There are differing opinions on the benefits of exercising on an empty stomach. While all trainers agree that working out right after eating a big meal is bad, there are different opinions about having a small snack 30 to 60 minutes before exercising or a big meal two to three hours earlier. Some people love to work out in the morning before they eat anything. They feel the fasting exercise helps them lose weight. Others think the snack helps build energy for a better workout.
Don’t eat a big meal right before working out, especially one high in fat.
Your body performs many functions at one time but asking it to digest a heavy meal and provide energy for an intense workout is a lot. When you workout, the blood flows to your extremities to provide energy for the muscles to work properly. Digesting food also takes a lot of energy and blood flow, so when you combine the two, something has to give. Normally, it’s the digestive process that suffers. It can cause bloating, cramping, and other digestive issues. Your athletic performance won’t be as good either.
If you eat before working out, make it a light snack and give it time to digest.
Eating before a workout can help you lose weight. It can provide just a few calories you’ll burn during the workout, preventing overeating later. Studies show that people who had a pre-workout snack ate less afterward than those who didn’t eat. Having a planned post-workout snack is also important for recovery. A pre-workout snack is beneficial for weight loss or maximizing productivity.
Skipping the food before a workout has some merit, too.
People who work out the first thing in the morning often do it on a fasting stomach. During sleep, the average person burns off the glycogen stores in the body. When you exercise before eating, it forces the body to start to use its fat for energy since glycogen levels are low or gone. When fat-burning is a goal, working out on an empty stomach may be your choice.
- Each person is different. They must decide whether working out on an empty stomach is the best way or if a snack is more beneficial. Your effectiveness during a workout and overall results help you make that decision.
- One reason to eat before a workout has to do with metabolism. If you don’t have enough energy to perform well, the body may slow metabolism to conserve energy for vital organs like the brain or heart. It can cause the body to hoard calories and store them as fat.
- Some studies indicate that eating before working out may affect your weight loss. They showed that those who exercised on an empty stomach lost 20% more weight than those who didn’t.
- A small snack that combines protein and carbohydrates eaten before and after a workout can help build strength, improve muscle recovery, and increase muscle mass.
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