are looking to lose fat.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

 

Yohimbine HCL Review and Dosing Instructions

Yohimbine HCL and Stubborn Fat

I believe most of the so-called “fat burner” supplements being sold right now are completely worthless.  Yohimbine HCL is one of the few exceptions, but it only helps if the proper dosage and timing are implemented.

This supplement has been around for a while, and I remember using  herbal version of it back in the 90’s (Yohimbe).  Years later I realized I wasn’t even taking it the correct way.

Let me clarify something before I go any further:  I believe Yohimbine HCL is only of value once you’ve already become fairly lean and just need help with some of those last “stubborn” fat deposits. One of the best studies, for example, was done on professional soccer players–a group we’d expect to have relatively low body fat levels.1

How does this supplement work?  Stubborn fat areas (usually “love handles” and the lower abdomen for men; hips and thighs for women) have a much higher number of alpha-2-receptor sites when compared with “non-stubborn” areas.  The sites essentially cause the fat cells to be more resistant to releasing their stores.  Yohimbine is an alpha-2-receptor antagonist, meaning it temporarily disables these receptor sites and makes it easier to oxidize/mobilize the triglycerides  within these cells.

Circulation is another issue that comes into play with stubborn fat areas.  Antagonism of alpha-2-receptors likely increases blood flow to these cells.

To summarize, this supplement can temporarily cause “stubborn” fat cells to act like less problematic areas.  But this affect only lasts for about 30 minutes, so timing is important.

Dosage

The proper dosage for yohimbine hcl is .2mg/kg (example: 20mg for a 220lb person (0.09 mg/lb of body weight).  This requires taking several capsules since it is only available in 2.5 mg tablets (I once asked Primaforce why their capsules were only 2.5 mg and they told me it was the highest dosage per capsule allowed by law).

You could take it with caffeine, which has it’s own lipolytic (fat-burning) properties.  I usually just take it with a cup of coffee.

I would not recommend yohimbe (the herbal form).  Herbal forms are just less reliable and you won’t get the desired precision in dosing.  I would also not recommend topical solutions–I sincerely doubt these are effective.

More on Timing:

Yohimbine’s effects kick in about an hour after you take it, so you’d want to use this to your advantage in terms of timing it with your training.

Here’s something else to keep in mind: insulin competes for the same before-mentioned receptor sites.  It is necessary, therefore, to take Yohimbine in a state where blood sugar is low–otherwise you are wasting the dose.  You could take it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach (a fasted state is the best option), several hours after your last meal, or while practicing lowcarb/ketogenic dieting.2

Another option would be to take it at the start of a weight training session (assuming you are not taking in some kind of glucose or amino acids while you train–either one would likely cause enough insulin release to interfere with Yohimbine).  You could take it this way then follow up your lifting with some steady state cardio (to burn the fat you have oxidized).

I usually take this supplement before fasted training, then I wait an hour or so after training to eat.  The idea is to allow the mobilized fatty acids to be used instead of being redistributed back to the fat cells.  Check out the the book I recommend at the end of this article to learn the most effective way to train for targeting stubborn fat.

Yohimbine and Ephedrine

I would not recommend taking yohimbine hcl at the same time you take the eca stack The eca stack stimulates beta-receptor sites, while  yohimbine suppresses alpha-2-receptor sites.  The problem is your heart also has both of these types of receptor sites, so taking supplements at the same time could negatively affect your heart rate and blood pressure. This is the main reason I don’t recommend using supplements that contain both ephedra and yohimbe.

For those wanting to use both in the same day I’d recommend waiting four hours after using yohimbine before taking your first dose of the eca stack.

More recommendations:

You may want to try half the before-mentioned dosage first to see how well you tolerate this supplement.

I’ve been asked about water retention when using this supplement.  It seems many users experience this, which may temporarily masks the fat loss.  Just keep in mind the water retention is temporary and should go away within a few stays of discontinuing the supplement.

Here’s a final reminder: fat loss only happens when there is a negative calorie balance.  Using this supplement is a waste of time unless you are implementing a well-designed diet and exercise program–otherwise the mobilized fatty acids will simply be re-deposited (possibly right back into the problem areas).

StubbornFatSolutionReviewI’d highly recommend you check out Lyle McDonald’s Stubborn Fat Solution if you want a more thorough explanation of what I’ve written about here.  His book goes into a lot more detail and includes an exercise protocol to “attack” stubborn fat.

You can by Yohimbine HCl 90ct (Primaforce) by clicking here.

 

References:

1. Res Sports Med. 2006 Oct-Dec;14(4):289-99. Yohimbine: the effects on body composition and exercise performance in soccer players.

2. Med Hypotheses. 2002 Jun;58(6):491-5. Pre-exercise administration of yohimbine may enhance the efficacy of exercise training as a fat loss strategy by boosting lipolysis.