Morning exercises: Should I train on an empty stomach?
Exercising in the morning on an empty stomach seems surprisingly popular in the fitness world. Many runners and athletes mention this practice... So before you start running or training on an empty stomach, read our article.
The first question I usually hear is "Why would anyone want to skip breakfast on purpose?". Often the only way to fit a workout into a busy schedule is early in the morning, before the day even begins. But the main reason for the popularity of this training strategy is that exercising on an empty stomach burns more fat than exercising after a meal. This may sound "scientifically proven" (1) (2) . but what is it exactly?
Well, it's not that simple. Let's first see how the body provides the energy to perform the exercises.
What does science say about training on an empty stomach?
The body needs three main sources of energy to keep up with exercise. These three nutrients are carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Carbohydrates are quickly broken down into glucose, which is the body's preferred source of energy. Glucose circulates in the blood and is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. Provides quick energy and is essential for high intensity activities.
The key to a fast workout is that glycogen stores are relatively scarce. After spending the night on an empty stomach, glycogen stores (especially those of the liver) decrease significantly. Since there is less carbohydrate energy, the body responds by burning more fat.
A number of studies have shown that training on an empty stomach increases fat burning during (1, 2, 3, 4) and after exercise (5), compared to exercising after meals. After fasting for 29 days during Ramadan, people who exercised on an empty stomach reduced more body fat than those who exercised after a meal, with the same daily caloric intake.
(6) Training on an empty stomach has also been associated with improved VO2 max – the maximum amount of oxygen an individual consumes in one minute for energy. VO2 max is the reference for measuring cardiac activities (7), as well as cycling performance. (8)
For some, skipping breakfast is like doing a super fat-burning workout. In fact, it's not that simple!
Although these effects are "backed by science", there are a number of ramifications to consider when training on an empty stomach.
Watch out for pump stroke
A stroke (also called hypoglycemia) is sure to ruin your workout. You feel a sudden fatigue and a strong feeling of loss of energy due to the depletion of your glycogen stores. Liver glycogen levels can vary greatly at different times of the day and are almost completely depleted after strenuous physical activity or in the morning upon waking from an overnight fast.
In the fasting state, hepatic glycogen is the main source of brain energy. This organ needs a constant supply of glucose to function properly. The pump stroke can occur either from a lack of muscle glycogen or from a lack of glucose in the brain. Either way, exercising on an empty stomach increases your risk of getting really tired.
Another problem with speed training is that relying on body fat for energy limits your ability to perform high-intensity exercise. The process of breaking down stored body fat into usable energy takes longer because it requires more oxygen than carbohydrates from food. The energy released by fat metabolism is not sufficient to sustain high intensity training.
In fact, when you train on an empty stomach, even though you have a higher fat metabolism, you burn fewer calories overall. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that despite increased fat oxidation in the group that trained on an empty stomach, the group that ate lunch burned an additional 156 calories during the same exercise. 60 minutes of exercise. (4) Remember that a negative energy balance (more calories burned than calories taken in) is the key to weight loss.
And let's not forget the benefits of EPOC High Intensity Training!
Yes, it's true that training on an empty stomach makes the most of the body's fat stores. But the long-term benefits for your body and fitness have yet to be confirmed.
To put it simply, training on an empty stomach is a bit like driving a car "in reserve". With so little fuel left in the tank, every drop of fuel counts and you are sure to drive more economically. Then your ability to accelerate and reach top speed is practically non-existent.
If you want to improve your fitness, build muscle, and burn calories, focus your efforts on what really works: regular, moderate-to-high intensity workouts, and proper fuel in your pelvis.
Don't miss breakfast and create an effective morning routine with the tips below.
Our tips for morning exercise
Stay hydrated! Drink at least 100ml of water before exercise. If you don't like cold water, choose a hot drink. Black or green tea lowers blood sugar levels, boosts metabolism and promotes weight loss. (11)
Eat something before exercising. Consider including both carbs and protein to supplement liver glycogen stores and support muscle growth and repair. Breakfast doesn't have to be too big.
Read this article to avoid breakfast mistakes
After your workout, eat something to replenish your glucose stores and help muscle recovery. This recipe is perfect for a post-workout (vegan) protein shake.
Include high intensity exercises in your training program.
Practice for at least 30 minutes.
Stop exercising if you feel unusually dizzy, nauseous, weak or tired.
Combine these two multi-bodyweight exercises into your morning workout to gain strength, shape, and flexibility.
This full-body workout works all major muscle groups and is a great addition to any high-intensity workout (HIIT). Use mountain climbers to build muscle strength and cardiovascular capacity. Adjust the duration and intensity of the exercise according to your needs.
2. Starfish crunches
Starfish crunches are fuller than traditional crunches. By using straight arms and legs, you work the abdominal muscles - especially the obliques - while improving the dynamic flexibility of the hip extensors (gluteus maximus and hamstrings).