Why You Shouldn’t Try Working Out On an Empty Stomach

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Find out how working out on an empty stomach could impact your performance and recovery — and when to fuel up before your training session.

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Get up early to do a 6:15 a.m. HIIT or get on your bike for a sunrise ride. Peloton classThe thought of eating a full-on breakfast can make you feel very anxious. Instead of eating a bowl of cereal, try to make your workout more digestible.

Is it really NBD to exercise on an empty stomach? “I definitely do not recommend it,” says Abby Chan, M.S., R.D.N.Co-owner of the website is, registered dietitian nutritionist. EVOLVE Flagstaff Arizona “Your body will always do better in a fed state, no matter what.”

Chan discusses the importance of fuelling up prior to a training session as well as the risks associated with eating a bare stomach. It’s worth having a piece of toast with your run.

The Problem With Working out on an Empty Stomach

A quick lesson in bio. According to the, during exercise, your body uses stored forms of carbohydrates (known as glycogen) in your liver, muscles, and brain for energy. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). (ACSM). Your liver will produce glycogen from sweat, which you will need to maintain your blood glucose levels. This will allow your muscles to use your glycogen stores for energy. Cleveland Clinic. According to ACSM, the body has approximately enough glycogen for you to get through a moderate-intensity workout or for a short time. According to the ACSM, fatty acids can be used to fuel your body when glycogen is exhausted. the Mayo Clinic.

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Some folks believe that by working out on an empty stomach, your body will break down those fatty acids sooner via fat oxidation and thus encourage “fat burning,” says Chan. Some studies We have found that it is possible to exercise at a moderate-low intensity while fasting. Does Exercise after eating carbohydrates will result in higher levels of fat-oxidation. Evidence supporting this effect is lacking for long-term fasted exercise. Additionally, the increase in fat loss decreases as you increase your workout intensity. a 2020 review Published in Nutrients. What’s more, the majority of the participants in these studies were trained males between 20 to 30 years old, according to the review, so the results may not apply to the general population. With some types of cardio, your body may break down muscle — not fat stores — for energy, as Shape Previously reported. Translation: Currently, it’s tough to say whether you’ll experience any significant fat-oxidation effect from working out on an empty stomach.

Avoid skipping pre-workout meal Snacking can have both short-term and long-term effects on your health. Some people may experience nauseaAccording to ACSM, working out with an empty stomach can cause discomfort, fatigue, and even pain. A pre-workout meal, snack or small meal may not have an impact on your training session if your workout is short and only 20 minutes long (e.g. yoga class). You can also Chan says that it is a lot. However, “especially if someone’s working out longer than 45 minutes or an hour, [eating beforehand] will actually allow your body to have more energy and have more power and stamina throughout that workout,” she adds.

And if you’re training regularly, regardless of the activity, not fueling up properly can affect your ability to recover, says Chan. Chan says that if you exercise in a fasted state, it is more likely your blood sugar levels are already low. Your body will then use the glycogen to increase your glucose levels, support your brain, and organ function. Your body will have less glycogen left to support you during your workouts and recovery.

“You’re kind of running on an empty tank,” she adds. “If your muscles don’t have enough fuel or don’t have full glycogen stores, that’s going to inhibit and decrease recovery in the long run.” In fact, research shows the longer and more intense your activity, the greater reduction of glycogen stores — and thus the longer it’ll take to replenish them and for your body to fully recover.

The TL;DR: You shouldn’t let working out on an empty stomach become a habit. “The reason why you’re working out most likely is to start to improve muscle function and feel like you can push hard,” says Chan. “But if you’re not in a fed state, most likely your muscles are gonna feel more fatigued… and if you don’t have the energy to work out or recover, then you’re not going to be able to show up day in and day out.”

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What to Eat Before a Workout

Generally speaking, you’ll want to eat a meal within 90 minutes to an hour ahead of your workout, notes Chan. And that means heading straight to the gym after eight hours of beauty rest isn’t ideal.

However, if you are unable to cook and eat a full dinner because of scheduling conflicts, time constraints or personal preferences, there are still options. a carb-rich snack Chan recommends that you start your breakfast at least 30 minutes ahead to ensure that you have enough sugar in your system. “It can be something super small — a banana, a fruit strip, apple sauce, or a piece of toast,” she adds. “If you haven’t eaten within the last two hours, you’re not going to fully go into a deficit and die, but you’ll probably have a better workout if you’ve had something small.”

Fueling up is important, not only for energy boost but also for your overall health. lifting session Oder Pilates class will ensure you don’t feel ravenous after your training session, says Chan. The risk of slowing your recovery should not be enough to make you stop working out. However, it is possible to feel fuller afterward. feeling hangry Later, the deal is sealed.

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