Obi Obadike answers to popular questions about training.

1. Should you do your morning workout on an empty stomach for maximum fat burn?

This is one of the most controversial fitness topics is will you burn more fat on an empty stomach working out first thing in the morning vs training after an hour of eating breakfast.

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There was a study done in the UK in the British Journal Of Nutrition where subjects that fasted burned 20% more fat than when they had a meal beforehand. And I’ve seen studies where there wasn’t much of a difference in terms of fat burn if they did fasted cardio. So there are studies out there favoring both sides that it does and that it doesn’t.

I think the main strength and asset of empty stomach cardio for fat burning is burning the last bit of stubborn fat you have in those stubborn areas on your body as opposed to just burning a large amount fat in general. An example of stubborn fat is someone that is trying to get from 12% to 14% body-fat to 9 to 8%.

The technical basis of targeting stubborn fat is activating the B2 receptors and deactivating the A-2 receptors. B2 receptors are accelerators for fat loss and A2 acts as receptors for fat loss.

Research has shown that the ideal typical state of fat burning is 12 to 16 hours after fasting and the longer you are in a low insulin state the greater chance you have in mobilizing fat in those stubborn problem areas.

Your insulin level is typically very low during a fast which helps to inhibit the A2 receptors. So empty stomach cardio is best for removing the last bit of stubborn fat but in terms of burning maximum fat burn or burning fat faster I would say no.

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2. Is there a physiological advantage to training first thing in the morning?

I don’t think there is any physiological advantage in training in the morning time. I think training for an individual or for the average fitness enthusiast is about training at a time where you have the greatest amount of energy which will allow you to train and perform effectively at the highest level.

There have been research and studies that have been done where people performed better in their respective sports when they were training in the early evening time as opposed to early in the morning.

There was a study that was done by David Hill at the University of Texas on 20 young subjects on a stationary bike and they were supposed to perform time to exhaustion tests for 5 minutes for maximum power. They did this test once in the morning time from 6:30am and 9:30am and once from 5pm to 8pm in the evening time on a different day.

The time to exhaustion was 20% longer in the evening time as opposed to the morning time which means they performed better from an endurance standpoint. The time to exhaustion was 329 vs 275 seconds.

3. How many days per week and what kind of exercises/activities should I do to avoid muscle loss and what’s the best nutrition muscle gain?

I think muscle loss is more attributed to being on caloric deficit than training too much. Obviously if you are doing 2 hours of cardio or more per day every single day then you are at risk to losing lean muscle mass.

But if you are on a super low caloric diet such as for a guy consuming 1,500 calories or lower a day or for a woman consuming 1,100 calories or lower per day then being on such a severe caloric program will definitely make you lose a tremendous amount of lean muscle over a significant amount of time.

Typically the best nutrition muscle gain in terms of calories intake per day is 20 to 22 calories per pound. That has usually worked when I’ve used the formula for my clients.

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4. What are the advantages of using unstable weights such as sandbags/power bags rather than traditional fixed weights likes dumbbells and barbells?

Sandbags and power bags are very popular among pro- athletes, first responders, military soldiers, fighters and anybody interested in developing and building functional core movement.

I think sandbags can allow you to reenact a life and death situation in terms of saving somebody from a catastrophic situation and using the sandbag as a pseudo human being or dummy.

Instability training increases the difficulty of the modality of the training each time you do it. Sandbags are great at developing functional power and strength in an unstable way.

References

Hill, David. 2013.  Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2014, 39(2): 248-254, 10.1139/apnm-2013-0140

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