Does Exercising On Empty Stomach Help Burn Fat Faster?
Some things are so conflict-ridden that it becomes really difficult to figure out what exactly should be done. Many of us want to decipher the secret of weight loss, so we try different things to peel off those extra kilos from the body. One of those fast fat burning options we hear nowadays is to work out on an empty stomach.
What’s the theory behind working out on empty stomach?
The concept comes from a simple arithmetic, if you have no calorie reserves, your body will pull it out from fats stored in the muscles. The glycogen which is a type of carbohydrate our bodies store runs out of storage overnight. So when we hit the gym in the morning, we are out of carbs and the idea is our body will turn to fat storage to gain energy.
But things can get complicated. Since we are out of glycogen and maybe we had earlier dinner and snoozed for an extra hour overnight, the body might skip the fat burning process and demand energy from muscle storage instead. So what should be done exactly? Let’s think scientifically for a while and know the benefits of skipping breakfast before exercising before we head to the opposite side of the story.
Benefits of exercising on empty stomach
Burns fat faster
This is what we all wanted to hear. Yes, one study published in British Journal of Nutrition involved 12 active males. Some of them ran on the treadmill after breakfast while some others skipped breakfast. The guys who hadn’t had breakfast before running burned up to 20 percent more body fat. And what was more interesting is that guys who didn’t eat anything before exercising did not overeat or make up for the calories they missed in the morning.
Another study published in International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism compared two groups of people; one who were fasting in 29 days of Ramadan and another group who were fed during this period. The study found that the fasting group lost both the fat and the body weight while the group who were fed lost only the body weight.
So, fasting and fat metabolism have an important connection.
There is a handful of evidence that exercising on empty stomach improve performance if the workout is ‘normal’. According to a study published in European Journal of Sports Science, the concept behind this is that working out on glycogen-low state makes your body more efficient when it comes to burning fat.
This kind of diet plan is also known as intermittent fasting. The idea of the time-restricted diet is to bind you in a certain timeframe in which you cannot eat anything. Other than this timeframe which could be 12-16 hours of time, you are free to eat anything and as much as you want.
Following this diet plan will let our body know when we are eating and this will trigger hormones to burn fat and encourage weight loss during that food-free timeframe. If we schedule our workout in this food-free timeframe, we can burn even more fat.
Improvement in body’s insulin response
Our body releases insulin in response to the food we eat. But when we eat too much carbs and sugar, the body becomes resistant to insulin, hence, incapable of absorbing nutrients well. Insulin accumulation can bring a range of chronic diseases such as diabetes. So, one of the healthy benefits of fasting is to reduce that sensitivity of our body to insulin. Without continuous eating, insulin is not released and our body doesn’t become resistant to this hormone.
Inspiration to work out more
Yes, today’s life is super demanding. But if we really want to make out of this combo i.e. skipping the breakfast and exercising in the morning, we would be doing it regularly out of motivation. Moreover, if you want to workout suppose at 8 am, it would be a lot easier to do that before eating, rather than sitting down for breakfast, wait for it to digest and then hit the gym.
Why it’s not a good idea to skip eating before exercise?
Conversely, there is evidence in support of working out with food on board.
- According to a study published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, there is actually no difference in fat burning between women who consumed meal-replacement shake before workout and those who hit the gym right away.
- Secondly, without any food in the stomach, you won’t be working as hard as you could do with a small snack. A pre-workout snack that is a mix of protein, carb, and healthy fat could give you required energy to push yourself much harder.
- And thirdly, if you are working out for long distances, such as endurance sports long distance racing, you will be fatigued and possibly become hungry if you didn’t eat anything before. In fact, it could be detrimental to health as per National Health and Conditioning Journal. The study suggests working out in a fasted state may affect protein stores and if you are trying to build muscle, that’s a big loss.
- Last but not the least, for people who are diabetic, exercising on an empty stomach may lead to hypoglycemia, a condition that could result in dizziness and unconsciousness. Diabetics should consume a light meal or snack before working out.
So there are countless variables that are at play. Exercising on empty stomach or not depends on how fit you are, what type of exercise and how you are doing that exercise. But what is crucial is to stay hydrated before and after the exercise as it will keep your energy level up. Even you don’t want to eat anything before exercise, sipping an orange juice or a chocolate milkshake can really make a difference in your workout.