Many believe that if you work out on an empty stomach you will force your body to convert fat to fuel. While this may seem logical, it is not so straightforward. If you are the type to workout early in the morning, you probably do so on an empty stomach. Whether you choose to workout on an empty stomach or not depends solely on your fitness goals.
However, many experts advise against working out on an empty stomach because you may feel lethargic due to low blood sugar. Your body needs to get enough calories to engage in intense exercise or activities. You will struggle to exercise intensely or reach your optimum performance on an empty stomach as you would if you had a meal before exercising. Besides, the feeling of hunger is discomforting and will eventually distract you. Even worse, you may develop headaches due to low blood sugar levels.
Several studies have tried to link working out on an empty stomach with fat loss. For instance, a study at the University of Bath, United Kingdom, revealed that when overweight individuals walked for 60 minutes on an empty stomach, their bodies activated the gene that increased the rate of fat burning, compared to individuals who had eaten a heavy carb diet before a workout.
Another small study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that active individuals burn as much as 20% more fat when exercising on an empty stomach when compared to after breakfast.
Your body taps into its glucose stores when you workout or engage in any physical activity, and once you run out, your body will begin to burn fat to make energy. But this process takes longer to release the fuel your body needs, and you may soon feel tired and edgy.
If you are doing high-intensity workouts, you will have low performance if you do not eat before a session. Your body cannot simply meet the high energy requirement required for a high-intensity workout since there needs to be a steady supply of fuel.
Fasting before a workout puts more stress on your body. As a result, cortisol is released and causes your body to break down muscle tissue to use protein as fuel.
Some studies have also found that if you continually exercise on an empty stomach, your body may adjust to using fat stores as fuel. Also, the body will begin to store more fat than usual. Therefore working out on an empty stomach may not be the fat loss solution you think it is.
The type of workout can determine whether you should eat before a workout. For exercises such as yoga, walking, and golfing, eating beforehand may not be necessary.
However, experts recommend loading up carbs, protein and fat before workouts that require lots of energy and strength. And if you do not want to eat your regular nutritious meal, you can consider consuming a high quality protein powder such as LA Whey Gold as a pre-workout meal. You can make the protein powder into a shake and drink it before a workout.