I decided to write the whole article on this topic and explain the pros and cons of doing fasted kettlebell swings. After doing some research, here’s what I found.
Can I do fasted kettlebell swings? You can do fasted kettlebell swings. The advantage of doing fasted exercises before your breakfast is greater lipolysis in adipose tissue while stimulating fat oxidation. This process results in greater use of fat as energy.
Sign me up! But seriously, how big of a difference can really make exercising on the empty stomach versus exercise during the day, after you eat?
When Is Best Time To Do Kettlebell Swings?
This is a great question that came to me a few days ago from one of my clients, Emily. She really wants to speed up her results curve and was thinking to go one step further and try doing fasted kettlebell swings first thing in the morning.
For fat loss, the best time to do kettlebell swings is first thing in the morning.
According to the study, it’s definitely something worth trying, just because of the benefits mentioned above. But, like with everything else, fasted exercise it’s not for everyone.
There are some elements that you need to consider before embarking on this project of exercising on the empty stomach.
Some of them may sound obvious, but others not necessarily. So let me show you everything you need to know before you take this step forward.
The aspects I will cover in this article will include your general fitness goal, your work type and schedule, the duration of the training session, the type of workout, the weekly volume, intensity, and individual characteristics. That being said let’s dive straight in.
Related article: Can You Get Abs Without A Calorie Deficit?
Duration Of The Training Session
The first step is to determine how much time does your typical training session take. According to the study, pre-exercise feeding, which means exercise after your meal, led to an enhanced prolonged duration of the exercise.
This basically means that if you plan to perform a longer session, 90-minute plus, then you be better off eating something before you workout.
This is simply because in the morning your muscles are pretty much depleted from glycogen after all-night sleep.
So long-duration fasted kettlebell swing session may wear you out.
On the flip side, if you plan to do only a short boost of a 30-minute workout then being in the fasted state won’t affect your performance.
This means you can still maintain your energy levels, as long as you won’t keep your training duration too long.
Related article: Does Calorie Deficit Work Without Exercise?
Another important aspect to take into consideration is performance. And by the performance, I mean wanting to be better at what you do. Maybe you use kettlebell swings to improve your 10k run.
Or maybe you add swings to prepare for your swimming competition.
Or maybe for the judo tournament that you want to win.
Or maybe something crazier. Like a trekking challenge in Nepal, or rowing through the Atlantic ocean? I’m not joking.
The perfect example of this kind of adventure is the story of Roger McCarthy, who completed 3000 miles unsupported row across the Atlantic from La Gomera in the Canaries to Antigua in the Caribbean.
How on earth would you train for that event? Rowing machine? Treadmill? Sit-ups? Nope.
That was the secret sauce of Roger’s conditioning program.
So there is some power in doing kettlebell swings. In other words, what is your goal for the training session?
If you are performance-oriented, then fasted kettlebell swings won’t make you any difference (source). Studies show that doing fasted exercise doesn’t change the performance, and in the long term they decrease it.
So it is suggested to train at a relatively low intensity during fasted training to ensure adequate recovery.
That is strength and conditioning at its best. To learn more about how to use kettlebells to get the best results, check out my article 5 Ways To Use Kettlebell Swings For Conditioning.
Across hundreds of scientific papers that I went through over the years, every single one confirms the beneficial effects of fasted resistance training on body composition.
I haven’t found a single journal that would support the advantage of fed-state versus fasted-state.
So hands down, when it comes to body composition, fasted training wins.
Even if we gonna go a step further, and classify each training on aerobic, anaerobic, muscle endurance, strength, or hypertrophy. Doesn’t matter how you cut it.
Fasted state increases the utilization of fat as a fuel source (source). This basically means that you use more energy from the stored fat cells.
- It improves plasma lipid profiles (source). This means it helps with balancing your LDL and HDL ratio.
- Enhances activation of molecular signaling pathways in skeletal muscle (source). This means your muscles are like a sponge for the food that you eat.
- The more often you train fasted, the more calories go to the muscle, not to the fat cells. That’s a good thing.
- And is also associated with a reduction in energy intake over the course of a day (source). This basically means that you are less hungry during the day.
If you want to learn more about the best ways to combine kettlebell swings for cardio and fat loss here in this article 7 Ways To Use Kettlebell Swings For Cardio I describe how you can get the most out of your kettlebell swing workout.
What I mean by fitness level is basically how trained you are. Are you exercising on a regular basis, or are you getting started?
Because based on that, your results will vary.
Let me explain.
When performing an exercise in the fasted state at a low intensity, both trained and untrained individuals will get the same results.
That means the rate of fat oxidation will be similar.
However, once the intensity goes up to medium or high, then trained individuals see 80-200% better results (source). I don’t say that to discourage anybody. This is very important data.
This is because fitness level matters, too. The more training mileage you have, the more you get out of the high-intensity training sessions.
And just because some X guru is getting great and fast results, it doesn’t mean you will see the same progress. Let me explain.
Imagine there is a guy called Joe who really wants to get his body composition better.
Joe is watching a YouTube channel with some X guru who swears for doing “fasted kettlebell swings”. So Joe is starting to do the same “fasted kettlebell swings”, just like the ripped X guru, but he doesn’t see much results.
The reason is that Joe is less trained as the X guru so Joe won’t see the same results.
The biopsychosocial model (aka your lifestyle) is basically everything else that can impact your results.
That is your work environment and everything that you do at work.
If you spend 12-hours a day at work, and now you put on yourself additional stress by “fasted workouts”, it won’t be long until your cortisol levels will sky-rocket.
It will backfire eventually.
You may do it for a week or even for a month, but at some point, you can burn out.
Another part is your stress level, also known as the allostatic load. Every one of us has some Big Problem going on.
Whatever this is.
Something that totally preoccupies and stresses us out. And we constantly thinking about it. And maybe we feel like it’s out of our control. Or maybe we even feel disconnected from the world.
The more we marinate in that Big Problem, it becomes very difficult to stay consistent with exercise. Especially early-morning fasted exercise.
This can also be your hormonal level. Pregnancy, menopause, testosterone, etc. Those will dramatically impact the result.
Also your social circle.
If you stay up late or have a long night out, then fasted training won’t fix the problem. The problem is the problem. Your sleep and circadian rhythm. If your sleep is interrupted then you won’t get the best results.
Same with your home environment. Ideally, you want to do fasted kettlebell swings at home. This will save you time. But if the only option is driving to the gym at 4:30 am, that’s another stress factor.
How long should I do fasted kettlebell swings training?
Remember that everyone is different and you will need to see how your body responds to fasted workouts. Start from 3-4 times a week.
For the best results, I recommend starting from 20-25 minutes per training session. When you see how you feel, then you can adjust accordingly.
What is the good breakfast to have after fasted training?
Fasted exercise increases fat oxidation up to 24-hours time.
Data also shows that it helps with calorie intake. So to keep your satiety high, I would recommend starting your day with a good amount of protein for breakfast, and some carbohydrates to replace used up glycogen from the muscles.
This will help you with recovery.