Like many work out techniques, people have differing opinions about exercising on an empty stomach. Some exercise enthusiasts insist that you should eat something before a heavy workout. On the other hand, other gym warriors believe you need nothing before getting down with your routine. With these opposite opinions, what should you believe? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of working out on an empty stomach.
Is an Empty Stomach Considered a Fasted Workout?
Many people swear by working out first thing in the morning. While you are tempted to grab a banana before working out, you might want to think again. Working out on an empty stomach is known as a fasted state, and many believe that this can help with weight loss. The fasted state is usually around 3 to 6 hours after your last meal. At this stage, your body is no longer processing food. During this time, your insulin levels have dropped. When this happens, your body will feed on the stored carbohydrates and fat in your system. In other words, this type of workout can help with fat loss.
Is It Safe to Workout on an Empty Stomach?
Now that we know what happens during this workout, is it safe for you? There are many benefits to exercising on an empty stomach. If you are looking to increase your fat oxidation and encourage your body to burn off that stored energy, you might want to try a fasted workout. In the morning, your glycogen and blood glucose are at the lowest levels. During this time, adipose cells are broken down, and the fat released from those cells are used as fuel. An empty stomach can also increase the hormones that will encourage the fat-burning process. Your body will increase its blood flow to the abdomen region that facilitates the breakdown of fat.
Studies have been divided about the effectiveness of fasted workouts. A 2016 study showed that men who didn’t eat breakfast before working out actually burned more fat and reduced their calorie intake in a 24-hour period. However, a study with female participants showed no difference between those who ate before exercise and those who did not. Some research has shown some benefits, but there is nothing that suggests it is an ideal workout.
One issue with a fasted workout is how the body processes fuel for your exercise routine. When you don’t have the right fuel sources, your body will start to use protein for energy. While this might not seem like a problem, you should know that protein is needed to repair and build muscles after a workout. In addition to that, fat as fuel does not always mean that you will burn more calories or decrease your body’s fat percentage. Your body might even try to adjust and store more fat than usual.
Another point to remember is that an empty stomach can lead to less stamina and energy sources for your body. You might even be working out and experience low blood sugar. When that happens, you could feel shaky, lightheaded, or nausea. That is not the way you want to battle through a tough workout.
When to Eat Before a Workout
If you are completing a high-intensity workout, you want to have a light snack. When you have some food, you will be less likely to overeat once the workout is finished. However, you should never have a full meal before your exercise routine. You want to choose foods that are easy to digest. Once you have finished, you can go ahead and eat a more substantial meal.
What Should I Eat Before Working Out?
If you have decided to eat before a workout, you want to choose easily digestible foods. Meals containing fats, proteins, and carbohydrates are great for a pre-exercise fuel. Nutritious and whole foods are the best choices. Fresh fruits, whole grains, legumes, and vegetables are filled with healthy carbs. If you are looking for healthy fats, choose avocados and ghee. You need protein for muscle repair and build, so don’t forget to eat low-fat dairy products, eggs, and lean meats. Finally, green vegetables, fish, and cooked beans can give you a little iron boost for your workout.
You want to eat about 2 to 3 hours before you begin your routine. If you are on the run, make sure to grab a snack like dried fruit, an energy bar, or a peanut butter sandwich. Whatever you choose to do, water is essential for all workouts. You need to stay hydrated before, during, and after your workout. Sports drinks, water, and juice are the best ways to stay hydrated. If you love smoothies and meal replacement drinks, those fluids are also acceptable to drink as well.
Different Activities Don’t Need a Lot of Fuel
Your activity can also determine if you need to eat before the exercise. If you are competing in a low-impact exercise, like golfing, walking, or yoga, you don’t need to worry about fueling up before your workout.
Some workouts require a lot of strength, energy, and endurance to complete. Running, swimming, and tennis all need to tap into more fuel sources throughout your body. If you are planning to work out for more than an hour, you should consider eating before hitting the gym. During this time, your blood glucose levels need to continue to move. With a little extra fuel in your stomach, you can avoid using up the energy in your muscles or lose that vital muscle mass.
Like many training techniques, there are different opinions about empty stomach workouts. For short and less-impact workouts, you can exercise without a snack. However, those strenuous activities will need some food to fuel your body. If you want to achieve the best results, listen to your own body. The most important part is to stay hydrated and maintain a balanced diet for any type of workout.
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