Is it bad to workout on an empty stomach?



Does training on an empty stomach burn more fat? 


This is another one of those big fitness questions that draws a lot of controversy. The logic of it seems simple, if you workout without outside fuel (food) in your system, then your body will need to tap into fat stores to fuel your workout. There are studies that confirm this to be true and studies that say it doesn't work. Some believe that not only does training in the fasted state actually decrease fat loss, it also causes your body to burn muscle for fuel.

Scary, but fortunately that hasn't been shown to be true. Many studies have looked at Muslim athletes during Ramadan to see if fasting negatively impacted their training. These athletes do not eat or drink anything from sun up to sun down during Ramadan so this extreme example is an excellent time to really see the effects. It turns out that even body builders do not lose muscle while training during this period and that fasted training does cause a greater decrease in body fat percentage.  




Not only burns more fat, but protects against weight gain


Additionally, fasted training causes metabolic improvements and improves your insulin sensitivity throughout the rest of the day. It has been shown that training in the fasted state first thing in the morning is a good way to protect against weight gain when eating large meals. This is why I recommend starting off a big eating day (like Thanksgiving) with a workout on an empty stomach to protect against some of the damage you plan on doing later. Of course, this type of training can also really help your weight loss efforts.

Great for weight loss, but tough

If you are looking for a time to maximizing the amount of fat you burn from your workout, then you should get going first thing in the morning before you eat. Your body basically burned up all the sugar in your system while you slept. If your body has no sugar to burn during your workout then it has no choice but to start burning fat.

If you eat something with carbohydrates before you start, then your body will burn through all those carb calories before it even starts mobilizing stored fat. It is not that your body prefers carbs to fat, it just prefers to grab what is already floating around in your blood rather than having to pull it out of your fat cells. 

While this will help you burn more fat, it is going to make your workouts feel a little more difficult (especially in the beginning as you adjust to this new form of training). The criticism of fasted training that you won't be able to achieve the same level of performance is correct, but most people that are trying to lose weight aren't trying to maximize their athletic performance. If you're training for a sport or event, you probably should eat before you train to properly fuel your performance, but for those trying to shed the extra pounds, fasted training (especially first thing in the morning) is a great way to get the scale moving.

Leave a comment

Log in to post a comment

2017201620152014
Welcome Diet weight loss Supplements Food Food Tips Tracking Exercise HIIT App Focus lolo Connect Meal Plan Fun Fact Stretching Rehab Truth About Diets Workout Health Sugar Cardio Strength Training Walking Running Treadmill Elliptical Cycling Removing Obstacles meal tracking Paleo Primal Crossfit Hydration Fueling Workouts Muscle Building Event Training Nutrition self-defense Immune System New Year's Success Clean Protein weather Calorie Counting Artificial Sweeteners Sugar Free music motivation deep house new music wednesday Tabata medical conditions diabetes workout music electro anthems fitness workouts stadium jamz bpm pace songs beat-sync Tempo run lolo run house music edm pop High-Fructose Corn Syrup hardstyle Packaging Salt High Blood Pressure Hypertension Scale Protein Muscle Weight Obesity Soybean Oil Coconut Oil Fructose Soda energy boost fat burner Nausea High Intensity Counting Calories Fat Shaming Meals GO Sitting Weight Gain Alcohol Low Carb Salad Fat Fat-Burning Glycogen Athletic Performance Ketogenic Diet Holiday Tips Stubborn Fat Thermogenesis Brown Fat Diet Tips Vegetables Fruit Healthy Fats Quick Start Psychology Healthy Eating Whole Foods Saturated Fat Calories Fish Omega 3 Healthy Bacteria Microbiome Disease Cholesterol Sleep Meal Plans Cleanse Sport Race Training Performance Late Night Biggest Loser Leptin Weight Regain Lactate Brain Injury High Intensity Interval Training Rest Recovery weight lifting Calcium Magnesium Vitamin K2 omega-3 corn syrup Fish Oil Bryan Haycock Antibiotics micronutrients muscle cramps Fasting Eating at Night Autophagy Glycemic Index Breakfast Fiber BeatBurn Warm Up Cool Down Soreness Foam Roller Metabolism Jeff Galloway Race Meal Planning Insulin Healthy Food Knee Pain Rehab Knees Rehab Injury Healthy Bacteria