Can you exercise or exercise on an empty stomach?

There is a famous saying that an army cannot march on an empty stomach. Does this also apply to people who participate in or exercise regularly?

According to professionals, avoid overeating before exercising. Usually morning workouts do not last more than an hour, which your body normally has energy for. This energy comes from glycogen, which is basically a supply of sugar or glucose that is stored in your muscles and liver. When you exercise, your body uses this energy to keep the engine running.

The study

A Northumbria University study, published online January 24, 2013 in the British Journal of Nutrition, attempted to determine whether the known benefits of exercise after an overnight fast were undermined by increased appetite and greater food intake later in the day. There were three concerns.

– What if the participants could exercise well on an empty stomach?

– Would that lead to binge eating later in the day?

– What will the total fat loss be?

For the study, 12 active male participants were roped. The men were asked to do a treadmill exercise at 10 a.m. Half of the men were given breakfast before training and the other half fasted. After the training, all participants received a chocolate milkshake recovery drink. The pasta was served for lunch and they could eat until they felt full. Your energy and fat consumption at lunchtime was assessed. The amount of fat and energy burned during the morning period was also taken into account.


The results showed that all participants did well in their exercise routines because the energy came from reserves and not from what they had just eaten.

It was also found that people who exercised in the morning did not consume extra calories or felt more hungry. It was also found that those who exercised soberly burned almost 20 percent more fat than those who had breakfast before exercising.

This means that exercising on an empty stomach will provide the most desirable results for fat loss.

The downside of exercising on an empty stomach

Exercising before eating carries the risk of bonking, the actual sport term for lethargy or drowsiness due to low blood sugar. You can feel tired and nervous and not exercise as intensely as if you had eaten blood sugar.

It is important for older adults over 55 to eat something before training, especially if they work out first thing in the morning.

The advantage of exercising on an empty stomach

When the body is fasting, the backup mechanisms ensure that your muscles and brain get the sugars they need for fuel. After your body runs out of sugar, it taps into stored fat and converts it into sugar. This leads to the hypothesis that exercise leads to faster fat burning when the body is already “hungry for sugar”.

There is some research to support the idea that exercising on an empty stomach can burn more fat.

Nutritional tips to consider:

– If you want to eat before training, you can eat half a banana with a spoonful of butter or a hard-boiled egg.

– Drink some water after exercising, but wait 60-90 minutes before eating.