Most of us are always on the lookout for weight loss tips and fitness tricks. Among those that pop up regularly is the idea that working out on an empty stomach can speed fat burning and weight loss. Is it true that working out on an empty stomach helps you lose weight faster? Should you try it? The short answer is it depends. Read on for the pros and cons before you decide if this fitness trick is right for you.
When you exercise, the energy you expend comes from carbs. Exercising on an empty stomach means carbs will not be available, so your energy will come from elsewhere. The theory here is that the energy comes from stored fat. Exercising on an empty stomach is thought to lead to an increase in the proteins the body uses to metabolize fat. This strategy is most effective in the morning since it will have been several hours since your last meal. Because you have essentially fasted overnight no carbs will be present in your body to interfere with the metabolism of fat. Experts recommend that exercisers use this strategy only occasionally as a way to prime the body for fat burning.
Working out on an empty stomach can be a quick trip to misery. The bottom line is that exercise requires energy, which your body gets from food. If you are hungry while working out, the quality of your exertion will be reduced because you simply won’t have the energy to get in the vigorous aerobic activity your body needs. Also, working out on an empty stomach may increase the likelihood of injury from falls or clumsiness related to dizziness. Finally, when you regularly work out on an empty stomach, you risk losing muscle mass, and ultimately slowing your metabolism.
For best results exercisers should eat before a work out at least most of the time. Use these tips when choosing pre-work out eats:
- Avoid heavy meals prior to working out
- Opt for meals and snacks that include complex carbohydrates and protein
- Consume meals and snacks about 90 minutes before you plan to work out
- If you must have something to eat closer to your work out, go for things that are easily digestible such as fruit (bananas are always a great choice), an energy bar or 100% fruit juice.
- Remember that eating before a workout can speed up your post work out muscle recovery.
Ultimately, you do not want your work out to feel like a chore. You will enjoy it more, and almost certainly burn more calories, if you have adequate energy to give exercise your best effort. Go ahead and eat something before you work out at least most of the time.