Dr. Layne Norton return to his YouTube channel on Aug. 16, 2023, to break down a 2023 study from the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance that covered how fasting before and during training affects muscle growth and workout performance. (1)
In the study, participants were males who fasted while observing Ramadan. The study was comprised of two groups, each with approximately 20 individuals; one group trained during the day while fasting, and the other trained at night after eating. Participants were measured before, halfway through, and at the conclusion of Ramadan, as well as three weeks post-holiday. Check out Norton’s rundown in the video below:
Train During the Feeding Window
Did participants’ training relative to their eating windows affect muscle strength and hypertrophy? Based on one-rep max squat, the research indicated that the test group that trained in a fed state saw more strength gains than those in the fasted state. Dr. Norton concluded:
It appears that if you’re…intermittent fasting, you might be better off training during your feeding window.
Norton caveated that if food doesn’t feel good in the stomach during a training session, it’s understandable why some lifters might train worse in a fed state. However, he recommends training with food in the system if it does not create digestion complications.
Train while in a feeding window for maximum strength and hypertrophy gains.
The researchers found no significant measurement discrepancies between groups regarding hypertrophy. Norton noted that the study lasted 29 days, saying, “It is very, very difficult to see differences in the actual cross-sectional area of a fiber when both groups are training in a one-month period.”
Despite that, Norton asserts that if one group increased their strength over time and can progressively overload more than the other group, higher muscle hypertrophy in that group is likely to follow.
Triki, R., Zouhal, H., Chtourou, H., Salhi, I., Jebabli, N., Saeidi, A., Laher, I., Hackney, A. C., Granacher, U., & Ben Abderrahman, A. (2023). Timing of Resistance Training During Ramadan Fasting and Its Effects on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 18(6), 579–589. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2022-0268
Featured image: @biolayne on Instagram