Knowledge Level: Intermediate
If you commute in the morning by bike or can fit in a ride before heading to work, a fasted ride could improve your fat burning metabolism, improve riding economy and aid weight management. Especially if you find you are having difficulties sticking to lower heart rate zones, regular fasted rides can help your body to adapt.
Fasted rides, especially pre-breakfast, producing a low carbohydrate training environment, have long been publicised as beneficial for adaptation to a fat burning metabolism and its potential associated positive impacts on endurance performance. The research study jury is still out on the performance benefits of fasted training but the anecdotal evidence from riders is strong.
What about protein?
If you are fully fasted, as well as being low on carbohydrates, you are also in a nitrogen/amino acid depleted state. This potentially could have a negative impact on recovery from the ride. So, if you take protein on during these rides, can you still get the fat adaptation benefits of riding completely fasted without compromising your recovery? The answer appears to be yes so, during these rides it is a good idea to sip on a protein drink.
Intensity is vital: If you are planning on including some fasted rides in your training, it is essential that the intensity is kept low. You should stick to heart rate or power zones 1-2 where your body is best able to access its fat reserves for fuel. For higher intensity sessions or efforts, carbohydrates are essential and, without them, you will be compromising your training.
Real riding applications: A morning commute or ride before work is the ideal time to try fasted training. You can have a black coffee before you set off, no sugar, and aim to ride for 45-90 minute sipping at a protein drink. Make sure you have a decent breakfast ready to go for when you get back.
You can also include some fat adaptation training into your longer rides. Begin the rides fasted and use protein for your first bottle to see you through the first 60-90 minutes of the ride. After this time is up, begin fuelling as normal.