Workout On Empty Stomach

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Is it better to exercise on an empty stomach?

Is it better to exercise on an empty stomach?

If your stomach is making sounds like a dial-up modem from the 1990s, you may feel compelled to eat rather than exercise. (For those who are confused: we didn't always have magic rectangles in our pockets that could tell us everything we needed to know about ourselves or the world in a matter of seconds.)

However, it may be better to begin pumping reps before filling your face than you think. In this article, we'll go over when to eat and when to exercise.

The historical context

Humans didn't get to eat until they'd finished being active enough to kill a mammoth or climb a tree to get at those sweet, sweet berries when they were hunter-gatherers, unable to order food that would arrive at their door in 10 minutes via scooter. But it's not as easy as saying, "Well, it worked for my great-grandmother."

It's time to debunk a few old myths. Contrary to popular belief, eating several small meals throughout the day will not increase your metabolism, skipping a meal will not make you fat, and exercising on an empty stomach will not negate a workout. Who would have guessed?

Indeed, skipping a meal or two, also known as intermittent fasting (IF), can boost your overall swagger.

Different people work out best under different conditions, and deciding whether to eat before training is similar to telling someone what time of day to work out or which diet to follow — it all depends on what works best for you.

Hormone optimization — and quickly

If the fact that Huge Jacked-man used IF to bulk up for his latest Wolverine film wasn't enough to persuade you, consider this: An empty stomach causes a cascade of hormonal changes throughout your body that are surprisingly effective for both muscle building and fat loss. Professor X, you misread that. (Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, will not grant you retractable adamantium claws.) (Believe us, we tried.)

Fasting has two significant consequences:

1. Insulin sensitivity is improved by Winsulin.

Simply put, when you eat, your body produces a hormone called insulin. This aids in the absorption of nutrients from food. The hormone then transports sugars from your bloodstream to your liver, muscles, and fat cells, where they are stored — sort of like a U-haul driver dumping your belongings into a dank, moldy container while you couch-surf.

The problem is that eating too much and too frequently can make you more resistant to the effects of insulin. Poor insulin sensitivity raises your risk of heart disease while decreasing how offended insulin becomes if you challenge it to a rap battle. dependable source (Heart disease is a serious condition. At all costs, avoid it.) Insulin resistance is also a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. This can result in blood sugar spikes on a regular basis (and not cute hedgehog ones). Your cells respond less to insulin, allowing an excessive amount of sugar to circulate in your bloodstream.

Furthermore, insulin resistance can increase your risk of colon and rectum cancers (it's 2020 — there's enough for everyone). dependable source And insulin resistance is linked to a high body fat percentage. They may even skip down the street together.

One way to help check your insulin sensitivity before it wrecks itself is to eat less frequently. When you eat less frequently, your body produces less insulin, making you more sensitive to it (or keeping you that way).

2. Growth hormone: The Story of the Magic Beanstalk

The second reason that a good old-fashioned fast may promote muscle gain and fat loss is due to growth hormone (GH).

This is a Swiss army knife of a hormone that helps your body build new muscle tissue and burn fat, Trusted Source lowers your risk of bone fractures, Trusted Source improves physical function, and Trusted Source boosts your body's ability to break down glucose without the use of oxygen.

dependable source

Fasting is one of the best ways to increase your body's GH level, along with regular weight training, getting enough sleep, or being a Pokémon on the verge of evolving. According to a 2011 study, going without food for 24 hours increased GH production by 2,000% in men and 1,300% in women. dependable source

The effect wears off when the fast does, which is another reason to fast on a regular basis to keep muscle-friendly hormones at their highest levels. However, in order to build muscle, you must consume enough calories and protein, so refueling after a fast is critical. While this information is intriguing, it does not tell us what happens to the body during fasted exercise.

The curious and the fast: Does fasted exercise improve results?

The research on the potential benefits of fasted exercise varies from ambiguous to unfavorable.

One study compared a group that adhered to an IF diet to a group that did not over the course of eight weeks of resistance training. The researchers discovered that, while the IF group did not have greater muscle mass than the other group, it did not make exercise any less effective.

However, the study did not specifically look at exercise enthusiasts pumping iron while fasting. So, we're back to square one?

No, not exactly. An earlier study found that cells from a group that fasted before exercise processed protein and carbs more efficiently than cells from a group that ate a carbohydrate breakfast before beginning their workout. dependable source

An even older study, dating back to the days of keytars and fascinating mullets, suggested that skipping meals before exercise allows the body to use more fat without disrupting the balance of its stored sugars. The researchers did not investigate the effects of keytars and mullets on glycogen homeostasis.

