When it comes to the world of fitness, everyone wants to see results as quickly as possible.
Everywhere you turn, celebrities, athletes, and trainers are telling you about “the best way” to achieve your goals.
This frequently leads to people trialing new supplements, fad diets, and fashionable workouts, desperately trying to find one that gives them that “quick fix” they’ve been looking for.
But what happens when you try two options that not only don’t work together, but could potentially negate the effects of the other altogether?
Well, that’s what we’re going to be discussing today, as I’m going to look at whether or not taking a pre-workout supplement breaks your fast, and if so, does it actually matter?
Before we get started, though, let’s quickly go over what fasting and pre-workouts actually are.
Table of Contents
What Is Fasting?
Fasting is a period in which someone goes without consuming food, and often even goes as far as abstaining from fluids as well.
While this has long been utilized in religious practices and before medical procedures, in recent years, it has developed a following among fitness fanatics too.
They believe that it enables their body to burn fat more efficiently, allowing them to drop weight at a greater speed than with traditional dieting.
The most common type of fasting you will find used in this manner is intermittent fasting.
This means that a person will often still consume their regular daily amount of calories, but will do so in a more condensed window.
A common approach to this sees the person have an 8-hour window for eating, followed by 16 hours without. This means that their body can concentrate on breaking down the fuel needed in one constant stream, before reverting its resources back to breaking down the fat stores.
Intermittent fasting is the dietary plan that the Warrior Shredding Program revolves around. Through strategic dieting and tough workouts, this program can help you burn fat and build serious muscle mass for a shredded physique.
What Is Pre-Workout?
Pre-workouts are supplements used before exercise, with the intention being to allow the user to train harder than they would without.
Most rely on caffeine as their active ingredient, as this has been proven to provide dramatic increases in energy levels, which will be beneficial for allowing the user to push through an exhausting workout.
Another popular inclusion is an amino acid called beta-alanine. This provides the user with a “pump” that has been shown to increase the user’s drive and desire in the workout, sometimes providing an almost euphoric feeling.
Beyond these, you will also commonly find BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), creatine, and taurine (another amino acid). This is due to their ability to provide the muscles with fuel during the workout, potentially allowing it to maintain its strength for a longer duration.
Does Pre-Workout Break a Fast?
So, now you’re all caught up, it’s time to get to what you came here for, a definitive answer on whether or not pre-workouts will break your fast.
Unfortunately, it isn’t that straightforward.
As I previously explained, pre-workouts contain different ingredients from brand to brand, and with these each having different effects on a fast, it’s impossible to give a blanket answer to that question.
What I can do, though, is go through the common ingredients found in pre-workouts to help you determine exactly what effect your product of choice will have on your fast.
We’ll start off with an easy one.
Sugar is often used in pre-workouts as not only does it provide energy (the number one goal of a pre-workout), but it also makes it taste better too.
Unfortunately, if your pre-workout does contain sugar, then the answer to our main question is a resounding, yes, it does break your fast.
Sugar provides an immediate insulin spike in your blood, which kick starts your body’s metabolism and takes you out of your fasted state.
It’s not been looking too rosy until now, so I think it’s time for some good news.
As I mentioned, caffeine is the main source of energy in most pre-workouts.
Therefore, it should come as a relief that caffeine does not break a fast, meaning it should be of no concern to you if it’s in your product.
In fact, according to research, caffeine may even increase the positive effects fasting has on brain function and inflammation.
Another popular additive to pre-workouts, creatine, should also be safe to use on a fast.
While it doesn’t have the same benefits that caffeine does for fasting, it’s still calorie-free and doesn’t provoke an insulin response.
Therefore, you can comfortably supplement with creatine without breaking your fast.
Amino Acids (Including BCAA’s, Beta-Alanine and Taurine)
So far, we’ve had relatively straight forward yes or no answers on whether or not our ingredients will effect a fast.
This is where it starts to get a little more complicated, though, as there is a lot of debate and no definitive answer on the final few on our list.
We’ll start with amino acids, as almost all pre-workouts will contain at least some variety of them.
The technical answer to whether or not they break a fast is yes.
However, it isn’t quite that black and white.
It’s considered that anything containing calories or producing an insulin spike will break a fast, and amino acids tick both of those boxes.
The dispute comes when you look at the degree to which it does both of those things.
Firstly, it’s generally viewed that, while consuming any calories will technically break a fast, anything under 50 won’t really have an effect on you. As amino acids contain only a couple of calories at best, it, therefore, shouldn’t alter the state your body is in.
As for the insulin spike, your body’s response to amino acids is better described as an insulin bump. While they do have an effect on your insulin production, it’s usually negligible and, much like the calorie content, shouldn’t alter the fasted state you’re currently in.
Considering sugar is a definite no-no, this is a big one, as you’ll be hard-pressed to find a pre-workout that doesn’t contain one or the other.
That’s why it’s unfortunate that it is the most debated on the list.
There have been countless studies on this subject, and you’ll still find some that say it has no effect, while an equal number will swear that it does.
The best conclusion that can be drawn is that, if it does have an effect, it’s similar to that of amino acids, in that it’s not enough of an effect to throw you out of your fasted state.
Does It Matter?
So, we’ve established that, while they technically break your fast, using a pre-workout shouldn’t actively kick you out of your fasted state or affect the benefits that go with it, provided it doesn’t contain sugar.
That means it’s time to get to the second part of our question: “Does it matter if your pre-workout breaks your fast?”
As with the rest of this article, there is no one size fits all answer to that. There are instead two distinctly different answers, which depend on why you’re fasting in the first place.
If you’re fasting due to religious reasons, preparing for surgery, or simply a personal commitment, then the answer is yes, it does matter.
The majority of pre-workouts will contain at least one ingredient that, technically, breaks a fast. While they may not have a detrimental effect on your body, you will indeed have broken your fast, and, as such, they should be avoided in these circumstances.
If you’re fasting for the health benefits, however, then it probably is worth it.
Using a sugar-free pre-workout will leave your body in a fasted state, still reaping the benefits that come with it. While some studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can limit ketone production, which will temporarily minimize the benefits of fasting, they don’t actually remove them.
You, therefore, need to weigh up the pros and cons.
If you normally find pre-workouts helpful, does enabling yourself to have a harder, more intense workout seem like a sensible trade-off to sacrificing a few ketones?
I believe it absolutely does, as not only will you reap more rewards from training harder, the additional intensity should offset the calorie-burning ability from the lost ketones anyway.
I know people hate it when you don’t give them a straight answer. I do too.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one available in this instance.
The best I can do is guide you in the right direction, using the evidence available to us.
That evidence shows that, while technically the answer to the question is yes, they will break your fast, you still retain the health benefits that come from being in a fasted state.
When it comes to whether or not that matters, that is a much more personal question that you can really only answer for yourself.
That being said, if you aren’t fasting for the personal reasons listed above, and feel pre-workouts noticeably benefit your training, then I would gently steer you towards the decision that no, it doesn’t really matter.