If you are one of those who do physical activity in the wee hours of the morning, perhaps this common question comes to mind … are there any benefits of exercising on an empty stomach?
Here I will show you what skipping breakfast around exercise time will do to your body.
Exercising on an empty stomach – Yay or Nay?
The effects of good nutrition when exercising, remain a hot topic of research among scientists and athletes, the results of some studies indicate that exercising on an empty stomach can be very beneficial to health .
There is evidence that suggests that exercising on an empty stomach may induces beneficial metabolic adaptations in muscle cells.
In contrast to this, other research have shown benefits to eating before a workout. However, in this case, we will look more closely at the studies that show the benefits of exercising on an empty stomach.
Read the ultimate guide on how to lose belly fat > here
Exercising on an empty stomach increases the body’s ability to oxidize fat
Having an empty stomach when exercising, promotes the oxidation of fats, optimizing your metabolism, which can lead to a more favorable impact on your exercise performance afterwards.
In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition , research looked at the effects of short-term aerobic exercise on an empty stomach and also after eating, in 273 participants.
These scientists found that during exercise fat burning was greater in those individuals who were fasting, while sugar and insulin levels, as expected, were higher in those who had previously eaten.
However, some researchers claim even with the increased use of fat in the body, while fasting, this does not necessarily translate into greater weight loss .
Regarding the benefits in performance, the studies have more varied results, but in general they conclude that it is better to have an empty stomach in short-term exercises .
The opposite is true if you’re an athlete, or do endurance exercises such as marathon, triathlon and cycling. There is published research , which indicates that this group can benefit more from eating foods with a high content of dense carbohydrates three to four hours before exercise.
Not eating after workout to lose weight – the research
The American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, published a study conducted by British scientists on 10 sedentary young men with weight gain.
Each man was evaluated in two phases, in the first section, on an empty stomach they exercised for one hour on a treadmill and in the next section they did the same physical activity but after breakfast. In addition, samples of blood and adipose tissue (body fat) were taken before and one hour after each phase.
The findings of this study showed significant changes within the fat cells, the most relevant being that many genes related to better metabolic health had a different behavior in fasting individuals, that is, they were more active in men on an empty stomach.
These genes favor the control of blood glucose levels, insulin in the body and the metabolism of lipids. Therefore, the conclusion of this research suggests that better health benefits can be achieved, if Exercise without eating before.
When to eat after workout
If your choice is to exercise on an empty stomach, it’s important that you do not forget to eat later, as these nutrients will help with recovery from your physical activity. It’s recommended to wait 60 to 90 minutes before eating, as experts suggest this maximizes the oxidation of fats.
If you consume foods that have proteins, the amino acids of these will be used to produce new proteins and repair your muscles and tissues. On the other hand, if you eat foods that contain carbohydrates, they can help replenish glycogen reserves in your body.
The results of the studies on the benefits have been mixed and are not definitive. So the decision on whether to exercise on an empty stomach is purely personal – but still worth trying. It is only then that you can monitor and see if there any benefits to exercising on an empty stomach for you personally.
The benefits of exercising on an empty stomach is not for everyone
Not all individuals respond equally, if you have a metabolic disease such as diabetes or another, it is best to consult a nutritionist or doctor, some people without eating feel weak, others if they eat have a feeling of fullness and discomfort during exercise.
Remember to also take into account the type of exercise and duration of the activity. For example, for high level professional athletes, eating before exercise may be more important to improve your endurance, therefore, depending on the training and what works well for you, you can make the best decision.
- Davies, R., Carson, B., & Aird, T. (2018). Effects offastedvs fed-state exercise on performance and post-exercise metabolism: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1111/sms.13054
- Proeyen K, Szlufcik K, Nielens H, Ramaekers M, Hespel P. Beneficial metabolic adaptations due to endurance exercise training in the fasted state [Internet]. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. 2011 [cited 8 October 2018]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3253005/
- Role of Adipose Tissue Nutrient / Vitamin Metabolism in Physiological and Altered Metabolic Settings [Internet]. 1st ed. Bath; 2017 [cited 8 October 2018]. Available from: http://www.physiology.org/doi/pdf/10.1152/ajpendo.00006.2017