This blog was written by Megan Jack. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
Some people believe that there is a benefit to working out on an empty stomach. This concept is derived from the idea that exercising first thing in the morning or in a “fasted state” will cause your body’s energy systems to burn more fat instead of carbohydrate stores.
Why the Empty-Stomach Workout Doesn't Work
As a corporate fitness manager, I hear this theory on a weekly basis, and it is simply just an urban fitness myth. The main problem is that fat as a fuel source is not the same thing as burning fat off of your body. Fat burning has more to do with the total amount of calories burned than the type of energy your system uses.
Another key problem with this theory is that many times without adequate nutrition, you will not be able to exercise as long or as hard. As a result, you will burn fewer calories.
Benefits of Eating Before Exercise
According to an article by Paige Waehner on About.com, there are additional benefits to eating prior to a workout:
- “It boosts recovery and strength gains.”
- “You can sustain longer, more intense workouts.”
- “It helps you avoid feeling dizzy or nauseous from low blood sugar.”
- “It makes workouts more enjoyable” (because you’re not constantly hearing your stomach growl).
Some of my corporate fitness members feel too full or weighed down with a full meal prior to exercise. Some need a snack prior to strength training, but are fine completing a cardio workout on an empty stomach. What really matters is to find something that works for your body and for your schedule.
Most importantly, don’t go hungry simply because you think you’ll burn more fat. Focusing on your growling belly can cause your workout intensity or duration to suffer and that will in turn reduce your caloric burn.