Effects of Fasting on Endurance Exercise

Summary

Early studies agree that fasting is detrimental to overall physical performance and to endurance performance in humans; however, a study in rats reported an ergogenic effect where time to exhaustion was increased by a glycogen-sparing effect of elevated free fatty acids in blood resulting from a 24-hour fast. Later studies on humans have also found a detrimental effect of fasting on exercise endurance, with the exception of 1 study which found no difference. The discrepancy between humans and rats could not be explained by level of glycogen sparing, mode of exercise, duration of the fast, physiological differences or level of training. The intensity of exercise, and a potential placebo effect of fasting, are possible reasons for the conflicting results. Despite reduced endurance performance, fasted humans are able to exercise and maintain blood glucose homeostasis; the specific cause of an earlier onset of fatigue during a single bout of exercise in the fasted state remains unclear.

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Correspondence to Luis F. Aragón-Vargas.

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Aragón-Vargas, L.F. Effects of Fasting on Endurance Exercise. Sports Medicine 16, 255–265 (1993). https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-199316040-00004

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Keywords

  • Endurance Performance
  • Endurance Exercise
  • Muscle Glycogen
  • Apply Physiology
  • Respiratory Exchange Ratio