The logic for the theory that you burn fat faster exercising on an empty stomach seems pretty sound – If you haven’t eaten then the only fuel that your body has to burn would be the stored fat. This theory is why so many people swear by the effectiveness of working out first thing in the morning, before you eat anything. According to them, the body has no choice but to use the stored fat and therefore is more effective than an evening workout. While it’s definitely dangerous to generalize and while some people could burn fast faster exercising on an empty stomach, it probably isn’t advisable for most of us to do.
It is important to note that this debate is best considered unresolved. There are studies on both sides i.e. as much evidence for it as there is against it. At the same time, there seems to be more advice against exercising on an empty stomach for the following reasons:
1. Not fat, muscle used as reserves:
Similar to a fuel tank and the logic of reserve fuel, turns out that the body’s reserve fuel is your muscle and not the stored fat. This becomes increasingly possible if the workouts last beyond 30 minutes. So not only does exercising on an empty stomach not burn fat faster, it could also be depleting your body’s muscle mass.
2. Less intense workouts:
Simple logic – if your body has the right amount of fuel, it will push itself more. So while exercising on an empty stomach is okay if you’re simply strolling for 20 minutes before breakfast, in order to get an intense workout in, your body needs the right kind and right amount of fuel.
3. Injury chances:
Lack of fuel coupled with exertion could drop your sugar levels that might cause dizziness or cause you to feel tired, weak and exhausted faster than usual. So, not only are you getting a less intense workout, you could also make yourself sick.
4. Should you worry about those 60 minutes anyway:
Some trainers believe that rather than worrying about burning fat twice as fast in 60 minutes, you should only bother about the bigger picture. As long as you eat the right food and manage your diet right and maintain a calorie deficit needed for weight loss, over-focusing on that one hour isn’t needed.
5. Better recovery:
Eating the right foods before and after workouts contributes to building muscle and burning fat. It’s not something that just happens during those 60 minutes. So exercising on an empty stomach upsets the body’s rhythm and confuses this process.
Again, there’s no fixed rule that says you must eat 30 minutes or 60 minutes before a workout. Pre-workout snacks or meals depend on your schedule and your body’s needs. Add them up and you end up with the thought that it’s probably better to eat a before a workout and forget the idea that you burn fat faster exercising on an empty stomach.