Should I Exercise On an Empty Stomach? : How to Time Your Meals and Your Exercise

Exercise. It’s a key component of any healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s going for a run, doing some yoga, going for a swim or just hitting the gym, there are many options to choose from when it comes to keeping fit and active.

If you’re trying to get in shape, there’s a lot to think about. What should I eat? What exercises should I do? How do I optimize my routine for my body and needs? You may also be wondering when you should work out. Some people say you will get in shape quickest by working out on an empty stomach. Others say you need to eat first. Every body is different and has different needs. But you may well wonder: what’s right for me? 

Don’t fret! We’ve done the research for you to keep things simple.

Why you should consider working out on an empty stomach

The theory is that when you exercise on an empty stomach your body burns fat faster.

When your body is full of carbohydrates, that’s what it will burn during exercise. But when you’re depleted in them, your body will turn to fats for energy and burn that. So the theory is that if you exercise first thing in the morning, when your body is lowest on stored carbs, you’ll burn more fat.

A group of overweight men tested this theory for a study published in the American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism. The research found that the men who didn’t eat before working out had increased rates of fat burning in comparison to those who ate breakfast beforehand.

This theory has also been proven to work for active men, not just those who are overweight. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition analyzed 12 active men who ran on a treadmill. Those who didn’t have breakfast burned 20% more body fat.

An article published in The Telegraph states that according to a variety of studies, “a bout of aerobic exercise performed in the fasted as compared with non-fasted state increases the reliance on fat and subsequently reduces the reliance on carbohydrate as fuel during exercise, with several publications showing that fasted exercise oxidises (burns) around 20-30pc more fat.”

If working out before eating can help your burn more fat, you’re probably ready to stop reading here. Sounds great right? Well, maybe not.

When working out on an empty stomach doesn’t work

Working out before eating when you wake up in the morning is walking a bit of a fine line.

Kristen Schell, a registered holistic nutritionist, told Global NewsIf someone hasn’t eaten in an extended period of time…your glycogen is depleted and your body will use fat as fuel, but it could also use muscle. […] And since muscle fuels our metabolism, it’s actually not very helpful.”

She also mentions that when you work out before eating, you may run out of energy before the workout is over. Obviously, that’s not very productive. According to Men’s Fitness, if you’re planning on doing a particularly high-intensity workout, your performance will suffer if you skip pre-gym carbohydrates.

Metro News dug into this issue further. They analyzed a study done by BBC’s “Trust Me I’m A Doctor” feature. BBC said that “men indeed burn more fat after exercising on an empty stomach. Women, however, burn the most fat in the 3 hours following a workout and had better results when filled with a small meal before hand. The results found men burnt 8 per cent more fat if they eat after exercising, while women burn 22 per cent more when they ate before.”

An article published by Daily Mail explained that this was because men and women burn and store fat in different ways.

You also need to remember that your body doesn’t like being starved or stressed. If you force yourself to work out on an empty stomach, there’s a chance you’ll be sending a signal to your body that you’re in danger, and need to hold on to any energy you give it. Your metabolism could actually slow down as a survival response. This means that next time you eat, your body may hold onto extra fat.

So, what should I do?

Ultimately, it depends on your body. If you do decide to try working out before eating, pay attention to how your body responds. If you feel worse after your workout than you did before, maybe that method isn’t for you. Some people have blood sugar issues (even if they don’t suffer from a full-fledged condition) that may lead to feelings of light-headedness or even fainting if they do too much with too little in their bellies. Obviously, if this is you, exercising on an empty stomach isn’t a good idea.

It’s important for you to choose a routine that works best for your body. It’s always important, no matter your body type, to stay hydrated before, during and after your workout. Drinking water and being sure to replenish your electrolytes (whether through food or an electrolyte-rich drink, like milk or Vega Hydrator) is vital.

And don’t forget, exercise isn’t the only part of weight loss and getting in shape.

What is the best strategy for reaching your weight loss goals?

Total Health Magazine says there are a few keys to staying healthy, in general. They say a good diet paired with strategically timed meals, exercising on a regular basis, getting adequate sleep, managing stress and keeping a positive attitude are great ways to stay healthy and happy.

Eating whole, clean foods and keeping processed foods to a minimum is also a smart way to treat your body right.

Plus, did you know that healthy fats can actually help you lose excess weight?

Fighting fat with fats seems weird, right? Actually, seed oils like flax oil and black cumin oil have healthy fats that can help you lose weight when taken regularly.

The Weight Loss bundle 

Black cumin oil contains high levels of phytosterols. These plant fats limit the amount of cholesterol that your body absorbs. Our Perfect Press Black Cumin Oil has plenty of phytosterols and also contains extremely high quantities of oleic acid — an unsaturated fatty acid that makes your body use fat more efficiently, so you’ll burn fat faster. This fatty acid is the reason why olive oil is often touted as being helpful for weight loss but black cumin oil actually contains 2500% more oleic acid than extra virgin olive oil!

We love black cumin for weight loss so much we did a whole blog post on it. Read more about this slimming seed here! 

Flax oil can also help you work off some weight. As the richest source of ALA omega–3s in nature, flax oil can support good gut health and speed up your metabolism, which will help you get the most out of your food and shed those pounds. Flax oil is extremely delicate though, so we recommend choosing your brand carefully to avoid potentially rancid and harmful flax oil. Perfect Press® Flax Oil is pressed for maximum nutrition and zero damage to the fatty acids.

Another helpful supplement is marine phytoplankton. This microalga is a powerful superfood. A good quality marine phytoplankton should boost your energy, which will help you stay alert during your workout and fill nutritional gaps in your diet. Oceans Alive is a raw marine phytoplankton supplement, with fresh, clean phytoplankton stored in a trace mineral solution (never dehydrated or processed).

If you’re looking to give these a try, we’ve got you covered. Our Weight Loss Bundle includes Perfect Press® Black Cumin Oil, Perfect Press® Flax Oil and a bottle of Oceans Alive. Not only that, but it includes a helpful ebook — Activate Your Weight Loss! is a handy guide that will assist you in using your products to maximum effect as well as planning your meals to suit your body and your lifestyle. This ebook is not available anywhere else!

If you want to lose weight quickly without compromising your health, the Activation Weight Loss Bundle is for you. Discover more now!

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Please note that the views expressed in comments on our blog do not necessarily reflect the views of Activation Products and are exclusively the opinions of individual commenters. Any experiences described by individual commenters cannot be said to be typical and may not be experienced by all users.

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