Fasted exercise, according to a 2011 study, may affect how quickly the body uses proteins and converts them into muscle. dependable source

Fasted training may help your body get the right result more efficiently, in the same way that realizing who your Tinder date is after 5 minutes can increase the speed at which you bolt out the door. It also won't text you later, threatening to burn your underwear.

However, just like with bad Tinder dates, there's no guarantee you'll have the same luck the next time. These studies are small and somewhat dated, so we shouldn't take them at face value. The issue is still debatable, much like asking your friends whether the dress was black and blue or white and gold. Exercise regimens that are fasted and fed can result in different body responses when it comes to burning fat and carbs.

dependable source However, this does not appear to apply to fat loss immediately following fasted training. dependable source However, fasted training may not be as effective for long-term fat loss as you believe. Fasted workouts may improve muscle glycogen storage efficiency, so endurance athletes may benefit from fasting before doing their thing.

However, there is a catch: the American College of Sports Medicine believes that loading up on pre-workout carbs can also improve performance. Gains in people who eat before exercising are pretty convincing evidence that pumping iron after eating can work. In fact, studies have shown that eating before exercise can lead to a lower calorie intake throughout the day. dependable 

The evidence that fasted workouts, even if only on occasion, may benefit some people is limited. Fasted exercise, on the other hand, will not harm or undo the gains of a previous fed workout if it feels better and produces better results. Essentially, as long as you eat the right foods and move in a way that has an impact, your muscles will thank you.

So you want to fast before working out? Your plan of action

"I can't handle intense exercise without food in my stomach!" we hear you say. Please provide me with my protein snacks! I'm curious who will be leaving 'RuPaul's Drag Race' tonight. "Wait, did I turn on the oven?"

So we didn't really need that much information. But first, give yourself some credit! You're more capable than you think if you have the right mindset. Second, there are several tips you can use to help you with this new eating style:

During fasting periods, you can consume more than just water.

Feel free to satisfy your cravings and boost your energy with black coffee, plain tea, caffeine pills, creatine, or good old-fashioned H2O.

You are free to break your fast whenever you want.

Some people prefer to eat their first meal immediately following exercise because the fast improves absorption of the post-workout meal. But it's not a big deal if the fast lasts longer.

Even if you exercise in the morning and don't eat until the evening, the GH surge you'll be riding all day may aid in muscle preservation.

Consume as many meals as you desire.

Please keep in mind that we did not say "as many calories as you want," but we appreciate your effort.

It is not necessary to consume numerous meals throughout the day. Despite some long-held beliefs that your body can only absorb a certain amount of protein at a time, we're perfectly capable of digesting the entire day's intake in one big meal (though this doesn't mean you should!). According to research, doing so results in no muscle loss.


Good things are worth the wait, and a lot of protein simply takes longer to digest and use. But we do digest and apply it. Even after consuming a normal-sized meal, your body continues to release amino acids, the protein's Lego bricks, into your bloodstream. About 5 hours after eating, your trusty muscles are sucking them right up.

However, not all proteins are created equal, and options like whey protein absorb quickly into the muscles. dependable source Seeing improvements when training is due to both overall nutrition and specific meal timings.

So experiment with the eating times and styles that suit you best. We're not in charge of you, and in this case, you're not in charge of us. Your body will inform you of how it feels. You'd better pay attention or you'll get a one-star Yelp review.

In a nutshell, metabolism and the digestive system are not the tantrum-prone toddlers that some would have us believe. When it comes to deciding on a pre-squat snack, you have a lot of leeway.

Last Word

Eating is perhaps the most ingrained habit we have, and humans love a good habit — just ask any nun.

Disrupting eating routines by skipping a meal or two can be a Herculean task for some people, especially those who have lived with or are currently living with disordered eating. True, IF does take some getting used to. Your body learns not to expect regular food care packages, and your mind must adjust as well. That discomfort usually goes away, but if IF isn't for you, there's no need to continue.

Still, don't be afraid to give it a shot. IF is just one approach to health and fitness, and it's far from the only one that works. (You could also consider the cutting diet, which takes a different approach to muscle building through food.)

There is no need to eat before exercise in general. If it makes you feel better, by all means, keep doing it. But if choking down a pre-workout banana or bowl of oatmeal is a chore you do solely to avoid muscle loss/fat gain/growing antlers, it's time to unwind. You are completely free to eat whenever you feel most comfortable in relation to exercise.

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