Exercising on an empty stomach: Insider tip for burning fat or useless?

Posted by Timm Schaffner on

Train on an empty stomach

The topic of nutrition is closely linked to sport. Many people ask themselves what to eat before exercising. Some of you may have already tried training on an empty stomach. This trend is called "fasted training". The idea that you start burning fat right away makes many people do their first training session before breakfast on an empty stomach.

But should you eat something before training? And if so, what? Is there food that improves training performance so that you can reach your personal goals faster?

The answer is: it depends! In the following we look at what speaks in theory for training on an empty stomach, but why you should eat something before the workout in practice.

These are the benefits of training on an empty stomach

In theory, it's true that your body will go straight to iron reserves when carbohydrates aren't available. If you haven't eaten for a long time, your stores are probably empty and your body has to draw energy from your protein and fat deposits.

Fasting workouts are also said to improve the way your body responds to insulin. According to a study by the University of Bath, this could reduce the risk of developing diabetes or heart disease.

Nevertheless, various studies have determined that training on an empty stomach in practice only causes marginal differences in the workout itself and hardly leads to greater weight loss in the long term.

Why doesn't training on an empty stomach work?

If you train on an empty stomach or even really hungry, your body will rebel. It switches to emergency mode, which you may already know from the yo-yo effect when you lose weight. This means: Physical performance is reduced because your body fears that it will get into a nutritional bottleneck.

The less intense and shorter your workout, the lower the fat burning effect. If you still bite through, you could expect a real ravenous hunger attack after the workout. At some point you have to refill your storage.

If you eat a lavish, high-calorie breakfast after your workout and then hardly move afterward, it could even have a negative impact on the scale because you're very hungry and may eat more than usual.

Training on an empty stomach is also not a good idea if your goal is to build muscle . In the emergency mode mentioned, the body also draws energy from proteins, which are essential for building muscle mass. So if you train on an empty stomach, you are depriving your muscles of the building blocks they need to grow.

The right pre-workout meal

Foods recommended for training include spinach, chicken, eggs, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin, soy flakes, fennel, and cream cheese. Of course, you should avoid eating food such as doner kebab, currywurst, beer or lemonade before the workout.

Especially during short but intense training, the glucose stores in your liver and muscles are the main source of energy. Glucose stores fill up when you consume carbohydrates.

A sugar snack marketed as a “gym bar” isn't really the best pre-workout choice either. While an increase in blood sugar can help get you going, this effect is short-lived and can also leave you in quite a hole and need a quick refill.

Rather rely on long-chain carbohydrates, which you can find in whole grain products, for example. They supply the body with energy for longer and evenly. You shouldn't do a 10-minute workout, but train for a while so that your body can start burning fat.

Top athletes go even further: the so-called "carb loading" describes the process when athletes consume carbohydrates before exercising. They also need that because they are perfectly trained and have practically no fat reserves. If you are pursuing the goal of weight loss, you should not fill your stomach too much. A small snack is enough.

Conclusion on training on an empty stomach

So if you want to achieve success in your workout, don't do it on an empty stomach. But don't overwhelm him with sugary foods or fast food either. Instead, eat a balanced mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Your body is efficient and you are ready for an intensive workout that will bring you closer to your training goals. Your muscles will thank you too and let's be honest - it's just not fun to train hungry!

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