This is a widely accepted notion based on the idea that when you go all night without eating, your blood sugar levels are low, which presumably stimulates more fat burning during exercise. Does exercising while hungry, however, increase fat loss?
No, not always. The issue is that just because you’re burning more fat as fuel, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that more fat is being removed from your body. The number of calories you burn overall—rather than just the kind of energy your body uses during exercise—determines how much fat you will burn.
A 2019 study found that aerobic exercise makes it easier for the body to use fat after a fast, improves lipid profiles, sends better metabolic signals to skeletal muscle and adipose tissue, and lowers the amount of calories the body needs throughout the day.
Even though these studies were only done for a short time and mostly on healthy young men, they seem to help those who are most at risk for cardiometabolic disease. Even though the 2019 study seems promising, the majority of research still tells athletes to eat enough carbohydrates.
Your calorie expenditure during cardiac exercise is the same whether you eat or not, according to at least one other study that was written up in the National Strength and Conditioning Journal. In fact, according to the study’s author, Brad Schoenfeld, working out more intensely when starving may cause your protein levels to drop by up to 10.4%. If you’re attempting to gain muscle, that’s a significant loss. The performance will also be impacted significantly.
Other experts believe that the 24-hour energy balance is the most important predictor of body fat loss, as he states: “As a general rule, if you burn more carbohydrate during a workout, you will undoubtedly burn more fat in the post-exercise period, and vice versa.”
Last but not least, skipping meals or snacks may leave you too hungry to exercise for as long or as hard. So, you might end up burning fewer calories than if you had eaten something and worked harder. Also, your overall performance, muscle growth, and weight loss goals might be affected by how well you eat.
Advantages of eating before working out
Each of us must discover a system that works for us. You might be able to exercise in the morning without eating, but to properly challenge your muscles, strength training may need extra nutrition. The following are some advantages to eating before exercising:
Avoid low blood sugar levels because they can make you feel woozy or sick (this is especially dangerous for people with existing blood sugar issues such as diabetes.)
Boost strength and recovery
Make working out more fun (because you’re not constantly thinking about food)
Maintain longer, harder exercises and perform better
The greatest solution is to follow your preferences. Don’t starve yourself simply because you believe you are burning more fat. How much fat are you burning if you cut it short or lessen the intensity due to limited energy? The fact is, before you figure out what works and what doesn’t, you might need to explore. Whatever strategy you decide on, if you’re getting ready for an event, make sure your training matches your plan for the actual event day.
Make careful to give your body enough time to digest if you do eat before doing exercise. Large meals should be eaten four to six hours before working out. Then, 30 to 60 minutes before your scheduled workout, select a light, straightforward, low-fiber, low-fat snack that has 50 grams of carbohydrates and 5 to 10 grams of protein.
- Ideas for Pre-Workout Snacks
- An apple and cheese
- A banana or any fruit of your choice
- Energy gel or bars
- Fruit sorbet
- Fruity Greek yogurt
- Sport beverage
Try a sip of orange juice or even a few bites of a granola bar if you simply cannot stomach eating anything at this time. Having even a little energy will improve your workouts.